Sure, sure, Bachelor fans probably have a general idea of who won each season. (Pop quiz: Who did Bob Guiney choose on season 4? Anyone?) But it isn’t the person who walks away with the final rose who really makes the most lasting impression — it’s those contestants who yelled the loudest, manipulated the most masterfully, or disrupted the system entirely who get roses from the audience. So in honor of the drama queens, the possible sociopaths, and expert players who make The Bachelor so addictive, we talked to some of the most memorable characters ever to lounge by the Bachelor House pool.
You’re known for being the first contestant to actually acknowledge that people have sex on the show. In the season 10 “After the Final Rose” episode, you said to Andi, “If you weren’t in love with me, I’m not sure why you made love to me.” What was the reaction? Do you regret saying it?
I was very polarizing: Either you loved me or you hated me. Guys would be more misogynistic about it — they would say, I’m glad you called her out. And other women would be like, Thank you for saying, as a guy, that sex meant something to you. I was interested that it became a discussion point. I’ve had endless conversations with close friends who are very strong feminists and we’ve had these debates. Hindsight being 20/20, do I regret it? I regretted that as a result of me saying that, Andi got a lot of flak.
The show is very popular in Christian conservative households. Some of the shaming that went on unfortunately came from that side, where it was very judgmental, very critical. How many of those people have had sex out of wedlock? Probably most of them. But especially on social media, they feel compelled to be judgmental and critical. And the show allows that. We become this barometer of American dating culture. They still very much play to that Christian conservative fan base, because it’s a huge part of their audience.
My intentions certainly weren’t to shame her and as a result it was harder on her — and that I regretted. But in the sense from my friends who were feminists, people that are very sex-positive, women should have the right — and I agree — to do what guys have been doing for years. So simply just acknowledging that we had sex, that was a great thing.
On The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love, you chose your job at Facebook over pursuing Pilot Jake. That’s not what's supposed to happen on the show.
I loved myself more than I loved the Bachelor. My career was the most important thing in my life at that time. And I thought, If this guy really cares about me, if this is real, right, then he's a pilot, for heaven’s sake — he can get in a plane and come find me after the show’s over. I think I knew deep down inside it wasn't really right and it wasn't real love.
But then you gave up your job to do The Bachelorette. What changed?
When I was deciding if I should do The Bachelorette, Sheryl Sandberg herself called me and said, “You have to do it. You have to show women that you can be a successful woman in business and be a wife and a mom and all these things. It’s possible to have it all.” She's the biggest reason why I thought, No, this is like the best thing I can do to empower other women.
You’ve been pretty successful in your post-Bachelorette career. How did you end up with a cameo in Blue Jasmine?
I still don't understand how that all came together. I don't think Woody Allen watches The Bachelor. But he is a New Yorker, and my travel show aired in the cabs in New York City. So what I think happened is he saw me in one of the cabs when he was in New York and was like, Oh that girl should play this part. When my agent called, I thought I was being punked.
You’ve been on Bachelor shows more than anyone else. Why did you decide to keep going?
The first season was such an amazing experience for me. I traveled the world, met some cool guys, and obviously, I mean, Emily is the hottest Bachelorette ever. They asked me to do the Bachelor Pad right afterward. I was riding high. I kept going back after Bachelor Pad because I was trying to fix the perception people had of me — because, god, they really took me for a ride on that show.
Yeah! What happened to you, Chris? Everyone loved you so much from Emily’s season, then you became a villain.
There was just no real connections with any girl, so I’m like, Well, screw it, you know? I’m going to try to win some money here. But they made it seem like I slept with, like, three girls, and that’s completely false. I would never sleep with Blakeley. She’s crazy.
And after that you crashed Andi’s season on The Bachelorette.
I talked with Andi a little bit prior to that and was interested in meeting her. So I reached out to the producers and traded some emails, and they’re like, We’re not going to tell you to come or not to come, but we’d really enjoy it if you showed up. So, I showed up. And you have to pass security to get in that freaking house, so they knew I was coming. But you know who didn’t know? Chris Harrison never knew I was coming, so he was caught off guard by the whole thing. I just sat there, and they were feeding me vodka sodas, and then, basically, they wanted me to run up the driveway, like past security — to make myself look even worse. But I didn’t. I just left after about two hours and about six vodka sodas.
How did you feel?
I was pissed! Honestly, I was pissed, because I wasted my time. I know that was great TV for them, and I get that they’re doing their job, but at least let me talk to her, you know?
Then you went back for more.
Even before I went on Andi’s season, they’d already talked to me about doing Bachelor in Paradise. I thought, All right, let’s really just hammer this out and fix everything in this one, and just be done with this. So I went, and it was awful. The living situation, there weren’t toilets, everyone was getting sick, everything was just awful.
And was that your last round?
No. Oh no. No, no. Oh no.
Oh my god, Chris.
I went back for the last Paradise. They actually wanted me to be in the original cast, but my sister’s wedding was in the middle of filming, so I said I couldn’t. About the week prior, they called and asked me if I’d want to come out for three days to see if I could find a date to my sister’s wedding. I got there, and I’m like, Well, this is stupid. How am I going to come in here and convince some girl to come to New York for my sister’s wedding? And what girl would I actually want to bring to my sister’s wedding? So yeah, I just got drunk and left.
And then, finally, you retired. Why did you decide to publicly say farewell to the franchise?
I honestly don’t think people knew how bad it really was making me feel. I shared my retirement letter with ABC and then they invited me out to do the whole After Paradise thing. They scripted that speech that I said on TV — I knew they were going to do that, so I had someone release my essay, which was the truth. Everything about how it took over my life. It consumed my whole life, and I got obsessed with trying to improve my image and show people who I really am.
What was the hardest part about all of this?
Even though you know what’s happening, even though I think I’m smarter than all of them and more savvy than most of them, they can still manipulate you.You can be on that show and not say a word, and they can do whatever they want to you. I mean, they took me and made every kind of character out of me, and I signed up for it. There’s nothing I can do about it now.
So do you regret ever going on the show at all?
Absolutely not. I don’t regret any of the times I went on. It’s made me a better person. It’s definitely helped my career … I guess I wish maybe sometimes I didn’t go back on a couple of them.
After she won The Bachelor, Rycroft’s fiancé, Jason Mesnick, dumped her in the “After the Final Rose” episode in favor of runner-up Molly Malaney. She turned down an offer to be the next Bachelorette and instead competed on Dancing With the Stars, and won. Now she has a career as a TV personality and two kids and one on the way with Tye Strickland, whom she dated before the show.
I call it the Bachelor Bubble. We’re in the limo from the hotel, none of us had met Jason, none of us knew anything about him, but the second that the limos pulled up to the house where he was standing outside, the girls in my limo were screaming hysterically. I remember having this surreal moment of looking around going, What is the big deal? We don’t know who this guy is! But it kind of sucks you in: Okay, then I’m going to get out of the limo and make a good impression. If all these girls want this guy, there must be a reason, and I want him, too!
You have no access to anything outside of this house. And all that’s in this house are 25 other girls vying for this one guy, and producers who always keep the conversation on him. If we started veering off talking about our jobs, 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? You revolve around this one person.
That said, I didn’t feel pressured; I didn’t feel pushed. I developed my own feelings. I really thought he was the guy I wanted to be with, and I really thought he had fallen in love with me. So that finale day, in that moment, really felt like a fairy tale. Then cue what happened three weeks later ...
He went to Seattle and I went to Dallas and we had a long-distance relationship. He and I would try to talk every night, but we were finding the conversations harder to have naturally. There wasn’t as much in common as probably either one of us thought. I remember it was a big wake-up call for me when the holiday time rolled around and I sent his son some Hanukkah presents and he never acknowledged them. He never said, Oh, thank you, we got them, that was so sweet of you. And I just remember sitting there thinking, Holy heck, what happened? But we were talking all the way up until we filmed that “After the Final Rose,” and it wasn’t until I walked out on that stage that I found out what was going on, when he said he didn’t want to be with me anymore and he was going to be with Molly. I wanted to smack him. It was like, I was just talking to you two hours earlier. You and I were just having a phone conversation.
There were people going, It must have been staged. You must have known. I never would have walked out with a ring on my finger if I knew that we were going to be breaking up. To me, that’s just humiliating. I knew things were bad — don’t get me wrong. But I thought that we just needed to get some face time and remember what it was that we saw in each other a month before.
Backstage, before I went on the show, they had me watch the proposal scene, because I’d never seen it. It got me all emotional and happy and giddy. I remember going, Okay, this is good, this is good. I needed to see this. They’re probably showing this to Jason backstage, too, and maybe this is so when we go out there we can reconnect and find that thing again.
But everything turned out the way that it was supposed to. Jason ended up with the girl he was supposed to end up with, I ended up who I was supposed to end up with. I look at my life and I can’t imagine it any different. Would I even be with Tye now? I definitely wouldn’t have this career that I have. If it took what happened on that stage during “After the Final Rose” to happen to get me where I am in life, I absolutely would do it again.
Mesnick proposed to Melissa Rycroft before breaking up with her on-camera for runner-up Molly Malaney. whom he eventually married in a two-hour ABC special that aired in 2010. Jason is a real-estate broker and Molly is a morning radio host. They live in Seattle with their 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Riley.
I knew I was going to choose Melissa, but I told them that I was not going to propose because, obviously, it was confusing for me. They just told me, We’ve tried that in the past and that’s not how it works.
The whole thing with Molly and Melissa at the end … Melissa and I spent time together and it just didn’t feel right. So I started thinking that maybe it was supposed to be Molly. I remember really hard conversations with the producers. They were like, Listen, Molly is going to be the next Bachelorette. We already asked her, so if you want to have a shot with her, you need to ask her out and it has to be on-camera. And then they said, If we give you this opportunity, we’ll want Melissa to be the Bachelorette, and we’ll need you to help her be emotional so the audience can feel for her. In retrospect, I would’ve stood up for myself more, because I probably could have — but I didn’t know that was a choice. When the owner of the show tells you to do something you’ve got to do it. Or that’s what I thought.
I was building up a company for single parents at the time — it was a start-up, and I lost all my funding because of the show. It was the worst marketing possible. But unless I got cast on the show I would never have met Molly and had a beautiful baby girl. A Catholic girl from the Midwest and a Northwest Jew? We never would have met! I think we both look at The Bachelor as the way that we got introduced.
At the end of the day, it’s not about the couple making it, it’s about who’s going to next. In the beginning, Jason is the Bachelor, he is the prince, he is the single dad, we have to learn to love him — and by the end of the season, it’s not about the Bachelor anymore. Let’s trash him. They have to bring up whoever the Bachelorette is, and tell her story, and make her the beautiful princess. And by the end of that season, they’re like, Who’s next? So you always get dissed. And that’s the way it is.
On the first season of The Bachelorette, we really didn't know what we were getting into. In a lot of ways that was the charm of it. We were very sincere. I know in later seasons the guys became a little more aggressive. Our thing was, Hey, it’s not like we're competing with each other — she's going to like who she likes, so let’s get along and be friends. I can honestly say at the end we were all like, God, I hope she chooses Ryan. I remember even saying it to Trista at one point: “You know, Ryan loves you. Not to say that I don't love your company and I don't think you're awesome. It's just at night, he’s writing you poetry. I'm shooting pool and having drinks; he's writing poems.”
Andrew Firestone, who's one of the guys I've remained very good friends with from The Bachelor, he and I always laugh — we’re the dinosaurs. Man, the prerequisites now, you have to have zero percent body fat and some really cool abs. It's just a different world. And I’m just ridiculously old now. When I did it, it was a kinder, gentler time. I don’t think my heart could take it at this point.
Trista and Ryan Sutter have been married for 12 years and have two children together.
I wish I had expressed my feelings to Ryan more during taping. That’s one of my big regrets, because Ryan almost left, and to this day he kind of holds a grudge against me for not giving him that privilege of falling in love together. It hurt his feelings. He was writing me love notes that he would pass while we were in the car with no cameras on. He was sharing his heart with me, and I regret not sharing mine with him, even if it was off-camera, just to say, I’m falling for you, too. But part of me is a people-pleaser and a rule-follower, and I didn’t want to break the rules by not sharing it on-camera. Also, I was on the hook for like $10 million or $5 million. You could be sued. So that was always in the back of my head.
We almost didn’t get married because the stress of filming our wedding made us fight so much — the stress of deciding whether or not we should, and the negotiations. The producers want certain things, and there has to be a legal contract putting all of the rules and everything down on paper. And legal negotiations are no fun, especially when you’re trying to protect what is yours. For me and Ryan, it was our relationship. For the producers, it was their franchise.
I didn’t want someone else making the decision of what kind of dress I wear and what flowers I carry. Luckily, I didn’t have to give up control of my wedding day. It was like a fairy tale. We just tried to focus on the positive. It falls on the bride’s parents to cover the wedding, and so I wanted to take that burden off of them. Besides, the show paid us to give them the rights to the wedding, and we were able to buy a home that we still live in with that money. I was able to pay off my student loans. I wanted to be able to stay home when we ultimately had kids. We were able to start our life off on the right foot financially.
I think we made it partly because it was more innocent then and the social media wasn’t there. We didn’t have people attacking us and our relationship. I do remember in the tabloids once it said that I was carrying Charlie’s baby. I remember being in our hotel getting ready for Good Morning America, and because of how they edited my interactions with Charlie, Ryan thought I was going to end up with him. Of course part of him was joking, but he’s sitting in the hotel room going, “Are you not telling me something? Is Charlie going to walk through the door?”
You’re an opera singer, you’re well educated, you don’t fit the mold of a typical Bachelor candidate.
One producer said, You’re unlike anything we’ve ever had and I’m excited to see how people relate to you as a person, and I was like, “Oh, wow. Really?” That feels very flattering, but then — being the analytical person I am — I thought, Is he just saying this to gain my trust because he knows this is something I would value? Is this just a different form of manipulation?
I am interested in how contestants work with the producers. You actually get pretty close to these people.
You know what an ITM is? “In the Moment.” It’s the confessionals that you see. The reason they’re called “In the Moment” is because you speak entirely in present tense, so that they can use it for voice-overs and stuff like that. And in full sentences. Like: When Juan Pablo takes you by the hand, how are you feeling? And I say, “Oh, when Juan Pablo takes me by the hand, I’m feeling excited …” I went into it thinking the producers are the enemy; if I’m painted a bitch, it’s their fault. I think that is a natural perception to have if you’ve never done it, but I no longer think it’s true.
What were their expectations for you?
I was the classy opera singer. I didn’t know that’s what I was going to be, but watching it, I was like, Oh. I swear a lot, and they edited out almost every single swear word I said because it didn’t fit my persona.
Was the audience feedback ever: This person thinks she’s too good for us?
Yes. Totally. I got a lot of “she’s a snob.” Oh, how annoying, those words she uses. I think I used the word organic a lot. I was talking about it being an “inorganic” situation. Another one was “cerebral connection.” People didn’t like that one. People thought that my vocabulary seemed very hoity-toity, I guess. What are you going to do?
People talk a lot about The Bachelor’s lack of diversity. As a contestant of color, how do you feel about the show’s whitebread image?
It’s so obvious, the whole race thing, but it’s also so obvious why it’s not going to change. It’s one white lead after another, and it’s about this lead and what he’s looking for. The show is designed to appeal to a certain type of audience member. They’re the same people who complained about that cereal commercial where the husband was black and the wife was white, and the child was mixed race. Apparently this commercial caused shitstorms — people were offended by it. I guarantee a lot of those people watch The Bachelor. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying, bark up another tree.
When it became apparent that Sean Lowe was falling for Catherine Giudici on the 17th season of The Bachelor, even Giudici herself was surprised. He was a blond-haired, blue-eyed Texas Christian who had dated Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders in the past; she was a liberal vegetarian from Seattle. She hadn’t been at the top of anyone’s bracket that season, but in the end, Sean proposed; and their two-year marriage is one of only two from all 19 seasons of The Bachelor. If anything, their marriage is proof that two heads are better than one when it comes to post-Bachelor success. Currently, they have a combined 1.8 million Instagram followers (Catherine has slightly more), have appeared on Dancing With the Stars, Marriage Boot Camp, Celebrity Wife Swap, and Family Feud, and are about to release another joint project: a baby.
Catherine: I think Sean was probably more interested in continuing to be in the public eye and share our story. I was a lot more erring on the side of: Okay, when are we going to get back to regular life? I had a job at Amazon, I had a wonderful family, and I loved my life before. But anybody in their right mind would take these opportunities.
Sean: The rise of social media has opened up a lot of different doors for us to make money, and we do. We try to be careful as far as what we promote. We’re still very proud of what we stand for and our reputations. If we can promote something that we both believe is a good product, then why not? We do some things for the paycheck and we do other things just because they’re awesome experiences. Some aren’t. Wife Swap, I regret doing. It kind of portrayed me as this overbearing controlling husband — I took a lot of flak for that one. And Marriage Boot Camp, I don’t think that was the greatest idea for us.
Catherine: We want to make sure that we’re living our lives the way that we know to be true, and if there are people watching, we just have to make sure that what we do is honoring them. We don’t have a perfect marriage and we don’t say that we do, and when we fall, we tell people about it — or if people ask, we won’t lie.
Sean: I really hope our fans see two people who are in love, who love life, who have fun together, and who are best friends. I would like to think that that is our brand: just a married couple who are madly in love and love having fun together.
Catherine: I’d have to say our brand is: wholesome, fun-loving, family-oriented, playful. When people don’t want to offer us things, or don’t want us to go on their shows, or don’t want to see us anymore, we will happily create a life without other people watching.