How Bachelor manipulates people
A NEW season of The Bachelor is just around the corner. But while you're kicking back watching a group of girls swoon over the Honey Badger, think about the producers that made it happen.
Below is an extract from Bachelor Nation, a new book by Amy Kaufman, uncovering the secrets of how the show is made in the US.
"I can make you say some f***ed up shit."
I was sitting across the table from Michael Carroll at a restaurant a few blocks from his house in northeast LA when he suddenly threw out that tease. I'd been asking him about how ITMs worked. If you're on the Bach, you have to do as many as five ITMs a day - at the mansion, in the middle of a date, from the back seat of a limo.
"In the moment" interviews, conducted by producers, are key to the show's narrative. They provide running commentary for viewers throughout each episode, giving us insight into house dynamics or just how head over heels a contestant is for the Bachelor. So the sound bites need to be succinct, revealing, and emotional.
Which brings me back to Carroll. He was trained in the art of upping the ante and thought he could trick me into making some out-of-character remarks, just as he did as a producer on the
show. So we decided to role play, pretending I was on an imaginary date with the Bachelor and Carroll had pulled me aside for a quick ITM.
"Oh my God, so are you guys having an amazing time?" Carroll began.
"It's OK," I responded, shrugging. "What do you mean?" he asked. "I mean, like, it's fine. It's just a fine date."
"You're on a one-on-one right now," he said, his voice growing more stern. "Do you know all the girls back there want to be on a one-on-one right now? Like, what is it about him that you're not jiving with?"
"I don't know," I answered. "It's hard for me to open up."
"Do you want to go home?" he said, as if it was a threat. I shook my head. "No."
"Then f***ing why are you really into him?"
"Do you think he's going to send me home?" I asked, ignoring his question.
"Well, he might if you don't really try or show him you're interested," he said.
"What do you mean 'try'? What should I do?"
"Try to be fun," he said, disgusted. "Try to be interesting! I was watching you from the control room and you look like you couldn't give a f**k. Do you want him to think you couldn't give a f**k? Really? That's how you want to do it?"
I was silent. "Watching you and him is like watching f***ing paint dry," he continued. "You are boring me to death, and I know you're way more fun. If you're not into it, you can go home tomorrow if you want. You don't have to be here. Do you want to go home? No? Well, great. Why don't you show us that you're having a good time?"
Well, damn. That was aggressive. Suddenly, it was easy for me to imagine how you might say some "f***ed up sh*t" on the show, no matter how sober, equanimeous, or impenetrable you'd thought yourself to be. The power of suggestion is real, especially when someone is berating you and making you feel like a disappointment.
And, ladies, just imagine that in that moment, you were also on your period. That's right, the producers have been known to keep track of when the women in the house are menstruating - which often occurs simultaneously, because that's what happens when women live together - so that they can schedule ITMs accordingly.
"When women cycled together in the house, it created a completely different vibe," producer Ben Hatta told me. "The more dominant woman would basically set it off, and then another would come and say, 'I had my period three days before I came in the house and now I'm having it again, what the f**k is wrong with me?'
"So a girl's now crying mid-interview about nothing, or being reactionary to things that are super small," he continued. "It helped the producers, because now you've got someone who is emotional - and all you want is emotion. If a girl's feeling the butterflies for a guy already, when she gets into that state, her feelings just become more powerful, so she's probably more willing to tell that guy she loves him. And maybe one of the producers knew she was in that emotional state and was like, 'You know what? Now's a better time than ever. You should do it, you should do it, you should do it!'"
In other words, when you see a contestant bawling on The Bachelor, they're often upset about something other than the Bachelor. Hatta explained it this way: Say he was talking to a girl about how she hasn't been on a date in two years. She starts reflecting on her love life, wondering if there's something wrong with her. Now she's tearing up. So then he would pivot the conversation towards the Bachelor, getting her talking about how much falling in love would mean to her after so many years of singledom.
"And all of a sudden," he said, "she's the desperate woman."
- Extracted from Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman. Available now from online retailers, bookstores and as an ebook.