The series chronicles his quest for a special someone after he told his friends that he felt it was time for him to enter a 'committed relationship.'
How far would you go to help your childhood friend find love? For one group of friends in Brooklyn, the answer was clear: create a whole dating competition inspired by the extremely popular "Bachelor" franchise. Starring software engineer Elan Ashendorf from the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, "The Bushwick Bachelor"—a new self-funded, ultra-local YouTube series—was created by a group of childhood friends who wanted to help their pal find a girlfriend. The series, which has released two episodes so far, chronicles the 30-year-old's semi-serious quest for a special someone after he told his friends that he felt it was time for him to enter a "committed relationship."
Speaking to The New York Times, Ashendorf shared that he opened up to his friends about his desire for some romance in his life as even his parents had started telling him to "find literally anyone and be happy with them." The self-proclaimed fan of bike rides, Lego bricks, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Google Sheets revealed that up until now, his romantic history has been dotted by "situationships" or more casual hookups than steady girlfriends. His love life did a full 180 about a year and a half ago when Ashley Lagzial, a friend from middle school, was discussing the latest episode of "The Bachelor" at his apartment.
"I was swiping through Tinder or Hinge, and someone was like 'You should go on 'The Bachelor!'" Ashendorf recalled. Although he initially took it as a joke, Lagzial and another friend from middle school, Gabby McGowan, set out to make it happen. They borrowed cameras from friends and carved out time from their day jobs in public relations and video editing to moonlight as executive producers of their pal's dating life. Soon, "The Bushwick Bachelor" had a volunteer crew comprised of friends and friends-of-friends.
In spring 2021, they plastered street corners and bars with fliers that pitched Ashendorf as "an engineer who lives alone and has his very own bed frame." "We initially thought no one would do it," Lagzial admitted. "So when we received 40 to 50 responses, we were blown away." The applications—which flowed in from far and near—came from a wide array of women including tattoo artists, aspiring lawyers, people on the cusp of Gen Z and true millennials.
Eventually, nine women were finalized after working around scheduling constraints (contestants had to be available to film episodes throughout summer 2021) and stage fright (some applicants changed their minds after learning their dates would actually be filmed).
"At the end of the day, we didn't say no to people," said Lagzial. "Whoever wanted to show up, we had them on." A 10th contestant joined the show during filming for the first episode after abandoning a different date, wandering onto the set and signing a release form. All the episodes were filmed during a group date at a brewery, a figure-drawing session and on the Staten Island Ferry, a nod to Ashendorf's home borough and feature a panel of his friends weighing in with their impressions of his chemistry with the contestants. While the ABC series has long faced criticism for a lack of diversity, "The Bushwick Bachelor" is far from it. "We actually ended up with a pretty diverse group of women," Lagzial said. "We had a trans contestant, we had all different nationalities and religions."
Similarly, unlike the ABC show—which presents a long-term monogamous partnership as an ideal—"The Bushwick Bachelor" places less emphasis on the prospect of a wedding. "The end goal was a meaningful, loving relationship, but I don't think we put any pressure on what we were expecting," said Lagzial. So did Ashendorf end up finding his true love? "You'll have to continue to watch," said Adrianna Tricia King, who hosted the series, adding: "I will say I was very happy with the choice."