Draws on interviews with producers and fans to present a behind-the-scenes look at the reality television phenomenon and explores the show's cultural influence and significance.
For fifteen years and thirty-five seasons, the Bachelor franchise has been a mainstay in American TV viewers' lives. Since it premiered in 2002, the show's popularity and relevance has only grown-more than eight million viewers tuned in to see the conclusion of the most recent season of The Bachelor.
The iconic reality television show's reach and influence into the cultural zeitgeist is undeniable. Bestselling writers and famous actors live tweet about it. Die-hard fans-dubbed "Bachelor Nation"-come together every week during each season to participate in fantasy leagues and viewing parties.
Bachelor Nation is the first behind-the-scenes, unauthorized look into the reality television phenomenon. Los Angeles Times journalist Amy Kaufman is a proud member of Bachelor Nation and has a long history with the franchise-ABC even banned her from attending show events after her coverage of the program got a little too real for its liking. She has interviewed dozens of producers, contestants, and celebrity fans to give readers never-before-told details of the show's inner workings- what it's like to be trapped in the mansion "bubble"; dark, juicy tales of producer manipulation; and revelations about the alcohol-fueled debauchery that occurs long before the fantasy suite.
Kaufman also explores what our fascination means, culturally- what the show says about the way we view so-called ideal suitors, our subconscious yearning for fairy-tale romance, and how this enduring television show has shaped society's feelings about love, marriage, and feminism by appealing to a marriage plot that's as old as Jane Austen.
Amy Kaufman is a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, where she has covered film, celebrity, and pop culture since 2009. On the beat, she reports from industry events like the Academy Awards, the Sundance Film Festival and the Grammys. In addition to profiling hundreds of stars-Lady Gaga, Julia Roberts, Stevie Nicks, Jane Goodall-she has broken major investigative stories on sexual harassment in Hollywood. Amy currently lives in Los Angeles with her Australian Shepherd, Riggins, and dreams of living in a Laurel Canyon tree house.
Praise for Bachelor Nation "I was enthralled by the excavations of Bachelor Nation, a zippy and dishy book whose true focus is the gaps between the actual, manufactured, and represented behaviors and feelings on the show."--The New York Times Book Review
"Amy Kaufman, a journalist with the Los Angeles Times, is the perfect writer for Bachelor Nation. She's charmingly open about her affection for the show, but also insightful about the harmful side-effects. And she's diligent about pulling back the curtain to give us peeks at every aspect of the show, from the grueling selection process to what really happens in the Fantasy Suites. I can't imagine any fan of the franchise not joyously devouring this book."--Kareem Abdul Jabbar for The Hollywood Reporter
"In a shocking twist you won't want to miss, it's Los Angeles Times writer Amy Kaufman who's dropping the newest most dramatic ever Bachelor bombshells."--USA Today
"Amy's writing is gripping and funny and a celebration of the truth about our culture. I savored every word."--Amy Schumer
"This book is more than a Bible for Bachelor Nation--it's a fascinating read for anyone with an interest in pop culture, television history, and the phenomenon of 'real people' becoming brands."--Diablo Cody
"Smart analysis of why so many of us...are hooked on [the Bachelor franchise's] fairytale version of love."--People
"A delicious look behind the scenes."--The Los Angeles Times
"Even Bachelor detractors will find this expos by the Los Angeles Times journalist absolutely riveting. The book delves into the psyche of the franchise and its influence on our culture--all the while spilling jaw-drop-worthy secrets."--TimeOut
"At a time when The Bachelor seems dangerously close to being irrelevant, Bachelor Nation is all the more essential: It's a prognosis for the future of a franchise that hinges almost entirely on heteronormativity."--Refinery29
"Kaufman's absorbing book takes a deep dive into the franchise."--The Washington Post
"I suspect Bachelor Nation will more than satisfy any fan of this franchise or even reality TV in general, but also that it will end up on the syllabuses of gender, sexuality and media studies classes to come."--Jezebel
"If you've ever been confused about why The Bachelor captured the zeitgeist, you need to read this book. Amy Kaufman is funny and kind and the perfect author to demystify the game--without getting played herself."--Vanessa Grigoriadis, author of Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus
"The only way you can keep watching The Bachelor without breaking down into guilt is to read this smart, thorough guide to how that sausage is made. Amy Kaufman reports the crap out of the nation's ongoing social experiment known as The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and explains what's going on behind the scenes in detail beyond any of our imaginations. If you're trying to figure out why we--that is to say, you--keep watching this ridiculous television show, you'll find intelligent answers (if not absolution) here."--Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, New York Times bestselling author of Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything
"Essential for fans of pop culture, this book could play an important role in courses on feminism and gender studies. It's also a fascinating and fun read for anyone who wants to think about how and why viewers continue to tune into shows like The Bachelor."--Library Journal (starred review)
"An undiluted examination of the shows' problematic appeal... [Kaufman] imbues her book with a playful vibe without shying away from the tough questions."--Booklist
"Kaufman's eye-opening expos of the reality TV show The Bachelor...unpacks the keys to the show's success...[and] shares little-known details about the show that will no doubt fascinate Bachelor fans."--Publishers Weekly
"Fans will devour this addictive, indulgent, and crafty appraisal of one of reality TV's biggest successes."--Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Bachelor Nation "Amy's writing is gripping and funny and a celebration of the truth about our culture. I savored every word."--Amy Schumer "This book is more than a Bible for Bachelor Nation--it's a fascinating read for anyone with an interest in pop culture, television history, and the phenomenon of 'real people' becoming brands."--Diablo Cody "The only way you can keep watching The Bachelor without breaking down into guilt is to read this smart, thorough guide to how that sausage is made. Amy Kaufman reports the crap out of the nation's ongoing social experiment known as The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and explains what's going on behind the scenes in detail beyond any of our imaginations. If you're trying to figure out why we--that is to say, you --keep watching this ridiculous television show, you'll find intelligent answers (if not absolution) here."--Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, New York Times bestselling author of Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything "Essential for fans of pop culture, this book could play an important role in courses on feminism and gender studies. It's also a fascinating and fun read for anyone who wants to think about how and why viewers continue to tune into shows like The Bachelor ." --Library Journal (starred review) "An undiluted examination of the shows' problematic appeal...[Kaufman] imbues her book with a playful vibe without shying away from the tough questions."-- Booklist "Kaufman's eye-opening expos of the reality TV show The Bachelor ...unpacks the keys to the show's success...[and] shares little-known details about the show that will no doubt fascinate Bachelor fans."-- Publishers Weekly "Fans will devour this addictive, indulgent, and crafty appraisal of one of reality TV's biggest successes."-- Kirkus Reviews
The first definitive, unauthorized, behind-the-scenes cultural history of the Bachelor franchise, a favorite guilty pleasure.
Chapter 1 A Budding Idea At his family reunions, there was always one person Mike Fleiss gravitated toward: his second cousin, Heidi. As teenagers, the two would meet up at the gatherings and hide out behind the garage, sneaking beers and sharing a joint. Heidi Fleiss, of course, would go on to become known as the notorious "Hollywood Madam," running an illegal prostitution ring that catered to wealthy celebrities like Charlie Sheen-a crime that eventually landed her in prison in her early thirties. Mike Fleiss, meanwhile, hasn''t ended up behind bars. But as the creator of The Bachelor, the long-running reality television series on which more than two dozen singles compete for an eligible suitor, he''s displayed an understanding of the human desire for love that his cousin was also able to tap into. Growing up in Fullerton, California, where his mother was a nurse and his father owned a Baskin-Robbins ice-cream shop in nearby La Habra, Fleiss never felt like the guy who could get the girl. The young ladies at Sunny Hills High School were "unbelievably hot," he once told Vanity Fair, but he had a reputation as "the alienated, parking-lot stoner" who had long hair and rode a moped. Still, he managed to land the interest of class president Alexandra Vorbeck, his high school sweetheart who would travel with him to study at the University of California-Berkeley. They wed in August 1987 and stayed married for twenty-four years until divorcing in 2012. At Berkeley, he studied journalism and became the executive editor of the college paper, The Daily Cal. His first job out of school was at the now-defunct Sacramento Union, where he was paid $323 a week to write about sports. "I thought it was the dream job," he said years later in an interview with the Contra Costa Times. "I got tears in my eyes the first time I walked into Arco Arena." He got laid off in 1989, but quickly found work at the nearby Santa Rosa Press Democrat. The job, however, was temporary: The reporter who covered the San Francisco 49ers was out on medical leave, so Fleiss could only have the gig for nine months. It was a prime beat, and he was tasked with writing features and game previews about the team that could stand up against the other Bay Area newspapers. "He was a very, very good writer," recalled Glen Crevier, the Democrat''s executive sports editor and Fleiss''s boss at the time. "He definitely improved the quality of writing in the sports section. He found good stories and told them in a way that was entertaining." So when the 49ers reporter returned from leave, Crevier tried to find a way to keep Fleiss on staff. The only job available in the newsroom, however, was an opening on the copy desk, where the shift ran from four p.m. to midnight. "That didn''t go well for him," Crevier said with a laugh. The job didn''t allow for much creativity and required a lot of structure, which Fleiss struggled with. Soon, his colleagues noticed him watching Married . . . with Children on the overhead TV when he should have been editing NBA roundups, and Crevier was called in to reprimand him. "These were professional copyeditors who took pride in what they were doing, and they saw Mike just sort of blowing off the assignments," said the editor. "So I had to take him in a room one day and give him a warning, like, ''Hey, you''ve got to care more about this job. You''ve got to really engage in it.'' " But Fleiss only grew more frustrated at the paper. One night after he got home, he turned on the syndicated Howard Stern Show and found himself envious of the "complete creative freedom" the program''s employees seemed to have. "I was being restricted by the facts all the time!" he said in that 2003 Vanity Fair interview. "I felt like I couldn''t really do anything creative, because I was always running down what Jose Canseco said." As his behavior in the newsroom continued to deteriorate, Crevier decided he''d have to let Fleiss go. The young sports editor had no writing positions available, and so-for the first time in his career-he fired someone. Fleiss was mad, but it also seemed as if he was resigned to his fate. "He said, ''You know, that''s all right,''" remembered Crevier. "''I had some other things I wanted to do anyway. I want to get involved in the television industry. I''m going to move to L.A.''" True to his word, Fleiss retreated to the Northern California apartment he shared with his then-pregnant wife, churning out one spec script after another. But no one was biting. After roughly a year of being unemployed, he heard about a low-paying gig at Totally Hidden Video, a Fox hidden-camera series where actors pulled pranks on unsuspecting victims. In order to get the job, Fleiss was asked by the show''s producers to write five sample stunts; instead, he came up with forty. He found out he''d landed the position just as his wife was going into labor with the couple''s first of two children, Aaron, named after TV impresario Aaron Spelling and baseball legend Hank Aaron. Fleiss was so thrilled that he agreed to take the job, even though it paid $400 a week-less than half of what he''d been making at the Democrat. Soon, the family piled into their Jetta and decamped to Los Angeles. A year later, however, Fleiss was out of another job when Totally Hidden Video was canceled in 1992. Fortunately, he now had become acquainted with Bruce Nash, a producer best known for making TV specials filled with outrageous clips. While working for Nash, Fleiss helped put together World''s Deadliest Volcanoes, World''s Scariest Police Shootouts, and Greatest Sports Moments of All Time. The biggest hit, though, was 1997''s Breaking the Magician''s Code: Magic''s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed. Mike Darnell-who served as the president of alternative entertainment at Fox for nineteen years, overseeing hits like American Idol and Family Guy-decided to buy the magic special after meeting Fleiss. They shared the same vision for the show: an irreverent approach that poked fun at the magicians. A friendship was born between the two Mikes, and so was a ratings boom. Despite being sued multiple times over exposing trade secrets and for copyright infringement, Fox would go on to air five more of the magic specials. Darnell proceeded to purchase Fleiss''s next big pitch-an idea he was calling The World''s Meanest People Caught on Tape. The show, Fleiss explained, would feature people doing despicable things-and he already had secured a clip of a bartender stirring a martini with his penis. "Mike Darnell made that happen for me," he told Vanity Fair about the special, which was eventually renamed Shocking Behavior Caught on Tape. "Even though it was a sleazy, disgusting little show, with a bartender stirring a drink with his penis, I was proud!" Clearly, Fleiss excelled at pushing the envelope. He and Darnell almost pulled off crashing a plane in the desert on a special aptly named Jumbo Jet Crash: The Ultimate Safety Test, but Fox blinked as production was about to get under way. While many television producers were fixated on creating prestige programming bound for awards glory, Fleiss wasn''t ashamed of the fact that many critics considered his shows trashy. On the contrary, he got off on making headlines-and getting ratings-as a result of tapping into a viewer''s basest nature. Darnell, meanwhile, was itching for Fox''s next big hit, seething over the success of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? on ABC. While at a wedding in the summer of 1999, he found himself checking the Millionaire ratings nonstop. The romantic environment and his jealousy over the ABC hit led him to his next outlandish TV idea: why not find a single millionaire, introduce him to fifty women, and have him propose to one of them at the end of a two-hour special? Darnell brought the idea to Dick Clark. But the veteran producer and game-show host was worried the project might tarnish his wholesome reputation. "Dick said, ''Look, I''ve been married three times. This is a show that''s condemning the institution of marriage, and I don''t want to be the guy to do that,''" said John Ferriter, a William Morris agent who represented Clark and Fleiss. But when it was Fleiss''s turn to meet with Darnell, he won over the Fox executive after he said he envisioned the special as a version of a Miss America pageant. He was given ten weeks to put the special together before it aired in February 2000. In December 1999, the announcement went out wide: "Calling All Brides . . . a Nationwide Search Begins for Potential Brides Willing to Marry a Millionaire Live from Las Vegas on Network Television." "Are you looking for the man of your dreams?" the press release asked, "Is he tall, is he dark, and is he handsome? Most importantly, is he RICH? . . . During the next month, the search is on for any and all women (over the age of 18) who would be willing to marry a rich man on live television and become ''Mrs. Multi-Millionaire.'' A minimum of 50 daring candidates will be selected and flown to Las Vegas for an all-expenses-paid trip to compete for the opportunity to marry Mr. Moneybags during the two-hour television special." Mr. Moneybags, Fleiss had decided, would be none other than Rick Rockwell, a forty-three-year-old writer and comedian who''d invested the money he made performing in real estate. "Well, I''m worth about $1.5 . . . [million]," Rockwell responded to a November 1999 email from Fleiss. "It''s quite possible he was the only person on the planet who was willing to do it," Fleiss later admitted t
Countless celebrities, acclaimed writers, and avowed feminists are admittedly obsessed by the show. A show which taps into something greater than mere staged pageantry and heavy-handed notions of fairy-tale romance. Written both with the passion of a die-hard fan and the access and objectivity of a respected entertainment journalist. Variety reported on 24th January 2017, The Bachelor drew in 7.33 million viewers.
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