The Bachelor Winter Games, an unsolicited cross between an athletic competition and a reality TV dating show, is here! Beautifully timed to coincide with the Winter Olympic Games, the series premiere of The Bachelor Winter Games will fill a real hole for anyone who watches the Olympics just for the hotties. Instead of feeling bad for sexually objectifying world-class athletes from your couch, you can feel bad for wasting away your one precious life binge-watching The Bachelor Winter Games.
You might try and argue that The Bachelor Winter Games is about finding true love. But it is not. Like The Bachelor’s other similarly screwed-up offspring, Bachelor in Paradise, Winter Games barely bothers with the pretense of finding a soulmate. But unlike Bachelor in Paradise, which is basically just tropical Tinder for ex-Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants, Winter Games culls its contestants from “across the Bachelor universe.” Seeing as iterations of The Bachelor can be found in “dozens of countries”—thank you, Chris Harrison, for barely skimming the Wikipedia entry for your own franchise—the powers that be have decided to jam together a bunch of fame-hungry internationals to compete in some winter sports and hopefully couple off.
How horny is this show? Well, one contestant does not speak English. Good luck to whichever producer has been charged with feeding Yuki lines about “opening up” to her would-be fiancé—because she literally does not speak English.
Chris Harrison introduces The Winter Games as “a global celebration of unity and love”—a show about “love with no borders” because “love is the global language.” One contestant describes it as “kind of like the United Nations of love.” But what are the actual rules of this so-called competition, and why has Harrison unleashed a huge crowd of cheering white people and a couple of lady sportscasters on a random town in Vermont?
In lieu of much-needed answers, we get a huge parade debuting the eclectic cast. As “ambassadors” from various international franchises strut down main street, Harrison and sports broadcaster Hannah Storm offer fun facts and hot takes on the semi-professional daters. This might be the single most difficult piece of pop culture content to explain to the aliens one day: a televised parade of grinning nuclear families applauding international delegations of identical blondes, all flown to the United States specifically to fuck. From Bachelor Japan, we meet Yuki (“Good thing she speaks the language of love, she does not speak English”). The Canadian delegation arrives bearing two hot dudes. Then there’s Zoe from China, Laura from the UK (“quirky!”), Tiffany, the iconic Bachelor Australia contestant who went on to date another (female) contestant after her season ended, some other Australian, and a bunch of other people.
Team USA includes a bunch of bachelor nation favorites: Ben Higgins, Dean, and the one and only Ashley I, a woman who is famous for crying and being a virgin, and who is seen talking about losing her virginity (and crying) mere minutes into The Winter Games premiere. Next, a teenager is pushed onstage to perform the “Bachelor Winter Games anthem.” Sample lyrics: “In the time that we share, let’s go beyond compare. Oh bachelor, sweet bachelor, we want to see this through.” The American contestants seem to be confused about whether or not they should put their hands on their hearts; I think some of them might still think they are competing in the actual Olympics. Trista and Ryan, the original Bachelor couple, arrive bearing the “Original Bachelor Lantern” from The Bachelor mansion.
Eventually, Chris Harrison gets around to explaining the rules of the game and/or creating them on the spot. The Games will consist of a series of athletic events. One man and one woman will win each competition and earn a date card, which they can then use to ask anybody out. There will be rose ceremonies and eliminations, and at the end, The Bachelor Winter Game champions will be crowned “the first couple of Bachelor world.”
Once Harrison stops talking, the contestants proceed to rapidly pair off and aggressively make out. In addition to the remarkable rapidity of the hook ups, Bachelor Winter Games feels like an overall sexier show than Bachelor in Paradise. In the wake of a well-publicized BIP scandal revolving around issues of on-set inebriation and consent, ABC has clearly attempted to de-emphasize the role of drinking and “the bar.” It might just be good editing, but The Winter Games contestants appear far less blacked out than the average Paradise-goer. Perhaps as a direct result, sexual chemistry arises from cute situations like “cooking together” and “talking,” as opposed to just “sitting in a hot tub next to a person who is also half-naked.” There seem to be some real connections, and also some of the contestants say “snog” instead of make out, which is fun! Best sound bites go to Josiah for saying “we like them thick in the U.S.,” and to the woman who said “I think what initially attracted me to Dean was his face.”
Everyone competes in some sort of winter sporting event, and Ally from New Zealand hurts her “bum bone.” Kevin from Canada wins a coveted date card and picks someone who isn’t Ashley I, and Ashley immediately starts sobbing. The two dates happen simultaneously, and they both seem fine. Everyone—both on the dates and in the house—is making out. Dean isn’t freaked out by Lesley’s double mastectomy and thinks that her boobs are “nice”—so they make out. Benoit and Claire cook together and it’s apparently exactly what Benoit’s “looking for in a relationship”—so they also make out. Sadly, Chris Harrison eventually interrupts these after prom vibes with a rose ceremony, because not everyone can cross-country ski and suck face forever.