While I once mocked the ridiculousness of ABC’s Bachelor franchise, I have completely given into the obsession. Admittedly, reality T.V. is my greatest guilty pleasure. The various classic Bachelor series, namely, “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise,” embodies all the juiciest aspects of reality T.V. Drama, romance and competition galore, these three shows provide the perfect source of entertainment for trashy T.V. addicts like myself. The franchise’s most recent addition “The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart,” added a new element unique to the spinoff: music. Commercials gave fans a pretty ambiguous preview into the show which involves the search for love of several singers and songwriters. The format of the show seemed very vague prior to its premiere on April 13, and honestly, two episodes in, it still is. 

Despite the many loyal fans of “Bachelor Nation,” ratings have been incredibly low in consideration of the franchise’s usual success. The season’s opening episode took off with only three million viewers. This is less than half of what the last season of “The Bachelor” earned with its premiere. For any Bachelor fanatic, these aren’t surprising statistics. In the absence of any prior contestants of the franchise, the interest of the show for the franchise’s usual fans is very low. Plus, any Bachelor fan knows that musicians are arguably the worst contestants on any of the other shows (Jed Wyatt…need I say more?).

Still, I regrettably gave the show a fighting chance, which was largely a result of quarantine boredom and nothing else on T.V. The first episode opened in a fashion similar to “Bachelor in Paradise,” where each starting contestant was welcomed by Chris Harrison, the show’s host, and entered the mansion. Similar to Paradise, the ratio of men to women was uneven, making it clear that the women would be the first to hand out roses at the rose ceremony at the end of the week. However, by the time that I made it to the first rose ceremony, I was still completely unaware of half the present cast. The entire first episode was concerned with a handful of primary characters of interest which made it really difficult to follow. While this often happens in Paradise, it is significantly more confusing when none of the cast has been made familiar by previous seasons. 

Adding to my confusion was the musical talent, or lack thereof. According to ABC’s website, each artist/contestant is representative of their preferred individual style or styles of music. However, this has not been made terribly clear within the first two episodes. Furthermore, I am very curious about the show’s qualifications for being an “artist.” Was there a requirement for musical auditions along with their applications? If so, I’m not sure the bar was set too high, considering the adequate capabilities of most of the present musicians.

Thus far, each date seems to be entirely focused around music in some way. This makes sense considering music is the common thread amongst the contestants. Previews however additionally show stage performances in front of a live audience as well as different panels of judges. This remains unexplained thus far. Are they being judged on their performance in terms of quality or romance? How can anyone quantify genuine romance in terms of a musical performance? Is this supposed to benefit their relationship or their musical careers? I have been continuously asking these sorts of questions throughout my viewing of the first two episodes.

The ultimate objective is still incredibly unclear. Is romance or music the priority? Are they really as intertwined as the show argues? In general, I find the show to be one of the weakest attempts of the franchise thus far. While ambiguity can work to add interest for shows with fan favorites, it makes a show with an entirely new cast pretty hard to follow and less exciting. That being said, will I continue to watch it? Probably. There is still a lot of time for improvement and nothing else to watch on Monday nights. I hope to see some progress in the coming weeks but also wouldn’t be too surprised if I ultimately have to switch to Netflix before the finale.

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