Brad Womack interview: “I think we’re all sick of hearing” about growth and change

Three years after appearing on The Bachelor, Brad Womack was re-cast to redeem himself, and if you haven’t heard, he is a changed man. And he is as annoyed as the rest of us by the emphasis on change (“it was beating a dead horse by the end of episode one”), and actually told producers that he might reject both women this time, too (“I’m going to walk away. I’m warning everybody.”)

I talked to Brad last week at a gathering for TV critics, and while my threshold may have been lowered after other interviews, I found him to be both exceedingly nice and very honest and self-reflective. We talked about everything from the low ratings for this season–it started with the second-lowest-rated debut ever, and lost some viewers in week two–and also about his therapy.

I wish we’d have had more time to dig into the show’s evolution since he was on it the first time, and also allegations of producer interference that have plagued it over the past few seasons, but we were able to discuss a lot, and there’s some great insight from Brad here:

Why he decided to do the show again: “I wish I could say I was tough and held out. It took me 30 minutes, man. I’m being very honest. At first I very politely declined, only because I was so used to saying no–not to the producers of The Bachelor, but everything. I hung up the phone, I picked it right back up again, and said, my god, I’m getting the chance of a lifetime for a second go around. I jumped right in, man; I felt very lucky.”

The reaction to his decision to reject both women: “I actually thought I made a decision of integrity, I really did. I thought I took the high road; I knew I was going to put myself on the hot seat, not the women. My god, the backlash, man. I knew it was going to be tough–not like that. I’ve always considered myself to live a pretty decent life and be a guy of somewhat decent morals and to be called everything under the sun–and it was all negative–it got to me, man. I can say all day long I don’t care what people think and that’s a lie; I do care what people think. It was tough, it was tough.”

Why people were upset that he didn’t just pick one of them, even if he didn’t really like her. “Never in a million years would I do that. I think what people were really upset about is the fact that I didn’t at least pursue a relationship. I think people can get over the fact that I didn’t propose, but a lot of people said, ‘Hey, look. This is The Bachelor. You knew what you were getting into; you knew what was expected of you. At least give one of the women a shot. Who do you think you are to walk away?’ … In hindsight, I kind of understand that. Now, I don’t regret it, because in the same hindsight I realized that relationship would have lasted all of three months, and we would have been yet another Bachelor statistic. So in a lot of ways, I’m proud; in a lot of ways, I realized maybe I could have tweaked it or done something different.”

Is there pressure to select someone this time because of the reaction? “Buddy, I promise you, I promise you–I’m not a guy who feels pressure, I’m really not, especially for something that serious. I even told everybody involved when I was first asked to be back: ‘Look, I don’t know how I can even say this, but if I don’t feel it at the end, I’m going to walk away. I’m warning everybody.’ They were gracious enough to allow me to say that, to allow me to go through this entire journey on my own. And I promise you, I felt no pressure. This decision for me was a very easy one. I’m so happy, man; it worked out really well.”

Reality Steve’s reports about what happens on his season and other online gossip. “I’ve heard this. I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t hear everything out there. I never, and I mean never–and this began last time when I was on the show–I never Google, I never go online, I never go even to the local market to pick up a magazine. Never; I just don’t do it. I’m getting some things trickling in, and it’s fun for me to hear, and some are right, some aren’t right. Some are true, some are completely false. It’s fun for me, man, but I’ve heard the rumors, I have.”

The marketing for this season about his growth and change. “I made that bed. I did need to change. I really did go through therapy. All of that was not lip service. Whatever I said at the beginning. And still going through therapy, believe it or not. I realized I really did need to make a change. It’s kind of one of those statements that guys really can change, even guys at my age–now I’m hearing I’m an old guy, I never thought I was an old guy, but now I’m hearing it.

Now do I think it was beating a dead horse by the end of episode one? Yeah. I’m admit it, man. In fact, no, not even toward the end: about halfway through, I was thinking, ‘You gotta be kidding me, man. You gotta let go!’ But the women were asking questions that they deserved to ask, they were entitled to ask; we moved forward, so there’s very very little talk about change in the following episodes. Thank god, man. I think we’re all sick of hearing it.”

Why the show has low ratings. “I don’t know; I’ve heard that. I actually take that–I really care about that particular franchise. Now here I go with making excuses: I know they were up against Two and a Half Men, which is huge, some other movie–I’m using an excuse. I’m telling you, I’m admitting that. And now we’re competing with a national championship, for god’s sake. I hope people start to come around. I hope it’s not a result of my bad decisions last time, because I truly care for that franchise. Hopefully people will come around and start watching. But I have heard that. Again, man, I’ll tell you how it is: It hurts me. It hurts me to hear that; I take it on the chin, man. I take it personally, so hopefully people will come around.”

What his therapy focuses on: “Everything. The thing about it: The Bachelor brought everything to light, but it was more about, A lot of very good relationships in my past had ended, and I was the common denominator in that. So if I was that guy, I wanted to analyze that, figure out what mistakes I made and if I was the cause of those ending, I wanted to fix that. I didn’t want to be alone; I don’t want to be alone. It was all about me, unfortunately. Again, that’s one thing I can’t blame on The Bachelor. It’s all me, and that’s one of those things; I take it on the chin.”

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.