- With the season 24 finale of "The Bachelor" fast approaching, a select group of fans will be gearing up for a busy week.
- The r/thebachelor subreddit is a devoted online fandom that digs into everything and anything related to ABC's "Bachelor" franchise shows.
- Members post spoilers, investigations, memes, etc. — but frequent posters and moderators say the subreddit is more about the sense of community.
- The subreddit uses Bachelor Nation-specific language, so it can be difficult to decipher unless you're familiar with the show and its history.
- This is part of Insider's 'A Beginner's Guide To The Internet' series, introducing readers to fascinating corners of the world wide web.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
On March 10, a months-long journey will come to an end, as Pilot Peter Weber hands out his final rose on the 24th season of "The Bachelor." Approximately 6 million viewers will tune in to see if he gets down on one knee with a Neil Lane engagement ring — from the looks of the previews, a pear cut diamond surrounded by a halo of smaller stones — for model Hannah Ann Sluss or foster parent recruiter Madison Prewett.
But the finale may not be that simple. And there's a devoted online community that's been discussing the possible outcomes for months. They've actually been discussing the show for years.
The "Bachelor" subreddit (r/thebachelor) or "the sub" as it's known to its 119,000 members, is a dedicated fandom that communes online to engage in everything "Bachelor," from show spoilers to memes to speculation on contestants' political views.
The page's bio describes the community as a place to "discuss The ABC Show 'The Bachelor' and Bachelor Franchise shows, such as 'The Bachelorette,' 'Bachelor in Paradise,' 'Bachelor Pad,' and 'Bachelor Winter Games.'"
For many of the sub's members, however, the online space offers more than that.
What can you expect to find on the subreddit?
The subreddit contains all of the "Bachelor"-related content you never knew you needed, from memes to photos of detailed decor from "Bachelor" viewing parties to recaps of relevant podcasts to, of course, show spoilers.
For organizational purposes, posts are tagged with "flairs" describing the nature of the content: meme, podcast, politics and religion, contestant IRL, and "unverified tea" (a sub favorite), among others.
One staple of sub content is persistent investigation into possible outcomes of the show. While the majority of show spoilers are the handiwork of reality TV blogger Reality Steve, sub members contribute their own theories and evidence to the mix.
Perhaps the most famous result of "sleuthing" in the subreddit's history is the work of ag_sci14, who confirmed a significant spoiler for season 23 of "The Bachelor," thanks to her academic background in botany.
While Reality Steve determined that Bachelor Colton Underwood would famously jump over a fence to evade camera crews after the unexpected departure of his frontrunner, the blogger could not confirm the timeline of events surrounding the "fence jump."
One Redditor was able to clear things up after spotting a species of cactus in the background of teaser footage showing Underwood sprinting through vegetation. The Opuntia, or "prickly pear," she explained in a post, grows as an invasive species in southern Portugal, where the show filmed the overnight dates toward the end of the season. It does not grow in Asia, she noted, meaning that the dramatic fence jump could not have happened earlier in the filming schedule (which took place in Singapore and Thailand).
The post received hundreds of comments from impressed sub members.
"Posts like this remind me that this sub could literally solve, like, cold cases or something," one commenter wrote.
"At the time of the post, I was working on a Ph.D. in plant genetics," ag_sci14 told Insider (she provided Insider with information confirming her background in integrative plant science). "My studies focused mostly on agricultural plants, but I have also had a fascination with cacti and succulents since they are so different than any of the plant life I grew up around in the Midwest US."
Extensive knowledge of plant species isn't the only way to contribute to sub speculation. Other Redditors have confirmed "Bachelor" contestant relationships by identifying identical granite countertops in the background of Instagram stories and vigorously stalking Venmo activity.
As one Redditor said: "Kris Jenner works hard, but this sub works harder."
Who's in charge?
The moderators, known on Reddit as "mods," are the select group of members who monitor the content on the sub and keep things running smoothly. In order to become a r/thebachelor mod, interested individuals fill out a Google form explaining their interest and qualifications.
The current moderators, who agreed to be interviewed as a group, told Insider about the experience of applying and running the most popular "Bachelor" fan forum.
"[The process] reminded me of college application days," one moderator said. "I remember being surprised when I got a message saying I was selected as a mod."
Working together to manage the largest "Bachelor" fandom, moderators say, is a bonding experience.
"I am super surprised by how close we all are. I was really invested in the subreddit before becoming a mod, but since becoming a mod, it feels even more substantial to me," another moderator explained. "As crazy as it sounds, modding this subreddit and being a really active part of our team has added so much to my life."
What are the rules?
Like most other subreddits, r/thebachelor has rules. First, there's the usual "reddiquette," which bans spam, self-promotional posts, and reposts. But as the sub has evolved, moderators have taken extra steps to avoid the cruelty and harassment that plague other corners of Reddit.
"Personal attacks, racism, bigotry, homophobia, armchair diagnoses, body shaming, etc. is not tolerated and will result in a removal and potential ban," the first rule states.
"We have rules we work very hard to enforce and keep the subreddit more positive," a moderator explained. "We want to encourage open discussion, but also shut down pile ons and really negatively-toned conversations."
Why do members post?
Posting "Bachelor" memes and speculating about contestants' romantic lives serves a greater purpose, according to sub moderators and frequent posters. Mining the internet for spoilers and sharing information online is a welcome distraction, a chance for community, and an opportunity to challenge oneself.
"The sub is an escape for me," one mod said. "I'm a manager IRL and it's nice to come home, turn off my brain and snark about reality TV."
"To me, the entire show is just a MacGuffin to hang out with people, make fun memes, and just be a part of something happening," another mod explained. "One of my favorite parts is the community you develop."
"It's a race to see who can post what just happened in BN before someone else does," Kelly Gavel, who posts in the sub almost daily, told Insider. "I'm constantly looking for the new news, listening to podcasts, coming up with theories."
The sub, members say, ultimately changes the way they engage with the show.
"Before [joining the sub] I'd record it and watch it the next day just so I could skip ads, but now I watch it live so I can see what people are saying on the sub in the LIVE Thread and share my thoughts on what's happening as well," frequent poster mrsreadtoomuchintoit11 told Insider. "It's way more fun than watching it by myself."
"I honestly think I am mostly interested in the show at this point because of the Bachelor community," one mod admitted.
How do "Bachelor" stars feel about the sub?
Not all "Bachelor" personalities love the fan forum dedicated to exploring their personal lives and dissecting their behavior on TV.
Season 21 Bachelor Nick Viall expressed his distaste for Reddit on an episode of the Comments by Celebs podcast.
"It's conspiracy theories, but it's sprinkled with some truth, like some fan saw this or heard this. But then people read it as truth and all of a sudden, people are saying 'I heard this about you, blah blah blah,'" he said.
He went on to allege that cast members and their families abuse the platform, making fake accounts to make up stories about other contestants.
Moderators say they're open to communicating with "Bachelor" contestants to ensure a more balanced conversation and to enhance the fan experience.
"We have had a few communications with contestants," one moderator said. "It's something that has gone well, and we are always glad to foster closer ties to the people our users talk about, especially as we become bigger and bigger."
"We have had some problems with negativity in the past. It's a relic of the days when the sub was smaller and beneath notice," another explained. "Now, with our new mod team who have almost all joined in the past year or two, we've placed a huge emphasis on making the sub a more positive, supportive place."
Maintaining a healthy balance, however, can be difficult.
"It is a challenge because we don't want to stifle discussion of things that are legitimately criticism-worthy," a moderator said. "But we are hopeful that in the future Reddit can be thought of as a much more positive alternative for ["Bachelor"] personalities who want to interact with the fans."
"At the end of the day it is an open discussion forum," another explained. "We have to try to find a balance between 'these people sign up to put their lives on a TV show and have their actions publicly scrutinized' and not allowing outright personal attacks that are just mean."
What terminology should you know?
The sub often speaks in "Bachelor" code, so it's important to know the basic acronyms and terms that pop up across posts.
BN: Bachelor Nation
Bachelor Nation refers to the decades of contestants who have appeared on any of the 'Bachelor' franchise shows. More broadly, the term "Bachelor Nation" can also include the franchise's massive fanbase.
TPTB: The Powers That Be
The powers that be, in this case, are the show's producers and the "higher-ups" at ABC. TPTB frequently show up in sub discussions surrounding the choice of leads for any given season.
RS: Reality Steve
Reality Steve, also known as Steven Carbone, is the perpetual thorn in ABC's side and a renowned reality TV blogger who has been spoiling the outcome of the Bachelor franchise shows for over a decade. The sub appears to have a love-hate relationship with Carbone — some members are vocal about their dislike of Carbone's website layout and their discomfort with his personal commentary on "Bachelor" contestants — but he remains the primary resource for show spoilers.
Another thing to know: Reality Steve has myriad nicknames on the sub, from Rita Skeeter to Rented Sedan to Rancid Sushi. Any vaguely unflattering or amusing combination of words beginning in "R" and "S" will do.
WTA/MTA: Women Tell All / Men Tell All
The "Men Tell All" and "Women Tell All" episodes air on the second to last week of any given season of "The Bachelor" or the "The Bachelorette." Before the final rose of the season — and often, an engagement ring — is presented, the season's lead is forced to face the suitors they rejected in front of a studio audience.
These are the episodes in which contestants air their grievances with each other and, occasionally, with the network about the ways they were portrayed on the show.
ATFR: After The Final Rose
The "After The Final Rose" episode airs during the season finale. Typically, right after the engagement segment, the lead and the final contestant do their first interview as a couple in front of a live studio audience.
In recent seasons, the "After The Final Rose" episodes have been more dramatic, as leads are increasingly deviating from the usual format of the show (i.e. changing their minds and pursuing previously eliminated contestants or forgoing engagement, to name a few).
Frankenbiting: an editing maneuver in which bits of audio are spliced together to create entirely new dialogue.
One particularly popular sub pastime is determining which soundbites from the show are real — and which were "frankenbites" manufactured in the editing room. Editors in reality TV are known for pasting together contestants' words and partial sentences to form new (and more dramatic) audio. Dedicated sub members are careful to flag suspicious sentences after every episode.
The Windmill: a reference to season 24 Bachelor Peter Weber's sexual stamina.
When "Bachelorette" contestant and season 15 villain Luke Parker told Hannah Brown that the success of their relationship was contingent upon her abstaining from sex, Brown promptly sent him home. She added that Parker might not want to stay on the show because, on a previous date, she "f—– in a windmill." Earlier in the episode, viewers watched Brown and contestant Peter Weber begin an overnight date in a converted windmill.
"I f—– in a windmill. Twice," she clarified to the cameras in a later interview.
On the finale episode when Brown faced Weber after their breakup, she retracted her previous statement, announcing to the live studio audience that the rendez-vous in the windmill happened "four times."
Thus, sub references to "the windmill" generally refer to Peter's demonstrated abilities.
Not right now, Ashley: Not right now, Ashley.
This one requires some explanation. Back in 2019, E! News posted a photo to Instagram, teasing an article about former Bachelorette Hannah Brown meeting up with ex Tyler Cameron after the show. A spam account (with a username that incorporated the name "Ashley") commented on the post, encouraging followers to visit her page for nude photos. A shrewd social media manager for E! commented in reply: "not right now Ashley."
The response received thousands of likes and quickly became a catchphrase of the sub. It's mostly used in reference to "Bachelor" veteran Ashley Iaconetti, who made a name for herself in the franchise by frequently sobbing during her stints on four seasons of "Bachelor" shows.
What's the drama this season?
The current season of "The Bachelor" has been a particularly busy season for the sub.
While Reality Steve had been able to spoil Peter Weber's final two picks well before the season aired, he had not been able to determine the specifics of the season finale. Originally, the blogger released an official spoiler, before posting a cryptic tweet, implying that there may be more to the finale.
"It's madness," he said in the tweet, which has received over 2,000 likes.
As a result, fan speculation in the sub exploded in the days leading up to the finale.
However, the spoiler phenom finally released his official spoilers with a major twist, just hours before the two-part finale is set to air.
Within two minutes of the spoiler's release on Monday morning, the subreddit had been updated with the new information.
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