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The Bachelor has mostly been a very large and consistent hit for ABC since the franchise began all the way back in 2002. So much of a hit, in fact, that the reality dating show has already spawned four spinoffs (The Bachelorette, Bachelor Winter Games, Bachelor Pad and Bachelor in Paradise) with a new one (The Bachelor: Listen to Your Heart) on the way this spring. There have been several pretenders to the reality dating throne since then, and last summer saw CBS bring the UK hit Love Island to America, but it didn't fare nearly as well as it does overseas. And there's at least one TV executive who thinks the two shows just can't coexist.
Mike Darnell, who spent almost 19 years as the president of Alternative Entertainment at Fox and is now the president of Unscripted & Alternative Television at Warner Bros., has overseen a lot of game shows and reality television during his career, and he doesn't think that Love Island and The Bachelor are able to get along as well as people would think.
While The Bachelor is a long-time hit here, it hasn't fared nearly as well in the UK. The fate of Love Island is the exact opposite, with it being a blockbuster hit in the UK and barely making sexy single waves on this side of the pond. Deadline spoke with Mike Darnell when he was in London recently to talk up Warner Bros.' television shows, and here's what he had to say about the two dating empires:
It does appear that Love Island has taken over the space in the UK. I notice that Love Island didn’t really work over in the U.S. and it feels like maybe the two, once one is established, it’s hard to get a foothold [for the other].
I think Mike Darnell has really hit the nail on the head here, and, even though Warner Bros. is behind The Bachelor, it's also good to see him admit that it's probably just never going to be a smash hit in the UK.
As Mike Darnell sees it, here's the issue. Like I mentioned at the top of this article, The Bachelor started almost 20 years ago on ABC, and it's now in Season 24 of drama, backstabbing, emotional breakups, fantasy suites and proposals (that usually don't lead to weddings). When Love Island showed up last summer on CBS, it was already going to take a back seat for those in Bachelor Nation, who have their favorite reality dating show and wouldn't be too likely to get caught up in another.
On top of that, each season of Love Island takes much more of a time commitment than a season of any Bachelor show. While The Bachelor generally airs once a week for two hours, those who wanted to keep up with Love Island had to watch four days in a row the first week, followed by five consecutive days for three weeks, and ending with one week of three consecutive days of episodes. That's a lot when you're not used to the format of the show and don't have any previous knowledge of the contestants / leads like you do on The Bachelor.
Meanwhile, Love Island began in 2015 in the UK, after a few seasons of The Bachelor UK failed to really take off, and became so popular that they've now added a winter edition, so there will be two seasons a year.
The main point, though, is probably that it's good that America and the UK each have reality dating competitions that they can rely on to bring the drama and make up some intriguing water cooler (i.e. Twitter) talk every few months.