Producers might not print out scripts for the stars of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise to follow, but they’re definitely pulling some strings on each season’s ~journey~ to find love. In fact, these behind-the-scenes masterminds sometimes even coach contestants on what to say and do. Read on to see what past contestants have revealed about just how real the show is. 

Sydney Lotuaco

“You see everyone on the show, but there’s all the people behind the cameras that you don’t really think about being there,” Sydney Lotuaco, who appeared on Colton Underwood‘s season of The Bachelor, told Us Weekly‘s podcast “Here for the Right Reasons” in March 2021.

“You talk with your producer constantly. And I had a close relationship with mine. He would, like, coach me like, ‘OK, go in there and grab his hand.’ And be like, ‘I know, this is awkward,'” the season 23 alum added. “I’m just not a very loud person, so that was a little difficult for me.”

Raven Gates

Raven Gates spilled some behind-the-scenes secrets the same night Nick Viall‘s season was revisited on The Bachelor: Greatest Seasons Ever in summer 2020. “I used to trade information in exchange for no interviews for a day,” she revealed in an Instagram Story that was later deleted. “This night I stayed up with producers to map out the drama because they weren’t sure of the links of drama. All of the girls were asleep.”

The accompanying photo showed handwritten notes mapping out two situations: How each girl felt about Danielle Lombard (including one section of girls that felt “D-Lo is fake and should be stoned,” and how each girl felt about the ever-controversial Corinne Olympios. So the drama itself is definitely real, but sometimes producers need a little help knowing whose buttons to push to get good quotes and stir up catfights.

Catherine Giudici

Former contestant Catherine Lowe (neé Giudici) — who ended up marrying season 17 lead Sean Lowe — revealed insight into this question that clouds Bachelor Nation. “Do producers make people do things or act a certain way on Bachelor/Bachelorette?” a curious fan inquired during an Instagram Q&A in January 2020.

Catherine Giudici Answers if The Bachelor Is Scriptied
Courtesy of Catherine Giudici Instagram

“Nope! They can ask questions and maybe guide you in an answer, but you are completely your own person and responsible for what you say and do,” she assured.

Tenley Molzahn

However, the seasoned producers behind the scenes know how to point contestants in the right direction.

In season 14 of The Bachelor, for example, a staffer on the show prepped contestant Tenley Molzahn with “conversation starters” to make sure she got Jake Pavelka‘s attention. “A producer asked me if there was something memorable I wanted to tell him, and because my name is so unique, I opted to play off that,” she told the New York Post in 2015.

“I did a list of ’10 things to know about Tenley,’ with the final item being that I was a good kisser,” she continued. “I was encouraged to be the first kiss, and I was the first kiss. I surrendered myself to the producers.”

Jamie Otis

Meanwhile, Bachelor season 16 contestant Jamie Otis says her seemingly spontaneous makeout sesh with Ben Flajnik before one of the rose ceremonies was also arranged by producers — after she told them that she wanted to “open up” to him.

According to Jamie, producers told her Ben would ask her for some one-on-one time, and they brought her two vodka sodas to calm her nerves. “Then we were talking about what I’m going to do and that he’s going to pull me [to the side] first and I would just go and I would kiss him and make out with him,” she recalled. “And I had barely spoken [on the show] … and then the rest is history.”

Once Ben gave her the heave-ho, though, the producers meddled again to make it seem like she was crying over Ben. “During my exit interview, a producer asked, ‘Don’t you miss your family?’ and I just lost it,'” she said. “So, as I’m talking about my family and how I miss them, I’m then asked about how I feel about Ben. I’m crying, and it appears that I’m devastated that Ben didn’t choose me.”

Craig Robinson

In another case of false pretenses, season 6 contestant Justin Rego didn’t actually trek two miles on crutches to get alone time with Ali Fedotowsky, as fellow contestant Craig Robinson revealed. “The producers made it look like Justin Rego walked up to her house, but the producers drove him,” he said. “They had him get out of the car and filmed it as if he was walking past houses.”

So now you know: A lot of what you see on the ABC reality franchise isn’t in fact completely real. Instead, we’re seeing the work of skilled romance wranglers. But hey, what fun is actual reality anyway?