We know, at this point, that The Bachelor is seedy business. Getting people to fall in love on national television isn't easy work — producers are storytellers as much as screenwriters are, it's just that their characters are autonomous and happen to be real people. To craft a narrative, there's a certain amount of coercion that happens. Coercion is complicated and maybe not all that legal! But the resultant TV show is worth it, at least its 7.8 million viewers think so. In Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America's Favorite Guilty Pleasure, film writer Amy Kaufman explores the darker corners of the beloved TV show. She spoke to former contestants and erstwhile producers to sift through the mythology of the show — like, is it true that producers get payouts when they get contestants to cry, as the Lifetime show UnREAL suggests? (The answer is yes.) And does the show have an exorbitant budget for all those helicopter dates? (The answer is no.) Here are the most bizarre revelations that Kaufman uncovers in Bachelor Nation, which arrives on bookshelves March 6.
Yes, producers would receive cash in exchange for eliciting good television from contestants.
"To motivate the producing team," Kaufman writes, "Jeffress would offer cash incentives. He'd keep a wad of crisp $100 bills in his pocket and promise one to anyone who delivered strong drama. the first producer to get tears? A hundred bucks! You get [Bachelor Alex Michel] to make out with the right girl? A hundred bucks! Catch a chick puking on-camera? A hundred bucks!"
The best way to coerce a contestant? Exhaustion.
In the book, contestants describe relenting after hours of interviews. Meredith Phillips, a former Bachelorette, told Kaufman that she cried for the cameras for producer Lisa Levenson — the inspiration behind UnREAL's Quinn, played by Constance Zimmer — but only because she was exhausted.
"I was surprised that I cried, but I think it was mostly because I was exhausted. I was like, I want this to be over with, so sure.' And then the tears came. And [Levenson] was like 'Ok, done, got it.' And I thought, 'I don't care. She got it. She got what she fucking wanted.'"
Dates cost exactly zero dollars.
You may have noticed that the women on the Bachelor are great at name-dropping brands. Look! It's the U by Uniworld Millennial Cruise Ship! The Hermitage Resort in Vermont! That's because the show spends almost no money on its exotic locales, or even its dates.
"There's a budget allotted for dates — only $20,000 or so for each one — but segment producers often aren't even told what it is. Instead, their aim is to get everything for free through trade-outs — a sort of barter agreement through which a company offers its goods or services in exchange for the advertising power of The Bachelor," Kaufman explains. Kaufman then samples one letter of request from a producer to a resort where a Bachelor stay might take place. The letter requests free air travel, free food for the cast and crew, free transport to and from the resort, and, of course, free local activities! In exchange, the name of the resort materializes during the episode, sometimes in the form of a chyron, other times by way of the contestants' chatter.
Once upon a time, producers would track the menstrual cycles of female contestants.
Kaufman writes, "The producers have been known to keep track of when the women in the house are menstruating — which often happens simultaneously, because that's what happens when women live together – so that they can schedule ITMs accordingly."
Producer Ben Hatta, who also divulged the news that herpes is the number one reason contestants don't get on the show, explained, "The more dominant woman would basically set if off, and then another would come in and say, 'I had my period three days before I came in the house and now I'm having it again, what the fuck is wrong with me?'"
He continued, "So, it helped the producers, because now you've got someone who is emotional — and all you want is emotion...If a girl's feeling butterflies for a guy already, when she gets into that state, her feelings just become more powerful, so she's probably willing to tell that guy she loves him. And maybe one of the producers knew she was in that emotional state and was like, 'You know what? Now's a better time than ever. You should do it, you should do it, you should do it!'"
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