Alongside the debut of The Bachelor came the birth of the Bachelor Nation behind-the-scenes gossip industry. Today, with almost every card-carrying member of Bachelor Nation publishing tell-all books and hosting podcasts of their own—not to mention a TV drama, UnREAL, created by a former Bachelor producer—we’re spoiled with insider details about the journey to finding everlasting reality TV love.
But Los Angeles Times film writer Amy Kaufman is about to spill the *most* tea to date. Kaufman, a Bachelor superfan and super-sleuth (she’s the gal on Twitter who broke the news about the Corrine/DeMario BIP incident), has actually been banned from ABC’s press events due to her v. candid coverage of the franchise; the ban came into effect after she wrote a no-holds-barred post about her experience at the Women Tell All taping for Ben Flajnik’s season finale. And while Kaufman admits in her new book to writing snarky recaps, we have to ask, what Bachelor fan DOESN’T get a little sassy?
Thankfully for us—though perhaps not for her relationship with ABC—Kaufman dug up some of the franchise’s biggest secrets for her new book, straight from the mouths of former show leads themselves, as well as past contestants and producers.
For those who just can’t wait to buy the book (in stores today), we’ve got your back. Here are some of the juiciest things we learned from Bachelor Nation: Inside The World of America’s Favourite Guilty Pleasure (Dutton, $34).
Producers decide what “role” each cast member will play before filming even begins
Former Bachelor producer Michael Carroll said that producers would create a headshot board and figure out what roles cast members would fill even before they stepped out of the limo on the first night of filming. Carroll said their nicknames would consist of things like “the fat one, the hot one and the crier.” WTF, ABC?
Their lack of diversity caused a lawsuit
It took 15 years for a Black person to be cast as a lead on The Bachelor franchise. Before Rachel Lindsay graced our TV screens in season 13 of The Bachelorette, there wasn’t a single Black woman on The Bachelor between 2009 and 2012, and no Black men on The Bachelorette between 2009 and 2011. Former producer Scott Jeffress, who stopped working on the show in 2005, says that when The Bachelor casts POC, it’s strictly tokenizing. “It’s absurd. It was very upsetting to me,” he told Kaufman, also claiming that the show was afraid of losing its audience by casting too many people of colour. Jeffress adds that creating a more diverse cast would not only have made the show more interesting, but it would have sparked a much-needed conversation about race. “When some guy from the South is racist as shit and he becomes bros with some Black dude and says stupid shit? That’s talking about race, which we need to do today,” Jeffress told Kaufman.
A class-action racial discrimination lawsuit was brought against The Bachelor in 2012 when two Black men, Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, applied to be on the show and realized that no POC had been featured. They argued that The Bachelor was “making the calculation that minorities in leads roles and interracial dating is unappealing to the show’s audience.” Eventually, the lawsuit was dropped when a judge ruled that the show’s producers had the right to control their own creative content.
Date selection (for the *wrong* reasons)
Ever notice how the adrenaline dates are always given to the contestant who doesn’t want to do them? If someone has a fear of heights, they’ll probably be rapelling down a building. If someone’s afraid of flying, you bet they’ll be strapped in the tiniest, flimsiest plane the show can find. According to Kaufman, the crew looks through each cast member’s casting questionnaires to see who is afraid of what, so that producers can plan outings accordingly, and not in a good way.
Contestants are then manipulated into feeling like they have to go on and enjoy their date. In their interviews, contestants always say they’re on the show to grow and take chances, thus, there is no room for chickening out. Um, hi manipulation.
What really goes on in the Fantasy Suite
Kaufman gets into the most buzz-worthy part of The Bachelor—the overnight dates, of course, and she puts to bed a longstanding rumour that ABC doesn’t supply its contestants with protection. Former Bachelorette Jen Schefft confirmed that there were, in fact, plenty of condoms in her Fantasy Suite. “It was like ‘Oh, OK, so we can be safe if we want to be. But honestly? We don’t need a whole bowlful,” she told Kaufman. But, not having sex altogether happens a lot more than we’d think, too. “Schefft, for one, said she was so tired by her third Fantasy Suite date that the idea she’d stay up all night having some crazy sex romp was laughable,” Kaufman writes.
Pushing for L-bombs and marriage
Why do contestants say they love their leading man or woman after only three weeks of intermittent conversation? Both Clare Crawley and Brooks Forester (remember this cutie-turned-vill from Desiree’s season?!) had producers try and convince them to tell their respective Bachelor/Bachelorette that they loved them by threatening that if they didn’t drop the L-bomb soon, they risked being sent home. And if you think the pressure to say “I love you” is big, the pressure to get engaged is even bigger. Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici told Kaufman that the night before they got engaged, Lowe came to Giudici’s room, mid-meltdown, and asked her a bunch of make-or-break questions at the last second so he could be sure he wanted to propose. Additionally, Jesse Csincsak, the snowboarder who became engaged to Deanna Pappas in season 4 of The Bachelorette, told Kaufman that producers picked him up one day without warning and told him they’d be going ring shopping. Csincsak threw up. (Same.)
Schefft revealed to Kaufman that she when she told producers she didn’t want to marry anyone, they told her she’d come across as “a really cold, bitchy person” if she didn’t accept a proposal. And when Flajnik competed as a contestant on Ashley Herbert’s season of The Bachelorette in 2011, he proposed to her because he thought it would be “a fun chapter in his life” and said he “liked her enough” to give it a shot. Thank you for reminding us why we hated you, Ben.
How much those engagement rings really cost
Many of us know the how iron-clad Neil Lane’s ring contracts are by now, but what we don’t hear as much about is how much these rings are actually worth. Since 2009, Lane’s Bachelor engagement rings have skyrocketed in value and grown astronomically in size. For instance, the first ring (because remember, he proposed twice) provided to Season 4 lead Jason Mesnick was valued at $65,000 and had 170 stones surrounding a 3.18 carat diamond—extravagant, yes? Kaufman says that by the time Ben Higgins was ready to pop the q to Lauren B in Season 20, he was bequeathed with the show’s most expensive ring, a sparkler with 240 round baguette-cut diamonds circling a 4.25-carat diamond that rang in at a cool $100,000. Ben doesn’t seem so boring now, does he???
And that’s just the tip of the salacious iceberg. Pair Kaufman’s book with a glass of rosé and your comfiest pair of sweats, and thank us later.