We at Newsette HQ are huge Bachelor franchise fans (is there a better cure for a long day than a glass of wine and side of Arie drama?), but we’ve always wondered what goes down behind the lens, inside the famed mansion. Now, we have answers (!!). Los Angeles Times journalist Amy Kaufman used her investigative skills to find out what really happens behind the scenes (being banned from ABC events in the process) and put it all into a New York Times Best Seller called BACHELOR NATION. Eager to dive into this must-read guilty pleasure? We’re giving you a preview of what you can find inside the pages of BACHELOR NATION in an interview with Amy below. Enjoy!

NEWSETTE: Why do you think The Bachelor became such a cultural phenomenon? Why has it lasted so long and why do you think we are so fascinated with it?

AMY: Unlike other reality shows, the conceit of “The Bachelor” is incredibly relatable. With “Survivor,” most of us don’t know how to build a fire, and “Top Chef,” we aren’t all gourmands. But when it comes to love and relationships, we can all be judge and jury from our couch.

Are the Bachelor or Bachelorettes incentivized to keep around certain contestants that make for good TV (like Krystal) even if they aren’t attracted to them? 

Yes, earlier in the competition, producers will urge the Bachelor or Bachelorette to keep a contestant around longer who makes for a good story or drama. The lead is not *required* to keep anyone on the show, but if they aren’t into, say, 6 of 10 remaining women, oftentimes they’re game to go along with what the show suggests until it gets down to the final four. 

Are Bachelor Nations in other countries just as obsessed? If not, what do you think this says about the idea of love and relationships internationally?

As far as I know, American fans of “The Bachelor” are the most intense. I’m not sure it says anything about the idea of love and relationships internationally — some of the foreign versions of the show are just less well-produced and come across as less impressive versions of the U.S. incarnation. We did see on “Bachelor Winter Games” that contestants from some other countries had different feelings about love — on the Chinese version of the show, only one woman kissed the lead over the course of the entire season.  

What percentage of contestants do you believe are actually there for the “right reasons?”

The show isn’t scripted — no one is given lines. However, contestants are in an environment that’s so foreign to them that they often act in ways they wouldn’t in the outside world. Most contestants told me they go on the show because it seems like a fun adventure — they get to travel the world, meet new people and potentially find a husband to boot. Not to mention the lucrative career path that can also come about with all of the new social media followers these contestants get after being on national television: Becoming an Instagram influencer. 

How do the producers narrow the thousands of people who turn up for auditions down to the final 28 or so? 

Often times, the Bachelor/Bachelorette is not cast during the casting process, so many of the contestants are not tailored to him/her. The potential contestants have to go through a really rigorous audition process, answering a 150-question personality test, meeting with a psychologist, sitting down with numerous producers, getting their blood and urine tested, etc. By the end of it, producers have so much background on you that it’s a lot easier for them to craft a narrative about the kind of role you might fit into on the show.

How strict are the contracts? Do Bachelors have to propose at the end of every season? 

The contracts are incredibly strict. They are also, however, clear cut: They say that any contestant who signs on the dotted line is willing to be embarrassed and misrepresented. They give up their right to privacy and also say that if you are filmed naked, the show owns the right to that footage. It’s surprising to me how many people are ready to give up those rights. According to contract I saw for a Bachelor from a few years ago, there was nothing about being contractually obligated to propose.

Are contestants contractually obligated to appear on spinoffs and After The Rose?

Yes, they are contractually obligated to appear on reunion show tapings for I believe at least a year after the finale airs.

How do you feel about what is going on right now with Arie, Becca, and Lauren? 

I feel like Arie was probably under pressure to propose from producers – many past contestants have told me that producers are quick to remind the lead about those who have not proposed (Brad Womack, Juan Pablo Galavis) and how poorly that worked out for them. However, there’s also the societal pressure — you feel like the viewers have gone along on this journey with you, and you want it to pay off by dropping a knee. Even though we, as viewers, know that the engagements from the show rarely ever work out — the high stakes are much more interesting to watch than if, say, the final couple just said they were going to continue long-distance date. 

Can you share what exactly you covered that got you banned from all Bachelor events?

It’s still not entirely clear to me why I was banned. I was recapping the show for the LA Times and attending show tapings and interviewing contestants. Then, one day, my access was revoked. When my editor inquired why I was no longer invited to press opportunities, the ABC rep told him it was because my coverage was “too negative.”

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