National Newswatch

TORONTO — The reality dating series "The Bachelor" hit its 16th anniversary on Sunday and, despite a rocky past year and poor track record of diversity and lasting love connections, its rose petals show no signs of wilting.

Last summer production was halted on "Bachelor in Paradise" to investigate unspecified allegations of possible misconduct on the set in Mexico. After an internal investigation, producer Warner Bros. said it found no evidence of that.

Then on the recently wrapped season of "The Bachelor," fans were shocked when star Arie Luyendyk Jr. proposed to Becca Kufrin but later called it off and became engaged to runner-up Lauren Burnham. Kufrin is now the star of the upcoming season of "The Bachelorette."

Ratings on the last season were down from previous years until the dramatic finale turned that around.

Authors of two new "Bachelor"-related books say that's par for the course on a franchise that is a master at enduring.

"They just deliver us new drama and we're right there tuning in," says Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles-based author of the new book "Bachelor Nation," which gives a behind-the-scenes look at the show.

"I'm wary of counting them out because they seem to be able to always find a way to lure us back."

Suzannah Showler, who analyzes society's relationship with "The Bachelor" in her new book "Most Dramatic Ever," quips it might "be with us forever."

"There have been moments where I've been like, 'This is when the shark-jump happens,'" says Showler, who was born in Ottawa.

"And every time they manage to pull something out or find some way to pivot the experience or tweak the experience where I'm like, 'Nope, this show will actually never die. This is the last thing we're going to see before the lights go out and the apocalypse comes.'"

Kaufman, a Los Angeles Times journalist, interviewed former cast members and producers from "The Bachelor" franchise for her book that gives an in-depth look at the inner-workings of the series.

She writes that producers' manipulation tactics include tracking contestants' menstrual cycles and doing their "in the moment" interviews that are akin to police interrogations during that time so they'll get more emotion.

Producers also apparently use what's known as "Frankenbites," in which a sound bite has been re-cut so that it has a different meaning.

In the rose-filled "Bachelor" mansion, contestants generally aren't allowed to leave and have no access to phones, computers, televisions or books while being filmed 24 hours a day.

They do, however, always have access to an open bar.

"People fully sign up for that stuff, so I get why the producers say, 'OK, what's the problem here? If you didn't read the contract, that's on you,'" says Kaufman, who used to cover press opportunities for the show until producers deemed her coverage too negative and banned her.

"But at the same time, these are human beings, you can't just use them as people who leak tears when you need them to and will drink alcohol to ramp up their personality."

Showler's book takes a look at the show from the outside, touching on the parallels "The Bachelor" has with contemporary social life and just why we watch.

Both Kaufman and Showler say the Canadians who've been on the franchise, including Jillian Harris and Kaitlyn Bristowe, are among their favourite contestants.

"I don't have metrics for this, but in the last couple of years it suddenly feels like 'The Bachelor' became a show that was no longer a guilty pleasure but just an open pleasure," says Showler, author of the poetry collections "Thing Is" and "Failure to Thrive."

"I do think part of it has to do with the feeling that the way people date in real life has come in some ways to reflect or mimic some of the structures of 'The Bachelor.'

"And I think maybe some part of this has to do with a certain number of celebrities openly talking about their love of the show — celebrities in Hollywood but also intellectual celebrities, like Roxane Gay is a fan of 'The Bachelor,' the author of 'Bad Feminist.'"

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press
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