Guilty Secret #1: I can’t wait for Mondays. Until now that is, because after tonight, there’ll be no more escaping to Mexico for my weekly sexcapades. Now that Bachelor in Paradise – that glorious show featuring scorned bachelors and bachelorettes hooking up on the beach in hopes of finding love or even just lust – is reaching its climax (bahaha), Mondays will suck again. It’s been a great ride for The Bachelor faithfuls like me.
Besides developing a unique appreciation for roses and abs, I still can’t get over the sheer number of beautiful people eager to bare all onscreen – from the inside out (sobs, screams, scandals) to the outside in (skinny dip anyone?) all in name of love/fame. Every episode, I’m in awe. Of course, you can’t watch this show without a healthy dose of skepticism. What’s happening behind the sordid scenes? How much of the dialogue is staged? Are these reality stars that good looking in reality? Are their relationships real? Do the couples French kiss bye-bye on finale night? Here’s my Paradise:
In a roomful of bachelors, I get to shimmy from one handsome face to the next, questions in hand. And guess what? I was there, just in time for finale night.
Although I almost fainted from the heat, here’s the inside scoop on Bachelor in Paradise, straight from the (luscious) lips of Robert Graham, Zack Kalter, Graham Bunn, Chris Bukowski and Michael Stagliano.
First impression? Holy hotter than on TV. Holy magnetism. Holy producers who know what they’re doing.
ROBERT GRAHAM – Sweet Hunk Season Desiree, Bachelor in Paradise Robert vanished way too soon from Desiree’s season and although I remember shaking my fist at the TV when he was speeding off in the Sucker’s Limo, all I have to say after meeting him is Her Loss. Same goes this season for Lacy. This guy is beyond gorgeous. So gorgeous that it’s really hard to stop thinking about how gorgeous he is and focus on what he’s saying.
IN ROBERT’S WORDS Originally, I went on The Bachelor because my best friend’s girlfriend nominated me. That season pretty much sucked and I didn’t last long, but Bachelor in Paradise has been amazing. Anything you want, you get. You’re treated like royalty. You want four gallons of champagne and a tent for a date, no problem. It’s very easy to get romantic in a spot as beautiful as Tulum, Mexico. Sarah and I had a real connection and a lot of fun there. We are good friends now and we actually live just a few miles apart in LA. The producers really know what they’re doing. They ask us who we really like and want to meet, so it’s not a coincidence when the very person you were hoping would show up is walking toward you on the beach. We all had a fantastic time. Well, maybe not Chris who injured his leg, or Zack at first when Clare was yelling at him all the time…but it was a real party.
ZACK KALTER – Ol’ Blue Eyes Season Desiree, Bachelor in Paradise Desiree made another blunder when she let this guy go. He’s taller and broader than he looks on TV and his eyes are so deeply blue that’s it’s impossible to break his gaze, not even to take notes. Mainly, I wanted to know how he felt inside the Clare-Jackie triangle. Was it as tangled as it looked?
IN ZACK’S WORDS (as I remember them) Many ex-contestants know each other because we mix in the same circle. I had met Clare a few times and we’d gone out as friends. She was one of the women I was hoping would be in Mexico and so was Jackie. Once we were on the show, Clare made it clear that she wanted an exclusive relationship. I gave it a try but she seemed to get serious fast. She’s 33 and I’m 29. She’s really ready for marriage and kids and although that’s what I want too, I’m in no rush. I knew I had to let her go as soon as I realized we wouldn’t have the future she envisioned. But we have seen each other since the show and all is well. Jackie is a really cool girl. We have the same laid back, even-keeled vibe. The problem for us was we ran out of time. Now she’s in Florida and I’m in LA, and that’s hard.
GRAHAM BUNN – Southern Gentleman Season DeAnna, Bachelor Pad 2 When Bachelorette DeAnna first saw this guy, you could see it on her face. Season over. Meeting Graham, I can see why she fell so fast. He’s classy, the kind of man who catches your eye and winks, who always holds doors open. So how come the harder DeAnna fell for his Southern charm, the colder Graham’s feet became until they practically raced for the door? His next puzzling choices – over-the-top Michelle and possessive AshLee – now have us wondering where he’s headed. What’s up, Graham?
IN GRAHAM’S WORDS DeAnna did fall hard for me and I shared her feelings. If I was in my life then where I am now we would probably be married but basically, she was ready and I wasn’t. She actually married Michael Stagliano’s twin brother and we are still in touch. We don’t talk about those days, and now she looks at him in a way that she never looked at me. Michelle and I are friends. We tried the love route and it didn’t work for us. I was so physically attracted to AshLee the second I met her, especially to her smile. After that, I wasn’t closed off to other potential relationships and apparently there were women interested in me, but she shut that down. And that was fine with me because she’s beautiful and sweet. Yes, she said some things that frustrated me, but on the show, she is kind of a victim of editing.
CHRIS BUKOWSKI – Handsome Devil Season Emily, Bachelor Pad 3 Chris wasn’t always the reality villain he is today. In fact, on Emily’s season, he made it all the way to hometown dates. Lucky for me, I met the friendly, charming Chris, not the devil who emerged on Bachelor Pad 3 (poor, poor Jamie, now on Married At First Sight, another must-watch). Chris’ reputation followed him to Paradise, where he quickly scooped up Elyse and asked her to go home with him when he injured his knee, ending both their journeys. Will the real Chris please stand up?
IN CHRIS’ WORDS I haven’t had a real connection with someone on the show since Emily. She was smoking hot. I guess I’m still looking for that girl, and that’s why I’m here in Toronto. Elyse and I had chemistry at first but it didn’t last. I thought it might, but it really didn’t. We got back, and after a few days, it was clear. She’s a sweet girl but she’s not for me. I know I’ve been cast as a villain. So what? I love being the bad guy. (Insert smirk here.) Everyone loves a good villain.
MICHAEL STAGLIANO – Married Man Season Jillian, Winner of Bachelor Pad 2 Meet Michael and you’ll probably get a hug right away. He’s that sweetheart you feel like you’ve known forever, the guy who stops mid-sentence to say you’ve got beautiful eyes. Now happily married, Michael had a rocky ride – first failing to make that love connection with Jillian then making the mistake of appearing on Bachelor Pad 2 with ex-fiancee, Holly. Instead of a repaired bond, he left with a shattered heart after Holly dumped him for Blake then got engaged on the reunion show. How are you, Michael?
IN MICHAEL’S WORDS Jillian was such a cool girl but it wasn’t in the cards for us. On Bachelor Pad, Holly and I were rekindling and making out and then all of a sudden, there she was with Blake. The hardest part was that she went and got engaged and didn’t even tell me. It was crushing. Now we are both happily married, and I wish her well, but I don’t have any contact with her. I had to cut that one off cold turkey. It was a brutal six months and I’m glad it’s over. But it’s unbelievable how supportive the fans of the show were when it happened.
SO GUYS, TELL US: IS THE SHOW STAGED? Is the show authentic? IThe bachelors say that’s 20-80. Twenty per cent of the time the producers are right in there, stirring the pot – Go ask her this, Why not do that? – and the rest is just, well, just as you see it. Hot as Hell – or Paradise – depending on your chemistry.
How will it all end? Watch the finale tonight at 8pm on ABC and let’s tweet through the heat. Together, well find out which love connections last and which ones crash…