reality tv

Why this year's Bachelor choice is the best decision Channel Ten could have made.

Pleasantly surprised could best sum up many viewers’ reaction to the announcement of astrophysicist Matthew Agnew as this year’s star of The Bachelor Australia.

Relieved could be another way to put it.

Because after the mixed bag of emotions that came with indecisive Bachelor Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins’ season, it seems Channel Ten are getting back to basics.

The reality romance show’s production team have seemingly read the room and realised that it was time to do away the celebrity gimmick and appoint a regular Joe as their lead. (Well, if you can call someone with a Master of Science degree in astrophysics regular.)

Better still, Matt – who loves yoga, AFL and cooking – is an unknown. Someone totally new to the franchise. Someone without a strong social media presence. Someone whose story we don’t know inside out already.

And that’s where the true genius of Channel Ten’s Bachelor selection lies.

Not since Sam Wood, way back in season three, have we had a fresh face as our Bachelor.

And an argument can be made that the series hasn’t been as entertaining since that season.

Sorry Matty J. Sorry Richie. Not sorry Honey Badger.

While the past three Bachelor seasons have been watchable, and, for the most part, enjoyable, Sam’s season had an appeal that Matt Agnew’s looks set to replicate.

By choosing a person who’s not already known to audiences, they’re sending us a signal that this man has something to offer outside of name recognition and sympathy at having their heart broken on national television.

Richie Strahan chose Alex Nation as his season four winner, but things didn't work out between them. Image: Channel 10.
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And it's a decision that could bring back some viewers who may have dropped off when the show began plucking from past Bachelorette runners up. They're allowing us to get invested in his love story without feeling like we missed something if we happened to have not tuned in to the previous Bachelorette season.

It's not to say that casting Richie Strahan or Matty Johnson were the wrong choices. Especially given that Matty, with a baby on the way with his pick Laura Byrne, has provided the show with one of its four-strong success stories and improved its match-making statistics.

The audience numbers have also been solid for these seasons. Matty J managed to surpass Sam's record of 1.44 million total finale viewers to draw in 1.48 million, while Richie's (1.3 million), and Honey Badger's (1.35 million) finale's would also be considered ratings hits.

It's just that choosing a contestant recycled from a past season of the Bachelorette this time around could have been a mistake.

The introduction of Bachelor in Paradise meant that we were already getting our share of ex-Bach contestant action. And as the comparatively low ratings of Ali Oetjen's season of The Bachelorette showed, viewers don't necessarily want to see Bachelor alumni return for a third shot at love. Which would make choosing anyone who'd already been to Fiji - including fan favourite Apollo Jackson - a risk.

The Honey Badger The Bachelor finale
Many people felt ripped off when Nick Cummins didn't choose a winner at the end of his turn as The Bachelor. Image: Channel Ten.
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Better to give us a break from the Instagram-follower-hungry Bachelor pool, and serve up someone whose face we weren't already sick of seeing.

Which might have been what the producers thought they were doing last year when they cast rugby star Nick Cummins. But that didn't exactly work out ideally for them, despite what the ratings may indicate.

Some fans were immediately turned off by a sports star who speaks almost exclusively in nonsensical sayings. And many of those who weren't, certainly were when it turned out that the Bachelor, whose job is simply to a) be ready to settle down and b) pick a girlfriend from 24-odd beautiful women, failed on both counts.

After swearing at the disappointing end of Honey Badger's season that I wasn't going to invest in this show again, Channel 10 have won back this Bachelor fan.

And judging by the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the announcement on The Bachelor Australia's Instagram, I don't think I'm alone.

What do you think? Has Channel Ten made the right decision casting Matt Agnew?

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