chris harrison the bachelor
Credit: ABC

Love hasn’t been the name of this show’s game for a very long time now. 

One has to assume that host Chris Harrison appreciates the irony of himself being at the center of “the most dramatic Bachelor controversy yet.” After all, he’s been promising “the most dramatic” rose ceremonies, twists and seasons of the show and its assorted spinoffs for years.

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Now, as Harrison temporarily steps down following an interview in which he admits to having spoken “in a manner that perpetuates racism,” we can’t help but wonder if perhaps it’s time for the long-running, scandal-plagued franchise to close up shop. (For details on what led to Harrison’s decision, check out our sister site TVLine’s insightful article.)

While the show’s basic format has not changed much since its debut way back in 2002 — when Alex Michel became the first guy to say “Will you accept this rose?” — the tone has shifted dramatically. Long gone is any pretense that viewers are coming for romance as opposed to the inevitable drama which unfolds along the way.

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Ads aren’t built around “the most swoon-worthy date in Bachelor history” but rather the heartbreak, tears, catfights and crazy which keep viewers buzzing. The introduction of spinoff series Bachelor in Paradise — in which former mother-ship contestants drink heavily and engage in copious amounts of drama — dialed up the camp factor with goofy opening credits and sequences in which contestants appeared to be having long conversations with birds, crabs and other forms of wildlife, as seen in the below clip.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the ludicrousness of the premise — more than two dozen people simultaneously dating the same man or woman, depending on the season — the show has resulted in few successful, long-term relationships.

ryan trista bachelorette travel channel everett

Trista Rehn — the first Bachelorette — is one of the franchise’s few true success stories, having married Ryan Sutter way back in 2003. And stayed married to him!

Credit: Travel Channel/Courtesy of the Everett Collection

The show has also been caught up in its fair share of scandals, from contestants posting racist, homophobic or otherwise inappropriate comments on various social-media platforms to inappropriate relationships developing between contestants and producers during filming and at least one — villain Chad Johnson — being expelled from Paradise after becoming so intoxicated that he reportedly began threatening physical violence and verbally abusing other cast members.

Fans of the show — who collectively identify as “Bachelor Nation” — remain fiercely loyal, but their numbers have been on the decline for years. While the show at one point reached as many as 14 million viewers per week, the latest season started things off with fewer eyeballs than any previous season.

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So far, there’s been no news on whether the long-in-the-tooth reality show will return for a 26th season. But what say you, readers? Are you a fan of the series? If so, what keeps you coming back… and if not, why did you quit watching? Enlighten us in the comments, then flip through the photo gallery below in which we look at 20 former real-life couples we’re willing to bet you totally forget were ever an item.