Fifteen seasons in, how do you make ABC's The Bachelor (premiering Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. ET) feel fresh? In an intriguing gambit, exec producer Mike Fleiss has chosen to bring back an old Bachelor, Brad Womack, for a second try at love. Is this a desperate stab at reviving the show? Or is it a clever use of the audience's shared history to woo them back for more?
Whatever Fleiss' motives, the choice was a smart one. The only guy in Bachelor history to reject all 25 women, Womack is an infamous character in the overall narrative of this show. Whether viewers in 2007 were rooting for Jenni Croft, Deanna Pappas or another Season 11 contestant, they were invested in his decision; naturally, they felt cheated by his dismissal of both the final two. In Bachelor-related interviews and specials since then, Womack's name gets tossed around like some notorious bank robber. His behavior was considered irredeemable.
That's all nicely paved the way for this Season of Redemption, whereby Womack returns as a chastened man, who's finally ready to open himself up to love. The show's "unscripted" script has written itself. For the premiere, Fleiss simply had to wrangle the two jilted women to face Womack down, and to give everyone -- the viewing audience included -- some closure. Season 15's female contestants were no doubt instructed to go hard on Womack, demanding why they should trust him. The promo of the premiere says it all: The first woman emerges from the limo and slaps Womack across the face.
Womack has already informed the press that he did find love the second time around. (And (spoiler alert!) Reality Steve has already fingered the winner.) So viewers get to tune in to see a Bachelor all-star transform from villain to hero, with a happy ending that may well lead to another Bachelor wedding. What more could they ask for?
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