Few things are as top secret and mysterious as the set of The Bachelor, except for maybe The Pentagon, or how Ariana Grande keeps her hair so shiny. But we have finally gotten a glimpse of what it's like behind the scenes of America's favorite love-to-hate-it reality series, and we're still trying to process the tea.
For the first time in show’s 16-year history, Entertainment Weekly reporter Kristen Baldwin was allowed on the set of The Bachelor’s 23rd-season premiere (set to debut January 7), starring the 26-year-old homegrown former football player and notable virgin Colton Underwood. She got a front seat to the chaos and sometimes bizarre way the franchise is operated and (thankfully) helped answer many of Bachelor Nation's most burning questions. Here are some of the things we learned, besides the fact that yes, once again, we know he's a virgin.
1. Chris Harrison Doesn't Always Listen To Producers
During the night, producers and Mike Fleiss, the creator of The Bachelor and mastermind behind some of the show's most suspenseful and dramatic moments, feed show host Chris Harrison questions via an earpiece. Sometimes he obliges, but if he doesn't feel the question is appropriate to ask at that moment, he'll find a way around it or ask it at a time that feels more natural. During his "pregame" chat with Underwood, for example, Harrison was prodded to ask about the star's virginity but waited until later to weave it into their conversation.
“Without being disrespectful, I don’t always agree with the producers on what they want [from the interviews] or how to get it,” he told Baldwin.
2. Those Limo Stunts Are Real — Sort Of
One of the most highly anticipated moments from The Bachelor's premiere is the moment when a contestant exits the limo and meets the Bachelor for the first time. Some of the women like to prepare a memorable one-liner or prepare a gimmick, like dressing up or riding in on a horse. Limo exits aren't assigned to each contestant by producers, though, because they don't want it to come off like the women are acting or being insincere. So, they meet in the middle: contestants will come up with a limo exit routine and then “workshop” the idea with producers so it's fit for TV.
3. Contestants Eat
They eat! Appetizers like "crudités, bruschetta, beef yakitori, and fruit," to be exact.
4. The Rules For Drinking Have Changed
Every season, there's always that one contestant who gets way too drunk on the first night either to the delight or horror of the Bachelor Nation. Last year, during the filming of Bachelor in Paradise, an issue of consent arose between two contestants, Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson. Production allegedly shut down because of it, and since then, all hookups have to be on camera. Also, there's now a drink limit for contestants on the show: two drinks per hour.
5. Contestants Can't Go Anywhere Without Supervision
Before even arriving at the Bachelor Mansion, contestants spend two and a half days confined in a nearby Los Angeles hotel, and during the entire time they aren't allowed to leave their room without a “handler.”
6. The Roses Are Kept...In A Garbage Can?
Even those who haven't seen the show are probably familiar with the iconic Bachelor roses. The props are given to contestants who the Bachelor or Bachelorette wants to keep in the running throughout the show. Those very same prized processions that many men and women have fought for and cried over for years are kept on ice in a large garbage can before they're prepped to be handed out. A. Garbage. Can.
7. Female Contestants Are The Messiest
Angelic Rutherford, The Bachelor‘s production designer, revealed that her team uses a liberal amount of Scotchgard to protect furniture and other things around the house from getting dirtied by the female contestants' makeup and spray tans. They also tend to be much messier than the male contestants because they leave clothes, luggage, and wine stains around the house.
8. Chris Harrison Used To Nap in Closets
Though Harrison has been hosting The Bachelor since 2002, he only was given his own trailer two seasons ago. According to the host, if there was any downtime during production he used to go to the second floor of the mansion and hide the closet in the master bedroom. He'd get pillows and "put a makeshift bed together." Now, he spends time in his trailer and is sent a text whenever he's needed to shoot something.
9. There Is A Very Scientific Meatball Theory
The producers of The Bachelor arguably have the best sense of which contestants will move on and who won't make it. But they also have what they call the "meatball theory." According to executive producer Bennett Graebner, if a contestant stands next to the meatballs in the kitchen most of the night, she's likely to be sent home. "Because this is the safest space in the house," Graebner said. "If they’re afraid to talk to the Bachelor, they stand next to the meatballs.”