The Bachelorette: What the biggest fans don't know

In 2003, ABC premiered The Bachelorette, a reality dating show filled with lovelorn hopefuls, wanderlust dating destinations, and a fantastic serving of drama each and every week. On the one hand, the Bachelor spin-off highlights empowered women, and, on the other, one could argue that the TV show sticks with stereotypical gender norms, as Bachelorettes don't go down on one knee to propose to the man of their dreams — the guy proposes instead.

Critiques aside, Bachelor Nation has grown into a dedicated following of over 4.7 million viewers. The popular show films for a mere three months, which means the Bachelorette's steps to finding and falling in love depends heavily on the production team's grit and the Bachelorette's own mental stamina. So, what secrets, truths, and controversies lurk behind the Bachelorette camera? Does the emotionally charged process (ahem, we mean, "journey") actually work? Read on for the complete Bachelorette-verse breakdown.

Are Bachelorettes more likely to find love than Bachelors?

The show's track record so far reveals that more Bachelorette stars have successfully found their long-lasting main squeeze compared to Bachelor stars. According to People, six Bachelorettes are still with their original first-picks at the time of this writing. Only one Bachelor — Sean Lowe — married his number-one pick, and Colton Underwood is still dating his. However, two Bachelors did end up flip-flopping after proposing and ended up marrying their runner-up — we're looking at you, Jason Mesnick and Arie Luyendyk Jr.!

Also, according to Bustle, Bachelorettes are more accurate in picking their significant others from the get-go. Five out of the first 12 Bachelorettes gave their first impression rose to the season's winner. (This rose, which saves one man from that night's elimination, usually signifies which contestant the lead has the strongest connection with.) Not a single Bachelor has given a rose to a contestant who won.

Rachel Lindsay's season had the most diverse cast

Bachelor Nation is notorious for its lack of diversity across all seasons. According to the Los Angeles Times, Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss said in a 2011 interview, "We always want to cast for ethnic diversity. It's just that, for whatever reason, they don't come forward."

The show finally dipped its feet in inclusivity with Rachel Lindsay's 2017 Bachelorette season. Lindsay was the first African-American lead in all of franchise history, alongside the most diverse group ever with almost half of her 31 suitors being people of color. Prior to Lindsay's season, the only diverse-ish franchise lead was Juan Pablo Galavis, a Venezuelan blond who's known for his bigotry-filled remarks. Also, prior to her season, Lindsay's predecessor (and technically ex-boyfriend) Nick Viall had the most diverse cast, with eight non-white contestants.

"While diversity is an issue, what we try to do is create a great television show. At the same time, yes, you're trying to make sure everybody's represented in that pool. But first and foremost, we're trying to create great television to watch," host Chris Harrison told The Hollywood Reporter.

Rachel Lindsay's finale was very different

According to Rachel Lindsay, discrepancies in her finale went unnoticed by viewers. She compared her finale episode to fellow Bachelorette Becca Kufrin's, who chose controversial contestant Garrett Yrigoyen.

"You might not have agreed with [Becca's] pick, but you saw the progression of her love story and you understood it. I didn't get that with Bryan [Abasolo]," Lindsay told Hollywood Life. "They focused more on my relationship with Peter [Kraus], my number two. I was upset about that." Lindsay also shared how past Bachelorette leads watched their finale before its airdate. But producers made Lindsay watch her three-hour finale on stage in front of a live audience — a first for the franchise.

According to Lindsay, after a tense on-screen reunion with fan-favorite Kraus, social media took Kraus' side. She shared how viewers labeled her as an "angry black female" who "only wanted a ring."

Becca Kufrin's season literally changed the Bachelorette game

Skeletons in Bachelorette contestants' closets were exposed in Becca Kufrin's season — all thanks to social media sleuths who brought past histories to light. Kufrin's bunch included a man who posted horribly racist tweets, a convicted sex offender, and a contestant who, according to Vulture, liked "a number of memes on Instagram that criticized trans kids, liberal women, immigrants, Colin Kaepernick, David Hogg, and the state of California." The latter? That was Kufrin's final pick and now-fiancé, Garrett Yrigoyen.

Although he apologized for his behavior, Yrigoyen told Variety how he followed the accounts because he's a "patriotic guy" and "never looked into [the posts] or read the comment or tags."

Since Kufrin's season, casting producers have tightened their vetting process. Chris Harrison told The Hollywood Reporter that "people were hired to do some deep dives into peoples' social media and to try to cover our bases as much — as much more — as possible."

The contestant vetting process is vigorous

There are a few ways you can apply to be on The Bachelorette, including filling out and mailing a six-page questionnaire that includes the following question: "Are you genuinely looking to get married and why?" Applicants can also submit a "home tape," apply online, or trek to a hotel and wait for hours at a casting call with hundreds of other people, as one Bustle reporter did.

According to an excerpt from Los Angeles Times reporter Amy Kaufman's book Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America's Favorite Guilty Pleasure, if you make it to the semi-final rounds, producers will fly you to Los Angeles. There you'll endure "a 150-question personality test" with baiting questions like "Have you ever wanted to kill someone?"

Then, after "rapid-fire" questions from "roughly two dozen producers," potential contestants meet with the show's psychologist and a private investigator, and they finally undergo a thorough medical examination that includes getting tested for STDs. "As soon as the medical tests came back, you'd see that herpes was the biggest thing," Ben Hatta, a former producer, told Kaufman.

Bachelorette stars experience nonstop exhaustion

Dating nearly 30 guys at once isn't as glamorous and wonderful as some may think. When the leading ladies weren't falling head-over-heels in love, they were probably just falling over from the show's long production days. "After we finished night one, I'm going back to the hotel where I'm staying. And I'm going up the stairs and I just start projectile vomiting because of pure exhaustion," JoJo Fletcher said during the 2019 Bachelorette reunion. "I'm just vomiting over this ledge. Everyone thinks I'm just hammered."

Night one is especially tough, with production lasting more than 12 hours. Bachelorette Hannah Brown told radio host Ryan Seacrest, "I think we started [filming night one] at 8:00 or 9:00 … and we didn't finish 'til like 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning."

And the amount of stress? It definitely takes a toll. Former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe shared on Entertainment Tonight, "[Being on the show] is unlike any other situation you'll ever be in in your life. I lost hair during it, like chunks. I had a bald spot in the back of my head from stress."

You can potentially make over six figures as a Bachelorette

While Bachelorette contestants don't get paid, the show's lead may get a pretty paycheck. According to Reality Steve, the lead could get paid "over $100k." However, that differs from what Bachelor Ben Higgins told BuzzFeed. He shared that the show will "just match whatever you'd be making in the real world during the months that it tapes. And then you have the experience that kind of pays for the rest."

Regardless of what they actually make from the show, Bachelor Nation stars likely earn a substantial amount through endorsements and their influencer status. Influencer marketing agency Mediakix shared that popular reality stars can make "nearly $1 million a year" off sponsored Instagram content. According to Refinery29, stars can receive serious cash per post — "$5,000 on the low end and $15,000 on the high end."

How are they making so much cash? According to Racked, "a sly sense of humor, a penchant for dad jokes, a few awkwardly giggly moments, or whatever else can convey authenticity is essential to make you relatable." When you combine that with a "great body" and "pretty hair" one can become popular on the show… and on Instagram.

Bachelorette producers are reportedly puppet masters

It's no surprise that Bachelorette producers reportedly manipulate storylines to enhance and escalate drama. But how far do producers really go to spark discord? For starters, according to Amy Kaufman's book Bachelor Nation, producers tracked female contestants' menstrual cycles to get emotional interviews, as reported by USA Today. "So a girl's now crying, mid-interview, about nothing, or being reactionary to things that are super-small," Ben Hatta, a former producer, explained in the book. "It helped the producers, because now you've got someone who is emotional — and all you want is emotion."

Producers will also allegedly wear down contestants to get them to talk. According to former Bachelor Sean Lowe's book For the Right Reasons, after his elimination on Bachelorette Emily Maynard's season, they turned the ten-minute car ride back to the hotel into a never-ending trip until he finally spoke about the breakup (via Bustle).

"You trust [the producers] and then once you watch the show back, you're like, 'Oh, I don't trust you anymore.' They're doing their job, and we are just the suckers on the other end," Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe told Entertainment Tonight.

Hannah Brown beat out four others for the Bachelorette title

The public's reaction to the announcement of Bachelorette Season 15's lead, Hannah Brown, can be summed up in one word: polarizing. However, ABC exec Rob Mills shared with The Hollywood Reporter that, before he signed Brown on, he met with Hannah Godwin, Tayshia Adams, Caelynn Miller-Keyes, and Demi Burnett — all contestants from Bachelor Colton Underwood's season.  

"They were all great, but there was something about Hannah B. Part of it was that she thought she was the dark horse, so she came in and had nothing to lose, saying, 'I don't know, I'm just going to be myself,'" he told THR. "There was just something different that we hadn't seen in a Bachelorette before. Very kind of charming and goofy."

The surprise announcement that Brown was the show's next leading lady echoed that of Season 12's, when JoJo Fletcher was announced as the next Bachelorette. According to E! News, most of Bachelor Nation originally thought Caila Quinn (who was also on Bachelor Ben Higgins' season with Fletcher) would be the lead. Entertainment Tonight reported that both women initially filmed intro packages in their hometowns prior to ABC's official Bachelorette casting announcement.

Contestants are cut off from the real world

When you're on the show, producers want you on the show. You have no distractions — other than the drama brewing between you and your consorts. "There is zero communication with the outside world," JoJo Fletcher said in an interview with PopSugar. "We don't have our phones, we don't have internet, we don't have magazines. We're in total seclusion."

Television, music, and movies were also heavily restricted during production. Daniel Maguire, a contestant on Fletcher's season, said in an interview with The Verge that "[producers] can't have music playing often because they don't have the copyrights. Plus they don't want background noise and they don't want people being distracted."

Maguire also said in the same interview that producers are hush-hush for the most part on national news, but producers did mention the Pulse shooting to his Bachelors in Paradise cast. "They want their full focus 24/7 to be on the [lead]. Hence the reason you get so many meltdowns," blogger Reality Steve told The Verge. "You actually start believing you're falling in love [with] someone you barely know. It's essentially like Stockholm Syndrome."

Bored contestants pass the time with alcohol

So how does one occupy their time when they're not on ridiculous group dates or steamy one-on-ones? The answer: booze upon booze. Even on The Bachelorette's contestant application, it asks if the applicant drinks alcohol and what their favorite drink is.

According to former Bachelor contestant Leslie Hughes, "It's how they get you to be more talkative, more sensitive." She told The Daily Beast, "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.'"

However, in 2017, the producers placed tighter restrictions on alcohol consumption after allegations of sexual misconduct rocked Bachelor in Paradise. TMZ reported that contestants are now supposed to follow a two-drink limit per hour. But Bachelorette alum Robby Hayes told People, "We had our own little ways to get around it."

The competition for the bathroom is intense

The picturesque Bachelorette mansion, named Villa De La Vina, may boast a whopping six bedrooms and ten bathrooms, but, according to Refinery29, only four of the bathrooms have actual showers. There are two bathrooms upstairs and two bathrooms downstairs. However, in an interview with E! News, ABC executive Rob Mills said the two upstairs near the bedrooms are the ones contestants use to get ready.

Mills also said the lead typically stays outside of the mansion in a nearby residence. Good thing because the mansion reportedly doesn't have central air. "There is no AC in the mansion, because of sound quality, and it was super-hot when we were there," Ashley Spivey, a former Bachelor contestant, told Refinery29.

Adding to the packed house and overall uncomfortable dwellings (plus, the apparent risk of falling off the mansion's bunk beds), contestants may have also endured unwanted flying nuisances in the mansion. "There were bats in the mansion when I was there and killer bees," Bachelorette Hannah Brown said to On Air with Ryan Seacrest.

Former cast members were disgusted by this Bachelorette twist

The creators premiered Season 11 with a never-before-in-Bachelorette-history first: the 25 guys would vote on who would be their future wife. This meant Bachelorette leading ladies Kaitlyn Bristowe and Britt Nilsson had to woo their suitors on the first night to avoid getting eliminated. This led several former cast members to voice their criticism over the gimmick. "It's downright degrading for the women — for the two chosen and the women watching at home," Sean Lowe wrote on his website. "This move transfers the power back to the men on the show specifically designed for the women."

A few stars took to the Twitterverse. Bachelorette Desiree Siegfried (née Hartsock) tweeted, "Not going to lie.. I'm a bit confused by 2 bachelorettes. Put girls against each other!? Don't we already get enough of that." Bachelorette winner J.P. Rosenbaum tweeted, "Anyone else wake up still completely annoyed about this two bachelorette thing?"

In a 2018 interview with Entertainment Tonight, Bristowe voiced that the show still has "women being pitted against each other." And while she still enjoys watching the show, she thinks it may be "time for The Bachelor to maybe move on [and end]."

Is everybody named Chris?

"You spend so little time with the person you choose before the final rose ceremony," Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky told Woman's Health. "I would say you probably spend about 72 hours tops with the person you wind up choosing."

As leading ladies struggle with the pressure of making crucial rose ceremony decisions, Bachelor Nation struggles to keep up with the many contestants who share the same name. (Thankfully, the franchise does share last name initials to differentiate between individuals.)

Of all the Bachelorette suitors on the show, 14 were named Chris, according to a January 2018 E! News breakdown. And that's not including Chris, Christian, and Christon who were all on Becca Kufrin's season. But Chris Siegfried was the only Chris to win a Bachelorette's heart in the end. According to the same E! News piece, The Bachelor has had a significant number of women named Lauren — though none have been crowned as the Bachelorette yet. And while there have been 15 Laurens so far out of the 23 Bachelor seasons, only one Lauren — Lauren Bushnell — officially walked away with the final rose.