Reasons why The Bachelor is totally fake

The Bachelor has been breaking hearts and ratings records since its debut in 2002. The long-running hit series follows one man on his quest to choose the love of his life from a diverse pool of lovely contestants. As with most reality TV shows, this ABC smash is rife with drama, but how much of this fairy tale is pure fiction? Do you really want to know the truth about all those warm fuzzies and tear-jerker moments among gorgeous people in gorgeous settings?

From scathing confessions from former contestants and crew members to a rose-crushing tell-all book, we've got the dirt on a formula that's been wooing audiences for hundreds of episodes over more than 15 years! At this point, you could make the case that longtime host Chris Harrison is arguably the true winner. Don't believe us? Let's take a closer look at some of the many reasons folks say The Bachelor is totally fake.

You are who the TV says you are

Chris Bukowski has appeared on so many seasons seasons of this franchise that he apparently found it necessary to announce his "retirement" from reality TV in 2015. He has since claimed the series derailed his life's goals, damaged relationships with his family, and misconstrued his true identity. "You can be on that show and not say a word, and they can do whatever they want to you," he told The Cut. "I mean, they took me and made every kind of character out of me, and I signed up for it." 

Courtney Robertson competed for Ben Flajnik's heart on Season 16 of The Bachelor. Fans may remember her as the wild girl who went skinny-dipping, but she later told the New York Post that the infamous moment was not as spontaneous as it seemed. Robertson says producers told her they wanted her to sneak into Ben's hotel room. Skinny-dipping was her idea, but the moment was apparently orchestrated behind the scenes.

Falling in love...in total isolation

Former contestants says isolation is used as a tool to manipulate the "reality" of the show. Melissa Rycroft — the fiancée who was dumped by bachelor Jason Mesnick in favor of the runner-up on the "After the Final Rose" finale of Season 13 — said contestants endure complete isolation from the outside world during their time in the mansion. She said The Cut that seclusion contributes to the seemingly crazy behavior witnessed on TV. Additionally, producers allegedly try to keep every conversation focused on the bachelor. "If we started veering off talking about our jobs," she said, "there was always a camera in your face and a producer behind that camera going, Oh, but wait, do you think that Jason would like your job?"

Leslie Hughes, a contestant who vied for Sean Lowe's love on Season 17 of The Bachelor, told the Daily Beast that she had to give up her cellphone, computer, magazines, and all connection to the outside world. She was only allowed to keep her Bible and her journal.

Tracking menstrual cycles to maximize emotion

Los Angeles Times writer Amy Kaufman dropped Bachelor Nation in March 2018 — "the first definitive, unauthorized, behind-the-scenes cultural history of the Bachelor franchise." SPOILER: the description of this New York Times best-seller is an understatement. Per USA Today, one of the book's shocking claims is that producers track the menstrual cycles of contestants to maximize emotion. "So a girl's now crying, mid-interview, about nothing, or being reactionary to things that are super-small," former producer Ben Hatta reportedly said. "It helped the producers because now you've got someone who is emotional — and all you want is emotion."

Kaufman said producers also employ an editing technique called "Frankenbiting" — manipulating a sound bite to suit the narrative. "There's no allegiance to what happened to reality," a former editor said. "…It's like I'm handed a big bucket of LEGOs and think, 'What do I want to build today?'"

The book claims producers place enormous pressure on contestants to get engaged. "There is no 'What if I don't propose' option," 2008 Bachelorette winner Jesse Csincsak told Kaufman. "It's just 'Here's the ring. Go give it to her.'"

We won't keep you in suspense until after the break; we'll just let you know now that ABC did not accept Kaufman's rose.

Why does nobody eat?

The one-on-one dates are a staple of The Bachelor franchise, and they usually end with the contestants discussing their futures together over a meal that neither person touches. So why does nobody eat on this show? 

According to Refinery29, producers feed the couples before the cameras roll so they'll do more talking and less eating while filming. "The food on dates is usually good, but the catch is that you aren't supposed to eat it! No one wants to watch people stuffing their face on a date. If you're eating, you aren't talking," former contestant Jaclyn Swartz dished. "The producers will bring room service to your room, or a plate of food to where you're getting ready in the house."

If contestants still happen to be hungry while filming, they have ample time to grab a quick bite when a producer pulls one of them aside for an interview. "This is when you stuff your face and hurry and eat before the other person gets back," Swartz said.

Contestants' psych evals are used against them

As part of the lengthy application process, potential contestants are required to complete a psychological test for seemingly nefarious reasons. "They have you fill out a multiple choice psych test, to find out everything you're afraid of," Jesse Csincsak told Cosmopolitan. "Oh, you're scared of heights? You're going bungee jumping."

Once producers have insight on what makes contestants tick, director Ken Fuchs makes sure his "teams of cameramen, lighting techs, soundmen, and production assistants" stay on the lookout for anything and everything that could translate into drama. "A girl will fall ill, or she'll pass out, or a fight will take place," he said. "We like it when things are happening. It means we're making television." Fuch justifies these decisions by insisting everything a contestant says or does is fair game. "They've all seen the show," he said. "There are no surprises; they know they're wearing a microphone."

Women have to fend for themselves

You'd think living in an opulent mansion would come with some perks. Maybe a chef and housekeeping? According to former contestant Leslie Hughes, life on The Bachelor isn't as glamorous as it seems."We have to do our own cooking, our own laundry … We do everything you would do when you're at home, except be able to go outside of your home," Hughes told the Daily Beast

At least they have a professional hair and makeup team, right? Nope. A wardrobes stylist? Negative. The women are expected to bring hair supplies, makeup, and clothes from home "It's a lot of suitcases," Hughes said. To make matters worse, the 25 women sleep in bunk beds, endure "cramped living quarters," and share two "tiny bathroom areas."

What is the one thing The Bachelor supplies? All the alcohol contestant's can drink. "It's how they get you to be more talkative, more sensitive," Hughes said. "When I came in for the producers' weekend, I remember it was like 12 noon, and they were like, 'You want some champagne, wine?' And I was like, 'It's 12 p.m., noon!' And they're like, 'Welcome to the Bachelor family.'"

Because the series creator said so

During a panel talk at the Banff World Media Festival. in 2016, Mike Fleiss, the creator and executive producer of The Bachelor, said "70 to 80 percent of the shows on TV" are fake. "They're loosely scripted. Things are planted. Things are salted into the environment, so things seem more shocking," he revealed (via Today).

Fleiss admitted that networks and producers carefully orchestrate moments behind the scenes to manipulate the audience, but don't worry, it's your fault. "(Viewers are) not requiring a pure delivery of non-fiction content (from the shows)," he said. "They know it's somewhat fake, but they're okay with it."

Fleiss' producer credits also include the horror films Hostel and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, so it appears he's drawn to projects where actors are tortured and cry on camera a lot. That seems to be a lucrative business model.

Rose ceremonies double as endurance races

Once upon a time there was a rose ceremony, that took a few suspenseful minutes to watch … and up to 13 hours to film, and we're not talking reasonable hours. The cast and crew often pull graveyard shifts. 

"[The first night] was very long," former contestant Leslie Hughes told the Daily Beast. "We didn't start until 7 at night and we didn't finish until 8 in the morning!"

Show director Ken Fuchs explained those grueling nights to The Hollywood Reporter. "There's a lot of women that the bachelor needs to meet. Forget about doing a TV show, if you were in some situation where you were going to meet 25 women and at the end of the night select a handful to go home, you want to sort of get a sense of who's who and what's what, so that takes time. It just takes time. It's a long, long night."

Fuchs said the cast members do get some down time during filming, noting that "it's not like they're running a race, so there's a lot of coffee and once you go outside it's cool out and that'll wake you up a little bit too, and we always get 'em there. I don't think we've ever failed to get a girl to the rose ceremony." How romantic.

UnREAL is based on The Bachelor

UnREAL is a satirical drama series that follows a young reality television producer and her attempts to keep her integrity intact as her boss forces her to make the show as salacious as possible. If UnREAL seems too "real" for some, that's because series creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro worked as a producer on The Bachelor for three years.

Speaking to The New Yorker, Shapiro described her job on The Bachelor as "complicated manipulation through friendship." She said her mission was to get contestants to "open up, and to give them terrible advice, and to deprive them of sleep." To make sure she squeezed every last bit of emotion out of the contestants for the cameras, Shapiro said she would flat out lie to women she knew were about to be sent packing. "The night they were going to get dumped, I would go to the hotel room where they were staying and say, 'I'm going to lose my job for telling you this, but he's going to pick you — he's going to propose."

When the dumped contestant left in the limo, Shapiro revealed that she joined them with "jalapeños or lemons hidden in her jacket pocket" to get those tears flowing by any means necessary. "They'd often tell us to drive up and down the 405 until the girls cried — and not to come home if we didn't get tears, because we'd be fired," she claimed.