Welcome to The Bachelor version of The Hollywood Reporter‘s Power Rankings. Each week, THR‘s Bachelor experts will be tuning into the romantic connections and dramatic shenanigans taking place on season 21 of the long-running ABC franchise. In an effort to cater to viewers who opt out of show spoilers, these rankings are based on opinions and observations week-by-week.
Nick Viall is back — only this time as the leading man.
Crossing his fingers that the fourth time will be the charm, the familiar face returned to the ABC franchise on the Jan. 2 premiere. The 36-year-old entrepreneur was a two-time runner-up on The Bachelorette, with Andi Dorfman and Kaitlyn Bristowe, and was a contestant on the most recent cycle of the franchise’s summer spinoff, Bachelor in Paradise. Despite having his heart broken twice on the franchise, and breaking another’s on Paradise, Nick opened the 21st season of The Bachelor with a promise this time around: “I’m going to give America a happy ending.”
Ever since Nick was announced as the next Bachelor, viewers have been primed to expect the “most controversial” leading man in the show’s history to be the one greeting the women during the annual night one limo parade. By the episode’s end — after much clawing and competing for time with Nick — the 30 women were narrowed down to 22.
Nick’s contestants revealed themselves to be one of the most diverse groupings yet. At the start of the episode, Nick’s group included 22 white and eight nonwhite contestants. The previous Bachelor with Ben Higgins featured five nonwhite contestants, whereas the prior Bachelor season with Chris Soules featured only one.
The franchise has come under fire over its lack of diversity through the years, with ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey addressing the overwhelming number of white leading men and women by promising to “increase the pool of diverse candidates in the beginning” when speaking to press this summer. For the first time in the franchise, Nick handed out the coveted “first impression” rose — usually a precursor to winning or making it far along in the season — to one of the nonwhite contestants, Rachel, an attorney from Dallas, Texas. After the premiere rose ceremony, five nonwhite contestants remain.
When speaking to THR ahead of the premiere, Nick promised an “unconventional” season, something its trailer proved in the closing minutes by teasing a possible rejection at the finale altar. “Relative to my peers in the past, I’m probably a bit more unconventional, and that might be a theme you will continue to see with me as the Bachelor,” he said. “I’m not afraid to play by my own rules and follow my heart and do what I think is best, regardless of majority opinion.”
See how all of Nick’s remaining women stack up after the premiere below and check back in next week for THR‘s weekly Power Rankings. Share your comments below and with THR on Twitter using the #THRose hashtag.