5 shocking revelations from the new Bachelor Nation exposé
Los Angeles Times writer Amy Kaufman may have been banned from covering Bachelor press events by ABC due to what the network perceived to be negative coverage, but that didn’t stop the longtime fan of the franchise from penning Bachelor Nation, a witty exposé about the franchise. Through interviews with past contestants and employees, Kaufman explores the creation of the show, the psychology behind why viewers tune in, and what life as a reality-TV romantic is like.
While this unauthorized book is littered with juicy insider information, we’ve gathered a few of our favorite revelations about the reality TV giant that has dominated the game of finding love on a national stage.
1. Bribery for ‘good TV’
During the first season of The Bachelor, supervising producer Scott Jeffress would keep a stack of $100 bills in his pocket to incentivize producers.
“The first producer to get tears?” Kaufman wrote. “A hundred bucks! You get [Alex] Michel to make out with the right girl? A hundred bucks! Catch a chick puking on-camera? A hundred bucks!”
Jeffress told Kaufman, “When you’re producing a show, you think in acts. After act 1, you need something big to happen so you can cliff-hang. I need to bring people back from commercial.”
2. Forbidden love off camera
Through several interviews with crew members, Kaufman details implications of an extramarital affair between the show’s creator Mike Fleiss and executive producer Lisa Levenson, the latter of whom’s ruthless ways UnREAL‘s Quinn King (Constance Zimmer) is said to channel.
“You’d catch little things coming around a corner or out of the corner of your eye when they didn’t think anybody was in the room or paying attention,” said [Ben] Hatta, who often had to interact with Fleiss’ wife as part of his assistant duties. “It was just disheartening. It kind of takes the wind out of you, because I really respected that guy at one point. This just took it down a notch.”
Levenson’s assistant Evan Majors told Kaufman of the circulating rumors and shared that he would frequently field calls from the producer’s husband in which her spouse had no idea where his wife was.
Levenson was with the franchise from 2002 to 2007, and is credited with implementing many of the recognizable aspects of the Bach experience (extravagant dates, hundreds of candles, etc.).
3. The fine print
Kaufman gained access to a typical contract that contestants sign before the show and highlighted the following unsettling clause:
“I UNDERSTAND, ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT PRODUCERS MAY USE OR REVEAL PERSONAL INFORMATION WHICH MAY BE EMBARRASSING, UNFAVORABLE, SHOCKING, HUMILIATING, DISPARAGING, AND/OR DEROGATORY, MAY SUBJECT ME TO PUBLIC RIDICULE AND/OR CONDEMNATION, AND MAY PORTRAY ME IN A FALSE LIGHT.”
Lee Garrett was the object of national hate due to racist tweets that surfaced during Rachel Lindsay’s season of The Bachelorette. Corrine Olympios and DeMario Jackson struggled through public scrutiny over alleged sexual misconduct in Paradise. Arie Luyendyk Jr.’s shocking dismissal of Rebecca “Becca” Kufrin was captured for all to see in heart-wrenching, uncut footage.
Once contestants sign on the dotted line, everything is fair game.
4. Not here to make friends
In her research, Kaufman discovered that notes on each contestant competing on a Bachelor franchise show were kept in binders and circulated amongst the producers. Standard identifying details were listed, as well as more colorful tidbits about past traumas or insecurities to be played upon during “In the Moment” interviews to evoke a desired emotion.
“We studied them ad nauseam before they arrived,” said Michael Carroll, a former producer. “You’d pre-categorize everyone and have some shorthand as to who they were. Mom. Southern Belle. The cheerleader. The bitch. We all called them by ridiculous names. The fat one, the hot one, the crier.”
5. There is no budget for dates
What’s the budget for the fabulous dates we witness taking place? Zero dollars. Nada. Segment producers are instructed to pitch dates in which every activity comes free of charge. This requires hours of reaching out to local hotels, airlines, restaurants, and attractions in whatever country they happen to be in and using the popularity of the show as leverage to negotiate a thrilling and romantic outing for the lead and their love interest without spending a dime.
Bachelor-style dating is often criticized for being unrealistic, which seems particularly fair after this discovery. Imagine calling your local helicopter airline and trying to finagle a free flight to take you and your date around the city? HA.