13 ways 'The Bachelor' has changed since the very first episode

ABCColton Underwood during his first episode as Bachelor.
  • “The Bachelor” has aired 23 seasons over 17 years.
  • The contestants they cast have changed a bit.
  • Social media, spoilers, and sponsors have changed the face of the show.

“The Bachelor” has become a cultural juggernaut, but it wasn’t always so – when the show debuted in 2002, it was a something audiences hadn’t seen much of before. Americans watched other Americans eat roaches on “Fear Factor” and form civilizations on “Survivor,” but they hadn’t seen courtship on television in this way.

Now almost two decades later, “The Bachelor” is a permanent part of the zeitgeist. And it’s so different than its original iteration – here are all the ways The Bachelor has changed over the years.

Social media has given the contestants a different platform.

Instagram/ jadelizroperOne of Jade and Tanner Tolbert’s sponsored Instagram posts.

Back in the day, “The Bachelor” producers didn’t have to worry about a contestant posting to Snapchat the minute she got home. Today, leaks abound simply because of social media.

Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe famously spoiled her season by Snapchatting a photo of her and her then-fiance Shawn Booth in bed before the finale had aired.

Contestants also use it to make money – “Bachelor In Paradise” couple Jade and Tanner Tolbert reportedly made almost $US1 million in 2018 because of their sponsored posts, according to Us Weekly.

The spoiler culture is so much more real.

Instagram/ realitysteveSteve Carbone (the man behind Reality Steve) and former Bachelor contestant Sharleen Joynt.

Because of social media or because fans just can’t get enough, finding “Bachelor” spoilers is big business. Blogger Reality Steve is both a part of Bachelor Nation and a member of the media. He is pretty much the go-to source for all things Bachelor spoilers. That didn’t really exist during the first season.

The stars used to be “regular” people.

Frazer Harrison/Getty ImagesColton Underwood and Aly Raisman at the 2017 Golden Globes, prior to Underwood making his first appearance on ‘The Bachelorette.’

Sure, they were really impressive regular people, but they were regular nonetheless. Now, the pool is generally from past seasons of the franchise.

On top of that, they could be celebrities in their own right. This season’s Bachelor Colton Underwood had been in the public eye before becoming the Bachelor – he was a pro athlete and publicly dated Olympian Aly Raisman.

The participants have longer to fall in love.

ABCSean Lowe and Catherine Guidici.

Alex Michel, the original Bachelor, only had about six episodes to find a fiancĂ©e. Today’s “Bachelor” seasons last a bit longer – about 10 episodes. It’s barely more time to fall in love, but it is something.

Today’s Bachelors have broken the norms.

ABCBen Higgins famously said ‘I love you’ to both Lauren Bushnell and Jojo Fletcher.

As the show has evolved, the stars seem more likely to say “I love you” (once a no-no), send people home at times other than a rose ceremony, and generally leave Chris Harrison hanging.

Neil Lane wasn’t always in charge of the ring.

ABCThe Neil Lane ring that Nick Viall proposed to Vanessa Grimaldi with.

Bringing Neil Lane and his diamonds on the show is a more recent addition to the Bachelor canon. For those who missed out on the first round, Lane told Stylecaster, they can purchase anniversary rings so they, too, are a part of The Bachelor bling ring.

Travel is basically required.

ABCSome girls from Ben Higgin’s season on Pig Island in the Bahamas.

In 2002, no one thought that dates would take you to locales like Fiji, the Bahamas, and Iowa. In the beginning seasons of “The Bachelor,” dinner was as fancy as a date got.

The Bachelor wasn’t as in on the joke when it started.

ABCChris Harrison on ‘Bachelor in Paradise.’

When something becomes a part of the culture, it’s more able to poke fun at itself. The initial seasons of “The Bachelor” were more earnest, whereas, in today’s “Bachelor” world, Chris Harrison prides himself on announcing that every season is the “most dramatic” ever, now knowing he’s in on the joke.

No one had a costume in 2002.

ABC/Rick RowellAlexis Waters came as a dolphin/shark on Nick Viall’s season.

Limo arrivals in 2002 were just, well, limo arrivals. No sloth costumes, no unicorns, no live animals. Just women in sequined gowns.

The contestants used to leave video messages for “The Bachelor.”

Robert Mora / Getty ImagesAlex Michel and Amanda Marsh, who won the first season.

In the first season of “The Bachelor,” the ladies left video messages for Alex while they were in the mansion that he could watch before the rose ceremony. Today, they stick to in-person dates mostly.

Chris Harrison seemed to spend more time with the Bachelor in the beginning.

ABCChris Harrison and Sean Lowe.

Recent years have shown Chris Harrison only giving the Bachelor himself pep talks before rose ceremonies, but other than that, the drama happens without Harrison around. In the beginning, he was more of an omniscient narrator.

This could just be what we see on TV, though.

There were no celebrity guest stars in 2002, either.

Rick Rowell/ABCNick Offerman, Megan Mullally, and Colton Underwood.

No ABC crossover events or tie-ins happened when “The Bachelor” first launched, probably because the show wasn’t yet a hit – now, everyone from Ice Cube to Megan Mullally appears for a little bit of screen time.

No one eats on dates anymore.

ABCArie Luyendyke Jr. and Lauren Burnham ‘eating dinner.’

It’s a longstanding “Bachelor” tradition to not let the contestants eat food on dates, mostly because it’s not cute to see people shoveling salad into their mouths. They must have learned that the hard way, though, because at one point, everyone actually ate the food.

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