What life is really like in the The Bachelor mansion. By someone who's lived there.

“Reality TV is half reality, half entertainment.”

Mia Freedman and Rosie Waterland are two of Australia’s most interesting women, and now you have the chance to see them live and unfiltered.

They’ll be talking about Rosie’s best-selling new memoir, The Anti Cool Girl, as well as her famous recaps (and every other topic in between). It will be raw, emotional, and of course, hilarious.
You will also have the opportunity to meet Rosie in person as she signs copies of her book (which will be available for purchase at the event).
Mamamia Live is on Monday 14th September at 6pm.

I never thought I would compete on a reality show, but one day when having a bit of a moment in my personal life I completed an entry form with the help of my best friend. We laughed hysterically when filling in the endless questions, and without any hope of hearing any more about it, I sent that application off with only hours to spare before the specified deadline.

Natalie in an episode of The Bachelor season one.

Within days of hearing back from the casting people, having Skype interviews and flying to Sydney, all of a sudden I was a part of a show. I had a week to pack my life up and be ready to be away from my life for anywhere from 3 days to 3 months.

My first test was always going to be living with so many other women. Being over 30 and having only lived with family, a partner and then on my own for so long, to suddenly be living with strangers and so many of them was always going to be a struggle. A struggle it was!

Sharing a room with five other women, some of them you get along with others not so much, you suddenly have to get used to absolutely no privacy. When so many women are waking up at the crack of dawn to be ready to film first thing in the morning, there is no privacy in the bathroom or anywhere else for that matter. Meal times are always a shared experience. If you want to make a snack for yourself, all of a sudden there are 10 other people asking what you are making, can they have some, giving you suggestions about how you should make it, what you should put in it etc.

As someone who values time on her own, not having an escape and not being able to find a quiet place to just be was tough.

Natalie, top right, with other season one contestants.

Being locked in a small space, having no contact with anyone outside of the walls of where you are staying, no news coming in (no newspapers, no magazines, no TV – movies are allowed, no music, no internet) you do bond with the other people in the house very quickly.

They are the only people you have to speak to, to vent to, laugh with and they understand exactly what you are going through. It is something that will bond you for life, even if you don’t remain the best of friends after the show. It is because of this deprivation that everyone bonds so quickly and there are tears every time someone leaves. Those tears are real, and the people that are so saddened by the loss of their friend know they will see them again and know their friendship will continue after the show finishes filming, but there is a moment when you wonder how you will cope without your friend there to vent to and to support you.

The other reason that contestants are deprived of news from the outside (yes it really is like living in a bubble) is so everyone becomes fixated on the things that they do have in the house – food, each other, the end ‘prize’. The smallest things become the biggest deal. I remember watching one girl lose it one afternoon because she hadn’t been able to have any chocolate. All of a sudden the really little things are such a big deal.

Natalie with Bachelor Tim Robards.

You do endless interviews. During filming, producers sit with you and chat to you like you’re old friends and then when you are in the interviews, things that have been mentioned in friendly conversation are discussed and broken down in great detail.

I was old enough to know what I was comfortable with and what I wasn’t comfortable with. When filming my back-story I was asked if I would be happy to be filmed pole dancing (it is something I have been doing for years for fitness and I am in a very advanced class) I said absolutely.

I was then told they would film that segment at my home on the pole that was in my living room. That was the first time I put my foot down. Yes I pole dance, yes I am happy to share that with Australia, no I am not happy for it to be shown in a sleazy or desperate light. There were many discussions and eventually it was understood that I would only film on the pole in the way it really exists in my life, in a dance studio with my amazing instructor present.

“I dance for fitness and fun, not to land myself a man.” Image via Instagram.

While filming these shows, you are given the opportunity to do some truly amazing things. When given the opportunity to travel to beautiful destinations, it is such an exciting moment. You are finally out in the real world, no longer trapped in the house you have been in for months.

I remember being on the plane and watching the news twice on one flight, I was just so happy to have an idea about what was going on in the world! At the destination it was so fantastic being able to have some contact with people other than the crew and other people on the show, even if it was limited contact.

However the waiting around continued. The only time I started to crack was being in such a beautiful location, one of my favourite places in Australia and not being allowed to go for a swim. Instead we would sit around all day, made up, miked up and waiting to shoot something……….. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

cocktail party
Natalie with other Bachelorettes before a cocktail party. Image: Supplied.

When these shows are cast, the production company really does their homework and picks a huge range of people to cover every personality. They also cast people they believe fit in to certain categories/stereo types. When I am working or on camera, I am always made up. It’s clear I like beautiful things, and people often assume that I am high maintenance. Every activity I was given was dirty, out in nature, nothing glamorous. I think production was waiting for me to lose it or get upset; instead I embraced every activity (apart from getting on a boat) and had a great time.

The most disappointing thing for me about the show I was a part of was that all of us shared our stories, but none of the really interesting things made it to air. There were stories of breast cancer survival, stories of being a part of a cult as a child and breaking free and heartbreaking personal stories that ended in courage and triumph. I personally shared the story of losing my mum when she was very young, and a very violent relationship I was in for a couple of years. Instead of any of these stories being shown, what aired on TV were very superficial interactions that meant very little.

Inevitably after every single reality show airs, someone complains about how they were made to look because of editing. I am not one of those people. Did the Australian public get a true idea of who I am? No. They did get to see one part of my personality, a very serious side that likes very honest and deep conversation. They saw a side to me that showed I wasn’t there on the show waiting for some man (any man) to pick me. They saw that I was there to see if there was a real connection on both sides. What they didn’t see was the funny, easy-going part of my personality. The part of me that laughs at every possible moment, the part of my personality that is self deprecating and sarcastic. The part of my personality that is just plain hilarious. I was a bit disappointed by the fact that people didn’t necessarily understand me but there was nothing shown that I didn’t say or do, or that I was ashamed or embarrassed by.

I’m a big believer that producers can’t make you say or do anything. Yes they can influence you and maybe steer you in a direction, but ultimately it’s up to you how you behave and what comes out of your mouth.

“Did the Australian public get a true idea of who I am? No.” Image via Instagram.

Reality TV is half reality, half entertainment. No the show is not scripted, but people are put in to very contrived and controlled situations and then filmed. You mix those situations with the depravation of anything outside of production, and having every emotion heightened and you end up with this TV show that people can’t seem to turn away from. There are sometimes numerous takes, because the cameraman missed something, or you did something unexpected. It’s interesting filming a romantic moment that isn’t so romantic when one of you is dying to pee so badly that they are in pain, but you need to get the shot.

the bachelor
“There are sometimes numerous takes, because the cameraman missed something, or you did something unexpected.” Image: Supplied.

People are so quick to judge anyone that takes part on one of these reality shows. Even I sometimes get caught up really disliking someone, and need to remind myself that we as the public are not being shown the whole story, and I know there is more going on then what we’re seeing.

Why share this? Because as consumers of reality TV everyone needs to be mindful of the fact that they are watching a TV show that is made for entertainment. Every person that goes on to that show you are watching takes a major risk by doing so. Yes, it is their choice to do it and they know the public will judge them, but nothing can prepare you for what will actually happen and the judgement, nastiness and scorn that follows. These are just human beings trying something new, exciting and different. They are taking a risk and having a once in a lifetime experience.

Do the friendships last? Some do. The declarations of we’ll be friends forever are always meant when they are said, and I definitely have a couple of the people that I met during that time that I am still friends with and who will remain in my life, the rest of them are Facebook friends who will always have a place because of our shared experience.

Would you go on The Bachelor.

Click through some of the best moments from this season of The Bachelor.


Natalie Sady is a model and television presenter based in Melbourne. She was a contestant on the first season of The Bachelor Australia. For more on Natalie, visit her website by clicking here. 

Missed one of Rosie’s Recaps of this season of The Bachelor? Catch up here.

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