A rose by any other name isn’t just as sweet: Matt James is the best bachelor in years.

The Bachelor franchise, which currently consists of “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise,” has been around for 19 years with the first season of “The Bachelor” airing in 2002. Over the almost two decades of programming, Bach Nation, and loved ones of Bach Nation who agree to sitting down for the two-hour episodes, have been subject to some truly tiresome characters.

The past three bachelors, Ari Luyendky Jr., Colton Underwood and Peter Weber all proved to be massive disappointments. Luyendyk, after proposing to Becca Kufrin on air, took back the engagement (again on air) in order to pursue the runner up of his season, Lauren Burnham. 

Underwood left his season after hometowns, where he met the friends and family of the remaining women, because he wanted to continue to date Cassie Randolph who left the show of her own volition. 

Finally, Weber let drama and chaos run his season ultimately proposing to Knoxville native Hannah Ann Sluss only to break off the engagement on air during the After the Final Rose Ceremony and announcing that he had been seeing runner-up Madison Prewett who had left the show of her own volition. 

Given the recent trials, Bach Nation was tired. This year, however, 29-year-old commercial real estate agent Matt James has already proven himself to be a caring and charismatic bachelor. I believe there are a few key factors that make James the best bachelor since loveable single father Jason Mesnick (even though Mesnick broke off his engagement with Melissa Rycroft to pursue a relationship with runner up Molly Malaney).

One big difference between James and previous bachelors is that he has never been a contestant on the show before. Since 2007, Mesnick’s season of the bachelor, the bachelor and bachelorette have been a contestant on a previous season who gained fan favorite status. James was supposed to appear as a contestant on Claire Crawley/Tayshia Adams’ season of “The Bachelorette,” but with COVID-19 impacting the beginning of that season, producers went ahead and decided to announce James as the next bachelor rather than choosing from previous contestants. 

Since James has never appeared on our TV’s before, the audience is allowed to get to know him along with the contestants. If you are a fan of dating reality TV shows, odds are you love getting to know people! For me, this has made the season more engaging, especially since we have been seeing the same people over and over–a prime example being the two bachelorette and one bachelor in paradise seasons we were forced to endure with Nick Viall before he was announced as the bachelor for the show’s 21st season.

I would be remiss not to mention that James is also a triple Sagittarius. This means that James’ sun, moon and rising signs are all in the fire sign. Sagittarians are known for their spontaneity, good conversation skills and open-mindedness. James’ Venus is also in Libra making him a romantic at heart. All of this to say, James seems the most at ease with the format of “The Bachelor.” He makes a point to spend equal amounts of time with all the women, remembers specific details about their lives, engages them in meaningful conversations and is equally surprised by the dates as many of them have been planned by the host, Chris Harrison, rather than James himself.

Finally, James, so far, has been confident in himself and his decisions. Much of the problems of the past few seasons stem from the bachelors not being quite sure of themselves and cracking under the pressure. They second guessed themselves or made a decision to propose when they weren’t ready. They were hesitant to get rid of women who caused drama (although some theorize that this is the producers’ decision rather than the bachelors) and didn’t seem to approach their relationships with much forethought or intention.

This opinion is also held by junior, Savannah Stewart, another avid member of Bach Nation.

“I think Matt James is a great bachelor because he always asks the girls how he can be the best he can be for them,” Stewart said. 

However, there are some who do not place as much confidence in James.

“Matt James is not nearly as emotionally intelligent as the past three bachelorettes,” said senior Eleanor Forester. “I believe he is a kind soul, and nobody could be worse than last year’s Peter-fiasco. I want to root for Matt, but something tells me there is only lobby music playing behind those eyes.”

Whether you think he is the best in a while or not, James is a breath of fresh air for “Bachelor” fans, and his season has been a nice break in a lot of COVID-19 related syndicated TV (“SVU” detectives need to decide whether they are going to have their masks on or off, but that’s beside the point). Personally, I will keep watching and cheering on James as he tries to find love with one of the remaining women. If you want to watch James’ season you can find previous episodes streaming on Hulu or you can sign into ABC with your cable provider to catch up!

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