While Texas real estate developer Joelle “Jo Jo” Fletcher didn’t find love with Ben Higgins on The Bachelor (even though he told her he loved her), the new Bachelorette now has a whole group of men angling for her affections, including a hipster, a landscape architect and a unicorn.
But there are some real contenders vying for a chance to sit in a hot tub with Fletcher. The frontrunners include Jordan Rogers, the brother of NFL star Aaron Rogers; a dreamy firefighter named Grant; and a singer/songwriter named James Taylor (really!).
As Fletcher starts on her path to love, we looked back to decide which season made for the best reality television. From worst to best, here is a definitive ranking of every season of The Bachelorette.
Ashley Hebert, Season 7
Ashley Hebert met her prince charming, J.P. Rosenbaum, on season 7 of The Bachelorette, after getting turned away by Brad Womack during season 9 of The Bachelor. But before Hebert could have her happily ever after, she had to sift through the contestants on The Bachelorette, which for her, meant a lot of time chasing after a guy named Bentley Williams, who was determined to break her heart—and said so repeatedly. He eventually accomplished his mission and Ashley spent a seemingly endless amount of time crying in her bedroom, which does not make for great escapist television (especially because most people probably already lived through a similar situation with their roommate).
After Bentley finally walked out on her, Ashley started paying attention to Ben Flajnik and J.P. She let Flajnik propose to her, before rejecting him. Now she and J.P are a Bachelorette success story and serious true believers in the franchise, too. Not only was their wedding broadcast on ABC, but they got an ultrasound on live television to determine their child’s gender on during an episode The Men Tell All.
Final Assessment: Too much crying, not enough hot tubs and roses.
Meredith Phillips, Season 2
In 2013, Meredith Phillips sat down with People to talk about her battle with alcoholism, admitting that when she was on The Bachelorette, she “was drunk every night.” She sought help and suggested that the show reduce its focus on alcohol consumption.
This makeup artist and model, who made it to the final four of Bob Guiney’s season of The Bachelor, got a new shot at love on the second season of The Bachelorette. She ultimately chose Ian McKee, who worked in equity-research sales, and they were engaged at the end of the show. The couple never set a wedding date, though, and called it quits after living together for a year.
Final Assessment: A meh season for love.
Kaitlyn Bristowe, Season 11
Kaitlyn Bristowe had to compete for her spot on The Bachelorette, going up against free-spirited beauty Britt Nilsson after they were both cast off from Chris Soules’s season of The Bachelor. Well, the producers tried to make it seem like a competition, but in reality Bristowe was the frontrunner from the start and there was little doubt that the laidback dancer would be handing out roses to a group of suitors.
Bristowe made a fatal error during her time as a Bachelorette, though—she became smitten with one character, Shawn Booth, very early on in the show and never really strayed. She even told him that he was “the one” very early in the competition, sort of spoiling the rest of the season. That left producers scrambling to come up with a way to make the season interesting. Luckily it was a challenge that former contestant Nick Viall was up for; He flew across the country to plead his troth to Bristowe, who let him on the show even though former Bachelorette Andi Dorfman tried to warn her about Viall. (This conspiracy theory is well worth a read.)
In the end Bristowe ended up with Booth, though, even spoiling the ending on Snapchat. He proposed to her on national television and they are still together.
Final Assessment: Don’t you hate it when you guess the end of the movie during the first 15 minutes?
DeAnna Pappas, Season 4
It was hard not to root for her after she was harshly rejected by Bachelor Brad Womack. But Pappas angered fans when she spurned single dad Jason Mesnick in favor of professional snowboarder Jesse Csincsak. While The Bachelor producers promised to send Pappas and Csincsak to Greece for their honeymoon, their relationship only lasted a few months after the show aired.
Luckily Mesnick, Csincsak and Pappas all found their own happy endings. Mesnick went on to star in his own season of The Bachelor; Csincsak married a former contestant; and Pappas found love with Stephen Stagliano, who was well versed in The Bachelorette universe, since his twin brother appeared on the show. They now have two children.
Final Assessment: It pays to be nicer than Brad Womack.
Ali Fedotowsky, Season 6
Fedotowsky was smart, effusive and willing to leave her job at Facebook to come find love on reality TV. But the season was marked by her inexplicable love for the distant and disinterested Frank Neuschaefer, which made fans want to hand her a copy of He’s Just Not That Into You. So when he left her on the eve of the finale to rekindle things with his ex-girlfriend, fans weren’t exactly surprised.
Fedotowsky then spent hours crying before eventually finding comfort in the arms of insurance rep Roberto Martinez, leading to a proposal. There were plenty of helicopter rides and hot tubs along the way, but an entire season in which the star was either laughing or crying made viewers feel like emotional hostages. Her relationship with Martinez didn’t work out, but she is now married and expecting her first child.
Final Assessment: Watching your BFF make bad choices for eight weeks is not easy.
Jen Schefft, Season 3
Schefft won the heart of Firestone Tire heir Andrew Firestone during the third season of The Bachelor. Firestone told US Weekly that he “was totally crushed” after their relationship didn’t work out, but Schefft moved on from the broken engagement by appearing on season three of The Bachelorette. At the end of the season, Schefft pulled a move straight from the Beverly Hills 90210 playbook—she dumped both of the final contestants and chose herself. Good for her, but bad for viewers who spent weeks watching her juggle finalists Jerry Ferris and John Paul Merritt, who actually proposed during the finale and she told him they were better off as friends (ouch!). Schefft ended up finding love off camera and is now married to trader Joe Waterman with whom she has two daughters.
Final Assessment: The season started with a bang and ended with a sad trombone.
Jillian Harris, Season 5
Harris was anointed The Bachelorette after coming in third on Jason Mesnick’s season of The Bachelor. She struggled to cull her herd of 30 suitors down to just one, which is why she went into the finale with three possibilities: Commitment-challenged realtor Reid Rosenthal, business developer/surfer Kiptyn Locke and resident bad boy tech consultant Ed Swiderski (no matter how loud the how audience yelled at their TVs). She ended up choosing Swiderski over either of the nice guys and soon regretted it. His wandering eye was hinted at on the show and the couple didn’t last long after the show. Harris is now working as an interior decorator and television personality and is expecting her first child with her boyfriend, Justin Pasutto.
Final Assessment: Nice guys are underrated.
Desiree Hartsock, Season 9
From the moment she stepped out of the limo to greet Sean Lowe on The Bachelor, Hartsock gave off a friendly girl-next-door vibe. When Lowe broke Hartsock’s heart, it was like watching your little sister get stood up by her prom date, so fans’ rallied when she was named Bachelorette.
Unfortunately, Hartsock quickly focused in on former model Brooks Forester, who just wasn’t that into her. He ended up excusing himself from the proceedings while in the top four. Fans hearts broke right along with Hartsock as she tried to cope with a broken heart without the luxury of wearing sweats and scarfing down pints of ice cream on the couch, since she was on national television and all.
She rallied, though, and Hartsock ultimately chose to ask Chris Siegfried, a fleece-loving Seattleite and dark horse contender who wrote her poems, to propose to her. She and Siegfried are now happily married and they are expecting their first child. Don’t expect any on-air ultrasounds—Hartsock has lived most of her post-Bachelorette life far from the siren’s call of ABC’s cameras. Her wedding was not televised and she rarely appears in the pages of celebrity magazines.
Final Assessment: Hand out enough roses and eventually your fleece-clad prince will come.
Emily Maynard, Season 8
Emily Maynard’s tragic backstory (her fiancé NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick died days before she found out she was pregnant with their child) made fans desperate to see her have a happy ending. Bachelor Brad Womack proposed to her in his season, but the relationship didn’t work out (her memoir I Said Yes reveals that she found out she was getting dumped when she was cc’d on an email).
So when she became The Bachelorette, everyone was rooting for her to find true love. While Maynard was the quintessential contestant with her brilliant smile and Southern charm, she rightfully called out contestant Kalon McMahon when he referred to her daughter as “baggage.” She kept the audience guessing throughout the season, ultimately settling on Jef Holm, an entrepreneur from Utah, and it didn’t work out, either. Luckily, Maynard got her storybook ending, with a man she met at her church. They are now happily married with their second child on the way.
Final Assessment: The best fairy princesses know how to dropkick a frog who doesn’t like children.
Trista Rehn, Season 1
Trista Rehn, a former Miami Heat cheerleader, was the runner-up on Alex Michel’s season of The Bachelor. The producers chose her as the first-ever star of The Bachelorette where she set a high bar.
Rehn was a level-headed contestant who made rational choices in a really irrational situation. She only kissed three of her suitors the entire season, which seems impossible considering the show’s current kiss-a-thon status. It was a little more innocent when Ryan and I were on,” Rehn told Us Weekly.
She also proved that The Bachelor franchise’s formula could be a success. She and Ryan Sutter were married in a televised ceremony on ABC and now have two children and 13 years of marriage under their belt. While they live far from Hollywood, calling Colorado home, they did renew their vows on their 10th anniversary and the ceremony was aired on ABC as the crowning achievement of The Bachelor’s long history.
Final Assessment: ‘True Love Always’ can start in the unlikeliest of places.
Andi Dorfman, Season 10
Bachelor Nation fell in love with Andi Dorfman the minute she told off Juan Pablo Galavis a.k.a. the most hated Bachelor in the show’s long history. When the whip-smart attorney was named the new The Bachelorette, fans were thrilled, and Dorfman did not disappoint.
She made her way through her pool of 25 suitors, including an explorer and a “pantsapreneur.” She was unashamed about making the most of the Fantasy Suite with finalist Nick Viall—and held her ground when he made their private-ish life public by announcing they had hooked up during the show. When Viall got his heart broken by Kaitlyn Bristowe, Dorfman took the high road, tweeting: “As much as I don’t care for Nick, I don’t wish a broken heart on anyone.”
Dorfman ended up choosing former baseball player Josh Murray and while her relationship with Murray ended, according to her new memoir, that’s probably a good thing. And that new book? It’s titled It’s Not Okay, which is a long-game burn on Galavis and his catchphrase, “It’s okay.” It just makes us love her more.
Final Assessment: Sometimes the happiest ending is the one you make for yourself.
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