Drew Hoolhorst happened upon Internet fame. Two years ago, he sat down with his girlfriend to watch The Bachelorette, having never seen an episode of the series, then in its 15th season. He started taking notes and posting his thoughts on his personal blog. Now, Hoolhorst's Bachelor recaps attract 30,000 readers a month on his recap-specific site: I'm Not Here To Make Friends. He even has a little advertising, which generates enough revenue to pay for the cup of coffee he drinks while writing his posts.
"It just blew my mind that this was an incredibly popular show. It's like finding out The Big Bang Theory is the most popular show in America. You're so confused," the 31-year-old ad copywriter told Fast Company.
Hoolhorst approaches his writing with that same baffled attitude, using his snarky internal monologue as a frame for his weekly musings. Hoolhorst noted the ridiculousness of the contestants "professions"--dog walker?--long before this New York magazine blog post. He also makes frequent reference to the bachelor, Juan Pablo's, heritage. "I'm pretty sure they picked him because the show starts in January and his name is Juan and you can call it Juanuary because of that," he writes. Which woman will "essept" the roses this week?
To enjoy the commentary, you don't have to follow the reality dating series. (I don't.) Watching Hoolhorst watch the Bachelor is entertainment enough. Before taking readers through an episode, he reminds us of where we left off. Then, a la TV recaps of yore--like Gawker's legendary Real Housewives write-ups--he takes us through an episode. He explains his method as such: "The recap is like: Here is what you missed if you were watching the show and this is what would have been happening in your brain."
That is, if you have the brain of a San Francisco-based bro who describes his tastes as "generic, hipster, white, male." For fun, he watches shows like House of Cards, Girls, and Breaking Bad. He has no interest in recapping "popular intelligent television," however, because, honestly, it would be too difficult. Part of the allure of the Bachelor (or Bachelorette) is that the premise is already completely ridiculous. "Oddly, there is this Disney-like show where women are horrifically setting other women back and talking about fairy tales and stuff," explained Hoolhorst. In other words, it's an easy target.
This genre of hate-blogging isn't new. For years, websites have dabbled in television recaps. In fact, it's such an old art form it has already died, according to Gawker recapper Rich Juzwiak, who in 2012 explained why he would never recap again. It turned into a commodity, with some websites employing up to 30 recappers to churn out regurgitations of that night's programming. Websites still do regular write-ups of shows, but they fall more into the think piece or cultural criticism category, rather than the absurdist.
That's what makes Hoolhorst's burgeoning stardom so unlikely. He hasn't reinvented the form; he just didn't know it existed. "I'm an idiot, I didn't realize this is not new," he told Fast Company. But maybe operating outside the media vacuum helped him succeed.
Now, he's more aware of the field. He reads the A.V. Club, but he sees that coverage as the opposite of what he does. They're deep. He's shallow. And that's a good thing.