It’s not that he didn’t earn it. As bizarre and utterly unpredictable as The Bachelorette Season 19 might’ve been for our leads, Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey, at least one contestant kept things consistent: Every week, contestant Zach Shallcross turned in a consistent and compelling case for himself as the next Bachelor. He said all the right things, teared up at all the right moments, and carried himself, above all, as a man who was there for the right reasons.
So, why are so many fans (including this one) rolling their eyes at the idea of spending a full season with Zach now that he’s been announced as the show’s leading man for next year? That might just be because fans liked another option better.
His name is Ethan Kang, and he should have been the Bachelor. He’s a 27-year-old ad executive from New York. He’s got a winning smile and a heart-meltingly sweet disposition, and he looks like the hottest GAP model you’ve ever seen. And he coined a new-classic insult when he called Tino (eventual season winner and loser) “a real baby-back bitch” for having a temper tantrum over a group date rose.
On top of all that, Ethan could have been the first Asian American Bachelor in the franchise’s history. If Matt James and Rachel Lindsay’s seasons as the first Black Bachelor and Bachelorette seem to indicate, being the “first” anything in Bachelor Nation can be more than a little trying. Still, to some fans, Ethan’s selection could have signaled another step forward for the flagging franchise.
Ethan competed for Rachel’s heart during the recently ended dual season and went home during Week 6. In years past, that might’ve been too early for lead consideration, but in a post-Colton Underwood and Clayton Echard and Katie Thurston world, the prospect felt less tenuous. For a while, it seemed there was a veritable movement behind Ethan for Bachelor. In the end, they went with Zach—and host Jesse Palmer rubbed it in our faces with the bizarre comment that finally, “the Bachelor doesn’t look like me for once!” (Um…)
Rachel seemed smitten with Zach all season, but he self-eliminated after a train wreck of a fantasy suites date in which the Bachelorette appeared to question his commitment due to his age. Apparently, Rachel (26) was very concerned that the account executive (25) might not be ready. As Zach later told People, “I don’t think … there’s an age limit on when you decide you want to fall in love and get married. If you are ready and you feel well equipped with yourself—you love yourself, you trust yourself, and you want to share that with someone else—it doesn’t matter how old you are.” Hear, hear!
Still, Zach’s selection has gotten about as warm a reception as Clayton Echard’s did a season before—which is to say, fans do not seem to be digging it at all. The main review? Zach just seems too uninteresting to be the Bachelor—even if his family ties to Patrick Warburton do guarantee another cameo from Kronk come next season.
Again, this is nothing against Zach—I mean, he seems fine enough, and he gave off some serious puppy-dog-falling-in-love vibes this season. But how he will be substantively different from a Clayton, or a Colton, or any of the other Jesse Palmer lookalikes we’ve seen already? Zach might seem like a bad guy, but like so many before him—*cough* Peter Weber *cough*—it’s hard to figure out why producers saw fit to anoint him over all other possible candidates.
Was it the dimples? Did Ethan just not want the job because he was too busy advertising and/or executing? Is Ethan brokering a deal with Netflix for his own dating show as we speak? (And if so, may I speak with a casting director?) As a longtime Bachelor viewer, I won’t try to pretend that this decision will be the one to break my camel’s back. But pretending to be invested in a leading man this boring? That is a line I, and much of Bachelor Nation it seems, never shall cross.