In Kara Isaac’s One Thing I Know, Rachel Somers is a clandestine relationship guru, ghostwriting bestselling books of advice for her Aunt Donna. When we found out that Isaac is a super fan of the Bachelor franchise, we asked if she would be interested in paying homage to her latest heroine by giving some advice of her own—how to survive as a contestant on “The Bachelor.”
First, let me lay a few cards on “The Bachelor”-watching table. I was and still am #TeamBlake. Having said that, Colton is doing better than I anticipated. Though on a scale of Juan Pablo to Sean Lowe my expectations were set somewhere around Dr. Travis from season eight (Who, I hear you ask? Exactly.), so it wasn’t exactly a high bar to beat.
Second, “expert” is a generous term. You see, I tapped out of “The Bachelor” for about a decade in my 20s. Google informs me I missed a “prince,” another doctor, a fireman, a fisherman (???), a football player and a host of others with hazy titles like “entrepreneur,” none of whom managed to make their Bachelor relationships last, on average, longer than a baseball season.
I tapped back in for Ben Flajnik in 2012, and the reason for this is attributable to one word: babies. In the middle of the sleep deprivation and stretch marks and finding new uses for bags of peas (I’ll stop there, for those of you who still associate peas with dinner), my sister and I watched “The Bachelor” and messaged each other from different continents to help rescue us from conversations about our babies’ bowel movements or our progeny’s propensity to yell things like “DON’T TOUCH MY PENIS” in public places.
Third, this season may be my last viewing given that Demi, with her infinite wisdom and insight, has designated someone five years my junior as a “cougar,” which obviously makes me someone with all the sex appeal of one of the mummified raisins my toddler likes to stash down the back of the couch. Clearly, I should be spending my “Bachelor” watching window playing bridge or knitting or whatever it is that Demi thinks women of a “certain age” do. But then, Demi also likes to stroke the men she’s dating with amputated mannequin limbs so maybe I won’t lean into her for #lifeadvice.
Anyway, my sister and I are both #TeamCassie and because we are #TeamCassie we don’t want her to “win.” This is because all of the best “Bachelor” contestants should . . .
Aim for first or second runner-up
There have been 22 seasons of “The Bachelor” and only one couple—the much beloved Sean and Catherine—are still together. This is otherwise known as a 4.5 percent success rate. Or, put another way, if you are the last lady standing at the end with a man on one knee offering you a Neil Lane ring that could maim a small child with a thoughtless gesture, there’s a 95.5 percent chance of it ending poorly.
Let’s be honest. Bachelors do not have a history of making until-death-do-us-part choices after 10 weeks of dating a harem of women. In fact, there are more Bachelors who have ended up swapping out their chosen woman for the runner-up than there are ones who have made it work with the women they proposed to.
You do not want to be that woman. All power to Molly and Lauren, who waded through the public humiliation and general internet meltdown that came with their now-husbands swapping out women like they were pawns in a chess game, but it’s hardly the route that fairy tales are made of. Hence why Cinderella does not feature the prince choosing one of the stepsisters before realizing he (ooooops) really loves Cinderella and was just blinded by fear/insecurity/pressure/a visit from an ex-girlfriend into choosing the wrong woman.
No, the goal is to play your cards right so you can become . . .
Bachelorettes have a much better track record of success. There are six couples still together out of 14 seasons—also known as a 43 percent success rate. That’s 10 times the Bachelor success rate.
I have many a theory on this, the main one being that the Bachelorettes are infinitely superior to the Bachelors at thinking beyond what’s right in front of them. Rachel Lindsay apparently asked her final three in the fantasy suite about their religious beliefs, thoughts on having children, schooling preferences, financial situations and credit scores. Do we think that any Bachelor in the history of Bachelordom has ever asked a single woman in the fantasy suite about her credit score?
You also get to travel the world in business class, courtesy of ABC. The downside is that the internet will be all in your business for the next decade (at least), you won’t be able to eat carbs for the next six months in preparation of the endless gratuitous bikini shots, you will have to talk about your feelings with Chris Harrison, and it may not work out. But the odds are at least better than Tinder.
And for the 27 of you from night one who won’t make serious Bachelorette contention, this is my advice for you . . .
If you decide to leave, own it. Don’t second-guess yourself. Don’t be all fierce and determined and then show up on camera wallowing in a puddle of self-regret (this one is particularly fresh since the last thing I saw before heading on vacation was Elise doing exactly this).
Be like the two women in Juan Pablo’s season who did the “thanks, but no thanks” in episode two (let’s be honest, I’m not 100 percent certain it was his season, because they all start merging together, but I like to think it was his season and these two women nailed his chauvinistic narcissistic self about three episodes before the rest of us).
If the Bachelor withholds his rose, no crying is allowed until the final five. Nope. Just nope. Before that, you have spent maybe one one-on-one date and a few group dates together. You have not even been dating exclusively. He has, not to put too fine a point on it, been making out with at least 90 percent of your roommates. Be gracious, walk out with your head held high and feel sorry for the compatriots that you are leaving behind in the trenches.
Think of Chantal O’Brien from Brad Womack’s (second) season, who showed up at the “After the Final Rose” special blissfully in love with someone else while Brad squirmed uncomfortably and wished her the best with the expression of a man suffering from severe constipation.
Corinne from Nick Viall’s season is known for many things—being in her 20s and still having a nanny, her love of naps, her complete inability to make friends with other women—but the best thing about Corinne was that she ate.
Those of you who watch “The Bachelor” know exactly what I’m talking about. Apparently, in reality-TV nation, women don’t eat. Or if they do, they certainly don’t do it in front of a man whom they fancy—unless it’s chocolate-dipped strawberries that have been scripted to be fed to each other in the most contrived and awkward way possible.
Not Corinne. Nope, Corinne went on a group date and actually ate the food. And we’re not talking daintily nibbled on a carrot stick ate. She chowed down on a platter of fried food like it was her last meal.
Yes, yes, I know that you’re not here to “make friends.” But if there’s a 3.33 percent chance of you being the final one, and then a 4.5 percent chance of it working out if you are, then you had might as well do something with that time you’ve taken off work, the money you’ve spent on dresses you’ll never wear again and all the chocolate you haven’t eaten in preparation for your cocktail dress/bikini body being screened across the world.
Say you leave at the final five. You will have had maybe two one-on-one dates with the Bachelor. You will have spent weeks living and traveling with a bunch of women. Once you get rid of the ones who have been clearly planted to create dramatic television, there will be at least a dozen awesome women in the mix. Be the Bekah M., Sienne, Caroline, Tia and Kendall from he-who-shall-not-be-named’s season (yes, I’m still holding a grudge). That sisterhood is going to last, if not forever, certainly longer than a production-mandated engagement.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our review of One Thing I Know.
Author photo by Jenny Siaosi.