The rose ceremony is a thing of infinite "Bachelor" lore. At its heart, it's essentially a live-action version of swiping left or right on Tinder, but it's also a place of tears and triumph, a place where love at first sight seems possible, especially in the beginning. There's a palpable tension in the eyes of every Bachelor who's assigned roses to a sea of nearly identical strangers, staying barely afloat in their hair extensions and ballroom gowns. If we didn't know otherwise, we could imagine a world in which the rose ceremony single-handedly drives the majority of America's Kleenex sales. At least, that's what it looks like on TV.
What makes the rose ceremony so good is that almost none of it seems real, which certainly helps fuel a not-so-insignificant number of "Bachelor" conspiracy theories. How does the bachelor remember the names of dozens of contestants, many of whom he has barely acknowledged on camera? Is it a monarchy, the lone bachelor standing as the mansion's true king, or is it more of a democracy where the producers have a heavy-handed say in who stays and who leaves? Surely, that's the only explanation behind how Victoria Larson could've possibly made it any length of time in Season 25.
In our search for answers, one "Bachelor" contestant finally accepted our rose. Season 21's Alexis Waters — known for her infectious IDGAF attitude and ersatz dolphin costume — sat down with Nicki Swift to dish on the truth behind "The Bachelor's" infamous rose ceremony.
"The Bachelor" is a perfect storm for conspiracy theories and debates. It's not as outwardly produced as something like "Love Island," but doesn't feel as authentic as a series like "90 Day Fiancé" (even though we've come to know that's not exactly rife with documentary-quality truth). Most recently, fans watching Season 25 developed a theory alleging that the names of contestants were pre-written on the rose's stems. It's not a leap considering that when a bachelor plucks a rose from the pile, he typically stares down at it while twisting the stem in his hands, almost as if he's looking for a word.
Sadly, that patented wistful gaze is just some careful editing. As Waters revealed, editors are heavy-handed with the rose ceremony and the producers are fully involved every step of the way. "He leaves the room, and then the producers tell them the names," Alexis Waters tells Nicki Swift. "So then he walks back in, but they don't show that on TV." So that's how he "remembers" all the contestants' names!
The rose ceremony is inherently glamorous. There are few places you'll see so many beautiful people in evening gowns short of a red carpet (not to mention that they're in a literal mansion that's been known to cost $6,000 a night on Airbnb). Rarely is there a crack in the ceremony's glossy veneer, with Victoria Larson's exposed bra serving as a rare tip-off that maybe everything isn't what it seems on the surface.
As Alexis Waters tells us, the ceremony is sometimes at odd hours of the day. Her first ceremony was at "6:00 a.m. because the first night is all night long." At the same time, contestants aren't always as perfectly manicured as they look. Think of it as your secret sweatpants hidden behind your work-from-home Zoom. "From my waist down, I was soaking wet because I went into the pool," she says. It just goes to show you, don't believe everything you see on TV.
You can catch Alexis Waters on S'More TV or follow her on Instagram and Twitter.