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Arie Luyendyk’s season of The Bachelor garnered mass attention after he made the epic Bachelor error of proposing to one woman only to regret his decision and chase the runner-up. The dramatic finale garnered 7.8 million viewers and the whole debacle caused many fans to begin to wonder what exactly was happening behind-the-scenes of the hit reality show to cause such a controversy. Los Angeles Times staff writer Amy Kaufman made it her mission to find out and recently released a tell-all Bachelor novel that spills a few shocking revelations that The Bachelor producers don’t want you to know. Follow along for 15 juicy secrets from Amy Kaufman’s Bachelor Nation:
Although to fans The Bachelor may feel like a mindless reality show, there is actually heavy strategy involved in filling each episode with drama, which means the show requires dramatic contestants to fuel it. The producers are quite meticulous in their selection of women and Kaufman uncovered that the producers tend to label contestants in stereotypical boxes to plot a storyline for them on the show. Kaufman states, “The remarks… don’t paint the kindest picture of the producers. Instead, they come across calculating and formulaic — and certainly not sympathetic.” Kaufman then proceeds to provide various examples of the producer’s casting notes, one in which describes the contestant as follows: “Jamie, 21. Seems very young and immature (UCSB sorority chick-ish!). Wants to find love on TV and have a $4 million wedding. Get her in the house because she’ll drive the other girls crazy — or the other girls will definitely annoy her. Very produceable — another one who comes with strings. Could be a star on The OC or Dawson’s Creek. She, like, wants to, like, get married like — can we stand it??”
Many will be surprised to learn that once the contestants enter The Bachelor mansion, they must give up all of their devices that connect them to the outside world. Phones, computers, televisions, books, magazines, even gym equipment aren’t allowed inside the mansion. Kaufman describes this rule as a well-designed strategy for the show which she dubs the “Bachelor bubble” in which “everyone — fellow contestants, producers — is talking about the Bachelor or Bachelorette, so that’s all you start to think about too.” This sheltered lifestyle forces contestants to only think about the main source of controversy in their life at the time, which in every case, is the Bachelor/Bachelorette and their impending romance. “You have nothing to think about,” Clare Crawley from Juan Pablo’s season revealed in the novel. “Not even what food you’re going to order. You don’t have to think about a single thing other than him.”
The producers don’t try to hide the breeding party-culture that happens when the contestants appear on the show, but the extent of the alcohol-induced drama might be quite surprising. Mike Fleiss, the show’s creator, was an avid partier and this lifestyle became an integral aspect of the show for both producers and cast. No one is forced to drink, but the continuous stream of drinks and sheer boredom of having zero connection to the outside world causes many to resort to alcohol. Although the Bachelor in Paradise scandal this past summer caused the producers to implement a 2-drink per hour rule, it’s actually thought that this rule caused an opposite effect because of the survivor-mentality where contestants rush to ensure they receive their two drinks before the hours up causing them to get even drunker than they initially would have.
Although many of the contestants may initially seem quite stable and in respectable career paths, there seems to be much more happening behind-the-scenes than is initially displayed on-screen. The producers are obviously quite cut-throat with their casting methods, but many will be shocked to hear that they actually favor the unstable applicants and those who “barely pass the psychological test.” As written by Kaufman, a former producer also admitted that the casting directors prefer those that seem “kind of unhinged” to maximize the potential of drama. Rozlyn Papa attested to this notion in the novel and commented that she confessed to the producers to being diagnosed with depression and believes she shouldn’t have been cast. “If they really were trying to protect you, you’d think that would be sort of a red flag and they would say, ‘Well, maybe this is someone who can’t handle this kind of pressure,” Papa revealed.
It’s no surprise that the producers want drama, but one shocking tidbit of information is that they actually track the women’s menstrual cycles to align interviews during their most emotional time of the month. Kaufman refers to these interviews as “ITM’s” or in-the-moment interviews which is essentially the private interviews which provide a personal commentary on each scene. Producer Ben Hatta opened up to Kaufman about this tactic explaining, “When women cycled together in the house, it created a completely different vibe. The most dominant woman would basically set it off… So a girl’s now crying mid-interview about nothing or being reactionary to things that are super small… If a girl’s feeling the butterflies for a guy already when she gets into that state, her feelings just become more powerful, so she’s probably more willing to tell that guy she loves him.”
Since celebrity engagement ring expert Neil Lane joined The Bachelor franchise, a small stipulation was put in the contract that many would find quite surprising. Lane joined the show in 2008 and added the obligation that the couples must stay together for two years before they legally own the ring. If they break off their engagement within the 2 year period, the couple is required to give back the ring, in which it will go to “ring heaven” as Lane tends to refer to it as. The size and value of the rings have increased dramatically since the show’s inception, with Lauren Bushnell’s topping the charts of the priciest ring so far landing in the $100 000 ballpark. Her ring featured a 4.25-carat diamond which was encircled by 240 round and baguette cut diamonds.
Although many of the conversations between contestants come across natural on-screen, fans will be shocked to know that majority of them are staged for plot purposes. The women are asked to participate in staged conversations which the producers label “girl chats” in which the women gather in the same room to talk about the lead, the other girl’s dates and who they think is going home. According to Kaufman, these chats are rewarded with movies, trips to nail salon or other perks that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to while living in the Bachelor Bubble.
Nearly every season of The Bachelor has ended with a proposal, and despite the show’s short run of only three months, this has become an expected obligation on the Bachelor’s part for the finale episode. In 2018, it’s difficult to imagine being ready to propose after such a short time period, and although the Bachelor is not technically “required” to propose, the social pressure to do so essentially gives them no choice. Bachelor Sean Lowe recalled his experience on the show and the pressure to propose by explaining, “I started throwing up. I was puking on the sidewalk walking down to get the ring and coming back. It was like ‘Whoa. This is forever.’ My parents have been married for forty-three years. That was a big freaking deal to me.” He continued to explain, “There is no ‘What if I don’t propose’ option. It’s just ‘Here’s the ring. Go give it to her.’ That’s how they make it.”
Although The Bachelor creates a fantasy for many of the contestants with the luxurious travel and fairytale dates, after the season is over nearly every contestant must return to their regular life at home. Many contestants stints on The Bachelor ended up having quite negative repercussions for their home life, especially for those who were framed as a villain. Contestant Rosalyn Papa divulged in the novel that one of the teacher’s at her son’s school posted rude comments about her on an online forum. “She called me a slut. She said that I wasn’t a good mom… I went to all of my son’s events and was very involved, so reading that was one of the most hurtful of all.” Contestant Chris Bukowski had his own fair share of drama following his Bachelor appearance. He confessed his family was deeply affected and became obsessed with reading online drama and hurtful comments about their son. “I kept telling him, ‘Dad, don’t read that stuff. If there’s a person that saves someone’s life, commenters will still talk crap about that guy on the Internet.’ He started to believe what they were saying.”
In recent years, Reality Steve has become notorious for dropping spoilers about The Bachelor season and the winner before it comes out. Many are curious about who and where his sources come from, and according to Kaufman, they’re actually closer to the contestants than you’d think! Kaufman dished, “If someone says they’re a friend or a cousin of the contestant in question Carbone [Reality Steve]’s ears perk up — people on the show often spill to those around them, even though they’re not supposed to.”
Plenty of Bachelor contestants never return to their day job following their Bachelor debut, and for good reason! While appearing on television, many contestants build a slew of fans rooting for them, which in turn creates a social media following. While many resort to another reality show such as Dancing with the Stars or Marriage Bootcamp, others opt for the alternative route of becoming an Instagram influencer and earning an income through social media campaigns. The value of a single social media post varies depending on how large the following is, but for those upwards of 1 million followers, such as Amanda Stanton, are making at least $10,000 per post according to Kaufman.
In Bachelor Nation Kaufman provides a detailed synopsis of the application and casting process of how each contestant is selected. Potential candidates are required to complete a variety of tests before being accepted, one of which is a screening for sexually transmitted diseases. Once the pool of candidates is narrowed down to 50, the screening is required and according to Kaufman, herpes was the primary cause of contestants being eliminated from the roster. She even dished that sometimes the producers are the first ones to break the news to the contestant that they should probably call a doctor and get themselves tested!
Lifetime’s drama series, UnREAL, was created as an insider’s look at the behind-the-scenes production of a dating reality show which seems quite similar to The Bachelor in many ways. The producer of UnREAL, Sarah Gertrude Shaprio, was actually one of the producers of The Bachelor for multiple seasons during the early run of the series. Those who work on The Bachelor, including Chris Harrison, are quite vocal about their dislike to UnREAL, but Kaufman dished that perhaps this is because it is a closer depiction of reality than The Bachelor producers would like their fans to know. Kaufman also dished that many of the characters on UnREAL are based off real-life producers on The Bachelor. For instance, Quinn King is inspired by Bachelor producer Lisa Levenson who is thought to be the mastermind behind the romance of the series, while Chet Wilton is thought to be inspired by Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss.
Perhaps one of the most disturbing notes in the novel is that the producers are given incentive to create the most dramatic scenes, and often are rewarded with pay bonuses for doing so. Kaufman dished that former Bachelor executive producer, Scott Jeffries, told her that he “kept a wad of crisp $100 bills in his pocket” to give to producers who caught the best drama on film. The means of these scenarios are blurry, but interrogation and manipulation were just a few of the instigators explained by Kaufman in her tell-all.
Based on the insider knowledge dished by Kaufman, it’s clear by this point that much of the “reality” behind The Bachelor is anything but. The extent of the manipulation, however, could be even more far-fetched than viewers have been led to believe! Kaufman notes this process as a term called “Frankenbiting” in which the editor of the series re-cuts a soundbite to portray a different meaning than the contestant was trying to convey. A former editor who worked on the series for three seasons dished, “With editing, everything is malleable. You can make it whatever you think… I’m thinking ‘This is what I want to happen.’ Then I make the footage tell that story. I don’t care what [actually] happens. It’s like being handed a big bucket of Lego’s and thinking, ‘What do I want to build today?'” Kaufman further explains this by providing the example, “Imagine that a story producer hands over footage from a one-on-one date between a woman and The Bachelor. The date went pretty well, but the editor is told by the story producer to make it seem like the couple went on the worst date in history. The Bachelor and his lady had plenty of conversations, but… Instead, the editor is going to take the shots where they’re both sitting in silence.”