In writing her book, Bachelor Nation, LA Times journalist Amy Kaufman came to a rather unsettling realisation: the interviews that happen on the set of The Bachelor are strikingly similar to a police interrogation. The subject is isolated, made to feel the interview will continue until they comply. The interviewer cycles between sympathy and hostility to reinforce the desired behaviour…
And the list goes on. Whether deliberate or accidental, producer tactics like these are a big part of what contributes to the ratings success of the American TV juggernaut. They’re behind the drama, the tears, and often even the love story.
After two years of research and dozens of interviews with those involved in the show, Kaufman was given unprecedented insight into how these manipulations unfold.
“It’s a very tricky relationship,” she told Mia Freedman on Mamamia‘s No Filter podcast.
“So many contestants during the process really come to trust the producers – they call them their best friends, they have at times called them their therapists, even. They forget that these people are doing jobs and have an entertaining television show to make; they just think, ‘Wow, this person is letting me confide in them, perhaps even sharing their own personal details’ (even though those personal details won’t be broadcast on national television).”
For more about what goes in to making The Bachelor sausage, listen to Mia Freedman’s chat with Amy Kaufman. (Post continues below…)
The reason they forget is something Kaufman refers to as The Bachelor “bubble”. As well as being physically isolated inside the boundaries of the Bachelor mansion, contestants are also stripped of all electronic devices – that means no phone, no internet, to television, no music. With no external reference or support, the real world – their sense of what’s normal – begins to slip away.
The only person in the contestants’ corner are the producers, who forge relationships via what’s known as ITMs – in-the-moment interviews. These are the segments in which the man or women is talking alone to the camera. Producers pick the opportune moment for ITMs to ensure the most desired reaction.