Image Credit: Kevin Foley/ABC (2); McKinnon: Rick Rowell/ABCThose of us who’ve sat through 14 seasons of The Bachelor and six seasons of The Bachelorette know that the worst offense someone can commit is going on either show for “the wrong reasons.” And yet, ABC’s latest offering, Bachelor Pad (premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET), with its $250,000 prize, would seem to reward those who are equally or more interested in finding fame and a payday. Scroll through our swimsuit gallery of the 19 returning contestants (with no fewer than four awesomely bad cannonball shots, by the way), and you’ll see Wes, Craig, and David are back — three men most Bachelorette fans wouldn’t set up with a friend or enemy. For viewers who still like to pretend this franchise is about finding love, doesn’t this show sully the Bachelor name? Not according to Melissa Rycroft, who’ll cohost with Chris Harrison. “I don’t think any apologies need to be made at all,” she tells EW. “It’s not trying to be The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, it’s trying to be that with a spin on it. I’ll be honest, it does become a very different show and a very different game, essentially, when you add money to the equation. It’s not all girls fighting for one guy or vice versa. It’s guys and girls intermixing, and they’re essentially fighting for money at the end. To say, ‘It needs defending because it’s tarnishing the franchise,’ I think is completely unnecessary. It’s a completely different show.”
So now, we have to decide whether we’re rooting for people we actually like, or people we love to hate but know will “play the game” and give us good TV (sex, backstabbing, rage issues, etc.). According to ABC, each week contestants will square off in challenges to compete for immunity and the opportunity to go on a date with contestants of their choice. The winner of the challenge — the first one is a game of Twister — will then grant immunity to one of his or her dates via the presentation of a rose. At the end of each episode, the contestants will vote amongst themselves to determine which cast members will be eliminated from the competition. Who will you be cheering for: good person or good TV?