Farmer Wants a Wife is the wholesome love story missing right now from reality television. (Cough: Scandoval.) At least, that’s what host Jennifer Nettles believes.
As the successful international dating franchise makes its revamped US debut on Wednesday night, Yahoo spoke with Nettles about what viewers can expect from the Fox iteration. Is it really Farmers Only meets The Bachelor? Are the ladies here for the right reasons? And are these guys actually farmers? Here are some of your burning questions answered Farmer Wants a Wife.
What is this show about?
Well, the title pretty much sums it up. Four hard-working, and yes, real-life farmers — Hunter Grayson, 31, from Watkinsville, Ga.; Ryan Black, 32, of Shelby, NC; Allen Foster, 32, of Williamsport, Tenn.; and Landon Heaton, 35, from Alva, Okla. — are searching for their soulmates. Each farmer hosts a group of single women who are ready to leave their big cities behind for love and country living.
“This is a love story,” Nettles explains. “I love storytelling and I’m super romantic and so I love getting to be a part of these relationships and watch these romances, bud and evolve and bloom.”
The Grammy winner says “romance reality shows have never really been my thing,” but she believes this one is different.
“What attracted me to this show is how unique it is and that it is so absolutely authentic, so organic and so heartwarming and endearing because these people, you know, they’re not on here trying to be Instagram influencers or for 15 seconds of fame,” she explains. Nettles says the show isn’t about creating scandal, or “caddy” women “crying over a rose and one suitor at the end of the evening.”
“It’s four guys who are farmers. They are real people looking for real love,” she maintains. “The women who have been selected have looked at these farmers and want the possibility of getting to know them and a chance at love… it feels that way whenever you watch.”
The famers and the women “vetted” each other before production
Unlike The Bachelor or Love Is Blindthe contestants on Farmer Wants a Wife were already familiar with each other before the cameras started rolling. Nettles calls the process legitimate.
“The way it works for this show, which also sets it apart and makes it unique and interesting, is it’s a two-way road from the beginning,” she explains. “The women interested in being on [the show] got to look at these farmers and say, out of this group, these are the ones I’m interested in possibly meeting and getting to know more. It’s like an online dating profile. They look at a video, they see a profile, they get some information on them.”
Each farmer then got to look at the group of women and pick who they wanted to meet. However, Nettles explains that by giving women the power first, it sets up a kind of “safety and openness” necessary to make the show work.
“It continues that way in terms of a two-way street. Because there are moments when some of the women are just like, ‘I don’t feel a connection, this is not for me,'” she says. “That’s real life. It goes both ways, you know? The farmers and the ladies are putting their hearts on the line and making themselves vulnerable.”
All 32 women are really on the show to find love?
Of course, there’s no way of knowing that. The women range in age from 22 to 39 and come from cities like Los Angeles, Nashville and Miami. They have actual jobs — one woman is a cyber security analyst, another a recruiter and two are therapists — which is different than The Bachelor as occupations listed were “dog lover” and “free spirit.” But while Nettles concedes instant fame “could evolve into being an issue” once the show premieres, overall, she doesn’t think the group of women are just hoping to become Instagram influencers.
“Especially this being the first season, everyone came in pretty wide-eyed and open-hearted in not knowing exactly what to expect,” she says. “Everyone to me seemed really genuine. I didn’t see anyone that felt like an opportunist. It all felt very authentic to me.”
The show aimed to get a diverse cast
Unlike issues that consistently plague The BachelorNettles says depicting a diverse group of contestants was important.
“What I saw in front of the camera was amazing in terms of diversity, especially when you think we have a stereotypical image in our mind of what a cowboy is or isn’t. So I think they did a great job in terms of — I hate to use the word ‘casting,’ but essentially that’s what it is. [Producers] did a great job at selecting a diverse group.”
What is Nettles’s role as host, exactly?
Although the 48-year-old admits she’s part therapist, part narrator, she says she really views herself as “a fairy godmother.”
“I get to come in on the group dates and help encourage, and at times advise and guide, especially the guys I found,” she says, calling the guys “overwhelmed in many ways.”
“They are real guys, they’re real farmers. They come from small towns. The joke is that, you know, they know all the women in their town and half of them, they’re related to,” she laughs. “Then suddenly they have a group of wonderful women with them on their farms.”
Nettles says the guys were “anxious” and “shy” at times. “They live life on the land with animals… to put themselves out there in front of a camera [to find love]. I mean, that’s, that’s pretty exposing.”
The Exorcist actress says she was happy “to be there and offer them encouragement and offer them advice.”
“You know, ‘Get in there you little buckaroo, let’s go. You can do this boy!’ It was a fun part of the job,” she shares.
Wait — so this is actually a successful show?
Sure is, buckaroo. Although there was a short-lived version of Farmer Wants a Wife that aired in 2008 on CW, the show really found success internationally — especially in Australia. According to Fox, which touts the series as “the most successful dating show in the world” the franchise has resulted in 180 marriages and 410 children.
“Sometimes when you say ‘reality television,’ people get this idea of what is actually hyper-reality and not real. This is very realistic and it’s heartwarming,” Nettles promises. “Who doesn’t love a real life love story?”
Farmer Wants a Wife airs Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Fox.