Film and TV

Ben Higgins on Colton Underwood, Another Denver Bachelor

Denver's Colton Underwood is on his third attempt at love.
Denver's Colton Underwood is on his third attempt at love. Courtesy of ABC
After two unsuccessful attempts on The Bachelorette, Denver's Colton Underwood has the starring role of the bachelor on the 23rd season of The Bachelor. Over the years, viewers have seen a lot of the same scenarios on this series: Attractive guy dates thirty women, the women get upset that their "boyfriend" is dating 29 other women, and there's a lot of kissing and more. This season, there is only kissing: Underwood is a virgin, which viewers are reminded of twenty times each episode.

On average, 7.8 million people watch The Bachelor each week. We recently talked with one of them: Ben Higgins, who started as a contestant on The Bachelorette in 2015, when he was a runner-up for Katlyn Bristowe's affections. He went on to be the bachelor on The Bachelor in 2016, when he proposed to flight attendant Lauren Bushnell; the couple lived together in Denver until their breakup in May 2017.

Higgins still resides in Denver. He considered a political run but dropped it in favor of a number of business ventures: He's an investor in Ash'Kara, chef Daniel Asher's new restaurant in LoHi, and co-founded Generous Coffee, a local roaster that uses a lot of its own profits to fund operational expenses for nonprofits. During a break in the action, we chatted with Higgins about The Bachelor, which will spotlight a number of Denver locations on the episode that airs February 18.

click to enlarge Ben Higgins, season twenty's bachelor, lives in Denver. - MADDIE SHORT
Ben Higgins, season twenty's bachelor, lives in Denver.
Maddie Short
Westword: What do you think of Colton's season so far?

Ben Higgins: I think it's wholesome, which is something you don't always get on the show. It doesn't maybe have the characters that we have on the show, but we have a lot of high-quality people competing.

Has there been a cringe moment for you while watching this season?

Yeah, definitely. I think what people like about Colton is the same thing that makes us cover our eyes. He is so innocent and naive at times. A good example is when he kissed Heather for her very first kiss, it was drawn out and awkward. We all knew they were going to do it, they just wouldn't do it. That was cringe-worthy; it made me shudder inside a little while watching.

What do you think about how much the franchise has played up Colton being a virgin?

I think it's the storyline that everyone has talked about, so the franchise has followed suit. But I think it's a dangerous plot to publicize so often. It makes it seem like something is wrong with him. It hasn't really explicitly said that it's okay that he's made that choice; instead, they've made it a really big deal and it sometimes comes off like it's a bad thing. I think that it might not be sending the best message to the people who watch, especially a lot of the younger viewers. It's working, though: We're getting to know Colton a lot more, and I think if we didn't know he was a virgin, we would be confused about why he acts the way he does with women.

Do you have predictions of who will win?

Cassie has really stood out to me. I always thought she was a frontrunner, but we haven't seen a lot of her — which typically means she's around for a while. Outside of that, I could see Hannah G winning. Those are the two I really think have the strongest connection. Caelynn is obviously a lot of people's favorite, and she should be.

Who would you love to see be the next bachelorette? 

Definitely Caelynn. I think her platform is one that she can stand and speak to many on. Not only is she beautiful and a desirable person, she had a story and a charisma that could definitely lead the franchise.

click to enlarge Caelynn Miller-Keyes first revealed that she'd been sexually assaulted when she competed for Miss USA in 2018. - COURTESY OF ABC
Caelynn Miller-Keyes first revealed that she'd been sexually assaulted when she competed for Miss USA in 2018.
Courtesy of ABC
How did you feel about Caelynn sharing such an intense story on her date with Colton?

I think she is standing on a platform that is incredibly important for us to talk about today, and i think she's making something that is taboo public — something that really should never be taboo. I hope victims and survivors are inspired to talk about this stuff publicly, as she has for the people who need to and when they feel ready. 

What do you think would be a cool twist to the show?

The show has its format; they know what they're doing. I think bringing in a celebrity, someone that people really recognize, would be great, but that could really take away from how much viewers relate to the show. Something I would love to see and would have loved to have done on my season is if they traveled somewhere new every single week.That would add a lot of exciting atmosphere.

The Bachelor airs at 7 p.m. Mondays on ABC. The February 18 episode was filmed in Denver, and viewers will recognize many landmarks and some familiar faces — including that of Ben Higgins, who gives advice to Colton Underwood.
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Zoe Yabrove is a Denver native with an undergraduate degree in creative writing and a master’s in special education. She is a teacher in Denver Public Schools and contributes to Westword to get her writing fix.
Contact: Zoe Yabrove