Taylor Nolan Tells Refinery29 What It's Like To Be Sober On The Bachelor

Photo: Bob Du2019Amico/ABC.
On the second episode of the highly-scrutinized fourth season of Bachelor In Paradise, Taylor Nolan revealed that she doesn't drink. The admission was part of a larger conversation with the cast involving consent and the future of Bachelor In Paradise, given the fact that a rowdy first night of filming caused a halt in production and subsequent investigation into alleged sexual misconduct. (Warner Bros. later concluded that no misconduct had occurred.)
"So, Taylor, have you ever had a drink on any of The Bachelor shows?" host Chris Harrison clarified.
"I've never had a drink on the show," Nolan confirmed. She added that she'd never been plied by producers with drinks; she's a functional member of Bachelor Nation who happens not to drink.
Nolan's situation is unique. The Bachelor has a reputation as a booze-filled bonanza, an excuse for viewers to watch inebriated women (and men, in the case of The Bachelorette) fall over themselves on national television. It makes sense; the show and its spinoffs conspire to make two individuals fall in love in under three months. It's a lot easier to fall in love if you're uninhibited. Q.E.D, alcohol as social lubricant makes sense, depressing as it is. It's easy to assume that everyone on the show is willing and able to drink the days away. It's also easy to assume that a non-drinker might not function well within the Bachelor World.
Nolan, who is 23 and just completed her Masters in mental health counseling at Johns Hopkins, told Refinery29 that this isn't the case. In the current episodes of the show, Nolan is deeply embedded in the show's narrative. She's involved with fellow contestant Derek Peth, 30, who does drink, and she's doing just fine.
Refinery29: So, tell me how you ended up on The Bachelor!
Taylor Nolan: “I signed up for it to take a step out of my comfort zone and try something different. They approached me right after I graduated with my Masters. I had just been doing school accelerated and figured before I really step into my career full time, I maybe try something a little bit different and challenge myself and be vulnerable and kinda put myself out there in a different way.”
When did you tell them you were sober?
“Yeah, [the application] asks what your drinking habits are. And for me, I don't drink at all. It was never an issue in them wanting to cast me or not. You know, I let them know in advance [that] I don't drink, and they still wanted me on the show.”
Why don't you drink?
“There [are] a few reasons. The only time [I drank] was when I was 13. And I never even got fully drunk, I just got tipsy. And really didn't like it. I didn't like the position it put some of my friends in when they would get really drunk. I try to be really healthy in what I put into my body and making sure that it's nourishing me in some way, and I find alcohol doesn't do that at all. I also just feel like I'm already a young female who's very physically weak and vulnerable to being taken advantage of in multiple different scenarios. I just like to stay level-headed and have clear rational judgement and just like control over my own decisions. I don't ever want to weaken that by drinking.
It also just really helps that I don't like the taste of it. I don't ever really feel the need to. I find that a lot of people wanna get drunk or wanna drink to kind of escape someone or numb feelings that they don't want to feel. And I just find other coping skills to deal with that.”
What are some of those coping skills?
“My favorite one is jamming in my car. Singing really loud or going out dancing are like my favorite things. It just kinda helps me zone out and kinda forget about something if I'm really upset or really sad. It helps with that immensely.
I'm a big talker, too. I'll always reach out to a good friend or a family member or talk through whatever it is that's frustrating me that might cause someone else to want to drink.”
So, what are you drinking when we see you toast at the Bachelor mansion?
“They ask you before the group dates and the toasts and stuff what you want to drink, so when you sit down everyone has their drink, and I would always ask for a ginger beer, which is non-alcoholic. At the end of the rose ceremony, they give everyone champagne — it's so chaotic at the end of that. They would hand everyone champagne, and I would fake drink mine.”
It seems that viewers have an exaggerated idea of how much people actually drink on The Bachelor. How big of a role does drinking play in the makeup of the show?
“I do personally think that drinking played a big role in the show, especially this season. Nick's season.”
How did it play a big role?
“Some behaviors we see on the show wouldn't have happened if it weren't for being pretty drunk. Some things were made very light and funny and entertaining when really that person was quite drunk.

Some behaviors we see on the show wouldn't have happened if it weren't for being pretty drunk.

Did you ever feel left out, as someone who didn't drink?
"There were some girls who didn't drink as heavily as other girls, so I would hang out with them. When we were actually in the Bachelor mansion, there were still a lot of us at that time, and I got really close to Vanessa and Danielle M. So, I kinda just stuck with them. I'd either be journaling or reading or hanging out with them. There was a larger group of girls who would eat breakfast and take shots and sit by the pool. It wasn't necessarily that I felt left out of that, I just knew that they were doing their own thing, and I was fine to not be doing that, because that wasn't my lifestyle at home, and it wasn't what i felt comfortable doing in that environment, and I didn't want to fake something that wasn't me to make sure I wasn't missing out on any fun.”
Do you think the show would be different if alcohol weren’t involved?
“I think it would be different. I don't think that you would necessarily lose entertainment value because I think that there's still enough emotions involved for things to be dramatic. Just the environment itself where you're cut off from family and friends. You don't have a phone, you don't have any TV, you don't have any music, so you're still kind of in this little bubble to where it's an emotional rollercoaster. So, I think it would still be the good entertaining show that it is today. But it would be a little different.”
How do you think alcohol affects the love story between the lead and the contestants?
“It depends. I think if the person who is getting engaged at the end has been wasted on most of the group dates, then that's probably not a good sign going forward. But if the person is sober more times than not and actually remembers the time they spend with the lead, then they're actually building a connection and building a foundation for a relationship. But from my experience on the show, most of those people go home earlier on. Some of them stick around till way later, but that's also part of TV.”

Last time took an L, but tonight I bounce back??? ???#bachelorinparadise

A post shared by Taylor Nolan (@taymocha) on

You said on episode two of Bachelor In Paradise that you were scared to come to Paradise — you seemed worried you’d be ostracized. Why was that?
“I was scared to come to Paradise because of the backlash I got from The Bachelor. There are these different cliques that form within the girl group. When we were there filming [The Bachelor], I didn't really feel super left out. I had girls I was close with, and I got along with everyone for the most part. Then, as the show was airing, we see who gets popular and who doesn't. And most of the girls kinda go toward who was popular. That's who they wanna surround themselves with and who they associate themselves with, even if they disagree with what was shown on the show, or if they disagreed when they were there filming. I was scared to go to Paradise thinking that they would try to start drama with me. I was scared that I would be doing everything alone and that they'd be taking shots and doing all this stuff together, and I'd be totally irrelevant and miserable. Thankfully, that didn't turn out to be my experience at all, so I'm really grateful that I took that chance and went and actually tried it.”
What do you mean by “backlash”? Was this from coverage of the show or fans on Twitter?
"Mostly backlash from fans on Instagram and Twitter and my emails and all that. Also partially with the girls. Not necessarily that they — I mean, some of them did talk shit about me and that was really hurtful. But, also there was this avoidance because they knew that I was someone that the fans disliked. So, they didn't want to be associated with that, even if they were actually friends with me on the show. They wanted to be friends with the people who were popular and had the most Instagram followers. And that person wasn't me. So, going in I felt like I was in a very uncomfortable position.”
Sounds like there’s a hierarchy in Bachelor Kingdom based on Instagram followers. I mean, there is in life in general.
[Laughs] “It's basically high school. People want to hang out with the popular people. Especially in Bachelor world. I don't think a lot of people necessarily go into Bachelor wanting to be famous or wanting a lot of attention, but once they see all the things that can come from it and they see the people that do get the golden edits or the people that fans love, when they see that attention — that's what a lot of people gravitate towards and want to figure out how to get it for themselves. People try to come up with their own storylines going into Paradise to ensure they're going to come out with all that stuff. It's a tricky world to be in, and you have be confident in yourself and know who your real friends are.”
Do you feel like your Bachelor edit was unfair?
“I feel like there were chunks of the storyline missing or perspective and context I guess were missing in my dialogue. In my storyline.”
What's the missing context or perspective?
“People looking back now can piece two and two together. We learn on Paradise now that I'm someone who doesn't drink at all. And so if people think back to The Bachelor and me voicing these concerns with the person I'm pitted against, who is Corinne, and we look at the differences in our behaviors, maybe that helps give them context into my thoughts on the situation or why I was even saying something in the first place. The only reason my career got brought up was because I was talking about substance abuse and how that was a concern of mine. That’s where i have credibility because I've seen this stuff before. I'm not saying anything to be hurtful. I'm saying these things because I'm honestly concerned.”
Did you ever say you were sober on camera?
“Yeah, I talked about it in my interviews but none of it was ever aired.”
How do you feel your edit has been on BIP so far?
“I think it's been fairly authentic as a storyline. I think you see this story start with Derek and I and it's all been pretty accurate as to how it happened. Even with the girls, I'm really happy that they showed some of my perhaps more emotional moments that were really genuine and authentic to me. So I think people are definitely getting a chance to see more of my goofy side, a little bit more of my goofy side, and honestly my happy side? [Laughs.] You didn't get to see that on The Bachelor at all. I was pretty miserable most of that time.”
Is The Bachelor more stressful than BIP?
“Absolutely. Paradise is way more laid back. You have — well, not necessarily more freedom because you're still on lockdown on the beach and all that. But just the fact that there's more guys and more girls, it's a lot more relaxed. There's not really — there isn't — for me this time at least, I really didn't need or felt like there was a sense of talking about other people or what their connections were like. It was just kind of ‘we're all hanging out on the beach, hanging out together, and if we like someone, hopefully it works out with them.’”
Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Pictured: Derek Peth (left) and Nolan on "Bachelor In Paradise."
Derek drinks, right? Do you find that difficult?
“No, everyone I've ever dated has drank. Most people in our society do so it's not something I'm uncomfortable being around. I like to try to make sure whoever I am dating is at least drinking moderately and isn't getting blacked out on a regular basis. [Laughs] I think that's a good standard to have. He certainly drinks, and the first night actually he was very very drunk and I immediately did not like him. I was like, ‘Mm, not for me. And then the next day he came out and apologized to everyone, and he was super sweet about it all. Clearly, it was really out of character for him. Producers were like, ‘Is Derek okay? Derek needs to go to bed.’ It was very out of his character. I give him crap for it throughout the season.”
As someone who doesn’t drink, can you explain how you think the new rules in place about drinking have affected Paradise?
“When we were first told the new rules, people were kind of upset about it. They wanted to drink whatever they wanted to drink because they're adults and they can make their own decisions. And they didn't like the fact that their freedom and how much fun they could have was gonna be limited. But then once we got back to filming, it really wasn't an issue at all because they were like, oh two drinks in a hour is fine! There's still so much other stuff going on. It kind of became a fun thing of like checking in with Wells, ‘Can I have another drink? How much more time do I have?’ And then finding something to fill the time until you're able to have your next drink. I think once everyone got there it was fine.”
So, if alcohol weren't involved, do you think would the incident from June 4 have happened?
“I don't think — there was no misconduct that actually occurred. I can't say whether or not Corinne and DeMario behaved the way that they did if they were both sober. I have no idea.”
But alcohol at least played a role, right?
“I mean, I think everyone that day besides maybe me and one other person had had something to drink.”
Who was the other person?
‘I think Alex had had a few, but not really. He was pretty sober. And Dean was mainly giving everyone else shots and pretending he was taking his, but just like wanting everyone else to get drunk. So, I think Dean was pretty sober. He made a comment to me at one point that he was pretty sober.”
How much intimidation occurs between contestants?
“I mean, it's like the same that you would encounter going out with your friends to the bar, I think. Like, again, no one is forced to drink anything. Production doesn't force that on anyone. You know, on Paradise especially, if you're getting a drink, it's because you're asking for that drink. And between cast members, I mean, it's something that helps them pass the time. If they're bored or if they're stressed out, they just go straight to [drinking]. And again, I think that's pretty typical of normal life as well. People bounce off each other. They're like, ‘I don't want to take a shot alone, come take a shot.’”

It's something that helps them pass the time. If they're bored or if they're stressed out, they just go straight to [drinking].

Have you gotten responses from people about the fact that you don’t drink? It blew my mind when you said it on air. I assumed it was required.
“Yes! I've gotten so many messages and comments and emails about questions why I don't drink and how do I go about social settings not drinking and that that's something people are working towards, or that they don't drink as well, and that it was really empowering for them to see me really owning that on that episode.”
So, how do you handle socializing as a non-drinker? We’re a drinking society.
“I think it comes down to your confidence level. Just staying confident and knowing that honestly no one really cares what you're doing, like if you're going out dancing, other people have so many other things on their minds. I just get a soda water and some people think I have a drink. If someone asks me if I had a drink, I just say no, I'm fine. And I stand really strong on that. If people try to guilt me into drinking or try to shame me for not drinking, I clap back real quick.”
What's your go-to clap back?
“It depends on who it is and how they're doing it, but sometimes I'm just straight up. Like, I'll lie and I'm just, "No, I'm not drinking tonight because I'm driving. So, you can leave me alone." Or sometimes I'm like, "No, I don't drink ever, so you can stop asking me because it's not going to happen." And then sometimes I'll just leave and walk away, like, ‘No, leave me alone. I'm just here to have a fun time and have a good time with my girlfriends.’
I stay focused on why I'm going out. And that's usually to have a good time with my girlfriends and blow some steam off listening to some fun music. So, I just — I'm like, no one's gonna rain on my parade!”
Okay, I must know: Did politics ever come up in paradise? This is a political time!
“When we were filming Bachelor, it was when all the debates and stuff were happening. So, it was something we did discuss. It was something that I wanted to talk to Nick about one time, but producers were like, ‘It’s not gonna make any sense, can you pick something else to talk about because when this is airing, the president's already gonna be picked.’ So, it is something that we'll discuss in our downtime, but it usually would distract from the storyline that was happening.”
But does it ever cause tension?
“Not particularly. Certain people understand that if we're about to go down that hole and people are about to start feeling really strongly, to just kind of walk away or put that on pause. And switch the subject. That's usually when someone will chime in and be like, ‘Alright, it's time to go take another shot!’”
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