I’ve never tried to explain how to tie your shoes, because I assume that if you’re old enough to read this blog, you’re old enough to tie your shoes. My stats show that 97% of you are females between the ages of 25-39, so the same thing goes for explaining how The Bachelor works.
Even still, I’ve had a few people say that they read my Bachelor(ette) recaps, yet have never seen the show. That’s awesome, so thanks to those of you who do that. I must say, though– some of the basic questions I get from these people completely shock me, so today, I’m dedicating an entire post to explaining how The Bachelor(ette) works and why it is entertainment crack.
Long, long ago, before texting or social media or hashtags, an equally horrible and amazing idea popped into the mind of producer, Mike Fleiss, to have a large group of women compete on national television for the love of one man. This idea came about in the Britney Spears “Slave for You” era, so clearly, we were really blurring the lines of #femaleempowerment at the time.
As always seems to be the case between me and anyone in the Bachelor franchise, there are exactly 2 degrees of separation between me and Mike Fleiss, since he’s married to Miss America 2012, Laura Kaeppeler, who crowned Mallory Hagan Miss America 2013, which is the whole reason I got to become Miss New York (I took over for Mallory once she became Miss America). What’s up, Mike, ol’ buddy ol’ pal ol’ friend?
Reality T.V. was not a widespread phenomenon back when the show was pitched in 2001, so producers had some work cut out for them as they searched for the star of their show. They came to find that more women were interested in being contestants if the Bachelor star was a tall and educated man (shocker), so they chose rando Alex Michel, a Harvard graduate with an MBA from Stanford.
Fun fact: I was 13 years old at the time this all went down.
Alex was basically the only educated man in America willing to participate in reality television at the time, so good for him for being a forward-thinker. Plenty of educated people nowadays are on reality T.V., even if we all like to pretend that everyone on reality shows are stupid in order to make ourselves feel better. Sorry, but I’m pretty smart and usually make classy choices, but I would undoubtedly have a hard time not looking like an idiot if someone followed me around with cameras for two months straight. Lots of smart people are crawling all over your screens, you just wouldn’t know it because producers and editors are awful [and hilarious] people. But I guess the argument is, how smart can you actually be if you’re willing to let cameras film your every move…? Meh. I’d do it.
The presence of so many normal people on T.V. is what made The Bachelor such a runaway success. This is before they labeled contestants with careers like “Twin” and “Free Spirit,” and there was no such thing as having your television wardrobe sponsored by clothing boutiques. Contestants wore whatever they had in their closet, held normal jobs, and even gave producers a hard time about being filmed in their bathing suits. Self-respect, LOL.
Viewers were drawn in by contestants with whom they could relate, a star who had his act together, and of course, the premise of watching 24 women get their hearts broken, with one lone “winner” at the end. I’ve said it before, but heartbreak is the common thread that unifies mankind.
The gorgeous Trista Rehn (now Trista Sutter) came in 2nd place on Alex’s season. She has since explained to the media that the whole concept of the show was so new to everyone involved, including the star and contestants, that no one knew how to react at the end of Season 1. She truly thought Alex was going to propose to her (that part hasn’t ever changed over the years), then all of a sudden he chose someone else, so she begged producers to let her talk to him. Apparently, they agreed to arrange a phone call during which Alex told Trista he might have made a mistake, and asked to come over to her hotel room. Producers said, “Um, absolutely not,” and that is what led to the modern day Bachelor tradition of rejectees getting pretty much no closure. Hence why contestants go through rigorous psych evaluations before getting selected, to make sure they can bounce back from a traumatic experience, and I guess to ensure they don’t try to murder the other castmembers.
What Trista didn’t know at the time was that Mike Fleiss and his evil, talented brain was already drawing up a spin-off to The Bachelor, which would feature Trista in her own show: The Bachelorette.
The fact that they call The Bachelorette a spinoff of The Bachelor kind of gets me heated. It’s the same show, guys. Don’t get it twisted.
Anyway, the use of a rejected contestant as the new star became the norm a few years into the show, which is why The Bachelor never introduces brand new stars anymore. Instead of looking for a random guy with decent stats to star as the Bachelor, they use a guy who was a previous contestant on The Bachelorette. Then, the most likable girl from his season becomes the new Bachelorette, and so on and so forth. And if a wedding ever comes of any of those seasons, everybody’s “ex” attends in an awkward web of “which of the people here has made out with either the bride or the groom,” but everyone acts like it’s normal. This camaraderie between former contestants is called the “Bachelor Family,” which is really gross, because I’ve never french kissed 1 person in my family, much less 25.
Their lives, not mine.
Now that you have some history, here’s a quick rundown of how the show actually works. We’ll use a Bachelor as the example, but the same thing happens on The Bachelorette, only the genders are reversed.
One [debatably] hot male with a decent job has been labeled by producers as an extremely eligible bachelor. Twenty-five(ish) women arrive at a fancy mansion in Malibu, CA to meet said Bachelor. After short conversations with each girl, the Bachelor narrows down the field…usually he cuts 6-7 girls at the end of the first night. Maybe more.
During that first night, one girl gets the “first impression rose,” which means that anytime during the evening, the Bachelor can choose the girl who he likes the most based on their initial interaction, and give her a rose (translation: she gets to stay another week) before the official rose ceremony.
What is a rose ceremony, you ask?
Rose ceremonies are organized opportunities for the Bachelor to formally dump the women he doesn’t want to keep dating. (When you write it out, this show really does sound as ridiculous as critics say it is.) A rose represents the Bachelor’s desire for a contestant to stick around for another week. The girls stand as a group in front of him, and one by one, he calls out the names of girls he wants to keep, handing each of them a rose as a sign of his…affection? Affection might be a strong word, but we’ll go with it.
Each week, the remaining girls go on “Group Dates” or “One on One Dates.” Group Dates are basically when multiple girls hang out all day with the Bachelor, generally doing some sort of activity during the day, then lounging in a scenic area for cocktails at night. During the cocktail portion, each girl is allowed a private conversation with the Bachelor, but any of the other girls can come interrupt them at any moment to demand private time of their own. It’s all very odd, and never gets less uncomfortable with each season as a girl walks up and says, “Um, sorry Amanda, can I steal him…?”
One girl gets a Group Date Rose at the end of the night, which basically means the Bachelor already knows he wants her to stay around for another week. The other women have to wait until the official rose ceremony to find out their fate. Really healthy stuff for building a relationship.
Mind you, all of these women live together during the whole process (and are drunk 100% of the time), so things can get pretty sticky. The emotional rollercoaster is summed up in this one gif of contestant Ashley I:
One on One Dates are when the Bachelor invites one girl to spend the entire day with him. If he still likes her at the end of the date, he gives her a rose right then and there, so she doesn’t need to fret during the rose ceremony. If he doesn’t want her to stay around by the end of the day, he sends her straight home.
Once the women are whittled down a bit, producers throw in the Two on One Date, which means that the Bachelor spends the day with two women, and at the end of the night, he chooses only one to keep. Obviously, these two women usually hate each other.
The final four women take the Bachelor home to meet their families, which are called “Hometown Dates.” The families are usually very skeptical because, duh, their daughters are being manipulated on national television. I honestly think this is something all 21st century parents need to prepare for, though.
The final three girls are each presented with the opportunity for an Overnight Date, otherwise known as “Fantasy Suite Dates,” with no cameras or microphones. Because, you know, it’s relatively important to have at least one unrecorded conversation with someone you might get engaged to in a few days. Fantasy Suite Dates are obviously super controversial because they read “Sex Dates.” Some Bachelor/Bachelorettes have been very insistent that with they don’t get physical in the Fantasy Suites, while others admit to being intimate with three different people. These are usually the episodes during which I question if I’m a terrible person for watching the show.
In the end, the final two women– both of whom have usually admitted by this point that they’re in love with the Bachelor– put on formal dresses and have an individual, one-on-one Rose Ceremony with the Bachelor. He dumps one, and proposes to the other. Sometimes he doesn’t propose, and instead simply says, “I want to keep getting to know you off the show.” Success…?
There have even been seasons when the Bachelor doesn’t choose either girl, which is a pretty major disappointment to those of us who invested 10 Monday nights in hopes we watch a Happily Ever After unfold. My personal favorite was when one Bachelor proposed to the winner, then took it back during the after show (called After the Final Rose), and begged the #2 girl who he dumped to take him back. Now, he and #2 are married with two babies. That was some gooooooood television, albeit painful to watch.
On The Bachelorette, the men still propose, even though the woman is the one making the final choice. As soon as she says “I choose you,” the winning contestant gets on one knee. Sometimes the losing contestant proposes, too, before he realizes that she’s going to dump him. This show is straight up cruel, you guys. I love it.
Throughout the episodes, a “villain” usually emerges, and that person basically doesn’t get along with the other contestants. The “villain” has won many times, which is when viewers yell at the T.V. and swear to never watch the show again, but then they have about 9 weeks to recover and forget their rage by the time next season rolls around. Generally, villains are known for not being on the show for “the right reasons” (i.e. to find love), which is why Bachelor Sean Lowe wrote an entire book called For the Right Reasons. In retaliation, the villain usually tells the camera that she doesn’t care what the other contestants think of her, because “I’m not here to make friends,” which was the fitting title for the tell-all book by Season 16 winner of The Bachelor, Courtney Robertson.
I read both books. WHAT OF IT. And I’m planning on reading The Bachelorette Season 10 star, Andi Dorfman’s newly-released book (It’s Not Okay) as soon as I finish all the other books that have piled up next to my bed. I’m at a place in my life where I’m 100% comfortable with my choices. But not comfortable enough to not make fun of them on this blog.
The last important thing to know is that this whole two month long “journey” is conducted by the Host with the Most, Chris Harrison. Chris and I are only separated by one degree of separation, since my friend made out with him once, plus lots of Miss Americas– including two of my friends– regularly hang out with him at events. I mean, now can you see why I’m so involved with this show? It’s like a little world that unfolds just barely outside the perimeters of my own little world.
Chris is the one who explains to the Bachelor and contestants what’s going to happen next, and occasionally serves as a sounding board for the Bachelor to work through his conflicting feelings. His presence is minimal, but he’s the glue to the whole shebang. Without Chris Harrison, there is no Bachelor, and how would we know if this is the most dramatic finale ever??
Join me, don’t judge me, as we dive into this season of The Bachelorette, Mondays at 8pm EST on ABC! See you Tuesday mornings for episode recaps as I help you sift through what you witnessed the night before, and say everything that you were [probably] thinking as you watched. Or if you’re one of the people who doesn’t actually watch the show (and are the entire reason I wrote this particular post), I’m excited to have you join me on Tuesday mornings to read about what happened while you were doing something far more productive with your Monday nights.
Oh, in case you’re wondering about the success rate of the show, here are some stats:
- 3 of the 11 Bachelorettes followed through with marrying the men they chose on the show (no divorces)
- 2 of those couples have children together, and the 3rd one is pregnant (one of these 3 couples is the original Bachelorette, Trista Rehn, who has been married to her winner, Ryan Sutter, for 15 years)
- 1 of the 20 Bachelors is married to the woman he chose on the show (no divorces)
- That Bachelor and his winner are currently expecting a child
- 2 Bachelor/Bachelorette stars are currently still engaged to the winners they chose on the show
- 1 of the 20 Bachelors is married to the girl he originally dumped in the final episode
- 1 couple from Bachelor in Paradise (a true spinoff show featuring rejected contestants from Bachelor/Bachelorettes seasons) is currently married
- OVERALL: All 36 seasons of Bachelor franchise shows (including Bachelor in Paradise and Bachelor Pad) have produced 5 marriages (if you count the guy who married his #2 girl), maybe 7 if the engaged couples get married
The odds of a Bachelorette marrying the guy she chooses is 27% (up to 36% if the latest Bachelorette engaged couple gets married), while the chances that a Bachelor will choose the right girl is only 5% (only up to 10% if the latest Bachelor engaged couple gets married). What does that say about men’s decision-making skills?? Think about it. It’s practically legitimate proof that women have the wayyy more frustrating end of the stick in the dating scene, because men rarely make good choices.
I think I’ll just leave you with that.