According to former contestant Jen Hawke, The Bachelor is “less relatable than Home and Away” and is not always as real as it seems.
Describing herself as “the first bachelorette to get more airtime than the bachelor”, Jen Hawke has been one of the most interesting contestants to appear on Australian reality TV, even though she says it was mainly an act.
“I think the person you see on TV is probably 20% me and 80% a character that I’m putting on for the sake that I’m getting air time,” she said.
Her character was “the biggest, baddest villain they’ve had so far”, and whether it was the way she called out contestants for being hustlers or her dramatic exit, she made her impact on the show without even getting a single date.
It’s hard to imagine reality TV without a villain to create drama and increase the ratings, but in Jen’s case, the reality of what is shown can often be misleading.
“The producers ask you a question and make you answer it in multiple different ways so they can edit it to make you come out completely different,” she said.
The moment when she walked away from the show wasn’t even entirely genuine. Jen brought two 30kg suitcases into the mansion, and when she wanted to leave the producers told her to walk out with only her carry-on bag.
Jen Hawke’s dramatic exit from the show wasn’t entirely as it seemed
The editing of the show was so extreme that they would take separate clips of people talking, and piece them together to create fake arguments between the contestants.
“There was one particular fight with Laura where the producers had actually taken out something I had said at one point in the night, not even to her, but in the same location on the veranda where Laura would have been facing at the time,” she said.
“They literally cut it from a totally different time of night and made it look like Laura and I were having a fight.”
There were even rumours that Jen was hired to appear on the show with the intention to cause drama. However, she shut this down by saying there was no need to hire actors as the producers are very careful to pick girls that fit into their planned list of characters.
“They knew Leah was going to be this dramatic villain and I was supposed to be this funny ha-ha kind of girl,” she said, “but the one problem with their storyline is that I came in, didn’t like the guy and said ‘yeah fuck this, I’m going to turn shit up’, and to the producers, that was perfect.”
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Leah Costa and Jen Hawke were the two villains in the most recent season of The Bachelor
Before the show began filming, the contestants were partnered and put into hotel rooms for four days without a phone, TV, internet or even open windows. The producers match contestants based on how similar they are in the hopes that they will ultimately share information that will either be used against them later, or help them form a strong bond.
Interestingly, the eventual winner, Laura, was the only girl who had her own room during the lockdown period, possibly because she already knew the bachelor Matty before the show began. Jen believes that producers expected her and her roommate Tara to become the loveable funny duo on the show.
“Me and Tara were supposed to feed off of each other and just be idiots,” she said, “but all of a sudden I was like ‘this is stupid’.”
“The producers saw that I had this need to be front and centre, and I was definitely more articulate than Leah and I could convey myself in a way that was going to be easy for viewers to understand. And then I became a complete and utter villain.”
The US drama television series UnREAL looks at how the producers control contestants and edit footage on a show similar to The Bachelor, and Jen says that watching it was extremely similar to her experience.
“I was aware of when the producers were trying to manipulate me. They tell you where to sit, when you should head into a room, and they do enough recording that they can literally make anybody look how they want you to look.”
She says that she watched the TV series UnREAL both before she went onto The Bachelor and after she left the show, and was surprised with the parallels.
“The producers pretend to be your friend,” she said. “They play with your emotions and feed you with alcohol. You’re also an emotional mess because you’re tired. The first rose ceremony wasn’t finished until 3am.”
Character stereotypes are a typical convention within reality TV, with people like Jen being portrayed as the villain and other contestants like Tara shown as the hilarious bogan loved by all of Australia. Yet Jen says that what is shown on TV is “5% of what actually happens” and the contestants personalities are mainly a creation of editing and provocation by the producers.
“At the end of the day everyone has an assigned character that they’re supposed to play,” she said.
“Tara is Australia’s sweetheart so they can’t show her twerking on a wall like a bit of a tart in the first episode because that’s not going to fall in line with the character she is supposed to play.”
It was rumoured earlier this year that Jen would be making an appearance on Bachelor in Paradise, a spinoff show that is currently airing where ex-contestants from both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette come together in Fiji to find love.
However, Jen says that when the producers asked her to be a part of it she told them that she would never work with Warner Brothers again, adding “they can get fucked”.
“I think the realest people are the people that didn’t actually want to go on Bachelor In Paradise. I think everyone there just wants five more minutes of fame.”
The cast of Bachelor in Paradise, currently airing on TEN
Jen certainly would have made her mark on Bachelor in Paradise, with two of her ex-boyfriends appearing as contestants. Speaking about her ex Blake Coleman, who was only recently eliminated from the show last week, Jen says that he shouldn’t be allowed on TV, especially with his criminal convictions.
Last year Blake was convicted of violently assaulting a stranger back in 2015. According to the Daily Mail, police are also investigating Blake for threatening to sell nude photos of Jen online.
Jen’s ex-boyfriend Blake Coleman was a contestant on Bachelor In Paradise
Jen is currently writing a semi-fictional book about her experience before, during and after The Bachelor, including her whirlwind romance with Jake Ellis, a contestant on the second season of The Bachelorette.
“One of my favourite parts about the book is the lead up to me going to the house,” she said. “Obviously I’m involved with Jake Ellis and it does talk about what happened, what went wrong, him and other girls and a few little secrets that I’m sure he really doesn’t want to come out will all be included.”
She describes the book, titled The Bitchelorette as “honest, raw and dangerous”, and plans to set the record straight on how authentic shows like The Bachelor actually are.
“I think there are so many misconceptions about how real reality TV is and no one has sat down and written a book about it, especially not from a contestants point of view,” she said.
Even though she won’t be appearing in Paradise anytime soon, Jen’s tell-all book is planned to be released in August during the middle of the next season of The Bachelor.