TV producer found dating inspiration in The Bachelor and The Bachelorette

When TV producer Jessica Nahmias was looking for a romantic partner, she turned to what some might consider an unlikely source for inspiration: The Bachelor and Bachelorette.

Yes, we’re talking about those TV series in which a man or woman dates up to 30 people in the search for a fiancé(e), and which inspire mockery and devotion in equal measure.

TV producer Jessica Nahmias’s first reality job on the TLC docuseries Addicted gave her a taste for telling “real stories.”
TV producer Jessica Nahmias’s first reality job on the TLC docuseries Addicted gave her a taste for telling “real stories.”

But Thornhill-raised Nahmias, who worked as a cast producer on those shows as well as spinoff Bachelor in Paradise, had seen firsthand that they could work.

“Before Bachelor, I was like the biggest skeptic, biggest cynic. Then I started to work on these shows. You would think it would have made me cynical, but it totally had the opposite effect,” she said in a phone interview.

“When you see someone fall in love in front of your eyes, you know it’s real. I remember when I could tell that Shawn was in love with Kaitlyn,” she added, referring to Shawn Booth and Kaitlyn Bristowe, still going strong three years after they got engaged on The Bachelorette.

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Certainly, the situations people are put in on romance reality shows are contrived — I mean, who’s going to try to find a husband or wife by living in a mansion with a couple dozen competitors? — “but at the end of the day, the humans in those situations are still real people, still acting on their real instincts,” Nahmias said.

So when Nahmias, 32, moved back from Los Angeles to make a go of life and love in her hometown, “I went on a dating spree. I was literally the Bachelorette.”

And she asked her dates the same questions she would ask cast members as a producer: “How do you feel? What do you want for your future? What do you hope happens between us?”

It enabled her to weed out the non-starters quickly. Her current partner “told me he loved me in four weeks”; she visited his Arizona hometown within four weeks, faster than it happens on the shows, and “we moved in together within four months.”

“Ok, we’re in love; OK, we’re living together; OK, we’re probably gonna be together forever,” Nahmias said.

Her association with the Bachelor franchise hasn’t hurt her career, either.

Nahmias, who also worked on Addicted, Yours, Mine or Ours, Bar Rescue and Love at First Kiss, is the showrunner and director of Canadian docuseries Where to I Do? on Gusto.

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The first season of the show, in which host Tommy Smythe helps couples find their dream wedding venue, is reairing this month on the specialty channel.

Nahmias, a graduate of Western University and Syracuse University, got her start in entertainment news with an internship at Extra in L.A., but she changed her focus after the rise of TMZ, deciding “I don’t feel comfortable stalking celebrities.”

Her first reality job, as an associate producer on the TLC docuseries Addicted, in which a former drug and alcohol addict tried to help others, gave Nahmias a taste for telling “real stories.”

“I love that element of telling stories with multi-dimensional, flawed, emotional real humans,” she says, whether they’re men and women trying to find mates, or engaged couples trying to find a place to get married.

“I like the challenge of: how do I make an audience understand who this person is and what their story is in 23 minutes or 41 minutes or 80 minutes?”

Where to I Do? has added to her storytelling arsenal by allowing her to take on multiple roles, including directing, an opportunity she believes would have been harder to come by in the U.S.

“I’ve gained so much experience doing this,” she said.

Although she’s loving being back in Toronto, Nahmias would eventually like to work both here and in L.A.

But if you’re thinking Hollywood glamour, think again.

Working in reality TV means long, weird hours, dealing with things such as bad weather and bad lighting and annoying background noise, and trying to get the best footage possible while staying out of the way of the cast, she said.

“Really, I’ve been in a ball on the floor most of my life trying to avoid being in a camera shot. I’ve gotten to see amazing places, but from the floor,” Nahmias said.

“I’m gross all the time; I always have stuff on my butt from the ground and I wear frumpy clothes.”