And then there was one.
In a move that shocked the nation, Melbourne man Sam Wood selected single mother and Perth local Snezana Markoski from a crop of eager hopefuls to be his chosen love interest.
Markoski, 34, beat out fellow finalist (and favourite) Lana Jeavons-Fellows, 27, to nab the title of 2015 The Bachelor winner.
But what, exactly, does this title entail?
Unlike other reality shows like Big Brother or The Voice, there are no record contracts, massive cheques, cars or overseas holidays to be won.
Nope. You just get the affection of one man. A man who, up until this point, you may have had the good fortune of going on about three dates with. If you’re lucky.
That’s not to say 34-year-old Wood isn’t a catch. Sure, he’s a little too fond of the mirror and doing activities shirtless, but he’s got a job and all his teeth and that’s got to count for something.
The problem is all the extras that come with him and having a relationship in the public eye.
Including but not limited to:
Duh – we all know relationships require sacrifice. But long-distance relationships even more so. With Markoski in Perth and Wood in Melbourne this creates something of a dilemma. Throw a kid – Markoski’s nine-year-old daughter Eve – into the mix and you’ve got a train wreck waiting to happen.
Wood is particularly attached to his business – a kids’ fitness company and gym – and won’t be wanting to move across the country any time soon. If he does, Snez has to shoulder the burden of a man robbed of his passion and livelihood on a daily basis.
If he doesn’t, Markoski will have to uproot her daughter’s life and ditch her family’s free babysitting services and support for a city she barely knows. What a treat for everyone involved.
Snez has spent a lot of time getting to know Sam’s life. What he does, what he values and what he enjoys doing on a date. Unfortunately, she hasn’t met any of his friends, been to his home or spent a single day in his regular life.
There may be some pleasant surprises from this point onwards, but there will also be a lot of adjusting to the shortage of hot air balloons, expensive cars, private ballet performances and mansions.
And then there’s that age-old worry for all people embarking on a new romance – what if you don’t like their mates?
Loss of credibility
Imagine everyone you know, and don’t know, watching you kissing your significant other … in extreme close-up.
Imagine strangers looking into your home, meeting your entire family and knowing where you grew up.
Unfortunately, with extreme exposure comes a number of different assumptions as to who you are, your values and your priorities.
Markoski might find herself on the list of every red carpet event in the nation for the next six months, but she might struggle to find an employer willing to hitch their bandwagon to the celeb express.
Anyone who has watched this season knows Sam is pretty damn keen to have kids and settle down. Nothing wrong with that, but unfortunately he’s made that known to the entire nation.
Snez already has a daughter, but now Australia will be wondering when she can give Sam another one. Call it the Kate Middleton effect, if you will – there’ll be a baby bump rumour every second week.
And God forbid they break up. The public get attached to the romance and expect to be there for the demise too. Cue the grainy through-the-window mid-sob paparazzi shots.
If Markoski or Wood put a foot wrong they could go the way of Blake Garvey, whose accidental proposal earned him the title of “most hated man in Australia”.
After weeks and weeks of filming, Markoski is no doubt prepared for a little extra attention.
However, it goes against all human nature to be ok with headlines like the ones already plaguing Snezana and past winners like Anna Heinrich.
Here are a few samples:
Worse – Markoski’s daughter Eve almost certainly knows how to use Google. How does she feel about her Dad being called a criminal?
The Bachelor is entertaining viewing, of course. Sometimes it can lead to a real bond forming. Maybe even one that lasts forever.
But there’s no doubt the real winners are the viewers at home who can switch off, unscathed, from their guilty pleasure.
Snezana? Well, she’s living it.