Though The Bachelor has been airing since 2002, interest in ABC’s ornately absurd dating show has never been higher. The program is gleefully dissected on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live, while millions watch simply to participate in the Greek chorus of social media surrounding the show.
Bachelor Nation, a deep dive by Los Angeles Times journalist and longtime fan Amy Kaufman, is unauthorized (the writer proudly notes that she’s been “banned” from Bachelor press events by ABC due to negative coverage), but it still manages to dig up entertaining tidbits about how the rose-scented sausage is made. Through interviews with past contestants — some in good standing (Sean and Catherine Lowe), some disgruntled (Ben Flajnik) — and former producers, we learn about the manipulation, police-style interrogations, and groupthink that Team Bachelor uses to wring drama out of contestants.
While some details are fun (producers were known to keep track of contestants’ menstrual cycles so the women could be interviewed, presumably, at their most vulnerable), many of the revelations won’t be too surprising for anyone who’s seen an episode of UnREAL. Along the way, Kaufman also takes detours to explore the psychology of Why We Watch, and examines the cottage industry of former contestants who land semilucrative Instagram endorsement deals.
This may not be the most dramatic Bachelor exposé ever, but it pairs well with a glass of rosé. B-