Infamous for its roses, romances, and drama, The Bachelor is still a competition game—and you can’t have a game without rules. Though some of the more outlandish rules sound like jokes, competing for the heart of the Bachelor is no laughing matter.
10 You can’t connect to the outside world.
The Bachelor contract requires every heartsick hopeful to ditch their gadgets until they leave the house. The reasoning behind the rule is sound—producers don’t want contestants to reveal juicy details to the family, friends, or worse: The tabloids.On the other hand, this media blackout can be used to the show's advantage. Producers have been known to provide the contestants with articles about the show to stir up even more drama. Somehow, a magazine plastered with pics of Bachelorette Season 12's JoJo and her ex-boyfriend ended up in a few of the male contestants' hands—prompting a river of tears. Because of the drama, fans may not have noticed the magazine was oddly written in English, though production was taking place in Uruguay and, as I said, there’s no reading material allowed.
9 You have to fit six months worth of stuff into two suitcases.
Bachelorette Season 10's Andi Dorfman’s tell-all book divulged the fashion debacle all contestants must face.
Not only must they pack their regular garb, accessories, makeup, but they also need to bring "clothing for both cold and warm weather, athletic wear, bathing suits, heels, tennis shoes, sandals, cocktail, long, and casual dresses, and heavy coats.” Even Mary Poppins would have trouble adhering to that rule.
8 You can’t play hooky.
Scared of heights? You’re still going skydiving and producers expect (read: require) all contestants to participate. The show’s eligibility requirements include, but not limited to, “Skydiving, parasailing, and water skiing.
In the official casting eligibility rules, you’ll find: "Applicants must be willing and able to participate in physical activities such as: skydiving, snow skiing, ice skating, parasailing, water skiing, rollerblading, and the like. Applicants must sign a release attesting to the fact that the applicant understands and knowingly and willingly agrees to assume such risks."
Remember the cringe-worthy date in Season 16? Bachelor Ben Flajnik, along with the contestants—bikini-clad, naturally—skied on imported snow down a closed-off street in downtown San Francisco. Even the Bachelor himself pointed out the obvious dangers of women wearing next to nothing clothing while speeding down an incline over fake snow. Flajnik, not known for being the most self-aware man stated, “This could be a dangerous date. If these women don’t know how to ski, I think I’ll be more like ski patrol than skier.”
7 You’re on camera all of the time.
When you enter The Bachelor house, you sign away (literally) your right to privacy. There are hidden cameras and microphones everywhere. Thankfully, most of the footage winds up on the cutting room floor, but not before it’s mined for ratings gold.
To further ensure production doesn’t miss a single dramatic moment, both the Bachelor and contestants are stipulated to wear a microphone at all times.
6 You can't eat on dates.
Contestants are looking for love, not food—and the microphones catch everything. Calling ABC out on it is more of a novelty than an Easter egg as this rule applies to just about every film and tv show.
Race car driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. shared in an interview with Bon Appetit, “Nobody eats, and that’s primarily because nobody wants to watch you eat and the mikes will pick up the chewing.” Not to worry, the Bachelor and his hopefuls get fed. They just can’t touch the mouth-watering smorgasbord on their fancy dinner dates.
5 You can’t date anyone until your final interview airs.
To keep viewers tuned in all season long, the Bachelor and the winner cannot be seen together before the final Rose Ceremony airs. Remember when Ben Flajnik was caught making out with a woman who was definitely not the Bachelor’s bride-to-be Courtney Robertson?
As it turns out, that rule applies to every contestant, as well. Obviously, the contestants need to be single on the show (though there have been plenty of contestants who’ve lied about their relationship status). In order to keep fans engaged (pun intended), it’s essential the winning contestant stay a secret—which means the losing contestants also must remain secret. To ensure fans are kept on the edge of their seats, losing contestants are contractually obligated to remain single until their final exit interview airs.
4 You can’t yell “cut!"
Have you ever noticed the night turn to day mid-ceremony? The perfect shot of a Rose Ceremony can takes hours—often running into the following day.
In an interview with Glamour, Bachelor Sean Lowe divulged the show's odd insistence on using the term “journey” and never its synonym, “process.” What happens if someone slips up? "The scene is shot and reshot until you get the perfectly crafted soundbite.” Is it just me or does this seem as though each day shooting would be a rough proc—err, journey?
3 You can’t just keep the ring.
Each season, we watch as the Bachelor painstakingly chooses a giant ring to romantically propose to the woman who stole his heart. But, as it often turns out, most couples end up calling off their engagement. So, what happens to that season’s sparkler? In an interview with Hollywood, Jesse Csincsak shared, “You always hear the stories of ‘I’m going to donate this to charity,” he says. “No. In the contract, it says if you are not together for two years after the final day of the show airing, you have to give them the ring back.” But, if a couple passes the two-year rule, they don’t have to be married to keep the ring. “You just have to stay together for two years,” Csincsak said, before adding, “No one has done that except for Ryan and Trista.”
Every winning couple is contractually obligated to stay together up until the show’s finale episode airs. Much like the show’s other rules about post-Bachelor dating, it’s essential the winner and the bachelor end up together—at least until the Rose Ceremony, where we’ve seen relationships go from bad to worse to catastrophic in less than 90 minutes.
2 Your lips have to stay zipped.
To keep the show’s suspense alive, winners, like the losers, have to keep it together before the finale. It only takes one paparazzi snap or an ill-timed tweet to ruin an entire season. So, what consequences do you face if you spill even a drop of tea? Shelling out $5,000,000.
To some, this sounds extreme, but keep in mind, that’s a fraction compared to what the blab has cost them. Somehow Season 11’s Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe managed to avoid paying the producers, even though she released a major spoiler on SnapChat. The video clearly showed her and contestant (and now clearly the winner) Sean Booth cuddling, spoiled her entire season for everyone.
1 The Show Changes You
When casting Bachelor hopefuls, producers look for contestants who fill specific roles. Chris Bukowski, the eternal contestant, described in an interview with The Cut, how the show can turn anyone into a villain. "You can be on that show and not say a word, and they can do whatever they want to you," he told, "I mean, they took me and made every kind of character out of me.”
In the terms and conditions to become a contestant, producers blatantly acknowledge their manipulation tactics. Listed on the official show page, the eligibility requirement states,” Applicants acknowledge, understand, and agree that Companies (as defined below) use or revelation of Personal Information and Recordings, as defined in these Eligibility Requirements, may be embarrassing, unfavorable, humiliating, and/or derogatory and/or may portray him or her in a false light."
Bottom line: Producers can paint you in any light they want using any and all dirt they have on you. Known in the television industry as “franken-clipping,” producers edit the footage to fit the narrative they want.