Looking for something to stream, Bachelor Nation? The first ever season of The Bachelor is free on Tubi TV, and rewatching it is definitely a "journey."

By Kristen Baldwin
March 17, 2020 at 03:46 PM EDT

The Bachelor

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In times of crisis, rose lovers, sometimes the best way to move forward is to look back. It’s helpful to remember that life was once simple and carefree — and it will be that way again, someday.

With that in mind — and given the sad but expected news that filming on Clare’s season of The Bachelorette has been postponed due to coronavirus concerns — I’ve decided to fill the rose-shaped hole in my heart by rewatching (and recapping) the first-ever season of The Bachelor. It streams for free on Tubi TV. Join me, won’t you?

The date was March 25, 2002. George W. Bush was in his first term as President. Linkin Park had a no. 1 hit with “In the End.” And that night, ABC debuted a new series called The Bachelor, with a tagline that promised something entirely new for the burgeoning reality TV genre: “One man meets 25 eligible women and goes from great date to soul mate in six romantic weeks.”

“Each week, hearts will be broken as the Bachelor searches for the one woman who could ultimately become his bride,” teases host Chris Harrison in the premiere episode’s opening montage. Speaking of our Bachelor Nation overlord, LOOK AT HIS ADORABLE 31-YEAR-OLD SELF.

“For months, we searched the entire country for one of the world’s most eligible bachelors,” explains Harrison, as he strolls through the backyard of “The Bachelor Villa.” (The first few seasons of the show shot in Malibu before moving to Agoura Hills, site of our beloved Bachelor Mansion, in 2007.) Even though this was Harrison’s first big-time hosting gig (no offense, but I’m not counting Mall Masters or Designers Challenge as “big-time”), he’s charming and comfortable on camera. And he must have a portrait in his attic, because the dude hasn’t aged. (His suits, on the other hand, have definitely improved.)

Anyhow, enough about Christopher Harrison. Who is the man of the hour? Time to…

Alex Michael, now 31, was a bit of a dork growing up on the East Coast. But “thanks to contact lenses and countless hours in the swimming pool, he started to come into his own,” says Harrison, who goes on to read a litany of Alex’s high-school accomplishments: Captain of the swim team, student-body president, Homecoming king, and class valedictorian. And yeah, he’s quite a snack.

ABC

“Most of the things that he focused in on he was exceptional at,” says Alex’s mom Mary Jay. This continued after high school: Alex did his undergraduate work at Harvard, then headed to Stanford for graduate school, and now he’s a “management consultant at a top-tier firm” in San Francisco. So yeah, the Alex Michael ABC is selling us here is either the Perfect Man or a privileged white dude who is maaaaybe a Patrick Bateman-style serial killer? Hard to say.

Our first-ever Bachelor arrives at the “Villa” in a baggy tan blazer over an all-black ensemble. Is this truly what passed for chic in 2002?

ABC

“I was thinking I want to meet someone great, and I think having time to dedicate to nothing but that is a great luxury,” says Alex, when asked why the hell he signed up for some weird new show called The Bachelor. “I really feel like I’m ready to find a person for whom I’m going to form a partnership that’s going to last a lifetime.”

Before Alex meets his potential wives, Harrison wants to make sure that Alex knows how high-quality these prospects are: “We have selected 25 fantastic women. We have two doctors, two lawyers, 10 women have either already got their Master’s degrees or are in the process of obtaining their graduate degrees. We have a singer, an actress, and even an NBA cheerleader.”

Okay, but where are the models? The flight attendants? The bloggers? The professional clothiers? I guess we’ll have to wait at least a decade for the casting team to get their priorities straight.

Time to meet the “ladies!” Ugh, why isn’t the driveway wet?

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Kim, 24: This nanny from Tempe, Ariz., knows that she’s “relatively young” for a woman looking to get married… and boy, isn’t that refreshing to hear, right rose lovers? Still, Kim believes she’s “ready to settle down.”

Cathy, 22: Man, if this graduate student from Terra Haute, Ind., doesn’t exemplify late-90s/early aughts style, I don’t know who does.

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“I’ve been pretty frustrated with the men that I’ve met,” says Clare from 90210 Cathy.

Trista, 29: “I do believe in love at first sight,” says our future Bachelorette, who was a Miami Heat dancer in 2002. “It just never has happened yet.”

Denise, 30: She’s a doctor from Honolulu, and she’s “looking for chemistry.”

Amy, 28: Marriage is “something that I’ve longed for,” says Amy, who’s a production coordinator from New York.

Man, these introductions are just flying by! Remember, these episodes are just an hour long (44 minutes plus commercials), so the show didn’t need to fill time with elaborate, silly limo-exit gimmicks.

Alexa, 27: She’s a special education teacher from Beverly Hills, and Alexa believes she would “probably say yes” to a proposal at the end of six weeks.

LaNease, 23: Our first actress of the bunch. LaNease describes herself as “a pretty face” who is also “ambitious” and “smart.” Clearly — she understands the promotional power of reality TV, and it’s only 2002!

Rachel, 29: Holy cow, can you imagine a sixth-grade teacher going on The Bachelor today? Here Rachel jokes about how her students wouldn’t be surprised about her going on a reality TV show, but “their parents, on the other hand, might get me booted out of school. That’s a joke.” Is it? Can anyone out there tell us if Rachel kept her job after this?

Tina, 27: This graduate student from Plano, Texas, says the Bachelor experience is making her feel “giddy” rather than nervous.

Angelique, 27: Could no one have told poor Angelique that her dress strap was showing?

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Though Angelique’s mom worries she will never settle down, but this actress from Burbank, Calif., insists that’s not true.

Wendi, 26: Hmmm… she’s a “technology specialist.” Is that the 2002 equivalent of “Instagram influencer”? Probably not. Wendi, who’s from Dallas, says guys usually see her “as their buddy instead of a girlfriend.”

Rhonda, 28: “Normally I do not kiss on the first date,” says this commercial real estate agent from Woodward, Okla. “Sex on a first date is a definite no.”

Christina, 28: She’s an attorney from California, and her brother couldn’t stop laughing when she filmed her audition video. “He thinks it’s funny that I have to go on TV to get a date,” says Christina.

Jill, 31: A Chicago-based retail manager, Jill can walk proudly into the Bachelor Villa (nope, still sounds wrong) knowing that her parents think her participation on this show is just great. “They’ve told everyone in their small town about what’s going on!”

Katie, 23:   A power tools sales rep? You go, Katie from Malden, Mass. “I’m nervous about going up against these 24 women and having to be competitive for a man,” says Katie, who had just better get used to it… fast.

Amanda, 23: She may be from Chanute, Kan., but this event planner says she’s not some “innocent” young lady. “I am very open sexually with my partners,” announces Amanda. “One of the craziest things I’ve ever done was purchase a trapeze for some entertainment.”

Lisa, 29: Our second attorney, and our second "lady" from Dallas. Lisa says guys usually grimace when she tells them what she does for a living. “I don’t know if they just hate attorneys like the rest of the world, or if they’re just intimidated by the fact that I have a career, something [that’s] a little bit unusual for a woman.” Good Lord, were we still saying shiz like that in 2002?

Angela, 24: And here it is, rose lovers, the best chyron of the night.

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Congrats on that “Sexiest Underwear” contest win, toots.

Amber, 29: Is it me, or does Amber, a business development director from L.A., look a bit like Melrose Place-era Traci Lords?

ABC

Daniela, 30: She’s a neuropsychologist from Seattle, and she’s ready to have kids.

Paula, 24: Apparently, Paula’s parents raised her to believe that after college, she was “supposed to get married, have kids, and pretty much die.” The insurance rep from Massachusetts never thought she’d have to fly all the way to California to make her parents’ dream for her a reality.

Jackie, 22: This bar manager from Pittsburgh has her family’s support: Her mom is the one who signed her up for the show!

Did I mention how fast these limo exits are going without all the shenanigans? It’s nice.

Melissa, 25: “On first impression, I think that the opposite sex thinks of me as perhaps a little bit on the bitchy side,” says Melissa, a photographer from Tempe, Ariz. “I’m just quiet, though.”

Kristina, 27: As a busy ad exec and a relatively new Angelino, Kristina hasn’t had much time for dating. Thank God for reality TV.

Shannon, 24: Another "lady" from Dallas! Shannon is a financial management assistant, and she’s a “big romantic.”

Wow, is that it? It is — and it’s only been about 20 minutes. God bless the one-hour running time. “These women are amazing!” marvels Alex. “It’s ridiculous.” You have no idea, buddy. Get in there and mingle!

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Alex does not start the night off with a big toast. There is no waxing poetic about the upcoming “journey” and how “amazing” it’s going to be. He does not say “my wife is in this room.” Instead, he chats with the women in small groups. He asks them to repeat their names! “My first impression of the Bachelor is definitely a good one,” notes Trista. “He is very good-looking and seems to be a little bit nervous, so that’s a cute quality.” By the way, in classic Bachelor fashion, they ID her as only a “Miami Heat Dancer,” but we hear her telling Alex that she’s a “pediatric therapist,” but “I also dance for the Miami Heat.” The also pulled chyron bait-and-switch with Angela, who tells Alex that she works “at an insurance company as an auto-trader.” Oh, and she also has “a second job at Hooters, on the weekends.” And he LOVES it.

ABC

The Bachelor’s plan for night one is to “keep it fun” and “work the room.” While he has a lot of burning questions about the women competing to be his wife, “it’s not polite” to “grill” a woman on the first date. “I definitely have a couple early favorites: Cathy and Kim, they’re awesome. I like Trista, Amanda, beautiful. But I’m sure my impressions are going to change once I have more conversations.”

This villa has some pretty crappy acoustics, so all of Alex’s conversations are accompanied by a constant low roar of background party chatter. In other words, it sounds like he’s in a large room filled with people talking — which he is! When Alex finds out that Angelique is an actress, he’s intrigued. “As we are going on these dates, how am I going to know when it’s acting versus when it’s genuine?” he teases. Alexa, meanwhile, becomes the first-ever contestant to give the Bachelor a gift on night-one.

ABC

It’s a pocket-sized book called Dating for Dummies. Cute, right? All of the women seem smitten. “I could definitely bring him home to my parents,” gushes Kim the nanny. Rachel the teacher says she already feels a spark. “He kind of looked at me, and looked again, and we made good eye-contact.” Lisa the lawyer, however, is not very happy about how her chat with Alex went.

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Well of course you do, honey. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. “It was a little uncomfortable,” says Lisa of their conversation. “We [were] trying to find something else to talk about besides, Where are you from? What do you do?” Maybe Lisa should have thought to bring a gift, too. Shannon the “big romantic” gave Alex a “find your way” compass, and he’s into it. “Pretty cool!” he says.

Oh my god, rose lovers, it’s Chris Harrison and the very first Butter Knife of Bad News!!!

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“It’s decision time, my friend,” says Harrison, before leading Alex to the “Deliberation Room.”

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The array of framed photos on that weird, dresser-bookshelf hybrid! The brown leather chairs arranged at a perfect right angle! The clunky, faux-stone pedestal piled with roses! It looks like a creepy stalker’s lair as designed by Crate & Barrel. Amazing.

Harrison and the Bachelor sit down for a chat. Alex says he’s got “butterflies,” in part because there are a few “ladies” who he already has feelings for. “So you’re telling me maybe the future Mrs. Alex is sitting up on that wall somewhere?” asks the hosts, gesturing to the phalanx of photos. “She may be,” replies the Bachelor. (Spoiler: She’s not.)

While Alex deliberates, Harrison heads out to the living room to explain the concept of the rose ceremony to the assembled “ladies.” If the Bachelor offers you a rose, “he’s asking you to stay with the show,” says Harrison. But he also wants the women to know they are “totally empowered” in this situation: “You don’t have to accept his invitation.”

Rose ceremony roll call! Amanda (a.k.a. “sex swing”), Cathy (aka “Clare from 90210”), Trista (a.k.a. “future queen of Bachelor Nation”), LaNease (a.k.a. “pretty face”), Tina (a.k.a. “giddy”), Christina (a.k.a. “teased by brother”), Katie (a.k.a. “power tools”), Alexa (a.k.a. “Dating for Dummies”), Angelique (a.k.a. “runaway bride”), Amy (a.k.a. “looks vaguely familiar but I can’t figure out why”), Melissa (a.k.a. “not bitchy just quiet”), Angela (a.k.a. “Hooters”), Kim (a.k.a. “not too young to get married”), Shannon (a.k.a. the “big romantic”), and Rhonda (a.k.a. “no sex on the first date”) make it to the next round.

This means we need to say goodbye to Lisa (a.k.a. “talks to the dog”), Rachel (a.k.a. “totally not getting fired from her teaching job”), Amber (a.k.a. “Traci Lords lookalike”) and… well, a bunch of women who I’m not going to bother to name. Though Alex feels “terrible” about sending the women home, a Bachelor’s gotta do what a Bachelor’s gotta do.

A few final notes from this first-ever rose ceremony, rose lovers:

Because producers have Alex standing behind the podium instead of next to it, he has to lean over it awkwardly to kiss every “lady” after handing her a rose.

ABC

Also, how weird was it to hear Harrison announce the “final rose tonight” from off-camera? Off-camera!!! Hopefully that will rectify itself in episode two. From the looks of the preview, the first-ever season of The Bachelor will feature many of the elements we now know and love: Women trash-talking other women and “stealing” the Bachelor from each other, a Pretty Woman date, tacky make-out sessions, uncomfortable group dates, an ambulance, and tears, tears, tears.

Welp, rose lovers, did you enjoy this trip down memory lane? Should we do this again next week? Post your thoughts below! (And then wash your hands.)

The Bachelor season 1 is available to stream on Tubi TV.

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The Bachelor

Chris Harrison hosts the romance reality competition series in which a gaggle of women vie for the Bachelor’s heart — and a wedding proposal. Will you accept this rose?

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