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Being on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette is an experience like no other. Whether you get cast on one of the shows as the lead or one of the suitors hoping to have that lead pick you as their forever love, there's a great chance that your life will change dramatically as soon as you're announced as part of the cast. And, some people try to ride the fame that comes from Bachelor Nation after their time on screen is over, only to flame out and have it not go too well for them. Having seen many such scenarios play out from behind the scenes, what advice would franchise host Chris Harrison give everyone?
Chris Harrison, as the franchise's permanent host since the start of The Bachelor in 2002, has a pretty good eye for how people who participate in the franchise make their lives work once their time is done. Harrison spoke during the Television Critics Association winter press tour recently (via LRM Online), and when asked what he tells the leads once they're engaged and have to take their relationships back into the real world, here's what he said:
I would say, look at those and talk to those who have made it. My advice is that don’t let this change you, let it enhance your life. Their lives are going to change a little bit. All of a sudden, they have a million, 2 million, 3 million people following you on Instagram, and people know who they are. But, I always say, get back to your life. Let it enhance your experience.
Ahhh. This is the trick, though, isn't it Chris Harrison? He says that the best thing for former cast members to do is get back to their lives, but, after getting used to becoming at least a little bit famous, will they really want to? I can see it being quite difficult to turn down the temptation of offers for acting jobs, modeling gigs, speaking tours, book deals and the like, when going back to what your life was before means heading back to a small town and returning to your 9 to 5 as an accountant.
As Chris Harrison went on to say, it's way easier to "monetize" time spent looking for love on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette for leads and suitors than it ever was before. And, it's quite obvious that many people, instead of becoming part of the franchise solely to look for love, are also (or only) signing up to see if it will raise the profile of the entertainment careers they're already working toward. We saw that in Hannah Brown's season of The Bachelorette last year, with her eventual (and eventually brief) fiancé Jed Wyatt admitting on the show that he only went on to enhance his music career.
Of course, few of us could blame folks like Hannah Brown (who went from being a suitor on The Bachelor to leading The Bachelorette and then competing on Dancing with the Stars last year) from taking the opportunities granted to them once the shows are over. As Chris Harrison said, it's fine to let the experience "enhance" your life once you leave, but everyone will have to decide what that means for them, and how much their time in the franchise will lead them toward a more public life afterward.
Hannah Brown, for instance, spoke at length last year about how hard it was to go from one branch of the franchise to another, and then spend several more weeks in the spotlight for DWTS. A lot of Bachelor Nation is fond of the former pageant queen, which probably helped her win DWTS, but she admitted to "struggling" after starring on two franchise shows in early 2019, and said her time on the dance competition was grueling after all she'd been through in Bachelor Nation, even though it also served as "great therapy."
Meanwhile, one of her former suitors, Tyler Cameron, left his time on The Bachelorette behind and dated a supermodel for a bit. He clearly found a way for Bachelor Nation to enhance his life, without becoming a slave to it and letting the whirlwind take over.
Chris Harrison didn't really say, exactly, how one should let time on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette enhance normal life once they're out of the mansion, but it does seem like there are plenty of opportunities to start a podcast, or do a few interviews when the franchise starts back up a few times a year, and then head back to your regular job and let the world mostly forget about you. And, that seems like the best way to do it for most Bachelor Nation alums, especially if you are not looked upon fondly during or after the show.
The Bachelor is airing Season 24 right now, with Peter Weber looking for love in all the wrong places, and we can expect The Bachelor: Listen to Your Heart, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise to hit ABC, one after the other, through late summer.