The Starting Line: What it’s like to Enter The Bachelor Race

Unglamorous beginnings have a way of deterring people.

They don’t look like how we thought and don’t resemble the ending we picture.

Take The Bachelor, a jewel in reality TV’s overcrowded crown. Everyone’s ripe and keen to step out of the limo, travel the world on ABC’s dime and publicly broadcast a Neil Lane comp’d jewel, but what about the starting line?

What does that look like?

Well, I’ll tell you.

Just north of Detroit on the second floor of a completely average chain restaurant cast in limp decor, is where day one of TV magic happens. After lining up in a queue of convinced and hopeful applicants, I signed and submitted a disclaimer nobody reads with a six-page application full of questions diving headfirst into my secrets. My favourite being, “Have you ever had a restraining order issued against someone or had one issued against you?” My question back was, “Does anyone answer yes to this?”

My mugshot was haphazardly snapped drivers-license-style before I was handed a number to take up a flight of stairs into a sticky, dark bar, barely awake in daylight. After waiting my turn, I sat in a draped, square booth in front of impossibly bright light with a warm, smiling woman, who encouraged me to answer questions like, “Tell us about any past relationships. Anything significant?” as though we were besties. I answered as interestingly as I could, but was pretty convinced they were probably screening me for a quick likability rating and comfort on camera more than my articulation of past boyfriends. At the end of a few answers, I unclipped my mic, shook her hand and that was it.

That’s the beginning.

The unexciting, totally suburban beginning.

Driving away with nothing but the branded Bachelor pen I stole, I welled with the kind of pride you have after you’ve taken a risk. I had hauled my hopeful self to Michigan banking on the potential to find love in a totally nutty and over-produced way and was going for it regardless of where they were snapping my photo and interrogating me. Of course, the setup wasn’t its spectacular selling point, but can you imagine if they were holding auditions at the Bachelor Mansion?

I’d have a lot more competition for a rose.

– Danielle Kreeft
Feature photo by Ian Schneider