The best time of the year is approaching, Bachelor Nation. The cast of Bachelor in Paradise Season 6 is finally public, and the official roster included both familiar faces and throwback picks. Although the majority of contestants still come from the most recent cycles of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, the Season 6 cast has a serious blast from the past that newcomers to the franchise might not know. Who is Chris Bukowski on Bachelor in Paradise? The former Bachelorette contestant was once on so many Bachelor series that he eventually "retired" from the franchise, but now he's back for more roses.
Amidst several fan favorites from Hannah Brown and Colton Underwood's seasons, Chris, now 32, probably confused some younger fans when his name appeared on the new Bachelor in Paradise cast list. If you had to do some Googling when Arie Luyendyk Jr. became the Bachelor in September 2017, chances are that you don't know what role Chris has played in Bachelor Nation. Before contestants reappearing throughout the franchise and building social media empires became the Bachelor norm, he was the most common re-occurrence within Bachelor Nation, making cameos on five different seasons in the pursuit of love.
It didn't start off that way for him, though. Chris first appeared on Emily Maynard's season of The Bachelorette in 2012 alongside future Bachelors Sean Lowe and Arie. These three men and eventual Final Rose pick Jef Holm reached the season's final four stage following earlier drama surrounding Chris's age, as he was only 25 at the time and Emily was in search of a father figure for her young daughter. After his hometown date in Chicago, Chris was eliminated from the competition. The corporate sales director then appeared on Season 3 of the franchise's first spinoff series, Bachelor Pad, making it to the finals of its competition for a hefty cash prize.
Emphasizing just how much the franchise has changed since this period, Chris crashed the first night of Andi Dorfman's Bachelorette season in hopes of meeting the new leading lady. Andi decided not to see him in fairness to her other men, and Chris then reportedly told TMZ that ABC staged the visit. Seeing as folks like Nick Viall and Becca Tilley have since snuck their way onto more seasons, it's easy to forget that Chris was one of the first to attempt this.
While he stayed away from the Bachelor mansion afterwards, Chris wasn't done with the franchise just yet. He was a cast member on Seasons 1 and 2 of Bachelor in Paradise, but left early the first year because of an injury and proceeded to get drunk on his only day there in Season 2. He was also never an original Paradise cast member, and as fans have learned by now, the contestants who are on the beach from the very start usually have a greater chance of finding a relationship. Maybe the offer to join Season 6 at its beginning was what convinced Chris to come out of his reality TV retirement, which he announced in 2015 on ABC's short-lived After Paradise show.
While he played around with ABC's framing of a humorous goodbye, Chris was more honest about his decision in an open letter, writing, "We all have our battles, but my TV obsession had taken me down a dark road. I was battling anxiety that led me down a road where I couldn’t find happiness. I compounded the problem by getting addicted to my anxiety medication. How was this happening? How did everything go from perfect to complete crap?"
Chris, now the founder of a sports bar, wrote that it was time to let go of TV fame, saying, " I want to be Chris again. I want to be the “grown-*ss man” I was before I was a reality television star. I want to make my parents proud, my sisters proud, and my friends proud. And I will."
I'm sure the first episode of Paradise will shed light on why Chris decided to return, but I'm preparing for a deep, emotional dive into his past and how he's grown since his Bachelor prime. Season 15 of The Bachelorette continues at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, June 24, on ABC. Season 6 of Bachelor in Paradise premieres on Monday, Aug. 5.