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Los Angeles Times writer and self-proclaimed Bachelor fanatic Amy Kaufman is offering readers a glimpse into the secret world of ABC’s long-running reality franchise with her debut book, Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure.
Hitting shelves in wake of the recent, shocking finale of The Bachelor — in which star Arie Luyendyk Jr. swapped fiancees — Kaufman’s unauthorized book further dives into the controversial mechanics behind ABC’s hit reality show, conducting in-depth interviews with former contestants, producers and celebrity fans who each offer their own never-before-revealed shocking details and confessions about the successful series.
From pre-categorizing contestants to creating a game of cash incentives, The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at some of the most surprising revelations Kaufman uncovers in the book that is now making the rounds among Bachelor Nation.
1. Producers received cash incentives for instigated reactions
Throughout filming the series’ first season, Kaufman reveals that a supervising producer would keep a wad of $100 bills in his pocket and offer cash incentives to any of the producers who could successfully deliver worthy drama on-camera. Whether influencing contestants to cry, capturing the leading man kissing a certain woman or filming a contestant puking, the producer would reward the winners with money if successful. The producer would also urge his team to instigate drama by asking the women certain questions or press for effective follow-ups.
2. Contestants must engage in sessions with the show’s psychologist and private investigator.
To alleviate the emotional stress of the show’s process, a psychologist is available 24/7 to contestants when needed. Eliminated contestants are also required to meet with the psychologist, with whom they are first acquainted during the casting process while taking a personality test. During the process, contestants also meet with a private investigator in order for the show to “get ahead” of any possible tabloid stories that could be exposed while the show airs.
3. Producers would pre-categorize contestants using questionable terms.
Prior to the contestants being welcomed to the mansion, producers would already have preconceived notions as to what roles each woman would fulfill. “We studied them ad nauseam before they arrived,” former producer Michael Carroll told Kaufman. “You’d pre-categorize everyone and have some shorthand as to who they were.” Nicknames ranged from: “Mom” to “Southern Belle,” “the bitch,” “the fat one,” “the crier,” “the hot one” and “the black chick.” Though it was rare for women of color to be cast on the show, a former assistant revealed to Kaufman that they had to fit a certain type: “Pretty, whitewashed, long hair or fake hair.”
4. Producers keep track of contestants’ menstruation cycles.
In order to guarantee emotional reactions, producers would keep track of each of the contestant’s menstrual cycles and schedule their “In the Moment” interviews accordingly. Former producer Ben Hatta told Kaufman that if a woman was on her period, she was more willing to confess her love to the Bachelor.
5. Contestants endure “emotional leveraging” throughout filming.
While the series centers on falling in love, the contestants are known to experience an array of emotions, something Kaufman found was attributed mostly to the producers rather than to the fantasy dates or extravagant travels. Former contestant Brooks Forester spoke candidly to Kaufman about being forced to discuss personal details about her life, in order for the producers to evoke emotions that would later be edited to attach to the series. “They’d try to get me to talk about something from my childhood, for example, or say something really personal about a family member… then try to attach that to what’s happening in the world of The Bachelor.” Former contestant Sharleen Joynt from Juan Pablo Galavis’ season recalled being resistant to the producers’ instructions that she say she was falling in love with Galavis. Her unwillingness led to her “ITM” lasting for an hour, rather than the typical 20 minutes. Former contestant Chris Bukowski shared the same sentiments, admitting, “I was saying lines verbatim from producers because I’d been sitting in a stupid room for an hour and just wanted to go.”
6. Editors relied on a “Frankenbiting” tactic to create plot narratives.
The main technique used to create the narratives shown throughout each episode is known as “Frankenbiting.” Kaufman defines a “Frankenbite” as a “sound bite that has been re-cut so that it has a different meaning.” Certain scenes and conversations are recontextualized, she writes, with editors using specific footage in order to create a story for the audience. Referencing her interview with a former producer, Kaufman uses the example of the editors changing the Bachelor’s soundbite of “We really have a lot to talk about” to “We don’t really have a lot to talk about.” “I don’t care what happens. It’s like I’m handed a big bucket of Legos and think, ‘What do I want to build today?'” a producer told Kaufman. Kaufman also notes that the only event occurring in “reality” are the infamous rose ceremonies.
7. Dates are created without a budget.
Each season, the series delivers lavish, romantic dates that occur between the contestants and their leading man or woman during each episode. Kaufman discovered that the luxurious events are bartered. Producers are required to pitch date activities that are free of charge, with the intent of using the show’s popularity as leverage when negotiating. Producers spend time researching and contacting hotels, restaurants, airlines, etc. to negotiate the requested dates in exchange for the locale being featured on the show. According to Kaufman, the producer is guaranteed to do at least one of three things: feature a chyron that identifies the resort positioned at the lower end of the screen, include an “in story” mention of castmembers discussing how much fun they’re having and have a sign with the name of the specific location on-camera.
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