During Tuesday's Bachelor in Paradise post-show After Paradise, hosts Michelle Collins and Sean Lowe revealed that the star of Season 21 of The Bachelor will be Nick Viall, the only two-time runner-up in the history of The Bachelorette.
When the casting was announced, everyone was surprised. Twitter was instantly polarized, with some fans thrilled with the selection of the former software executive while others were infuriated. Nick Viall, you see, has baggage.
America met Viall on Andi Dorfman's season of The Bachelorette, where he made a first impression as a thoughtful, sensitive normal-ish guy with curly hair and a scruffy beard. He was an instant front-runner who didn't make friends with the other guys in the house, and they made him into a villain, largely due to his personality conflicts with eventual winner Josh Murray. He went down in infamy, though, when he put Andi's business out there when he asked her during the live After the Final Rose special, "If you didn't love me, then why did you make love with me?" He got accused of slut-shaming Andi, and public opinion turned even farther against him.
Then he returned a few weeks into Kaitlyn Bristowe's season of The Bachelorette, again proposing marriage and again getting turned down in favor of another guy. While Andi told him she never loved him, Kaitlyn did love him, but it still wasn't enough; and Nick Viall went from runner-up to tragic, unloveable sad sack.
He returned again this summer as a contestant on Bachelor in Paradise, looking for love a third time. He paired up with Jennifer Saviano, but he wasn't really in paradise to meet girls. He was really there to find redemption.
And he did! Bachelor in Paradise is showing Nick as a likable, intelligent and almost wise elder statesman of Bachelor Nation. He's friends with everyone — except Josh Murray, which we'll get to — and everyone, male and female, comes to him for advice and guidance. And his guidance is usually pretty spot-on. Nick is 35 and more experienced with how the franchise works than anyone. He's the most grown-up Bachelor in recent memory (Ben Higgins was only 26, and while he was very polished, his inexperience got the best of him at times). Putting him in the less competitive context of Bachelor in Paradise shows that his villainy may have been projected upon him by external forces rather than anything he really did wrong (Nick never did anything as villainous as, say, Chad, who threatened to murder people).
Which brings us to Josh Murray. On The Bachelorette, Josh needed to be depicted as a good guy to make his victory palatable, even though he's not a good guy. Andi Dorfman's memoir It's Not Okay paints her ex-fiancé as an abuser. Murray says everything about him in the book — which he didn't read — is a lie. Viall, on the other hand, has read the book, and says that while his interpretation of his and Dofman's relationship as depicted in the book is different, the facts are true. Nick Viall owns his past, while Josh Murray is in denial. On Bachelor in Paradise, Josh Murray is the villain while Nick Viall is one of the good guys, and it feels more genuine than the other way around.
Nick Viall either never really was a villain, or has learned from his mistakes and grown into a better person; in which case he's the perfect choice for The Bachelor, a show that is nothing without its narratives. Fans may be disappointed that it's not Luke Pell or Chase McNary from JoJo Fletcher's season of The Bachelorette, but those two don't have the story or the personality of Nick Viall.
We don't know the circumstances of why Viall was chosen over Luke Pell, and it's possible that Pell was offered the gig first and turned it down. Pell, who was the presumed next Bachelor, is an Army veteran with a sensitive soul and a sense of humor, but he's not as likable as Nick Viall, who seems like a relatively normal guy who happens to have a body like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Chase McNary, while very handsome, lacks the charisma necessary to carry a season of The Bachelor.
Viall is better choice than either of them. His long, sad Bachelor saga will have an ending. Whether or not it's a happy ending remains to be seen, but now he'll get his own opportunity to find the right person to marry. And he'll look good doing it.