Sex, booze and psychological warfare on 'The Bachelor': ViceTV docuseries exposes dark secrets of the popular ABC franchise

Show's producers reveal tricks and manipulation used in producing blockbuster series.

On 'Dark Side of the 2000s,' producers of 'The Bachelor' reveal how women were manipulated to get desired results. (Vice)
On Dark Side of the 2000s, producers of The Bachelor reveal how women were manipulated to get desired results. (Vice) (Vice)
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On Tuesday’s Dark Side of the 2000s, former producers of The Bachelor came clean on the many tactics the franchise has used to create more drama for the cameras.

The ViceTV docuseries, which each week focuses on different aspects of pop culture from the 2000s, explored the history of — and secrets behind — one of the most popular and successful reality dating shows in the history of television.

Much of the episode revolved around Mike Fleiss, who was the creator/producer of Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire before later reimagining a new version of that show called The Bachelor. And one topic of discussion on Tuesday was the process they would go through to choose women for the show, as told by Marki Costello, the casting director for the first season of The Bachelor.

Mike Fleiss, creator and executive producer of 'The Bachelor.' (Vice)
Mike Fleiss, creator and executive producer of The Bachelor. (Vice) (Vice)

“Mike Fleiss loved beautiful blondes,” she said. “We were looking for women that were smart, beautiful, educated, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. They don’t want fat, they don’t want ugly, they don’t want pimples. They want someone that is visually appealing.”

Michael Carroll, a producer on the show during the 2000s, also described how they would try to cast certain roles for the show, like a villain.

“We needed a bimbo. We needed a ho. We needed a ditzy girl that everyone could make fun of,” Carroll said.

From there it was a matter of learning how to better produce each contestant by figuring out what their tendencies might be while on the show.

“We would create boards that had a little backstory and a picture,” Costello said. “‘She just went through a breakup, she just got over anorexia, she has been a bridesmaid 15 times but never a bride. She’s gonna f*** somebody on day one. She’s a virgin and she’s never gonna f***. That’s the reality. They want to know what’s gonna happen in that house.”

And once they were in the house, creating more drama was a constant challenge for producers, who found that one of the best ways to do that was to get a girl to cry on camera. Carroll explained how that was achieved.

“You had to go for their hot buttons. Their dad left them when they were 8years old. They were left at the altar. And that’s how it is if you want to be on The Bachelor: You’re gonna cry right here, and if you don’t cry enough, we’re going to find a way to get you out, and then we’re gonna make you cry when you leave because you didn’t get the Bachelor. So… you better cry.”

And so producers would take the information they acquired during the screening process and wield it like a weapon to get what they wanted.

“Bringing up things that don't need to be brought up and just, you know, wrecking them psychologically,” Carroll said.

Another major tool used by producers to create more drama and deliver the results they wanted was supplying alcohol. Carroll remembered an instance early on when the crew was setting up for the first episode of the season and the ladies had to just wait it out.

“They’re just sitting in the limo, drinking champagne until they’re blotto," he said. "There’s nowhere for them to go to the bathroom, so all the beautiful girls, 25, have to get out of the car and pee on the side of the road. Fantastic.”

A former girl in the house, Trish Schneider from Season 5, said that she was sure that producers purposely tried to get contestants drunk.

“It’s like a truth serum in a situation like The Bachelor. So yes, of course, I think alcohol played a part in some people either being more comfortable in front of the camera or willing to share more,” Schneider said.

And Carroll went on to say that alcohol was always provided and available behind the scenes for the crew as well, as Fleiss and fellow executive producer Lisa Levinson would allegedly drink openly while watching the monitors.

And speaking of Fleiss and Levinson, it was revealed Tuesday that they would go even further beyond the tactics already mentioned to get their desired results for the show. As in, taking the reality out of the reality competition.

“Every rose ceremony, there was an argument between Mike Fleiss and Lisa Levinson and ABC the network about which chicks, which girls, should get roses and which should go home,” Carroll revealed.

The Bachelor has done massive ratings through the years and expanded with a full-on franchise that is still going strong today. Fleiss was eventually forced out over allegations of bullying and racism.

Dark Side of the 2000s airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ViceTV.