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‘The Bachelor’ turns 20 today — a look back

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ABC

ABC’s hit reality show franchise The Bachelor got its start on this night in 2002, and in that time we’ve seen a lot of drama, hundreds of roses, gallons of Chardonnay quaffed, and, well, not many happily ever afters. 

In fact, after 26 seasons, only season 17 couple Sean and Catherine, who tied the knot in 2013, remain married to this day. Both Arie and Becca from season 22, and Peter and Hannah from season 24, broke up after just one day.

As Entertainment Weekly points out, the first season on re-watch appears quite different from how it does today, and not only because the Rose Ceremony was called Invitation Night, and the Bachelor Mansion was a different location known as “The Villa.”

In the years since a dude named Alex Michael turned to reality TV to find his soulmate, the show has become a collection of beloved — or groan-inducing, depending on your point of view — tropes, like the oft-uttered phrase “my person,” “for the right reasons,” and the dreaded, “can I steal him for a second?”

Arguably, the casting has upped the ante, too.  Truth told, Alex was a pretty average-looking guy, but today’s hopefuls are nearly always lantern-jawed superhunks — so much the better for those outdoor shower scenes to which viewers have become accustomed. Likewise, those lucky ladies vying for the Bachelor’s attention — regardless of their actual careers — wouldn’t look out of place in a modeling photo shoot.

As for the show’s purported goal, helping its Bachelor find love, the results aren’t nearly as sparkling as a Neil Lane diamond. For the record, even Alex didn’t find his soulmate on the show. He dated his final choice, Amanda, for about a year after the finale, and then they broke up. 

Before the most recent season launched, Express VPN crunched the numbers when it comes to final rose-getters and their would-be “persons,” and it’s not particularly encouraging, demonstrating the average lifespan of a Bachelor relationship over the years at only three months and 16 days. Here are some of the short-termed “soulmates”:

Season 14 — Jake & Vienna — Broken up after 3 months, 21 days
Season 15 — Brad & Emily — Broken up after 3 months, 15 days
Season 16 — Ben & Courtney — Broken up after 6 months 23 days
Season 18 — Juan & Nikki — Broken up after 7 months 18 days
Season 19 — Chris & Whitney — Broken up after 2 months, 19 days
Season 20 — Ben & Lauren — Broken up after 2 months, 1 day
Season 21 — Nick & Vanessa — Broken up after 5 months, 12 days
Season 22 — Arie & Becca — Broken up after 1 day
Season 23 — Colton & Cassie — Broken up after 2 months, 17 days
Season 24 — Peter & Hannah — Broken up after 1 day
Season 25 — Matt & Rachael — Dating since March 15, 2021

After a tumultuous season 26, Clayton & Susie are still dating.

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