I want to be clear… I’d never thought I’d succeed. I never thought I’d end up on tv. Throughout the entire process every accidental ‘success’ was a surprise to me.
My friend Emma linked me a facebook post about applications for The Proposal one night. Jokingly saying “you should apply.”
The next day having nothing to do on my lunch break, I started filling out the application form on the site. I got about halfway through the very long application, potentially getting to the part of the form that discussed past relationships, when I got distracted. The window stayed open hidden away by other browser windows on my laptop for a few days until one day while shutting down my laptop to take home I closed it thinking nothing of it.
About a month and a half later I got a phone call. It was from Warner Bros. Even then I didn’t click what it was about. When the person calling told me where they calling from I remembered my cousin worked there years earlier and assumed it was something relating to her.
It wasn’t. They had seen half my application and really liked what I’d written so far, and asked if they could do the phone interview portion now. This was my brain process:
They haven’t seen a photo of me yet.
I’m not ‘tv hot’. (this isn’t me saying I think I’m unattractive. The show was made by the people who made The Bachelor. Have you SEEN the guys on that show?! That wasn’t me!)
There is no way I’ll make it on tv.
And instantly a calm fell over me, and a relaxed sort of confidence came about. I could be honest as I wanted to at this point. It would never amount to anything. What did I have to lose?
So I told them everything, my relationship history (or lack thereof), past dates, they even asked if I was a virgin – that generally follows the relationship question. I don’t think they normally ask that. Unless it comes up organically.
I finished the phone call and then over the next few days proceeded to get really fricking sick. The last step of the application was photos and a video. I submitted the best photos of me I could find and then recorded my best attempt (okay, it took 17 attempts but whatever) to record a video on my phone. I looked like shit. I’m still surprised I got further in the process because of it.
I didn’t hear from them for a while and thus assumed, as suspected, I had not gotten in. No harm, no foul. The phone call in and of itself would be a funny story.
Then got a phone call asking me to come down for an in-person audition. Restricted by NDAs (still am, to an extent, please don’t sue me WB! I’ll be your best friend! I’m being vague where I can!) I told my sister’s whose place in Sydney I crashed at the night before.
Donning my Captain Awesome t-shirt (having been advised to wear clothes you felt comfortable in)I showed up to the auditions. First round of auditions was fun, and I loosened up pretty quickly because, once again, I was fairly certain I wasn’t making it through. I thought ‘this will be a hilarious story to tell my friends later on.’ and that would be that. I’m a little limited on what I can say here. The funniest stories I might get in trouble for.
After about an hour they people running it said they would come back and tell us who would move on to the next round. When she did return she started listing off the names of the people who had progressed. You could see her say and a name and flick to the next packet in the pile. So you could see her working her way down. On the second last one it was clear I wasn’t going to be called. My mind processed on who would I could contact for lunch to run out my afternoon in Sydney before my bus home came. Nicole works in Sydney, I could check in with her. Cads is still up here, I might see what he’s up to…..
“….and Liam Smith.” The lady said reading off the last name in the pile. I was so surprised I muttered a “Holy shit.” Only to look up and see one of the guys who didn’t make it through giving me a sour expression. Oops.
Second round was less people so when got to know each other better. Made friends with a couple of the guys who would unknowingly eventually be in my episode. Everyone was fairly laid back and waiting. The others were cool too. (I *think* I spotted at least one of them in one of the other episodes.)
We were done in pack order which meant I was the last one called again. One of the guys, who shall remain nameless because I don’t want to get sued, became known in my head as the ‘parting shot’ guy. I would like to be clear this was the man’s only crime against, because friends both before and after this statement. After he’d finished he’s second audition he was grabbing his stuff to go and saying goodbye to those of us that remained.
“Hey, there’s meant to be 8 or so of us on the show – maybe we’ll see each other at filming.”
And out of nowhere this fine gentleman looks surprised and throws out
“Yeah. If *you* make it through mate.”
To jump ahead quickly I was on a shuttle bus from the hotel to the studio on the filming day when we pulled over to grab one of the other contestants. Sure enough there was ‘parting shot’ guy climbing on to the bus. I could not stop smiling as I greeted and introduced myself in case he’d forgotten me. (He hadn’t.)
Back to the second audition which went fine. I took a bus home and wondered how I had to wait before I could tell people about it.
Some time later, long enough for me to once again assume I hadn’t gotten it, I got a phone call asking if I was good for filming on a particular date. I readily agreed and went to Sydney that weekend.
As I said the shuttle bus picked us up from the hotel at some ungodly hour on the first day. As I climbed on the bus I should mention this is where the ‘suspicion’ formed. Now as I said, I wasn’t TV hot. The other two gentleman on the bus definitely were however. (Liam Harper and Paulo, take your credit here) so I couldn’t but start to wonder… was I being placed to be easily eliminated in the first round? Surely not! Then again….
Anyway, then the ‘parting shot’ guy story from above happened and I was just amused. Spent the bus ride with a cheesy grin on my face from having won ‘one’
Here’s probably where I skirt the guidelines of my NDA. First day was getting ready for filming the following day. We did wardrobe and make up (That was a first! For me at least. Not for some of the others who knew the products being used suspiciously well.) I was first through to record the stuff that would be edited into the clip that we were shown as we walked down the stairs. 30 minute interview. 10 second clip. I had no idea what was going to end up being used.
The girls who were filming their episode the same day as ours (not Jess) were there too but they were at the other end of the studio and we weren’t allowed to talk them because we were there to win over Jess’s heart. Not theirs. And we learned we weren’t supposed to when one of us tried to and man did the production crew inform of us of the rules then. So we just had to sit and try not to stare the parade of very attractive girls before us.
About halfway through the rest of the guys from our episode showed up. Two things happened here, one – Zane showed up – we’d become friends during the audition so it was a nice surprise to see him there. Also I got to see the other gentleman I would be ‘competing’ against annnnnnd suddenly an amused calm spread over me because I was fairly certain I was going to get eliminated early on if this was who I was stacked up against.
I want to be clear, they were all friendly and nice. We all got along. We sat around, joking and tried to not make too obvious when one of the girls from the girls episode walked past. (Stacie, Anna, Kylee, Leah y’all looked amazing! I did not know your names until the episode aired lol. And others didn’t show up until us morning guys got the bus home)
Also, with all the guys there… the odds were stacked against me. I was pretty sure I was getting eliminated first round, which was largely based on looks alone. (hey – live Tinder!) So I relaxed instantly. At this point, I was definitely going to be on tv for a moment. Would be a laugh for my friends and family. And if I made it to the next round – so be it.
I only have two regrets. The first was that I assumed each morning would be the same early start (it wasn’t). So I could have gone for a run the second morning and been much more relaxed HAD I PACKED RUNNING GEAR. I did not. Damn you, Past Liam.
Paulo, however, proudly informed us he had been at the gym at 5am that morning. He told us this repeatedly. Whether we wanted him to or not. Zane developed a running joke that if someone repeated something he would chime in with his Paulo impression and say “I was at the gym at 5am this morning” (this was even uttered backstage once during filming)
So there we were, getting coached to go on stage by our producers, giving us last minute advice, pep talk, casually suggesting you’d never been in a relationship before. (Okay that last one was just to me.)
Now, I’d been calm, cool and content about this coming out in the second round because, well, I didn’t THINK I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT TO THE SECOND ROUND. I knew it was going to come out if I somehow progressed because well, it was a dating show, past relationships were bound to come out at one point.
(Insert joke about Nesh unknowingly turning out to be Jess’s ex here.)
So there I stood backstage, hearing the others go out, making jokes when they made a mistake and finally it was my turn. So I walked out. For the record, I was way more nervous than I looked, but years of being a marriage celebrant had taught me to play it cool. Here’s the thing I wasn’t nervous about talking in front of people, or that whatever I said would end up on national tv. I was nervous because I was trying to win over a girl and historically I sucked at that.
So backstage I had an internal going on – should I mention the no relationships thing? Shouldn’t I? Historically every. Single. Time. A girl heard that she headed for the hills. I was sooo good at dodging it on dates. I didn’t like lying about it (because I had in the past and I felt gross afterward) so instead I just avoided it because as soon as they heard it was when I lost them.
Then again…. I looked at my competitors. Zane’s dog was going to get him through the first round on that alone. I was certainly fighting an uphill battle. Maybe… just maybe if I mentioned it she would be less likely to cut me in the first round. It would a ‘pity non-cut’ but it would give me a chance to try and win her over another way. And making it through the first round would be victory I wasn’t expecting.
So I walked out on stage and said what I said. It’s all there. (actually not all of it, you talk on stage for longer and they edit it for time. Filming takes about four hours.) I did my best and I walked back to the stage to stand with the others to let the chips fall where they may.
Now let’s take a quick side trip – in the American version of The Proposal, which I tracked down before filming, the lady (or gentleman) they’re all competing for picks who they want to get through to the next round. The remaining ones are left standing on the stage and are all just quietly shuttled off with a ‘I’m sorry you didn’t make it through today guys’ from the host.
So that was what I was expecting on stage. Jess called three of the guys forward. She told them she wanted to get to know them more and asked for them to go on to the next round. She then said Nathan’s name and then mine. And if you watch it you can see the surprised expression on my face as my name is called… because for the first time in the entire process I thought I was making it through to the second round. For MONTHS every step of the way not only did I think I was going to make it on the show, when I did, I assumed I was getting eliminated first round.
But I knew how the American show worked. And she had just called me forward.
And then, unlike the first three guys she called forward, Jess started talking to us individually. Um, this might not be good. I thought. But… but maybe she is just letting you through for different reasons and she wanted to be specific.
“Liam, you’re seem really nice and you’re really funny” Oh…. fuck. There is a but coming isn’t there? “But I’m really sorry!” Well. Shit.
That fleeting moment of hope got crushed pretty swiftly. You know how when you ask out a girl and get shot down? Well imagine that. On a stage. In front of 100 people. (and then eventually all of Australia) Not only was I not making it through the first round, I was the first eliminated. I kept my game face on as best I could. I nodded and walked off the stage. They did a quick interview where my resolve cracked briefly and I said “Guys I’m trying to keep it together cut me some slack.” And immediately fuck they’ll use that. (They didn’t. For all intents and purposes: I got the good edit.)
I was escorted off stage and was told a cab had been called to take me back to the hotel. I was handed a metal drink bottle I still use to this day, as I sat there getting my groove back I turned to the tech guy and asked.
“Who else got eliminated? Weren’t two of us meant to get eliminated this round?”
The tech guy told me we’d find out soon and sure enough Liam Harper walked through the door. For the first time since get rejected on stage in front of 100 people (and in the months that followed: all of australia.) a grin spread across my face.
“Wow, bad days for Liams up there, huh?”
Liam Harper barked out a laugh.
“Yeah, maybe she just doesn’t like the name?”
I went back to my hotel and allowed myself to sulk for the afternoon. Put my game face back on and got a taxi to the airport.
In the months that followed I couldn’t tell anyone whether I’d won or lost. I wasn’t supposed to. Though I figured the fact I was heading to an island for work by myself for three months some time later was perhaps a hint I didn’t do very well.
It was during the trip to the island that I got stuck in Melbourne airport for five hours. While scrolling through facebook on my phone I saw an ad… for The Proposal! I read the description.
Holy. Fricking. Buddha. THIS WAS HER!
I excitedly watched (I wasn’t in a single frame of the promo that played for months, but that was okay) and saw Jess for the first time. She was cute. She had two kids. I had known about the kids part because my sister was in the audience. I even knew who won, but only because my sister was in the audience. If I hadn’t managed to rally at least one sibling to come to the recording I wouldn’t have known who won until the 27th August with everyone else.
(Okay, I found Nesh on facebook a week before the show aired… I might have hit him up and asked then if I didn’t know)
Honestly, the only annoying thing about the build up to airing was that I didn’t appear in any of the damn promos until the last minute. I remember joking with my friend Alyce that “well clearly they couldn’t show the best looking guy on the promo, because then people would be wondering ‘why didn’t she pick that guy?!’” because the moment I showed up in a damn promo I could mention it on social media. That… did not happen lol.
However two days beforehand we got the go ahead and I posted encouraging everyone to watch it and I told EVERYONE. Because that was why I did it. Okay, yes, part of me did actually hope that in an absolute best case scenario I’d walk away with a girlfriend, but I knew the odds of that were pretty low but I did it because I thought it would be an interesting experience and a good laugh for my friends and family.
I’m extremely thankful for how many friends checked it out. Even some with a hatred for reality tv willingly watched the first ten minutes until I was eliminated (Dom, Karlee, Irene) and I was relieved when it aired.
Some friends were greatly optimistic it would see a massive uptick in my dating life.
It did not.
I did often try and use it as a talking point on a date with a girl, or even just a girl I was chatting on a dating app, because it was a fun and interesting story. It worked for the most part. Until the motivated ones sort it out to watch it. Remember how I said my admitting to never having been in a relationship caused girls to run? Well dodging it was a little harder if they sort out the episode and watched it online. So while it was a cool story it was often a double edged sword.
One actual particularly funny moment was when I was out with friends and I girl I’d been chatting to from a dating app out of nowhere messaged me
“You’ve never been in a relationship before?!”
To which I laughed and responded
“Ah, so someone’s been watching The Proposal.”
I would joke that show got me a total of -3 girlfriends.
In case anyone who is looking to date me happens to stumble across this post (and yes, this will raise questions from friends who haven’t spoken to me in a while too) that statement is no longer true. In the year that passed there was a relationship that rose and fell with a lovely girl that just didn’t work out.
(She never watched The Proposal lol. I vaguely mentioned it once and purposely didn’t afterward, in case she sort out the episode, because things were going well.)
So reflections after the show:
- Yes – until it aired (I would like to point out I spent three months on a very quiet island with only myself for company for the majority of it) I did run through my head more than once whether if I’d said something different on that stage I would have lasted longer. You can’t help it.
If we’re being totally honest… I doubt it? I mean the first impressions round was largely looks based and the competition on that level was pretty epic.
- In the spirit of full disclosure… in the months that followed the knowledge that her ex managed to make it through to the next round did slightly bug me. I mean, was she that uninterested that she had to eliminate me first? I get she may have just wanted to watch Nesh squirm.
- For those paying attention my description of me getting eliminated played out slightly differently on screen. THIS isn’t a bad thing – things are edited for time constraints. I suspect the other guys probably got a more personalised rejection with apologies as well and it was cut for time.
- In fact my only gripe with the entire show is illustrated in the screenshot below. Walking down the stairs the announcer says “We welcome Liam Smith from Canberra!” which is CORRECT, however displayed on screen was Liam S, VIC. C’mon guys, know your geography!
- For a time friends and family asked a lot what tv show I was going on next. The plan was never to be a fame hungry reality tv personality. I just thought it would be a fun experience and was one of the genuine ones on reality tv actually just wanting a girlfriend.
Also, Jess and Nathan (the guy who she chose at the end) not only got engaged for real she moved in with him recently and they’ve had a kid together. Congrats to them both.
And that was the time I went on national television. Would I change anything about it? Not really. Might have said something different on stage, and if I knew I was actually going to end up filming it, probably would have worked out A LOT more.
But it was a fun experience and I don’t regret it for a second.
If you’re interested in watching it the episode is still available on the Channel 7 website here:
And this was the episode filmed on the same as day as ours:
(I’m only in the first one obvs.)
And, of course, the offending screenshot:
And a couple of others for good measure.