Amy Anzel is a 28-year-old actress and production coordinator from New York with an Ivy League degree and a fulfilling career. She's also one of 15 semifinalists on TV's latest and perhaps most cringe-inducing reality show: ABC's "The Bachelor." A watered-down version of Fox's much-maligned "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire," the show features Alex, a bona fide Harvard grad (with no known criminal history) as he shops for a potential bride over the course of six episodes. Not surprisingly, ABC calls him one of America's most desirable bachelors.
Last week, 8.6 million viewers watched as Anzel was chosen from the original group of 25 to go through to the next stage of competition to capture Alex's heart. This Monday, she'll face the next round. Anzel spoke to NEWSWEEK's Julie Scelfo about what made her become a contestant.
Newsweek: Why on earth did you decide to go on this show?
Anzel: It was just another way to meet somebody. I'm sick of the scene. I've done bars, I've done clubs, I've done online dating. I've been set up and obviously nothing's worked because I'm still single. I figured this was another way to get a date and ABC would do the legwork for me. I had nothing to lose.
Did it feel weird to compete with these other women?
No, I felt like this was a microcosm of the real world. Usually, you know the guy is dating other women but you just don't see what they look like.
How did you find out about the show?
I saw an ad in "Us Weekly" magazine saying, 'Do you want to meet the most desirable bachelor in America?' I downloaded the application and faxed it in and the next day they called and asked me to send in a videotape. Then they flew me back and forth from New York to Los Angeles for interviews and blood testing, urine testing and psychiatric testing.
Psychiatric testing for what?
I guess to make sure you were stable. And that you weren't crazy. Then they had a private investigator who called my friends and family.
Well, are you crazy?
No, and it's been confirmed. I had to meet with the psychiatrist and she told me I'm sane, it's official.
What was the bachelor like?
He's a great guy. He went to Harvard undergrad, got his MBA at Stanford, and he comes from a great family. He's very personable and outgoing.
If this guy is so great, why is he still a bachelor?
He says that he's always been so focused on work and school that he hasn't had time for love, but now he realizes it's the single most important thing in life. He's a little cheesy.
Many women I know say they think the show is degrading to women. You don't agree?
I think it's important to stress the fact that we could turn him down at any time. It was just a fun experience. They put us up in beautiful mansion in Malibu so when we weren't going out on dates with him we were in the jacuzzi or cooking and talking. And he took us out on group dates.
What are group dates like?
It's five on one. It's just like if you went out with a bunch of people to a bar and we all happened to be interested in the same guy. I think the dynamic, unfortunately, was competitive and lots of girls threw themselves at him. I allowed him to peel the layers and try to get to know me.
Would you recommend group dating as a good way to meet men?
No, it wasn't my thing, but maybe it works for other women who want to show a guy how wonderful she is in relation to someone else.
Would you actually marry the bachelor if he asks?
I really don't know. If you find out something about him that you can't tolerate, you can break off the engagement. It isn't like "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire" where you had to marry him that day. It really comes down to chemistry. If that's not there, it doesn't matter how great the person is on paper.
After doing the show, what do you think about reality TV?
I really have so much more respect for anyone who's done "Survivor" or "Temptation Island." They make the conversations seem so natural, but meanwhile there's all these cameras in your face and a boom microphone over your head. You forget when you're watching it on TV that there's all this production stuff happening at the same time.
Do you plan on doing other reality shows?
No, I think I've had it with reality.