The Bachelorette Australia kicked off with a bang last night, and as expected in reality television land, there were contestants whispering, interrupting each other's chats with Brooke Blurton, and even someone (Jessica Franklin) who 'stole' the loveseat from another contestant (Konrad Bien Stephen).
Unsurprisingly, the set is a high-pressure environment filled with producers, cameras and rivalry that's not typical of the usual dating scene in the real world, which causes emotions in the mansion to run high and the cast to be the subject of public critique when the show airs.
Having been on The Bachelor and Bachelor In Paradise in the past, Blurton is well aware of the impact that being on reality TV can have on cast members' mental health.
The 26-year-old said one of the most important conversations she had with producers before filming began in Sydney earlier this year was around what resources would be provided to contestants who are concerned about bullying, racism and their mental health in general.
"Pre-filming I spoke to production about the support that’s available to myself and obviously to the contestants," Blurton told Refinery29 Australia.
"I wanted to reiterate the importance of it and how I feel a duty of care because I want to make sure that every participant who comes on feels supported."
Blurton said producers informed her that psychologists were available and would conduct "regular chats" with all cast members, and while "production would have put that in place anyway", she's glad she checked beforehand.
"I made sure that I felt like the support was there. It felt comforting that they had my back and I’m really supported by everyone in my team – my family, my friends, production and the network," she said.
It's not just filming that can affect the cast's mental health, but also the heightened attention afterwards when the show airs.
In the past, Blurton has received racist comments such as she's “too pretty to be an Aboriginal” from social media trolls after appearing on The Bachelor in 2018 and Bachelor In Paradise in 2019.
This time around she's more prepared and is "grateful" she's quite resilient in the face of public backlash.
"I don’t know what’s around the corner but I think luckily for me I do have thick skin," she said. "I’m prepared that people are not going to like or I’m not going to be everyone's cup of tea or, you know, I'm going to be criticised.
"But I feel like if you don't like me or if you don't like the basis of the show, then I think it's a chance for you to sort of really think about that and internalise, 'Why?'"
In a statement provided to Refinery29 Australia, a Network 10 spokesperson said a psychologist was available to all contestants for mental health support.
“As part of the show’s duty of care, all The Bachelorette participants have full access to mental health professionals as well as support from Warner Bros. Australia and Network 10 teams," read the statement.
Blurton, who is the first Indigenous and bisexual bachelorette, met 16 potential love interests – a mixture of men and women – during last night's premiere episode.
After sharing her first kiss with Jamie-Lee Dayz and handing Darvid Garayeli the special white rose, she eliminated Johann Alessandrini at the end of a very dramatic cocktail party. This is only the beginning of Blurton's journey to find love on TV, and there's no doubt that there will be more romance and drama ahead.
The Bachelorette Australia airs on Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm on Channel 10.