With “The Bachelorette” returning to the screen on Oct. 13, student watch parties will look different this season.
The ABC reality television show’s production halted in March after Warner Bros. Television Group released a statement recognizing coronavirus concerns. Season 16 was expected to premiere on May 18.
Iyana Jones-Reese, a junior advertising and public relations major, said she plans on watching the new season using services like Zoom with friends and members of her sorority.
“It was kind of nice having the energy of other people around when you’re watching, which sounds kind of stupid and cult-like,” Jones-Reese said with a laugh. “I think it’ll change a lot with things being online, but I’m hoping that we’ll be able to figure out a way to keep the energy up and keep people excited.”
Jones-Reese said she began watching the show when she entered her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. She recalls other members having watch parties every Monday night and wanting to “be in the loop.”
Prior to COVID-19, she said she would host gatherings with food and drinks, acting as a way to catch up with old friends. Now, Jones-Reese said she plans to watch “The Bachelorette” in her apartment, but the entertainment value is still present.
“It’s kind of fun watching people who are ridiculously gorgeous and successful in their own right having troubles in relationships,” Jones-Reese said. “That sounds messed up, but it is nice when you see people going through the same struggles you go through sometimes.”
Taylor Loyd, a sophomore majoring in music and media and journalism, said her methods of watching “The Bachelorette” will be different this season as well.
“My friends and I are really taking the COVID precautions seriously,” she said. “I think trying to make the most of the situation will be nice, hopefully through a cheese board, some ‘Bachelorette' and cooking some dishes.”
Loyd, in an interview with The Daily Tar Heel about the 24th season of “The Bachelor" in February, said she gathered her friends in her room every Monday night for a shared charcuterie board while they watched the program. This time around, she said she will continue the tradition, but with a smaller core group consisting of her roommates and the people living in her apartment complex.
Caitlyn Walbrecht, a junior majoring in exercise and sport science and medical anthropology, said she watches the program as a form of mindless entertainment.
“It’s just something to take my mind off of the pre-med stress of life,” she said. “I got into watching it during Sean Lowe and Catherine’s season (in 2013), so now I just keep up with it a bit looser, but it’s just something fun to do.”
Ritual-wise, Walbrecht said her watching routine will not change too drastically. Before, she said she would watch “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” with her roommates, taking time to text friends about drama occurring within the show — a trend that will continue with this upcoming season.
Walbrecht said her experience with the television program began in middle school, where fellow students would come in on Tuesdays talking about the show.
“There was a huge group of my girlfriends, and they would come to school and be like, ‘Oh my God, can you believe it?’” Walbrecht said. “The first time, I was like, ‘Who are these random people you’re talking about?' And then I was like, ‘I have to watch the show next week so I know what’s going on.’”
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