The Bachelor franchise: False things you can stop believing about the shows

The Bachelor franchise has become a staple of not just reality TV, but television in general. It makes the absolute insanity of dating over 20 people in order to propose to one after a month or two into a romantic journey full of drama and love… hopefully. The show is insular in a way, by casting the lead from a pool of previous contestants. The leads become sort of recurring characters in this strange reality TV world. ABC executive Rob Mills told The Cut, “I think when people go a long way and they get their heart broken, they also realize they’re ready to find the one and it certainly makes them more open to the process.”  

As with pretty much all reality television, though, there are things going on behind the scenes that casual viewers are not going to be privy to. It’s time to separate rumors from hard facts. These are false things you can stop believing about the Bachelor franchise.

Only social media influencers get cast on the Bachelor franchise

It’s true that many former Bachelor franchise contestants become social media influencers, and there are undoubtedly many hopeful contestants vying for that same position. However, many contestants have had very stable positions in their respective professions. Contestant Leslie Murphy of Season 17 of The Bachelor was a political consultant before and after the show, as reported by MarketWatch. Still, though some contestants had established careers, people do sometimes quit their jobs to be on the show, like The Bachelorette Season 17 contestant JJ Lane. And, of course, that’s always a risk. As a former employee of J.P. Morgan, Lane told MarketWatch, “I didn’t understand the magnitude of the show and how hard it is to get a real job right after.”

But, regardless of their main gigs, not every former contestant wants to be in the social media world. Former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay was an attorney when she first appeared as a contestant on The Bachelor, and, since then, Lindsay revealed to Access Live that her career in sports entertainment had taken off. So, despite snagging some paid Instagram posts, Lindsay clearly doesn’t consider herself first and foremost an influencer.

Bachelor franchise couples never last

There’s a reason this assumption exists. For the first 16 seasons of The Bachelor, the lead never ended up married to his final pick. A couple of Bachelors — Jason Mesnick and Arie Luyendyk Jr. — have married their runners-up after realizing they’d made a mistake, and are happily married. Still, The Bachelor admittedly has a pretty shoddy record in terms of successful couples. The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise, though, are a different story.

The Bachelorette has about a 30 percent success rate for its final couples, according to HuffPost, which is pretty good considering the Bachelor‘s 11 percent. For example, former Bachelorette Ashley Hebert married her final pick J.P. Rosenbaum. The couple has two children together and even renewed their vows in August 2018. JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers are another one of the franchise’s power couples who’ve scored their own house-flipping show. Paradise can also take credit for a number of successful couples. Clearly, finding love on the Bachelor franchise is not impossible.

Bachelor franchise shows have to end with an engagement

The proposal on a Bachelor franchise show wasn’t always a staple. Several of the early Bachelor seasons ended with a promise to keep dating, not an engagement ring. The norm of proposing every season began with Season 12. Juan Pablo Galavis was the only one to not propose to his final pick after that point. However, the case that probably sticks out most to fans is fence-jumper Colton Underwood.

Underwood broke all the rules when it looked like contestant Cassie Randolph would leave the show before making it to the final two. He flat-out told her, “At the end of this, I want it to be you.” Eventually, the two reconciled and ended the season not with an engagement, but with a budding relationship. “The show has a stigma of you know, ‘Hey, you end in an engagement,’ so we initially felt like we always had to defend our relationship,” Underwood told Today. Underwood’s decision, along with Bachelorette Hannah Brown’s unconventional ending of breaking up with fiancé Jed Wyatt, has led to a discussion of if the show should even end with an engagement at all.

Fantasy suites happen one after the other on the Bachelor franchise

For those who don’t know, the Bachelor franchise fantasy suite dates occur when there are only three contestants left. The lead and the contestants spend time away from the cameras, and it’s presumed to be where they have sex. And with the way the episodes often play out, it looks like the lead goes from one fantasy suite to the next. This is false.

Former Bachelorette Andi Dorfman wrote in a column for The Hollywood Reporter, “What people likely don’t realize is that the fantasy suites are stretched out over a two-week timespan. It does come in one quick episode, but this isn’t back-to-back like viewers see.” This makes much more sense for the filming process and for the lead’s mental well-being. Dorfman explained, “Sure, most of the time there’s intimacy involved. But it’s not just physical, it’s emotional as well. The experience is a kind of unveiling of the fantasy, in an ironic way.” She continued, “Cut the cameras, cut the microphone: it’s just you two and you get to see the true side of this person behind closed doors.”

Bachelor franchise couples always keep the engagement ring

With every televised engagement, there is, of course, an engagement ring. All the rings for the Bachelor franchise are designed by Neil Lane, a Hollywood jeweler who has been working with the popular shows for over a decade. The rings are no joke, and they are incredibly valuable. Therefore, it makes sense that the producers want to protect the investment. Bachelor Nation couples must stay together for at least two years to be able to keep the ring. If they do not, they must give the ring back, as per their contracts. For example, Bachelorette Jillian Harris had to give back her $60,000 ring once her relationship with Ed Swiderski crumbled.

Entertainment Weekly revealed that, after asking Lane himself where the rings go, Lane shared that he doesn’t have them. Speaking to the publication, Bachelor host Chris Harrison joked, “The rings I actually have at home. They’re on a necklace and I’ll where it around sometimes. I’ll wear it out [and] I have, like, 20 different engagement rings.” But Harrison then admitted, “Neil probably does get the rings back. He just doesn’t even know it.”

The Bachelor franchise provides contestants with a wardrobe

Every single cocktail party on The Bachelor means a new dress for all the female contestants. It isn’t like how it is for the men on The Bachelorette, where they can just organize some sisterhood of the traveling salmon blazer. Looking your best on all these dates isn’t easy or cheap. Former Bachelor contestant and Bachelorette Jillian Harris shared on her blog, “I remember when I went on the show we got goodie bags filled with some stuff that they wanted us to wear but half of it didn’t even fit. And that was it! … I had re-mortgaged my house and I spent something like $8,000 on clothing.”

After doing research, E! News concluded that women spend somewhere in the $1,800 to $8,000 range before they get to the mansion. Former contestant Sarah Herron shared with E! News, “I spent way more on my first season of The Bachelor than I did on the shows after because through my first experience I learned that self-confidence actually goes a lot further than a designer dress.” Hopefully, Herron’s advice will save some future female contestants a bit of money… and luggage space.

Bachelor franchise contestants lead a luxurious life in the mansion

Arriving at the Bachelor mansion must feel like a fairytale. Unfortunately, that’s not the case when the lead isn’t there. The home is actually owned by a family that leaves for 42 days twice a year for production to film. So it isn’t some Disney-esque castle. Bachelor franchise contestant Leslie Hughes shared her experience with The Daily Beast and painted an even less savory picture of the experience, sharing that the contestants live in bunk beds in cramped living quarters with only two bathrooms for up to 25 people. “We have to do our own cooking, our own laundry… We do everything you would do when you’re at home, except be able to go outside of your home,” Hughes said.

That’s without considering the fact that there is pretty much nothing to do. There are no cellphones, computers, magazines, music, or books to keep the contestants occupied. “The only things I was allowed to keep were my journal and my Bible,” said Hughes. “We have nothing. We are completely cut off from the world. We have to talk to each other — we have nothing else to do.”

The Bachelor franchise rose ceremonies are quick

The rose ceremonies are the climax of each Bachelor franchise episode, adding anticipation. But the ceremony isn’t exactly like it looks like on TV. “It is absolutely exhausting,” former Bachelor Sean Lowe shared with Glamour. “On TV, what you see is I hand out a rose, the girl comes forward and accepts it, and then I hand out another rose. In reality, there’s about three to five minutes in between each rose because all 15 cameras have to re-position. That first night lasts until about seven A.M., and then each one after that lasts until about three or four.”

The rose ceremonies take place after an already long night of meeting the 25 people eager to get to know you and then deciding who stays. Show director Ken Fuchs shared with The Hollywood Reporter, “There’s a lot of women that the bachelor needs to meet. Forget about doing a TV show, if you were in some situation where you were going to meet 25 women and at the end of the night select a handful to go home, you want to sort of get a sense of who’s who and what’s what.”

Bachelor franchise show Bachelor in Paradise takes six weeks

The process for Bachelor in Paradise is a time warp. The Bachelor franchise show airs twice a week for six weeks, with each episode supposedly showing one half of each week. By that logic, people are proposing after about a month and a half of knowing each other. Turns out that it’s actually half that time. According to reality TV blogger Reality Steve, the sixth season of Bachelor in Paradise filmed for 21 days — only three weeks!

Despite the time crunch, Bachelor in Paradise has a much higher rate of successful couplings. This is possibly because in those three weeks you are free to spend as much time with your intended as you please. It also helps that many of the contestants talk before filming the show. Paradise bartender Wells Adams shared with Entertainment Tonight, “Everyone talks before the show. And as you should, because the odds of really finding someone to get engaged are pretty small if you don’t know anybody, so if you have the opportunity to kind of feel people out beforehand, it’s a good idea.”

Everything you hear is what the Bachelor franchise contestants said

Have you ever been watching a reality TV show and the voiceover of a contestant sounds a little off? It might just be a frankenbite. Frankenbiting is a term that is used to describe the editing practice where the editor takes different clips of the same person speaking to come up with a new sentence altogether. The practice has been used in reality television for over a decade and has a whole slew of controversy behind it.

In Amy Kaufman’s book Bachelor Nation (via USA Today), she spoke with a former editor of the Bachelor franchise who said, “There’s no allegiance to what happened to reality. I don’t care what happens,” adding, “It’s like I’m handed a big bucket of LEGOs and think, ‘What do I want to build today?'” The editor continued (via Elle), “You think, ‘Oh, she’s going to say something b****y and we’ll use that.’ No, no, no. You make whatever she does sound b****y.” So, next time you’re watching a show and find yourself disgusted with something a contestant said, be mindful that there’s a chance they never even said it at all.

Bachelor franchise contestants act wild all on their own

Sarah Gertrude Shapiro was a former producer for The Bachelor franchise, and she used those experiences when co-creating the satirical TV sho2 Unreal. Shapiro told The New Yorker that her job was to get the contestants to “open up, and to give them terrible advice, and to deprive them of sleep.” She described the experience as “complicated manipulation through friendship.” 

As an example, Shapiro described one of her tactics. “The night they were going to get dumped, I would go to the hotel room where they were staying and say, ‘I’m going to lose my job for telling you this, but he’s going to pick you — he’s going to propose,'” she said. This kind of practice could explain why some contestants might be confident enough to disrupt dates if they’re being goaded on behind the scenes. It makes one question just how much of the Bachelor franchise’s drama was all a calculated producer’s plan rather than some heat of the moment passion.

The most popular Bachelor franchise contestant is chosen as the next lead

Ever since The Bachelorette premiered in 2003, that show and The Bachelor have bounced off of each other. The lead of The Bachelorette is a former contestant from The Bachelor, and then the next Bachelor is from The Bachelorette. Usually the leads are a fan favorite from the season directly preceding theirs, but this is not always the case. When Arie Luyendyk Jr. became the Bachelor, he hadn’t been on the show in five years, and fans were understandably confused, as the popular Peter Kraus was once thought to become the lead. Fans were again upset the following year when past contestant Colton Underwood was chosen as the Bachelor over other candidates like Blake Horstmann or Jason Tartick.

Bachelor franchise host Chris Harrison shared a bit of the lead-choosing process with E! News. “It’s such a huge debate. And it’s such a tough thing because one person can be it, period,” he shared, adding, “Whoever we choose, it goes to television, story, layers, who’s right at the right time.”

Bachelor in Paradise is just a filler Bachelor franchise show

The Bachelor may have been the first series of the Bachelor franchise, and, along with The Bachelorette, it is the flagship show. But The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have a little summer sibling that fills in some of the gap between seasons. Bachelor in Paradise‘s first season aired in 2014 after the first spin-off Bachelor Pad was canceled. ABC exec Robert Mills explained to E! News, “When [Bachelor Pad] didn’t come back we thought, well, there’s still something because people loved Bachelor Pad. So it was OK, well, how do we do it where it’s just sort of second chance romance, which is kind of what Bachelor Pad was supposed to be before the game element.”

In retrospect, Mills admitted Paradise “gave [the franchise] a shot in the arm.” Bachelor in Paradise has become such a reliable hit that apparently ABC is looking to create more spin-offs. “I think there could be a Real Housewives-type thing potentially,” Mills joked.

The Bachelor franchise is dying

The Bachelor franchise, which marked a collective 48 seasons for all of its shows in September 2019, outlived its old rival American Idol and has even gone on to see the singing competition show rebooted. And while Hannah Brown’s season premiered with a record low in viewers, leading some to believe that the franchise might be on its way out, there isn’t a lot of evidence to support that claim.

Even with a record low, The Bachelorette was still tied for the highest-rated show of that time-slot, which most likely means that every show for whatever reason was lower in viewers. Plus, Hannah Brown’s season turned out to be the only summer broadcast show to go up in ratings from the previous year. Notably, Bachelor in Paradise kept pace with America’s Got Talent. The Bachelor franchise consistently keeps viewers tuning into ABC, which means it will probably stick around for a while. As Bachelor Nation host Chris Harrison told The Cut, “The genius behind the show is that it’s so simple.  It’s about love, and these two people in this amazing, awkward, hopeful situation.”

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