When I tune into the Bachelorette, I’m not looking for love. Granted, this goes against the very premise of the show, but I’m purely tuning in for the drama, the chaos and the shirtless dudes in hot tubs—and season after season, this show delivers.
In 15 seasons of The Bachelorette and 23 seasons of The Bachelor, producers have built and reinforced a fantasy. It’s the type of twinkle-light-rose-garden-filled world where not one, but dozens of suitors seem to fall in love at first sight with the Bachelorette. Dates don’t occur at coffee shops or over a meal, but instead often involve a helicopter ride (and possibly more than two people). And relationships unfold and evolve on a strict timeline of episodes. It’s a reality show that is literally nothing like reality. It’s a fairytale, and like most classics, the characters in Bachelor Nation are often one-dimensional, reduced to a first names and a LOL-worthy job title. We rarely get a true sense of who they are or their motivation. Instead, we as an audience accept that some 30ish dudes show up to an L.A. mansion for the sole purpose of falling in love with whoever is standing in the driveway.
But on Monday, June 3, Bachelor Nation saw something we’ve never really seen before: a contestant being honest about the real reasons they came on the show—and spoiler alert, it wasn’t love. During a 1-on-1 date, Jed Wyatt told Hannah that originally, he didn’t apply to be on The Bachelorette because of her. On pretty much every episode this season, Jed has made it clear that he’s a musician, serenading Hannah in the first episode and performing an original song during the Mr. Right pageant. Though he was “open to the idea” of falling in love, during his date with Hannah, Jed admitted “that my first thought was like, this is a huge platform and I just want you to know the truth. So I came in with that mindset.”
Jed’s confession isn’t surprising, but the fact that he said it during the show felt like breaking the fourth wall. Unlike other competitive reality shows like Survivor, Big Brother or Masterchef, the winner of The Bachelorette isn’t meant to be in it for the money or fame. They’re meant to be in it for love, and only love. Anything else is classified as not being there “for the right reason.” But of course, catching feelings is rarely the only reasons contestants apply.
“I definitely don’t think it’s for love. I think most people go on this show because they know how popular the show is and they’ve seen what the show can do for people’s career[s]… and they all think they can be that next person,” says Reality Steve. (The blogger, who has covered every season of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and spoken with so many contestants he has literally lost count, adds that the free vacations and induction into a fraternity of Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants that allows newcomers to meet people from other seasons are also motivating factors.) Bachelor alum are now able to make a living off their membership in Bachelor Nation, whether that’s with televised weddings, podcasts, hosting gigs etc. And they’re pretty much guaranteed some measure of fame. He points to Season 23 winner of The Bachelor‘s Cassie Randolph. Before the show, Reality Steve says she had less than 10,000 followers. She now has 1.6 million. “That’s what people are going on for and some people have made it known that was their intention from the get-go,” he says.
I mean, think about the “Whaboom” guy, a.k.a. Lucas Yancey, who showed up to Rachel Lindsay’s season of The Bachelorette determined to make his catchphrase happen. (Where’s Gretchen Wieners when you need her?) Lucas got an unflattering edit and fans were quick to call him out for being on the show for fame, not feelings… But he successfully used his 15 minutes to get to 64,000 IG followers, a blue check mark and an online “Whaboom” t-shirt store.
There’s no question that Bachelor Nation doubles as a fast-track to influencer status. What made Jed’s confession feel different is that he explicitly stated his original intention—something that Reality Steve says he can’t remember ever happening before.
Jed told Hannah that he came on the show to advance his musical career, but has since started falling for her. In response, she questioned how he could go from seeing the show as an opportunity to viewing it as a place to find a wife. “Now that I see who you are, that’s all I want,” he said. Bachelor Nation swooned.
🗣🗣JED IS GETTING POINTS for admitting he signed up for the show knowing it’d be a good platform for his career. At least someone is being honest. A lot of ppl come on the show for that but like to play like they aren’t! I’m team Jed!! #TheBachelorette pic.twitter.com/E7wdO8fUoC
— Olivia Broussard (@OliviaBroussar1) June 4, 2019
This is unprecedented folks. Jed just admitted coming on the show for the wrong reasons on a 1:1 date AND is somehow coming out looking even better than he was before! #TheBachelorette
— Bachelor Night in America (@ABCDTheBachelor) June 4, 2019
But not all of Bachelor Nation was convinced—including Reality Steve. “There was a part of me that thought Jed had a plan when he did all that,” says Reality Steve. “It was almost like Jed was saying ‘I’m going to get out in front of the narrative that a musician is going on this show for publicity by admitting I’m going on the show for publicity, but when I met you, I realized that took a back seat.'”
— liz (@paytongirl44) June 4, 2019
While the heartwarming music in the background of the date would have you believe that this was a romantic gesture, Reality Steve doesn’t quite see it that way.
“It was almost like when he was telling her that, he was making it seem like it was one or the other,” says the blogger. “Why can’t you be all in and it still be a promotion for your music, because that’s what it is. Don’t try and fool us and make us think that it wasn’t.”
— bachelorette tweets (@rdjbestlooks) June 4, 2019
I wasn’t so sure—I found myself wanting to view Jed’s actions as an instance of pure honesty in a franchise built on fabricated plot lines—but then Reality Steve mentioned Jed’s IG story. On the night the episode with Jed’s “real talk” aired, the musician posted information on his upcoming gigs in Nashville. Last summer, posts about his gigs received likes in the double digits.
Now they will be viewed by his 149,000 followers and counting.