It’s been seven years since Ben Higgins handed out roses — but does the season 20 Bachelor see an end in sight for the franchise?
“The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, there was a golden era,” the 34-year-old reality TV recently said on Us Weekly’s “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast, adding that one of the reasons the series was so popular in the past was because “it easy to convince people to watch it.”
Higgins continued: “We didn’t have a lot of competition. And so the thing that made it unique and special, and that did separate it from what it is today, is the fact that most of the people you knew in your circle of friends were getting together to watch and talk about the show. And that’s not the case anymore.”
The former ABC star cites social media and additional dating shows on streaming platforms as reasons the viewership could be down.
“Everybody was talking about it, everybody was criticizing it, everybody was celebrating it, everybody was in it. And now, you know, if you watch The Bachelor, you’re not on an island alone — there’s still many people that watch it — but it’s a smaller island than it was,” he said.
Higgins agreed that it is time to “modernize” the show a bit, but noted that “somehow they do come up with something new and different every season” before the final rose is handed out.
“If I was in charge, this would be my big home run,” he told Us. “I would really lean into this senior dating show. I think it’s something new. I don’t think television has ever seen anything like it. I think the stories would go back to what we’re used to watching when it comes to The Bachelor and Bachelorette — those stories are gonna be heartwrenching. They’re gonna be inspiring. If you’re 50 or 60 years old and you’re dating on national television, that takes a lot of risk. It takes something brand new that you haven’t done ever in your life and that you’re not used to, but you’re also gonna have a lot of life experience to share with the audience and with the other contestants and with the suitor.”
Higgins believes that the spinoff — which has been teased by ABC since 2020 — could be “hilarious” and heartwarming.
“I feel like this generation that’s in their 20s and 30s, we get criticized for not leaning on our elderly for wisdom and advice. And I do think that’s something we should be doing — listening to the voices that have been through this before. But I also think that we’re super curious to understand this generation that’s older than us because there’s so many things different between the two generations, right?” he continued. “And so this would give us a whole new intrigue and outlook on, ‘Why do they say the things they say? Why do they think the way they think? Why are they so slow to pick up new advancements in technology in this world?’ I think this would be great. So I would just lean into that. [I] think it could replace a season of the show because I think it would be a home run.”
When asked if he’s pitching himself as host of the spinoff, Higgins didn’t hesitate. “Oh, I’ve done it since they started announcing it. I’ve wanted to be the host of that show since the moment I first saw the commercial, I said, ‘This is my dream,’” he admitted. “I’m not asking for a lot from the show. I haven’t asked for anything in years, but I am making sure that it is known that if they need somebody — I’m not trying to take Jesse Palmer away from the show — just let me, like, be there as the medicine passer outer or, like, not the bartender, just let me figure out what blue pill to put in the bottle.”
While both Palmer and season 17 Bachelor Sean Lowe were on hand to give the latest lead, Zach Shallcross, advice, Us asked Higgins what tips he would’ve given the 26-year-old who came under fire for declaring he wasn’t going to have sex on the show — only to sleep with finalist Gabi Elnicki and propose to now-fiancée Kaity Biggar.
“I think most people know Sean and I share the same faith tradition. I am a Christian [and] there are things about that you kind of put some boundaries up on or values or morals. But Sean and I, maybe, don’t see eye to eye on all those things physically, but we do come from the same faith tradition,” Higgins told Us. “What I would’ve told Zach was, ‘Hey, you can have your feelings, you can have your convictions, but, at this point in time especially, is not just about you. This is no longer your season of The Bachelor. This is you and these women trying to figure out if this is gonna work or not. And so these big topics that you know are big story lines that are gonna be dramatic and they’re gonna be headlines and all these things, keep ’em to yourself buddy. Like, you’ve made it this far, you don’t need to give the show anything more. Keep it to yourself. Talk about it behind the door, talk about it between the two of you. You have two weeks left and most of those two weeks are gonna be off camera.’”
Higgins recalled saying “I love you” to both Lauren Bushnell and JoJo Fletcher during his 2016 season as a similar misstep. (Higgins and Bushnell split in 2017 after more than one year together and he married Jessica Clarke in 2021.)
“I said I loved you [to] two people right before the end of the show. I didn’t need to do that!” Higgins told Us. “And so I just would’ve told him, ‘Hey, talk about it behind the closed doors. You guys figured this out together. You’re done. You’re on the home stretch.’”
While waiting to find out if the franchise has found its senior Bachelor, Higgins has kept himself busy — recently traveling to the Colombia/Venezuela border with Project Hope, an organization that he’s been on the board of for more than one year.
“This is my first official trip with them to see what was happening on the ground, which I think was really important for me and really important for really anybody that’s involved in an organization to do is to see the work being done with your own eyes,” Higgins explained, adding the organization specializes in healthcare and disaster relief. “The last few years, there’s been a huge migration of Venezuelans to Colombia. I think it’s about 1.8 million people have gone to Colombia. There is an open border now and it’s great that people are able to find homes and kind of get to a place where they feel comfortable and they can start kind of afresh and new, the only issue is that this influx has put a big stress on the healthcare system in Colombia.”
Project Hope is on hand to help with medications, training and resources.
“We visited a lot of hospitals, mental health hospitals that Project Hope is involved in. That was something I’ve never done either inside of the United States or outside of the United States, have never gone into a place where people are getting essential mental healthcare,” Higgins continued. “That was a really incredible experience. [We also visited] the maternity units inside of some of the hospitals that exist there in Cucuta that primarily are helping Venezuelan refugees. We met a lot of the women who had either traveled across the border or who were living in Colombia at the time, having their babies.”