If watching The Bachelor makes you feel ill, that’s fitting: Creator Mike Fleiss told Vanity Fair that a vision for the show appeared in his head when he had a 104-degree temperature.
Yet no matter how degrading it is to watch dozens of adults fight to marry a person they have known for approximately two months, this 18-year franchise remains unstoppable.
It’s one of the few shows that still command a live TV viewing audience, and has launched a cottage industry of Instagram influencers. More than any other dating show, experts say, the longevity of “The Bachelor” explains why this genre persists: It expertly taps into the very real need for love and how to find it.
Even if you know that producers edit any kind of drama they want, and contestants only are there to (shudder) “build their brand,” viewers subconsciously soak in lessons about relationships that apply to their lives.
We would be lying if we didn’t tell ourselves that watching these shows … affects us in how we think about dating, said Natasha Scott, co-host of the podcast 2 Black Girls, 1 Rose.” She pointed to “Bachelorette” star Hannah Brown being “gaslit” by manipulative suitor Luke Parker, a story that “resonated with a lot of young women across America.
This makes the embarrassing record of diversity on the franchise — which only recently cast Matt James as the first Black Bachelor after fan pressure — even more disappointing, Scott said, and reinforces the damaging idea of who our culture deems worthy of love and extravagant romance. With that power, [the show] has not taken much responsibility in trying to show different representations of love,” she said. “It continually operates in a formulaic fashion in terms of whose stories get highlighted and whose stories are told.
The Bachelor, created by Mike Fleiss, first aired in 2002. Viewers soon became attached to the show’s cast of characters, who producers said were carefully chosen based on their personalities.
Producers would learn about their contestants’ back stories and “wield them like a weapon,” he said.
She just went through a breakup, she just got over anorexia, she has been a bridesmaid 15 times but never a bride. She’s gonna f–k somebody on Day 1. She’s a virgin and she’s never gonna f–k. That’s the reality. They want to know what’s gonna happen in that house,” ex-casting director Marki Costello recalled.
Producers would bring up topics from contestants’ pasts, “wrecking them psychologically,” and making them cry.
We had a lot of tactics on how to get a girl to cry on camera, everyone had their own shtick. You had to go for their hot buttons, said Carroll. “Their dad left them when they were 8 years old. They were left at the altar. And that’s how it is if you want to be on ‘The Bachelor.’ ”
Contestants who didn’t cry enough would be booted off the show somehow — finally giving producers their long-awaited tears, he said.
And so producers would take the information they acquired during the screening process and wield it like a weapon to get what they wanted.
Bringing up things that don't need to be brought up and just, you know, wrecking them psychologically, Carroll said.
Another major tool used by producers to create more drama and deliver the results they wanted was supplying alcohol. Carroll remembered an instance early on when the crew was setting up for the first episode of the season and the ladies had to just wait it out.
They’re just sitting in the limo, drinking champagne until they’re blotto, he said. "There’s nowhere for them to go to the bathroom, so all the beautiful girls, 25, have to get out of the car and pee on the side of the road. Fantastic.
A former girl in the house, Trish Schneider from Season 5, said that she was sure that producers purposely tried to get contestants drunk.
It’s like a truth serum in a situation like The Bachelor. So yes, of course, I think alcohol played a part in some people either being more comfortable in front of the camera or willing to share more, Schneider said.
And Carroll went on to say that alcohol was always provided and available behind the scenes for the crew as well, as Fleiss and fellow executive producer Lisa Levinson would allegedly drink openly while watching the monitors.
And speaking of Fleiss and Levinson, it was revealed Tuesday that they would go even further beyond the tactics already mentioned to get their desired results for the show. As in, taking the reality out of the reality competition.
Every rose ceremony, there was an argument between Mike Fleiss and Lisa Levinson and ABC the network about which chicks, which girls, should get roses and which should go home, Carroll revealed.