The Bachelor: Inside a Reality TV Casting Call
Now, I wish I could describe the actual interview process -- but the non-disclosure paperwork I signed guaranteed all sorts of violent legal action for revealing The Bachelor's inner workings. In general, I can say that I was asked about my dating history and my feelings about wanting to be on the show.
After about five minutes of questioning, the producer shook my hand and told me that they would contact me in four to six weeks if I made the cut.
I returned to the ballroom to find around 40 people scribbling away at their applications. I sat down next to Kyle, a hunky construction worker filling out his paperwork in the rear of the ballroom. He was wearing a grease- and dirt-stained yellow T-shirt, mud-encrusted cargo shorts and work boots.
"I figure if you're in an interview with people actually doing this show, why not be as real as possible?" he said, explaining he came to the hotel after a day spent crawling around underneath houses to repair termite damage.
I stuck around talking to other hopefuls still awaiting their turn. Lauren, a 25-year-old college senior from St. Charles, confessed she's only had one boyfriend in her entire life, but she's always watched The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. "I love all the different locations they go to, all the women and the men they find." she says. "I do want to get eventually married some some day, or meet somebody some day. I would love to be on the show."
Caroline Yoo This guy put the "real" in reality show.
Across the room sits David, a 24-year-old recent transplant to St. Louis from Kansas City wearing a patterned yellow sports jacket. He says it's rough dating as a guy living alone in a new city.
"Dating in the real world hasn't worked very well so far, so I thought I'd give this an opportunity, take a chance," he says. "I am a fan of the show, and knowing they go through such a rigorous screening process, I don't believe that they would put people on the show that aren't very good potential matches. It doesn't always work out, but with so many people applying and so few people getting on the show, they have to know what they're doing."
The Bachelor's casting call lacked the snaking lines and high-stakes performance anxiety of The Voice's Chaifetz Arena-set auditions last summer. Even so, there was something odd about the whole experience. It was like a mixer where attractive, smart and available singles ignore their thoroughly dateable counterparts just feet away. I didn't observe much in the way of interaction between contestants, let alone flirting. But really, that's to be expected. It's like Christina says, describing her mindset of how she'll behave if she winds up on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette:
"Just because you're with these people doesn't mean they have to like you," she says. "Because that's not what you're there for -- to make friends."