In a relatively huge twist considering its nature as a deeply predictable franchise, repeated Bachelorette reject Nick Viall has been announced as the new lead for the next season of The Bachelor.
I’m going to be honest: when this news came up on my feed, I literally sat up in bed and said “What?!” out loud alone to myself. I’ve not been keeping up with Bachelor in Paradise—it was during the after show where the news was announced Tuesday night—and those in the know (read: those who know how the producers of this show work) thought it was basically a sure thing that Luke, one of the final four from JoJo’s season of The Bachelorette, would be the strong, silent, sexy lead of the new season.
“I think it’s gonna be great, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, I’m very nervous [but] I can’t be more excited about the possibility of it all working out,” Nick told After Paradise host Michelle Collins and former Bachelor Sean Lowe.
Some background on Nick, for those not in the know: we first met him on Andi’s season of The Bachelorette, where he gained fame as the runner-up of that season, with a relatively famous leaked overheard conversation on an airplane that allowed ultimate Bachelor spoiler Reality Steve to reveal the ending of that season before it had aired. Within the confines of the season itself, he gained further notoriety by asking Andi on live television why she had sex with him during the Fantasy Suite date if she didn’t love him and was going to pick another man, Josh. Following that, Nick came back for Kaitlyn’s season of The Bachelorette, where he was involved with more drama when she openly slept with him before the Fantasy Suite date. He was again the runner-up in that season, losing out to her now-fiancé Shawn.
Because of these appearances, Nick has become a bit of a joke, and is currently in the midst of a stint on Bachelor in Paradise, where he briefly did battle with Josh again, this time over a woman named Amanda. But he also seems slightly self-aware about it, and appears to be successfully cashing in on his fame as an always-a-bridesmaid, never-a-bride.
Casting Nick was a weird but slightly brilliant programming call on ABC’s part; Bachelor in Paradise doesn’t wrap up until next week, and Nick is still on it, dating a girl named Jen, though he confirmed on After Paradise that he’s no longer dating her (duh). The timing actually confirms that ABC will get people that have been sleeping on that spin-off to tune in to the finale, and hopefully the drama will get even more people watching Season 21 of The Bachelor, what with their time-honored tradition of picking someone the audience is familiar with, this time, intimately so.
The twist even managed to surprise Reality Steve, who said the news “stunned” him, though added that he was “quietly excited” by it, which is definitely the response ABC was going for. Elsewhere, Chris Harrison is trying to prove that he’s not totally butthurt about not being asked to host After Paradise, by announcing that he’s got the “real scoop” on Nick’s casting.
Not everything’s changed.