The stated goal of The Bachelor is simple: to find love. Short of that, however, there has emerged, more fervently of late, an unspoken aim: to translate your temporary experience on reality TV into an extended stay in the public eye. With the expansion of the Bachelor Extended Universe, The Bachelor itself has become less a singular journey to find love, but a glorified tryout for a role on Bachelor in Paradise, or the new Bachelor Winter Games, or whatever spin-off the producers cook up next.
Even if you don’t end up on TV, a variety of media are available for contestants to resuscitate their fame. You can start a podcast, like Ashley Iaconetti or Dean Unglert. You can start a blog, like UrbanDaddy contributor Diggy Moreland. You can write a best-selling memoir about your experience, ala Bachelorette Andi Dorfman (and subsequently write another memoir about being single in New York). You can become a fitness star, like fan-favorite Peter Kraus. Or, if you’re particularly lacking creativity, you can settle for Instagram influencing, wherein brands like Dermalogica pay you money to post about their range of skin care products. Regardless, being on reality TV in our oversaturated, social media moment—particularly on a franchise like The Bachelor, which exists as much off-screen, on Twitter, podcasts and blogs, as much as it does on-screen—means never having to return to the reality you knew before. It’s a craven new world.
Which brings us to the news of the day. According to Page Six, former Bachelor Nick Viall is now dating actress January Jones. Apparently, the relationship began when Jones mentioned she was a Bachelor superfan on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Viall reached out to her, to see if she wanted to go on Lip Sync Battle with him—because of course that was something he was doing. She declined, but when he asked her out for a drink, she accepted. Evidently, they’ve been dating now for two months.
Assuming these reports are true, the following statement would be irrefutable: Nick Viall is the greatest Bachelor franchise player of all-time. While he has failed, continually, at stated goal #1—to find love—he has exceeded all expectations in unstated goal #2—to extend his stay in the public eye.
Consider the facts.
Viall burst onto the scene in 2014 to vie for the heart of Bachelorette Andi Dorfman—who, as an undeniably gorgeous attorney was, for my money, the most eligible Bachelorette in the show’s history. Despite the fact that he did not fit the traditional mold of suitors on The Bachelorette—see: his incessant mumbling; not-being jacked—Viall received the coveted first impression rose and made it to the final two, before Dorfman selected known-sociopath Josh Murray.
A year later, Viall managed to snake his way onto Kaitlyn Bristowe’s season of The Bachelorette. It cannot be stated how unprecedented this was—and how unlikely it is that we’ll see something like it again, at least in my lifetime (it is my sincere hope that maybe, maybe my children’s children will witness something even half-as-spectacular). Viall, after seeing Bristowe on Chris Soules’ season of The Bachelor, slid so far into her DMs that he wound up ON THE FUCKING SHOW. Not only did she let him stay—despite the protestations of the other guys—he made it to the final two. And, in another unprecedented feat, during a particularly whiskey-filled date in Ireland, he engaged in the first recorded instance of pre-fantasy suite coitus. To give those unfamiliar with the show an idea of what that’s like, imagine if the player on-deck hit a home run before even stepping into the batter’s box. In Ireland. Where they don’t even PLAY baseball.
I thought that was the last we’d see of Viall. But in a shocking turn of events, he returned for the third season of Bachelor in Paradise, where, through some combination of introverted sex appeal, smarts and televisual osmosis, Viall transmogrified from one of the franchise’s most-hated villains to one of its most-beloved stars. He went on to date fellow contestant Jen Saviano, but, during the final rose ceremony of Paradise, decided not to propose. Once again, Viall flubbed the whole “finding love” thing—while succeeding at making himself available for future Bachelor programming.
Indeed, soon after Paradise, Viall was selected to star in the 21st season of The Bachelor. He had 30 women on the show, versus the standard 25, because apparently he just needed a bit more of a challenge. Viall ultimately proposed to Vanessa Grimaldi, a special education teacher (and probably aspiring actress) from Montreal. They broke up a year later.
After The Bachelor, Viall proceeded to get cast in Dancing with the Stars—which couldn’t have helped his brand new relationship, but whatevs—and just last fall, nabbed a guest spot on the ABC sitcom, Speechless. Now, he’s dating Emmy-nominated actress January Jones, ensuring that he’ll be a fixture on the pages of your favorite tabloid for as long as they’re together—and besting fellow Bachelorette contestant, Wells Adams, who everyone in the world pretty much agrees is goddamn adorable with his new celebrity girlfriend, Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland.
So let this be a lesson to all those future Bachelors and Bachelorettes out there: finding love on TV is nice. But the real winners emerge on the Fab Fit Fun-littered world outside the show—on podcasts, on Instagram, on game shows, on sitcoms and, sometimes, if you're lucky, in the hearts of some of the most bankable actresses in Hollywood.