Being the star of ABC's The Bachelor or The Bachelorette might seem like a dream come true. You get to meet dozens of attractive suitors, travel the world, and gain instant fame - and potentially even meet the love of your life.
But what happens off-screen when the cameras stop rolling? What do Bachelor winners have to do? Every contestant on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette - not to mention spin-off shows like Bachelor in Paradise or Bachelor Pad - signs a contract full of fine print detailing what they can and can't do on the show and beyond. For every long-running relationship the show produces, and every claim that "This process really works," there are a ton of backstage machinations.
As appealing as the fantasy might seem on television, the only way to get onto a Bachelor-related show is to essentially sell your soul to ABC. The Bachelor winners' contracts, and the contractual obligations of contestants, demonstrate just how far you have to go to get a shot at the final rose.
The Couples Have To Go On Secret Dates
After the Bachelor or Bachelorette selects the "winner," they can't just go catch a movie. Until the show airs and the final couple is debuted at the live after show, the couple isn't allowed to be seen together publicly.
To lessen the sting of this forced separation, ABC coordinates secret meet-ups between the two. They generally receive a five-day vacation near where the proposal is filmed. After that, every 10 days or so the couple is taken separately to a "safe house" where they can spend some time together.
ABC Requires Continued Promotional Appearances
Just because the show is over doesn't mean you're done. After completion of the season, the happy couple is contractually obligated to engage in whatever promotional activities ABC deems necessary for a certain period of time (for Bachelorette Trista Sutter, for example, it was one year after the finale).
So the appearances at every Bachelor-related function and that People magazine interview that comes out after every season like clockwork? Not exactly optional.
Contestants Can't Date While The Show AirsPhoto: @BachelorABC/Twitter
As many Bachelor/Bachelorette fans know, the winning couple often ends up breaking up before the show has finished airing. But just as they must hide their "together" status if they're still dating, they must also hide if they've broken up. Even a contestant dumped on the second week isn't allowed to date until the show has aired his or her departure.
In an ideal world, this leads to "shocking" break-ups on After the Final Rose, like when Jason Mesnick dumped then-fiancée Melissa Rycroft on-air for runner-up Molly Malaney. The worst case scenario is pulling a Ben Flajnik and getting your photo snapped kissing another woman while the show is airing.
There's No Room For Politics
Even during times of political turmoil, the Bachelor franchise has remained steadfastly apolitical. The leads selected are generally politically neutral, or at least appear that way. Why? For one, the show offers many viewers a form of escapism. Second, picking a staunchly political lead automatically alienates a large portion of viewers in either direction.
Former contestants have said that, when they start discussing politics on-camera, their conversations have been directed elsewhere. Bachelor and Bachelorettes under contract have remained conspicuously silent on politics. And when former Bachelor Ben Higgins put in a bid to run as a Republican for the Colorado House in 2016, he mysteriously dropped out less than a week later. Reports suggested that Higgins - who at the time was filming a spin-off series with his fiancée for Freeform (an ABC affiliate) - was pressured by the network to bail from his budding political career.