Newly engaged “Bachelor” couple Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell say their Freeform spinoff, “Ben and Lauren: Happily Ever After” — a first for the reality show franchise — was inevitable.
“We didn’t do this because we wanted cameras to follow us,” Higgins said on a recent conference call with Variety and other reporters. “We did this because we realized our lives weren’t going to be private even if we desired for it, or tried to make it private.”
The series, premiering tonight on ABC sister net Freeform, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the couple’s lives as they prepare for marriage after meeting and falling in love during Season 20 of “The Bachelor.” Over the course of the season, the two developed a reputation for being, nicely put, not the ABC show’s most riving personalities. Higgins said, during the conference call, that he doesn’t mind.
“People’s criticism was of us that we were boring or bland or whatever … Everybody has those moments,” he said. “I think we’re a lot like every other couple out there, other than we live in an abnormal world right now, which is ‘The Bachelor’ world. Outside of the fact that our life is now a television show, our foundation is very relatable.”
In the new show, the pair will explore their new life together, including spending time with their friends from the “Bachelor” universe. In one episode, the two go camping with “Bachelorette” Season 12 villain, Chad.
“I think we both just wanted to get to know Chad aside from how he was depicted on ‘The Bachelor’ and how he acts on social media,” Bushnell said. “I think both of us — after meeting him at JoJo’s ‘After the Final Rose’ — we both saw something in him, and we wanted to see who he was, where he comes from and maybe kind of help him through this weird time.”
The couple also shared that they had both met and talked to the next Bachelor, Nick Viall, a two-time runner up on “The Bachelorette,” who gained an infamous reputation. Then, on “Bachelor in Paradise,” he scored a redemptive arc that led him to take the torch from Higgins.
“When I sat down with Nick, I just tried to tell him, ‘Hey…a bunch of people have gone through this. Don’t be scared, but also be true to yourself,” Higgins said, explaining that he told Nick not to feel pressure to propose at the end of the upcoming season.
“I don’t want this to be a joke or a gimmick, or a forced situation for anybody,” Higgins said. “That’s not fair. That cheapens the way that I found my wife. And I think because I found Lauren through this, I don’t want this experience ever to cheapen.”
Higgins said his main advice to Nick is to be himself.
“Obviously he has the experience,” Higgins said. “He knows what to expect.”