The Bachelor recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of its debut, which aired in March 2002 on ABC, but even the most devoted fan of the beloved franchise may have trouble recalling many details about season 1. And let us just say that the series’ inaugural run was definitely a lot weirder than you remember.
In case you forgot, Alex Michel — a successful, business-minded Harvard graduate — was America’s pioneer Bachelor, and he chose Amanda Marsh over future Bachelorette star Trista Sutter. (Alex and Amanda parted ways not long after their finale aired.) Check out the nine surprising, awkward and even borderline creepy things you forgot happened during that historic season, which is available for viewing on the ABC app.
1. The women left video messages for Alex in the “journal room.”
In case their first impression or conversational charms weren’t enough, the ladies from The Bachelor’s first season were able to record video messages in a “journal room” to convince Alex of their compatibility. Some left heartfelt messages, while others gave straightforward pleas to stick around for another rose ceremony.
2. The girls would actually eat on their dates.
It’s something of an untold truth on recent episodes of the Bachelor franchise — viewers don’t really get to see anyone chowing down on food during a couple’s so-called “dinner date.” On the first season of The Bachelor, however, that was not the case. Both Alex and his dates unabashedly chomped on dinner during their “fantasy dates,” and honestly, we don’t blame them. Some of that food looked damn good, so why not enjoy it.
3. Alex’s friends lived in the ladies’ villa and gave them compatibility tests.
Now this is definitely something that was unique to The Bachelor’s premiere season — Alex’s two close, lifelong friends lived for a few days in the mansion shared by the female contestants. Not only did the Bachelor’s pals make observations about each woman’s personality and background, they also conducted compatibility tests to determine which of the contestants was the best match for Alex. Now that’s what we call weird.
4. One of the women found out about The Bachelor audition on the radio.
Yes, you heard that correctly — one, if not a few, of The Bachelor contestants found out about the show while listening to the radio. It wasn’t like it is today, where Instagram models and wannabe celebrities vie for the media’s attention, all while in pursuit of “true love.” Instead, real women (many of which had already exhausted a number of other dating options) were in pursuit of true love, and maybe an at-the-time fledgling reality show would hold the key. Weren’t those the days?
5. Alex told Trista he was going to pick her … and then didn’t.
Among the things that you forgot happened during season 1, this moment should also be filed under one of the most awkward moments in franchise history. Why, you may ask? Well, because when Trista asked Alex who he would pick to receive the final rose (and that coveted Harry Winston engagement ring, in the pre-Neil Lane days), he replied with her name. The only problem? In the end, he didn’t propose to Trista but instead proposed to Amanda.
6. Alex didn’t appear on the “Women Tell All” special.
Unlike most Bachelors of seasons past (most recently, season 21’s Nick Viall), Alex wasn’t subjected to the scrutiny and tough questions from his very recent ex-girlfriends on the show. Instead, host Chris Harrison simply caught up with all the ladies and discussed a few highlights from their stints at their gorgeous Malibu villa.
7. Alex had his own “Bachelor pad” that he used for dates and elimination ceremonies.
Sure, Alex’s “Bachelor pad” wasn’t as large or grand as the mansion that his female contestants stayed in (although it did have a pretty stellar beachfront view), but it still played an important role in the first season. Serving as both a location for rose ceremonies and special one-on-one dates, the Southern California oceanside stunner set the scene for dramatic eliminations and intimate moments alike.
8. Alex awkwardly asked Trista if she was ready to get into a “compromising position.”
Let’s be clear: Alex’s sly come-on wasn’t just uncomfortable — it was downright creepy. On their final date before the last rose ceremony — yep, the one where Alex told Trista he was going to choose her — Alex also asked Trista if she was ready to get into a “compromising position.” Essentially, he tried to recreate the Fantasy Suite and move it to his own beachside Bachelor pad. All in all, just creepy.
9. There wasn’t a whole lot of girl drama.
In fact, many of the female contestants got along extremely well. There weren’t any epic feuds (we’re looking at you, Corinne Olympios and mental health professional Taylor Nolan), but rather, quite a few friendships.
Tell Us: Which Bachelor season was your favorite?
The Bachelorette returns to ABC on Monday, May 22, at 9 p.m. ET.