Would ‘The Bachelor’ Ever Have Two Male Leads? The Answer: Probably Not

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

Earlier this year, season 19 of ABC’s The Bachelorette premiered with fan-favorites Gabby Windey (31) and Rachel Recchia (26) starring as first-time full-season co-leads. As I watched the men stumble through their intros, attempt some cringeworthy magic tricks and bring up Clayton Echard (the infamous mutual ex) one too many times, I found myself distracted. Rather than choosing my frontrunners and reveling in the frivolity of it all, I couldn’t stop thinking about one thing: They would never do this with The Bachelor. They would never ask two men to share the spotlight and co-anchor the show.

And as it turns out, I was probably right.

bachelorette double standard gabby and rachel
Gizelle Hernandez/Getty Images

I’ve been a fan of the popular franchise for years, from the golden days of Kaitlyn Bristow and JoJo Fletcher to the who-signed-off-on-this seasons of Juan Pablo Galavis and Arie Luyendyk Jr. Whether I’m rooting for the lead or happily hate-watching, I’ve stood by the show’s side. But the latest revelation has got me all riled up.

On this week’s episode of After the Final Rose, newcomer host Jesse Palmer announced the long-awaited news of who will become the next Bachelor. After three full hours of hooray!, heartbreak and even a few boos (that’s all I’m spilling), I patiently waited to see what was next for the franchise and whether or not the producers would throw misogyny to the wind and call upon two male leads for the first time in Bachelor history.

As Zach Shallcross (26) walked out on stage, rose in hand and contently alone, the answer came as a resounding no. And, unfortunately, I wasn’t the least bit shocked.

Craig Sjodin/Getty Images

Let’s take it back to the beginning of Gabby and Rachel’s season. As the weeks went by and the drama unfolded, it was clear that the women were in this alone, trying to navigate new relationships, inevitable comparisons and unforeseen rejections, all while also having to share the spotlight and compete for love from start to finish (something no other male lead has had to do). Rachel’s tear-filled revelation in the season trailer summed it up, “It seems cruel for both of us to be put in this place together,” she says. As the drama continues, Gabby goes on to question how she wound up here in the first place: “Why did they pick me to do this?”

For me, it went a step further: Why is it always the women who are forced to compromise on this show? Why hasn’t a Bachelor ever been asked to co-lead?

The answer came almost as instantly as the question: ego, pride and straight-up sexism. Two men sharing 30 plus women while they bare their souls on national TV? That goes against every gendered notion society has brainwashed us to believe. Not only should men not have to share, but—as the skeptics would say—come on, are they really even capable? That engrained doubt speaks volumes and is a product of the biased expectations women are thrust into the minute they’re born. Good girls share. They’re polite and considerate and don’t ask for more than they’re given. But men? We're supposed to believe they are incapable of sharing, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.

Nineteen years ago, when the producers first flipped the script and introduced The Bachelorette, it was groundbreaking (…for reality TV). But as the franchise continues, it’s clear the double standard is by no means dead.

I'll concede one thing: The franchise did tease us briefly with two men on The Bachelor back in 2004. In a season hardly anyone remembers, Byron Velvick and Jay Overybye spent a single night as "The Bachelors" until the women turned the tables and voted Jay out. The same song and dance came back around in 2015 during season 11 of The Bachelorette with Kaitlyn Bristowe and Britt Nilsson. What differs between then and now besides a Chris Harrison-sized hole? Gabby and Rachel had to endure the will-they-won't-they-like-me anxiety All. Season. Long (complete with calculated players and mid-ceremony rose rejections).

bachelorette double standard rachel gabby talking to twins
Craig Sjodin/Getty Images

Now, I thought, if they’re going to resurrect this dual lead format for The Bachelorette, I should expect to see the same with the next season of The Bachelor, right? Right???

Clearly not. But hey, maybe that’s something America isn’t ready for. Two bros high-fiving as 30+ women vie for their attention? That’s just kind of gross. But Gabby and Rachel, the heartbroken “best friends” on a journey together to finally find love? Now that’s a story the network can sell.

Is it true that society gets uncomfortable watching men do what women are merely expected to? You bet. But does that mean we shouldn't at least try to rewrite the narrative? Absolutely not.

P.S. @ABC, my vote would have been Zach and Aven…

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Executive Managing Editor

Catrina oversees content production across all PureWow verticals. When she's not managing editorial schedules, digital issues or newsletter production, you can find her...