After accepting many roses from Ben Higgins on ABC’s "The Bachelor," Lauren Bushnell’s journey ended with the bachelor on bended knee, sealing the deal with a ring and proposal. So what happened to the happy couple when the pomp and glitz of helicopter rides and expensive dinners came to an end? They tell me life is anything but normal -- and promise to reveal the realities of post-reality TV in their new eight-part series "Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?" premiering October 11 on ABC’s sister network Freeform.
No matter how private Ben and Lauren hoped their post-show lives would be, it simply wasn’t going to be the case. “The truth is, we believed we’d go back to doing everything we had done before,” Ben said earlier this week in an exclusive interview for MediaVillage. “Yes, we met on The Bachelor, but that's where that story ended.” Or so they thought.
While Higgins admits the situation isn’t “ideal or normal” for a new relationship, it’s the life they’ve chosen. “Why not have fun with the show?” he mused. In other words, why fight it? The reality is, a simple trip to the grocery store usually involves an impromptu interrogation from a Bachelor fan. “‘When’s the wedding?’ ‘When are you having kids?’ Those are pretty direct questions and the ones we are most often asked,” Ben said with a laugh.
For what it's worth, I couldn’t get answers either, despite my polite persistent prodding.
“Those questions just aren’t answered yet,” Ben continued. “Just like most relationships, the day you get engaged you don’t have a wedding date set. That’s not how it works.”
“The kids question is easy,” added Lauren, who finds the interest flattering. “We just say we need to get married first. [As for] the wedding question, we explain that we only just recently got engaged and we want to enjoy the engagement and when the time is right everyone will know. Honestly, we’re focused on the projects in front of us and a little bit of wedding planning -- just in very broad strokes. We don't have a date set. Is [the wedding] being televised? There’s nothing set in stone, but the conversations are happening and we’re trying to figure out what's best for us and what we want.”
“If our lives are going to be in the public eye outside of The Bachelor why not take a really good opportunity for Lauren and I as a couple?” Ben mused about Happily Ever After?. “To not only show the world what we are like, but also help our fans to see our lives.” He revealed that there had been talk about a follow-up show since the end of their run on The Bachelor. “Would it be fun? Would it be beneficial? Would fans of The Bachelor and people enjoy seeing a Bachelor couple outside of the show? It ended up being, ‘Let's jump on board and see if people like the idea.’ People did!”
“I definitely had my reservations,” Lauren shared. “I was going through a lot of changes; a move to Denver and stepping back from my job as flight attendant as I wasn't able to work in such a public setting because life was so crazy. I thought, ‘Oh gosh, do I really want to add another element to that?’ Out of the two of us I'm a little bit more introverted and definitely a little more private, so it was definitely a challenge. But accepting a new challenge would only make me stronger and I’d learn more about myself. So that opened my eyes and made me give it the green light. I'm so glad I did it.”
Ben and Lauren both insist they won’t join the unfortunate ranks of reality TV relationship failures that have come before them, all of which imploded after couples shared intimate details on screen (think of Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, and numerous pairings in Bravo’s expansive Real Housewivesfranchise). “We’ve definitely had [conversations about those shows],” Lauren admitted. “After going through it we do have an understanding of it and the challenges and pressure it puts on a relationship. We decided early on, if it ever got to the point our relationship was in jeopardy we would gladly take a step back. Our relationship was always going to be at the forefront.”
On the subject of over-sharing, Lauren admitted she learned a valuable lesson early on concerning social media and how naively sharing things like one's location could easily lead to bad experiences like Kim Kardashian’s recent ordeal in Paris.
“I remember when we first got off the show and we were in New York,” she recalled. “I’d just gotten Snapchat, and I posted a Snapchat at dinner, never thinking that millions of people would see it. We walked out to 50 people wanting to say hi and take a selfie.” Fortunately their experience was a pleasant one, but Lauren admitted, “It did make me think a lot more about how we really need to be careful about what we share. It is a concern. Thankfully Ben doesn’t do a lot of social media.”
Happily Ever After? also features some familiar faces from The Bachelor like host Chris Harrison, whom the couple described as “a close friend,” and JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rogers (who provide closure for Lauren). Fans will recall that Ben and Lauren's happy ending was actually filled with much social media-fueled drama, as demonstrative members of #bachelornation were furious that Ben had previously professed his love to Bachelor runner-up JoJo Fletcher! (Of course, even though JoJo left The Bachelor heartbroken, she returned to ABC on The Bachelorette and did indeed find love with Jordan.)
The new series provides an insightful look into Ben and Lauren as real people, focusing on their faith, moral standards and belief in being truthful.
Ben is looking forward to sharing all of that with viewers. “Whatever is truthful about our relationship we don't mind showing,” he concluded. “We wouldn't want anything to be shown or done that isn't truthful to who we are. How that will work is not really up to us, but Lauren and I do want to stay pure to who we are and stay as morally grounded as possible.”
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