reality tv

The Bachelor has been axed in Australia. This is where the show went wrong.

The Bachelor Australia has officially been axed after just over a decade on air. But — and I'm going to be brutal here — the franchise has no one to blame but themselves.

The show wasn't always terrible. Remember when we'd all rush to Rosie Waterland's recap like it was a bedtime ritual? How Twitter exploded when Richie Strahan broke Nikki Gogan's heart? When Channel 10 cancelled interviews with Blake Garvey and Sam Frost before the finale even aired?

Guessing why the media was cancelled consumed the entire lead-up to the Season 2 finale. Image: Network 10.


The Bachelor Australia was once a cultural icon. From Tim Robards and Anna Heinrich to Sam Wood and Snezana Markoski, the show had us rooting for love with a stunning success rate early on. 

Many of the couples are still together to this day. 

The heyday ratings were also an extra chewie product placement's dream — the finales continuously surpassed the one million mark from Tim Robards' debut season back in 2013, right through to Matt Agnew's season in 2019. 

We'd watch with bated (but minty-fresh) breath as the final two would step out of the limo, knowing exactly whose heart was about to be broken by the first ankle in sight (give or take that Abbie Chatfield stitch-up). 

The Bachelor finale in 2015 was such an event, it warranted an iPhone 4 Insta post. Image: Supplied.


But from Locky Gilbert's eighth season (2020) onwards, the show has been facing a steady decline of hundreds of thousands of viewers every year. By Season 11, The Bachelors' 2023 finale with Ben Waddell, Luke Bateman, and Wesley Senna Cortes reached just 204,000 viewers.

So where did it all go wrong? 

Let's look first at the choices for the leading role. Warner Bros (after Shine passed the torch in Season 4) could never quite decide whether to pluck leads from obscurity, the limelight, or previous seasons.

OK but who are you and why do I care? Image: Network Ten.


Remember when we'd get tagged in that fateful social media announcement of the new Bachie? The one we'd been waiting months for? We didn't know who to expect in the game of rose-giving roulette, even though it sure was fun to hypothesise who we'd get on our screen for a few months.

With the introduction of Sam Frost as the debut Bachelorette, we had the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the US Bachelor's success (which now has 28 seasons under its belt) and start casting those we already knew and loved from the season prior.

This dumping was the perfect lubrication for an upcoming ratings success. Image: Network Ten.


Frost's casting was followed by Strahan and Matty J for Season 4 and Season 5, respectively. Not only was it a goldmine for viewership, but it helped us believe these men were here for the right reasons (the US chooses wholesome —  often religious and sometimes virginal—  leads to help with this, too), as opposed to someone like, let's say... 2023's Felix Von Hofe.

It was more about love than drama.

But then the franchise really went rogue, casting back-to-back celebrity leads with Sophie Monk and Nick "Honey Badger" Cummins. Finale ratings continued to soar well above a million, proving that familiar faces were an effective route, even if they were in an Adam Sandler movie once.

While using celebrities meant the franchise could get new viewers on top of existing ones, it also came at a cost. It felt like the moment the show forgot what it was (everyday people looking for love) and ultimately the day audiences stopped resonating with the concept.

What could possibly go wrong? Image: Network 10.


Celebrities are not people we could relate to; not people who would generally help us find comfort in our quests for love.

The show felt less and less believable as time went on, all the while streaming services and social media were stealing our attention in the background. Did people really fall in love with someone after one or two solo dates and several three-minute chats?

We didn't even have overnight dates on the show (like the US) after Robards politely declined the opportunity during Season 1. 


We also lacked additional dates, episodes and experiences that the US franchise had which could've helped accelerate relationships in the allocated timeframe. But let's be honest: our version (probably) never had the budget. 

Somewhere along the way we even stopped heading international for the finale, when America's version is jet-setting by week five.

Robards' season also had "After The Final Rose" — an episode the US typically uses to announce the next Bachelor or Bachelorette — but it was eventually canned. Image: The Bachelor Australia.


Of course, I can hardly sit here and pretend The Bachelor US is perfect. It needs serious work to evolve after 20 years on air, including a cast that isn't overwhelmingly white, thin, and young every season — something Australia also continues to struggle with when it comes to representation on television.

Upon calls for a more relatable show, the US introduced a spinoff with The Golden Bachelor in 2023. 72-year-old Gerry Turner brought the best ratings since the first black US Bachelor, Matt James. The show wasn't a replacement for the usual season, though, which continues to run.

There have been wild last-ditch efforts to revive The Bachelor here, too. After a year off our screens in 2022, the show announced it would be returning in 2023 with not one but three Bachelors. Not one face was recognisable other than looking like many other white men.

The rotating roster of Bachies was a novelty at first but three mayo dollops wasn't what we needed to revive the already-dying program. The show had become unrecognisable and lost everything that drew us to it in the first place, it appeared to be the final rose in the coffin.

The Bachelor Australia team had gone too rogue, too consistently, then created more of what we didn't need (young white men) instead of what we do need in television more broadly: diversity, relatability, believability and… budget.

In short: they stuffed it.

Chantelle Schmidt is a freelance writer. You can follow her on Instagram @chantelleschmidt.

Feature image: Channel 10.