Mainers who like the spiced-up melodrama of ABC’s “The Bachelor” are going to love watching Chelsea Roy.
The single mom from South Portland strutted on to the season premiere Jan. 1, and within hours, reality TV columnists and bloggers were calling her this year’s villain, a woman who doesn’t care how nasty or aggressive she needs to be to win the attention of the show’s title character.
The show is a cultural phenomenon, where millions of TV viewers get to watch a couple dozen women vying for the love of one man. He goes on dates with them, in groups and one on one, and couples even spend time in “fantasy suites” overnight together.
So as this season of “The Bachelor” heats up in a frigid Maine winter, here’s what you need to know to follow Roy and the show this season, Mondays at 8 p.m. The show will likely air into March, but how long Roy stays in the running for love is anyone’s guess.
WHO IS CHELSEA ROY?
Roy, 29, lists her occupation as a real estate executive assistant and her home as South Portland on her official ABC bio. She has a 3-year-old son, named Sammy. On dates, she said, she fears over the top public displays of affection and “dead silence.”
Interviews are tightly controlled by the show for contestants, but Roy did give one to Glamour magazine, in which she talked about wanting to be on “The Bachelor.” She said that ever since separating from her son’s father, “my girlfriends kept harassing me that I need to go on The Bachelor.” After two years of being single, she decided she was ready to try and find love and thought dating a man competitively before millions of TV viewers would be a great way to do it.
The man she’ll be trying to win over, this season’s “Bachelor” star, is 36-year-old race car driver Arie Luyendyk. When asked why she’d be the ideal partner for Luyendyk, she answered “wisdom” adding that she’s “more or less an old soul.” She said she did very little research about Luyendyk, about his background or interests, and trusted that ABC “would not choose someone that is not responsible or a good guy, to say the least.”
WHY ARE PEOPLE CALLING HER THE SHOW’S VILLAIN?
On the season premiere Jan. 1, she was aggressive and brash, which on reality TV, are star qualities. She was the first of the women to kiss Luyendyk with tongues touching and the first woman to get a rose, the vaunted “first impression rose.” The bachelor gives out roses to women on each episode, to signify who will survive another week. The rose-less go home.
Some of her lines on the show helped her garner national attention as a reality TV villain. She told Luyendyk, after all her firsts on the show, that “I hope to be your last.” She said on camera that she’s not competitive by nature, “but when I see something that I want, I go after it.” At one point, she said, “this mama means business.”
On the second episode Monday, she drew the ire of other contestants when she quickly swept Luyendyk away from a cocktail party for some one-on-one time — what another woman deemed “classic Chelsea” — so she could tell him that she has a son. When she returned, others took issue with her devaluing the sacrifices they have made to be on the show, just because she has a child.
HOW DOES THE SHOW WORK?
The season began Jan. 1 with 29 women meeting Luyendyk, in a California mansion. At the end of the episode, after meeting them all, he gave roses to 21, meaning they would continue on the show for another episode. The number of roses varies each week, as does the number of women who go home, but the show usually airs every week until at least mid-March. As of Jan. 8, Roy had made it through two episodes while 11 of her competitors have been sent home. On episodes, women are seen mingling with the bachelor, going on dates with him, and near the end of the season, visiting their families with him. Couples are seen kissing, but not everything that happens is seen on TV. Cameras are not allowed during the “fantasy suite” dates that take place. The season currently airing was filmed in about two months, between late September and the end of November.
WHAT’S THE GOAL?
At the end of the season the bachelor picks one woman to propose to, or at least to date after the show ends. Since the show began in 2002, only two couples that met during filming are still together. Both are married. The odds seem to be better on the spin-off “The Bachelorette” where a woman picks the men. Of the 13 couples formed at the end of “Bachelorette” seasons, six have stayed together.
WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO GO THROUGH THIS?
While contestants don’t get paid for being on the shows, those who win or become finalists reportedly do. Some winners have gotten $100,000, according to reality TV columnists and bloggers. And finalists and winners get more money-making opportunities, including being invited on all sorts of TV talk shows and celebrity vehicles like “Dancing with the Stars,” which come with a paycheck. Some contestants have written books about their experiences. If a woman finishes in the top two or three on “The Bachelor” they might get picked to star in “The Bachelorette,” and get paid. And if they get married to someone they met on the show, the show foots at least some of the bill. Madawaska native Ashley Hebert was a runner-up on “The Bachelor,” then starred in “The Bachelorette” and ended up marrying J.P. Rosenbaum in 2012. The wedding was filmed and shown on ABC. Hebert said the network didn’t pay for everything, though she wouldn’t be more specific. Today, she and Rosenbaum have two children.
So finding love and a family in the white-hot spotlight of a reality TV show just might be possible.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Mondays, likely through mid-March.
WHERE: ABC stations, locally on Portland station WMTW, Channel 8
WHY: South Portland’s Chelsea Roy, 29, is competing on the show this year. In the first episode, Jan. 1, her brash comments and aggressive nature prompted reality TV columnists and bloggers to annoint her as this season’s villain.
Bios on Roy and all her competitors, plus videos and info about this season of the “The Bachelor” can be found on the ABC website.