Tonight, The Bachelor went back about as far in time as it possibly could.
As the Bachelor franchise continues to reckon with its history and contemplate its future, The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons—Ever took a trip back to 2002 and 2003, when the very first seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette aired, starring Alex Michel and Trista Rehn.
MySpace wasn't even a thing yet, meaning Facebook, Twitter, and most importantly Instagram were years away from taking over the world. Influencers did not exist yet, and on The Bachelor, not even the promise of possibly being the next star of the franchise existed back then. That means that maybe, just maybe, the first 25 women cast on the series were really there to try to find love, and only to try and find love. And to be on TV, of course.
Many things have obviously changed in 18 years (oh, the clothes), but a surprising number of things haven't, like the rose ceremonies. That's one treasured tradition that has always been a part of the series, and likely will never die.
Not Such a Fantasy
Fantasy suites have also been around since the beginning, though in season one, the women didn't know they were on their way. So when Shannon realized that she was not the only woman who would be getting that envelope asking if she and Alex would like to forgo their individual rooms to share a room for the night, she got completely freaked out.
While Shannon gets a pass for being one of the first to get this offer in the history of the franchise, she was followed by a long line of contestants who completely forgot and became extremely bothered by the fact that they're on a reality show, competing against other people.
A Happy-ish Ending?
When it was down to the final two, Alex committed what has become a sort of cardinal sin of the franchise and essentially told Trista she was the one, only to then let her down and pick Amanda Marsh.
But he didn't even propose. He just showed Amanda the ring and then told her he wasn't actually ready to give it to her. They dated for a while and then broke up, though Amanda later told Chris Harrison that she and Alex stayed in touch until just about six years ago, and she hasn't heard from him since.
Chris Harrison also hasn't heard from him, and was unable to contact him for a catch-up.
The very first thing we noticed about that first season was this line from one young lady named Alexa, with complete sincerity:
"You know, every father dreams of their little girl finding the perfect guy, a little fairytale. I mean, if this is gonna be a fairytale...I mean how perfect would that be? My dad would be so proud."
That's not a quote you'd expect to hear from this franchise in 2020. Dads have gotten a lot less proud and a lot more grumpy about their kids' participation.
A Definitely Happy Ending
Trista's journey to find love obviously went a lot smoother than Alex's, and watching her and Ryan Sutter fall in love over the course of this truncated season was like watching an early 2000s romcom, complete with extremely thin eyebrows and hair styles we strangely found ourselves fawning over.
Zig-zag parts, elaborate top knots, extreme curls, little wispy bangs, giant crimped nests on top of Trista's head. Hair in 2003 was just so much more fun, and Trista was really living it up, with a beautiful love story on the side.
If she's not considered the true queen of this franchise, she should be. All hail Trista, and all hail zig zag parts.
The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons—Ever! airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.