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What’s it like to be sent home the very first night of The Bachelor?

In entertainment, an awful lot of stuff happens behind closed doors, from canceling TV shows to organizing music festival lineups. While the public sees the end product on TVs, movie screens, paper, or radio dials, they don’t see what it took to get there. In Expert Witness, The A.V. Club talks to industry insiders about the actual business of entertainment in hopes of shedding some light on how the pop-culture sausage gets made.

Going on The Bachelor would likely be a surreal situation under any circumstances. But imagine going home the very first night: That whirlwind scenario is what happened to Isabel “Izzy” Goodkind, a graphic designer from New York who packed up her life and headed off to California for a shot at televised love, only to have the whole experience begin and end in one evening. Due to agreements signed with ABC, there were certain things Goodkind wasn’t able to share with us, which were vetted by the ABC press rep who accompanied her, so a number of our questions were simply met with a “Sorry, I can’t talk about that,” meaning some of the details of the experience were left a mystery. Nonetheless, Goodkind was extremely personable, and happy to relate whatever she could about the fascinating and bizarre process of going through one long night of vying for the attention of a guy in front of network cameras.

The A.V. Club: When did this process begin for you? How did you come to the decision of, “You know what? I’m going to apply to be on The Bachelor.

Isabel Goodkind: I believe it was over a year ago. I honestly don’t remember applying. I may have done a short application when I was watching [last year’s bachelor] Chris Soules’ season. I had just gotten out of a two-year relationship, so I remember being infatuated with Chris Soules and his season, and I was just like, “You know what? I really want to find love again.” I was in that mindset, so I do recall maybe applying online in a short application, just name, email. Not even a photo, I don’t believe.

Then this past March, I was contacted by a casting director. That’s when I was like, “You know what? Why not?” I went with it.

AVC: When they contacted you, had it been long enough that you had forgotten about applying?

IG: Exactly, yeah. I was blown away when I got the email, but I was very excited. I said, “If they’re interested in having me try out,” I was interested in just going with it. I was 24—now 25—and I was like, “You know, what not just try?”

AVC: Were a lot of friends and family surprised? Many people would be scared by the thought of going on national television like that.

IG: My family and friends were shocked that I was contacted, but they were super supportive. All my family and friends know how big of a fan I am of the show, and they know how great of a person I am, and how caring and loving and willing I am to share my life with somebody. So, they said, “If you’re going to find love in this odd but interesting way, we are fully supportive of you. If it goes in your favor, then that would be amazing.”

AVC: A lot of people are skeptical when it comes to reality TV and what the intentions of those on it are. Did you have very clear intentions going in, or was it more, “This is just a unique experience”?

IG: I definitely thought it’s a very unique experience, so why not try and do it? And if in the process I find love with Ben or whoever—at the time I didn’t know who the bachelor was—but in the end, when I found out it was Ben, I was so excited. I said, “If this process leads to me finding my husband, then I am so into it. If it doesn’t work out between me and the bachelor, then it was a great experience that not many people can say that they went through.” So, I definitely went in with an open mind and an open heart expecting to find love, and if not, an amazing experience.

AVC: Given the history of the relationships from The Bachelor, did you also maintain a skepticism of the odds of success?

IG: I wasn’t skeptical at all. I went in definitely thinking it could work for me, but you have to go in with a mindset knowing that there are going to be a lot of other women competing for the love of the same man, and you have to keep your mind in the right place knowing that you’re not the only one there trying to fight for Ben’s love. I had to separate that, even though I didn’t make it past night one. I had to go in knowing that I wasn’t the only woman there trying to fall in love with Ben. I had to continually remind myself that there were other women there, and it wasn’t just me and him. I definitely wasn’t skeptical; you had to go in very open-minded. If I had lasted longer, I would have had to separate my relationship between me and him and the other women.

AVC: When they first reached out to you, does it start as a cold call? What did they interview you about when they first contacted you?

IG: It was just a basic interview about me. I sent them photos, and a video of myself and my friends, and what I like to do on the weekends. It was really fun. I enjoyed making the video. It was just me being myself. They genuinely wanted to know me for who I was. That was really nice.

AVC: How many rounds of interviews were there?

IG: I don’t remember exactly. I was back and forth with tons of photos and videos with the casting director. It was over a few months. I can’t say exactly how many times, but it was definitely a lot of back and forth.

AVC: Was there a final in-person one, or was it just mostly the accumulated pictures and videos and conversations you’d had with them?

IG: I had met with them in person twice prior to getting my final answer.

AVC: Do they fly you out for that?

IG: Yes, they did.

AVC: Once they tell you you’ll be on the show, how much time is there for you to prep before they fly you out to start shooting?

IG: It was pretty quick. Just assuming that it was going to be a yes, I had prepped myself for months, just in case, because I really wasn’t sure when I was going to get that call. So, I gave myself some time. If it was a yes, then I was ready, and if it was no, then I would unpack. [Laughs.] I prepped myself for a while.

AVC: How do you pack? You know you might have to be there for a more than a month or so in total. Do you have to pack everything that you might need for that entire time?

IG: Yeah. You don’t know how long you’re going to be there. So, I packed my life up for a long time. I packed for all types of weather. We’re not given any information. It’s just as much a surprise for us as it is for the viewers when it’s aired. I packed for all different types of climates and activities. Sneakers and heels and dresses. I packed everything possible.

So yeah, that was stressful, especially not knowing right away if it was a yes or a no. I just tried to prepare myself as much as possible for when I got that answer.

AVC: So, when do you first meet the other women?

IG: It’s directly in the limo. First time ever meeting them.

AVC: Before you get in the limo—during makeup and everything—what’s going through your head?

IG: I mean, everybody was in the same boat. We didn’t really know what to expect. We weren’t told much. We just went along with whatever was happening, to be honest. I was a little nervous, but I kind of just went with it. There was no turning back now. I guess I could have, but I was ready for it, and I was excited. I was more excited than anything—just to meet Ben and get in there and meet all the girls and just experience the whole opportunity.

AVC: What do you talk about when you’re sitting in the limo waiting for your turn to go out?

IG: It was nervous chit-chat. At that point, we were all mic’d, so I think that’s when it hit us that anything we said could have been aired. We were all just rambling off about how nervous we would be and how excited we were. The girls in my limo and I said some pretty ridiculous things which weren’t aired, thank God. It was so exciting. We were all very nervous, but it was the first time we had met each other, so we were all in the same boat. We were really supportive of each other. You know, “You look great. You’re beautiful. Your hair is fine, don’t worry about it. You need a little lipstick.” I kind of just got the chills talking about it, because that was so exciting.

AVC: As far as getting out of the limo, how involved are producers and stuff in that? For example, yours was pretty distinctive because you chose to wear pajamas. Was that a thing where you came to them and said, “This is what I want to do”? Or did they have suggestions for what you might want to try?

IG: Going into it, I had a gown, shoes, earrings, I had the whole deal planned out. Then, about two hours before, I said, “You know…” My original idea had a little bit of a copyright issue, so we weren’t sure if we could do it. As a backup, I was like, “I could wear this onesie that I have.” It kind of just came about. The producers loved it, and we just went with it. It was two hours before—it was a very last minute decision. You know, I did it for a reason; I don’t regret it at all. I just went in with it being myself. I have no regrets. Everyone is asking me, “Do you think you would have lasted longer if you had a dress on?” I say, “I will never know,” and that’s okay. All I can say is that I was myself, and that’s all that matters to me. If Ben wasn’t going to love me or want to get to know me more because I was wearing pajamas, then he wasn’t the one for me.

AVC: You said there might have been a copyright issue with your first idea. Do you mind my asking what it was that you ended up not being able to do?

IG: I’m a graphic designer, so I know from social media and stuff prior to going on the show that Ben likes to drink whisky. So, as a graphic designer, I had this idea of taking a little mini Jack Daniels bottle and recreating the label into all things related to the show, so it said “Ben Higgins” instead of “Jack Daniels.” It said “The Bachelor 20” instead of “Whisky number,” whatever it is. Instead of Tennessee, I wrote Los Angeles. I just kind of recreated the logo in a creative way with information about the season, and the barcode had our date on it. It was really, really clever. In our one-on-one time, I was able to give it to him, but originally, we were unsure if I was able to give it to him outside of the limo. That’s where the backup plan came in. [Laughs.] A very different backup plan, but it was a plan.

AVC: So that whole time you’re waiting in the limo with your pajamas on, right? Did you have a sense of how much time was passing, how long it felt like you were waiting in the limo prior to getting out?

IG: There were four girls in my limo. I was the last one out, and it was so nerve-wracking. Each girl that came out before me was in a gorgeous gown. I was like, “Oh God, what am I doing? What am I doing?” And then the second I got out, I don’t remember a thing. It was so exciting. It was the first time I had actually seen Ben in person. It was a crazy, crazy feeling. It felt like a long time. It really went by very fast.

AVC: How much did you try and pre-plan what you were going to say to him in that first encounter?

IG: I had the whole, “Are you the onesie for me?” line planned out. That was definitely what I was going to say. But I didn’t know if I was going to forget to say my name, or say where I’m from, or ask him how he was, or give him a hug. I had none of that planned out, and I tried not to plan it out because if I had a script in my head, I would have blanked, and it wouldn’t have been as natural as it went. So, I’m kind of glad I just went with it. It felt fine.

AVC: Were you hyper-aware of the lights and cameras being on you, or is it so surreal that you almost don’t notice them?

IG: Stepping out of the limo, I didn’t notice them at all. I was just so overwhelmed at the feeling that I did not see them.

AVC: After that first encounter, when you you walk inside the house, do you play the waiting game again? Is it back to the nervous chit-chat, or do you all feel a little more comfortable at that point?

IG: I mean, we all got to know each other. It was the first time we were seeing the girls that weren’t in your limo. You really just got to talk to the girls a lot and really get to know everybody. It was a waiting game. It depended on when you got to the house because there were still women coming in from the limos. It really depended on your timing, but yeah.

AVC: While you’re waiting for everybody else to come into the house, were you just sitting on the couch? Did you have any ways to calm yourself down?

IG: Yeah, you could definitely get a drink. There was food. If they wanted to have a glass of wine, they could. If they didn’t, they didn’t. Everyone was kind of just sitting around, looking around the house. You know, observing our surroundings and getting to know each other. It was really cool. I wasn’t as nervous once I got in there and started talking to girls. Again, everyone is in the same boat, so we were all getting everybody’s names down, and talking about where we were from. Everyone was so giddy-excited. It was really fun. The energy was really high.

AVC: Once Ben comes in, there’s that brief time where he’s speaking to all of you, but then he starts the one-on-one meetings. Did the women discuss who would get up and talk to him in what order?

IG: It was very spontaneous. As you see in the first episode, Mandi grabbed him first, and that’s exactly how it happened. I think everyone wanted to keep it to themselves because they wanted to get that one-on-one time. It kind of just unraveled throughout the night. They filmed for a very, very, very long time. It was very exhausting. Everyone was eager to talk to him, but everyone did get time with him. It was really nice that Ben made sure that he got to speak to each and every girl. He was so genuine in the fact that he wanted to get to know every single person that was there for him.

AVC: While you’re waiting for your chance to go up and speak to him, are you also again thinking about, “Okay, so I got through the first meeting. Now what are we going to talk about this time?”

IG: Yeah, running through my mind, I knew I was able to share the Jack Daniels bottle on our one-on-one time, which was awesome. I was really excited to share that with him. I kind of went over it in my head what I was going to say to him, and explain how this relates to us, and how it relates to my career and my passion and what job I left to come here. I truly really felt that he was worth leaving my life behind. That was all running through my mind, but I also knew that there were 29 other girls that I also wanted to get to know and see what I was up against or who I would become friends with on the show.

It was definitely a nerve-wracking night. I didn’t know when the rose ceremony was going to be, nor did I know when I was going to talk to him, or if I was going to get to be able to talk to him. That was really, really stressful at one point. It was really, really late in the night. I didn’t know when they were going to hold the rose ceremony. I felt like, “Oh no, what if I don’t get this chance with him?” Then I’m going to go home without even getting to talk to him.” So, that was really stressful. In the end, I was able to have my one-on-one time with him and explain to him what I had made, and he loved it. It was a very genuine conversation, and I felt really good about it. So, going home in the end of that night was shocking for me.

AVC: Speaking of which, the rose ceremony itself seems like it only takes mere minutes. Is that how long it felt to you as well? Or does it take a little while longer than that?

IG: It definitely takes a little while longer, as you can imagine. There’s a lot of girls and a lot of names. He has a lot to think about. This is night one. He doesn’t get an extreme amount of time with each girl, so he has a lot to think about. I can only imagine what was going through his head. I’m sure it was extremely, extremely stressful for him.

AVC: By this point, I assume it’s very late, or rather, very early in the morning.

IG: Oh yeah. It was so emotionally draining. You were so high-strung, excited, nervous, anxious, and so by that time, I was just anxious to know if I was going home. I was so, so anxious.

AVC: Once you’re cut, do you just head straight out and wait for the exit interview at that point, or do you have a little time to compose your thoughts?

IG: No, it was right away.

AVC: So you walked out the door, and the cameras were right there, and you have to talk about what just happened.

IG: And that was after going through months of applications, and videos, and back and forth, and giving up my job, and leaving my life behind, and for it all to come out beneath me overnight was so overwhelming. That was, I think, the hardest for me, wrapping my head around that I had just gone through so much to get here, and it was over within 13 hours. That was the hardest part for me. They didn’t show my exit interview on air. They actually didn’t even show me saying goodbye to Ben, which I thought was funny. I definitely went out as gracefully as I came in, if you could say that. I tried not to tear up. I tried not to get upset, but it was emotionally so exhausting—the whole process is exhausting, but then again, just the whole evening with all your emotions and anxieties and excitement. My emotions and my feelings—I was just so overwhelmed that I can’t really explain to you how I felt. It was so, so overwhelming.

AVC: What was the aftermath for you? Did you need time to process everything that had happened?

IG: I took some time. I stayed in California for five days. I considered staying out there; I had nothing really holding me back here. I was considering moving out there and starting a graphic design job out there. I really just took time to unwind. I took a vacation with my girlfriend that was out there at the time, came back to Connecticut where I stayed with my parents for five days, couldn’t take it anymore, and then said, “I’m moving to New York City.” And I’ve been here ever since. I’m currently doing freelance graphic design. I have an apartment with my best friend from high school, and I couldn’t be happier.

I think about where this took me. This is where I am now because I went home night one. I’m very happy and very content where I am in my life. I do think about what if it had lasted one more week, or what if I lasted two more episodes? I wouldn’t necessarily be where I am right now. That’s interesting to me to think about—that because I went home night one, and I stayed in L.A. for five days, I’m here right now because of it, and I’m very, very happy. I’ve met some great people, been hanging out in New York City from The Bachelor family, which has been great. It’s been a really great experience. I would not have changed anything.

AVC: If they asked you, would you go on Bachelor In Paradise?

IG: That’s been a hot question lately. I would most definitely consider it. I spoke to one of the producers the other day before the premiere. We talked about it. I would definitely consider it. It would depend on the circumstances, and where I’m at in my career and all that. So, it really depends, but I would go into anything I’m offered with an open mind.