It’s been 15 years since The Bachelorette made its debut on ABC. Back in 2003, The Bachelor spinoff gave viewers a dose of girl power as original Bachelor star Alex Michel’s broken-hearted runner-up called the shots and found herself a husband on her own terms. It was a win for the franchise, and more than a decade later, the female-fronted version of the show is still going strong.
Now, a new season of The Bachelorette starring Becca Kufrin is set to premiere— and it could be the best one yet. After she was humiliated on camera by her former Bachelor fiancé Arie Luyendyk Jr., Becca is back to do this thing. Franchise host Chris Harrison has already described Becca’s season as “magnificent,” telling Entertainment Weekly “it’s so damn good.” The Bachelorette host also teased that the upcoming 14th season of the rose-filled reality show could feature “the most ridiculous fight you’ve ever seen in the history of our show.”
That’s saying a lot. Past seasons of The Bachelorette have included everything from angry exes to shady suitors signing on to the show to increase their social media following. That’s definitely not for the right reason!
In honor of Becca’s Bachelorette premiere, here’s a look back at five of the best past female-led seasons of the ABC reality franchise.
Season 1—Trista Rehn
The Bachelorette season by which all others are measured, Trista Rehn’s groundbreaking journey ended with a serious happily ever after. The original Bachelorette, fresh off a major heartbreak from the very first Bachelor Alex Michel, found everlasting love with firefighter Ryan Sutter. The fan-favorite couple tied the knot in a lavish ceremony in front of ABC’s cameras and 26 million viewers as part of a three-night Trista & Ryan’s Wedding special. The couple renewed their vows on camera 10 years later. Today, mom of two Trista is still regarded as the “godmother” of The Bachelorette.
Season 8—Emily Maynard
The single mom’s backstory was heartbreaking—Maynard’s fiancé, race car driver Ricky Hendrick, died in a plane crash just before she found out she was pregnant with their child. Finally ready to look for love once again six years later, Maynard was the “winner” of Brad Womack’s second season of The Bachelor, but the relationship fizzled. Producers scooped the blonde beauty up to be the first mom to star as The Bachelorette. The show also had made a major departure by shooting the show in her Charlotte, North Carolina, hometown instead of Los Angeles so Emily could be near her daughter. In the end, Emily’s love connection with her final pick, Jef Holm, didn’t last, but viewers were glued to her story until the bitter end—and her choice paved the way for a future Bachelor season starring another race car driver, Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Season 12—JoJo Fletcher
JoJo Fletcher was the victim of Bachelor Ben Higgins’ indecisiveness—he said the “L” word to both her and his eventual final pick, Lauren Bushell—but Fletcher got her own Bachelorette season out of the deal. Fletcher’s season stands out as one of the best if for nothing else but to give fans an inside look at the real-life family drama for JoJo’s final pick, Jordan Rodgers, and his estranged, famous brother, NFL star Aaron Rodgers. JoJo and Jordan are still happily engaged.
Season 6—Ali Fedotowsky
Ali Fedotowsky famously quit her job at Facebook to become The Bachelorette, but her season of the show stands out for an even bigger reason: Rated R. Ali’s suitor, entertainment wrestler Justin “Rated R” Rego, made headlines as one of the first suitors on the franchise to supposedly have a girlfriend at home. Justin’s hometown girl called Ali from Canada, prompting The Bachelorette star to confront him about his situation. Rego had a broken foot at the time, so one of his most memorable Bachelorette scenes features him hobbling/ jumping through the bushes to try to get away from an angry Ali. After sparing runner-up Chris Lambton a humiliating final rose ceremony, Fedotowsky ended her season with an engagement to Roberto Martinez, but the couple split the following year.
Season 11—Kaitlyn Bristowe
The 11th Season of the show started out with a major twist: Two Bachelorettes headlined the first episode, with the male suitors ultimately choosing Kaitlyn Bristowe to continue as the series star over Britt Nilsson. Bristowe also made major waves on her season by sleeping with one of her suitors—in this case, Nick Viall—after a romantic one-on-one date well before the fantasy suite dates. It was a risky move, especially after Viall had already publicly shamed previous Bachelorette star Andi Dorfman for sleeping with him while dating other men when he was on her season of the show. In the end, Kaitlyn chose Shawn Booth as her man, and the two are still engaged. Viall went on to star on his own season of The Bachelor, where Rachel Lindsay landed as a runner-up, paving the way for the franchise’s first-ever black Bachelorette.
The new season of The Bachelorette premieres Monday, May 28 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.