The producers of ABC’s Bachelor franchise are at it again, this time launching a new dating series called The Proposal. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this 10-episode summer series will pit 10 contestants against each other in a series of four pageant-style rounds as they compete for — wait for the shocking twist — a mystery suitor! The final two contestants will then meet the eligible bachelor or bachelorette, and a proposal may or may not be made at that time.
THR also reported that The Proposal will be hosted by current Good Morning America cohost Jesse Palmer, who got to romance 30 lovely ladies in The Bachelor Season 5 in 2004. He and his chosen love interest at the time, Jessica Bowlin, ended the show as a couple, but the two didn’t get engaged. All this is to say that Palmer knows a thing or two about how things go down in Bachelor Nation and he knows how to play host, so he’ll be perfect for this gig.
Here’s how ABC described the rounds to THR (and we’re already cringing a little): Each episode “will follow the male or female daters as they attempt to woo the mystery suitor with their words in a first impressions round; bare their souls in a beachwear round; answer the mystery suitor’s most pressing romantic questions; and strive to receive a seal of approval from the mystery suitor’s most trusted family member in the final round.” There’s no mention yet of whether roses will be involved, but heck, they might as well throw some in there for good measure.
Can we be the first to go on record as saying this show sounds like a terrible idea? Seriously, we know dating is incredibly hard in this day and age, but at least you get to see the person you’re considering a date with before you have to put on a show for them. It’s just painful to think about how many more headlines we’re going to see about people making fools of themselves in pursuit of love on this show or, as is typically the case, announcing that they’re breaking up after putting themselves out there for a virtual stranger on camera.
It’s hard not to wonder whether the Bachelor franchise’s producers are still convinced that this formula will work even though it’s proven to be problematic. The franchise leaned hard into the schmaltz for The Bachelor: Winter Games. It was divisive in the worst way when producers exploited Becca Kufrin being dumped by Arie Luyendyk Jr. on television for the most recent Bachelor season finale. There were huge questions about the franchise’s credibility when allegations that DeMario Jackson had sexually assaulted Corinne Olympios while filming Bachelor in Paradise were seemingly swept under the rug. Are producers really still convinced romance can be found on reality TV? Ratings for both the flagship shows have been falling, according to Buzzfeed, so they could be aiming to air the next big, splashy hit show that can reel viewers back in with as much bombast and drama as possible.
Whatever the motivation for The Proposal, it will be difficult to watch a show that puts people on display like a meat market for the purposes of finding true love. At least on the other shows, the participants have some agency in forming a relationship with their love interest. We’ll just have to wait and see if America will tune in for 10 weeks. Right now, we’re not that optimistic.