I was reeled into the Bachelor universe in the winter of 2010. As a graduate student paying non-Nebraska(!) rent for the first time, cable was definitely out of my budget. Instead, I had a crappy second-hand antenna that could only get the local ABC channel.
When it was time to unwind, I would turn my brain off, adjust my precarious antenna, and let whatever was on ABC wash over me. My escapes from the stress of school weremy daily Jeopardy, my Grey’s Anatomy Thursdays, and my Bachelor Mondays.
I had never watched a Bachelor show before, even though it’d been in the cultural zeitgeist since 2002. When I finally tuned in eight years later that fateful January, I had the pleasure of watching 25 ladies (of varying mental stability) compete for the love of airline pilot Jake Pavelka. In a series of questionable decision-making, Jake proposed to Vienna in the taped final rose ceremony, only to have a bitter, uncomfortable, on-air post-breakup blowout in the live finale. (BREATHTAKING.) And then, because the franchise upcycles previous contestants to become the next lead, I was instantly invested in the next Bachelorette’s second-chance storyline. It’s at the same time a vicious cycle and a riveting pop culture machine.
How I’ve made it this far as a data enthusiast without doing a Bachelor analysis is a mystery. I think I was intimidated by the amazing analyses already out there from the likes of FiveThirtyEight and The Ringer. What could I possibly add?
As I started roping in Bachelor newbies to drink wine, eat cheese, and enjoy Bachelor Mondays with me, I found myself trying to explain the origin story of each character — whose season they were on, how long they lasted, their off-camera instagram feuds, what crazy occupation they purported to have. And I realized, while there are a number of great meta-analyses and deep dives, there aren’t a lot of person-level interactives that let you explore the entire franchise alumni network, from the first contestant out of the limo to the last final rose.
So, for the first time that I’m aware of, here is an infographic of every single Bachelor cast member of all time, interactive and hover-able for detailed deep-diving. This is what I’ve dubbed, The Bachelor Family Tree. Disclaimer: with a franchise that’s 17 years old and counting, it’ll take a few scrolls.
Creating this, I found myself smiling at the “careers” attributed to the contestants. The word former is often prefixed, presumably because the person quit their job to pursue reality TV or was conveniently already unemployed. With my new Bachelor database, I could explore my curiosity. I decided to break down what career types we see most often, in the interactive below. Go ahead! Type in your job, and see what previous contestants had it. (Only 1 contestant had the word “data” in their occupation. Hello, John Wolfner from Emily Maynard’s season, ya fellow datahead!)
Here, you can definitely see the gender-normative jobs for women (child care, teaching) as well as men (construction, engineering). But there is some unexpected parity. For instance, there is a fairly equal number of male/female lawyers and personal trainers. It’s also interesting to see, overall, what job types are common or uncommon. A lot of people in Sales, which makes sense if you think of a stereotypically outgoing (read: camera ready) salesperson. Not a lot of people in politics, probably because of the exposure downside; hope your tequila company works out, Luke Stone. Younger women are “Students” (because they’re on the show before starting a career), older men are Doctors (because it takes a post-graduate education). It’s a fun albeit skewed sample of the millenial job pool. Funeral director. Jumbotron operator. Italian prince. Not so different from your LinkedIn network, right?
The last thing I thought folks would want to explore is age. Our most recent Bachelorette, Hannah Brown, is the youngest lead ever at age 24. She picked the youngest ever male suitor (Jed Wyatt, age 25). Our oldest ever lead, Byron Velvick (age 40) in a surprising good-for-you move had the oldest cast (average of 31 years) and the oldest female winner (Mary Delgado, age 35). So I thought I’d not only visualize the age distribution of Bachelor Nation, but the ages of contestants relative to their lead for some matchmaking context.
As I expected, every single Bachelor had a cast on average younger than him. All but three Bachelorettes had a cast older than her. Except for Byron’s season, the average age is predictably between 24 and 29 for both genders of contestants. While this is interesting from a data perspective, it also makes a certain amount of common sense. The number of beautiful, compelling, eligible people (who are also willing to compete on a reality dating show) likely drops off with age.
I could make a dozen more interactives with this data. And I might, later. Much later. This was probably my most intensive project thus far for the blog. Creating a database of all these contestants, organizing a timeline, reading decade-old articles; I felt like Michelle McNamara researching the Golden State Killer but waaaaay more pointless. But I know I learned a lot (one of the O’Connell brothers was the Bachelor, guys! nope, not the one you know!), and I hope my beloved readers enjoy the fruits of my nonsensical labors.
Happy Bach-ing, dataheads.