A missing star. No final rose ceremony. The final couple is dating.
Colton Underwood‘s season of The Bachelor was the franchise’s most daring outing yet, with so new things happening in its 17-year history.
And yet, for Robert Mills, ABC’s Senior Vice President, Alternative Series, Specials & Late-Night Programming, it felt oddly old-school.
“I actually think this was kind of a classic Bachelor season,” Mills told E! News over the phone.
Still, the exec noted the show did a lot of things they had never done before during Colton’s season, like not even film a final rose ceremony and show the producers and camera crew more than they ever had before.
While Colton found his own version of a happy ending with Cassie Randolph, we still had a lot of lingering questions about his season and choices The Bachelor made, including how they handled the infamous fence jump, why certain scenes were cut and more.
Fortunately, Mills was willing to spill some tea.
Before Colton, has any lead ever tried to quit or quit the show before?
“There have always been points where they say, ‘I’m over this,’ because it’s exhausting,” Mills said. “As wonderful as it is to spend all this time thinking about yourself and your feelings and everything else, it’s also incredibly exhausting.”
So yes, most leads have all reached a breaking point, but no, no one has ever literally ran away from production before.
“I don’t think anyone could, who could get over that fence?!” Mills said. “That was crazy. That was such an audible that he called by doing that, he sort of left everyone with their pants down. The other people, you’d be able to talk about it more. I think nothing ever this severe because it’s almost impossible to pull off.”
Are leads always allowed to keep their wallet?
One small detail that grabbed viewers’ attention during Colton’s post-Cassie break up/pre-fence jump breakdown was that he went into his room to grab his wallet before disappearing into the Portugal countryside in the middle of the night.
While we know no one on the show is allowed to keep their cell phones, we never thought about whether or not they held onto their I.D.s or passports.
“You need your I.D. and you need stuff,” Mills said. “You don’t have a phone, but you have to have a wallet and passport and everything else.”
Who was Chris Harrison talking to on the phone after Colton jumped the fence?
As you would’ve guessed, the host called franchise creator Mike Fleiss to update him on the situation.
Did ABC freak out when they heard Colton ran off?
It’s not every day you get a phone call that the star of your show is lost. While Mills, who was not in Portugal when the fence jump occurred, said he was “obviously worried” when he heard, he didn’t realize how crazy it was until he saw the jump.
“Hearing about it, you think, well it can’t be what I am picturing in my mind, then you see the footage and it’s like, wow, it’s actually even more dramatic and impressive than I had even imagined. The reality beats your imagination.”
Once production found Colton, Mills said, “We quickly moved into triage mode of, OK, here’s how he’s feeling, here’s what he wants to do. Fortunately, we don’t make anyone go through any motions or do any dates they don’t want to.”
What was up with that scene of Colton holding a ring box in the promo?
Many fans were expecting a proposal or at least a final rose ceremony as Colton was seen holding an engagement ring in the promo that teased the rest of the season. Turns out, the franchise borrowed a move from scripted drama like Game of Thrones and shot the scene solely to throw viewers off the scent.
“I will tell you that was actually me. I had asked the producers to shoot that as a red herring basically to just shoot it because after all this had happened…we can throw people off.”
Plus, it helped keep some mystery around the much-hyped fence jump: “A lot of it was we knew the signature moment was jumping over the fence and not being able to figure out when it is or what the circumstances were. So that was why everything we could do with misdirects, we did.”
What happened to that scene of Hannah B. returning to the show after her elimination?
Another moment from the promos that was nowhere to be found when the rest of the season aired? Hannah B., our new Bachelorette, showing up after she was eliminated when Colton was in her state (Alabama) for his hometown date with Hannah Godwin.
Some theorized that producers decided to remove Hannah’s return after deciding she was the next Bachelorette because it would make her look bad or still not over Colton. (Guilty!)
Sadly, it wasn’t some big conspiracy, as the scene was “really cut for time. I wish it was something more nefarious like that, it was just as simple as sometimes 84 minutes is not enough time,” Mills explained.
And fans can expect it to “probably be put online” by ABC as a deleted scene.
Did they consider still doing a Final Rose ceremony?
Some viewers found it a bit jarring to go right from Colton and Cassie cuddling in bed after their overnight date to the couple sitting down with Chris Harrison during the live special, producers never considered still holding a Final Rose ceremony (even though they set it up and filmed Colton holding the ring box as a misdirect).
“Colton handled it really well. He was very kind of ginger with the whole thing and he knew [Cassie] was really gun-shy here and took it a step at a time,” Mills said. “I think having that final rose ceremony, even without a proposal would feel…at that point, he was just trying to win her back.”
Did Neil Lane appear and give that random couple an engagement ring during live three-hour premiere watch party because there wasn’t a proposal at the end of the season?
Another one of our conspiracy theory debunked! “Interesting, but no, that’s not how it worked,” Mills said, with the decision once again coming down to timing and logistics. “We had to fill a third hour live and what were some things we could do have real stakes? That was it, it was a proposal.
“What I had wanted to do and if we do it again, was shocking Bachelor moments,” he continued. “It could be a proposal, but it could be somebody wants to quit their job live on TV or say they’re expecting. Something that’s just one of those big Bachelor moments.”
How do they pick the contestants who get to meet the Bachelorette early?
During the last three After the Final Roses following The Bachelor finales, the new Bachelorettes have kicked off their season that night by meeting five of their suitors. Hannah Brown continued that tradition during Tuesday’s special, even handing out her first rose.
When it comes to choosing the five men who get to make their first impression early, Mills explained, “It’s seeing who has the ideas that are tailor-made for live TV, that can be very easy, that will be memorable and guys that will kind of stand out. You want to pick five guys that are all different, so you’re getting a different type of guy for each one.”
So to the rest of the men, we (and Hannah) say: try harder!
Why wasn’t there a two-on-one date this season?
One of the major and most memorable moments during any season of the show is usually the two-on-one date, where two foes are pitted against each other. One stays. One (or both) goes. Consider is Bachelor Thunderdome.
Many fans immediately assumed BFFs-turned-rivals Hannah B. and Caelynn Miller-Keyes were destined to settle their mysterious pageant beef on some remote island, it never happened. Ditto when it came to Demi Burnett and her multiple feuds, Onyeka Ehie and Nicole Lopez-Alvar‘s bullying debate and other mini clashes that went down throughout the season.
Given how epic the dates have been in the past (Who can forget Ashley Iaconetti vs. Kelsey Poe or Chad Johnson vs. Alex Woytkiw?), producers now have a high standard for which showdowns deserve the two-on-one treatment.
“One of our rules now is don’t have a two-on-one unless it’s really earned,” Mills said. “When they’re great, they’re sort of iconic. And when they’re not, you just compare them to the other ones.”
Will we continue to see more of the camera crew and producers moving forward?
Viewers have gotten quick glimpses behind the curtain in past seasons, the fourth wall cracked in a major way at the end of this season, thanks to Colton’s fence jump and the chaos that ensued. But don’t expect that wall to come crashing down.
“With the Colton thing, after the fence, there was just no way to not show the fourth wall broken and how you got there,” Mills said, adding, “It has to be situational. You don’t want to do it just to do it.”
But the franchise has become more willing to try new things in recent seasons, with Mills explaining they just have to keep the “guard rails” up, which includes simple things like having a lead, the suitors and Chris Harrison, along with hometown dates, fantasy suites, etc., with those even being considered “loose guidelines” now.
“Nothing’s off-limits, it’s just go to further story and not because, oh, this is something different or something we haven’t seen before,” Mills said.
The Bachelorette premieres Monday, May 13 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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