The Bachelor 16’s Jenna Burke: Courtney Robertson Has a Serious Case of Jekyll and Hyde — Exit Interview
Gotta give her credit — Jenna Burke isn’t really blaming anyone but herself for her behavior on the first two episodes of The Bachelor Season 16. Not even the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol. But she does offer up a mini excuse...
The NYC blogger told reporters she was pretty fresh out of a relationship when she signed on to date Ben Flajnik and the whole thing was a little more intense than she expected. In fact, she says she can laugh about it now ‘cause enough time has passed. (Unfortunately, it's still fresh in our minds, Jenna.)
She also has some strong opinions about one of Ben’s frontrunners, Courtney Robertson.: “I think there's a serious case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Ouch!
What do you feel we weren't shown as an audience that might explain what we saw of you? Jenna: I don't think anyone can anticipate what kind of experience this is going to be until you get there. I've never been through anything like this in my life. People sign up because they're ready to find love. Unfortunately, there was a lot going on in my life at the time. I was changing my career, I was getting over a breakup and wanted to move forward, all of my things were in storage - I was ready for a life change. As I got there, it was more intense than I ever anticipated and I really went there with the mentality that, "If Ben dumps me, at least I'll make great friends." I've watched every season, I'm a big fan of The Bachelor, and I've seen great friendships come from this. I think to succeed on this show, you have to fight for Ben's attention. I'm fine approaching men but in this kind of circumstance, it was very difficult for me. When you take all your distractions away and are kind of alone, you start to feel in a very odd situation. I wasn't really at a strong point. It's kind of like one big therapy session. I didn't realize that I was carrying pain from my past.
If you were on a later season, do you think it would've been easier for you emotionally? Jenna: Absolutely! Everything had to do with... it was a pretty bad breakup on my part and it was hard. I just think you need to be at the right spot. This is a very intense show and you need to be at a strong point in your life. That's the only way to succeed. If you have any feeling of being scared, you don't have that confidence. I usually have confidence.
What was the issue between you and Monica [Spannbauer]? Jenna: I didn't understand her personality and I thought I would have great friendships formed from this experience. Even in real life, not everyone is going to love you and that was a life lesson I learned right there. Something rubbed me the wrong way that night. I overheard her saying things and I wanted to confront her and it was a very awkward, awkward moment. The next day, I didn't want to feel any more uncomfortable than I already did so I approached her and she was like a totally different person. It was like the real Jenna got to know the real Monica. We ended up being in the same group for the play we put on and we had a blast that day. She's a great girl. It was just bad first impressions.
Inevitably, there are always girls who have a hard time dealing with being on the show, get overemotional, then turn around and say that it wasn't an accurate representation of who they are. Do you feel like that was true for you? Jenna: Absolutely! I mean, just watching the episodes, I'm in a much better place. I'm very happy I was able to watch it and laugh at myself, the awkward moments. When you're fighting for one persona's attention, you wanna say so much. When I tried to say something, it all came out like blah. I look back at those moments and laugh. You don't realize how you're going to react until you experience. You can't help your emotions.
Looking back on it, do you understand why Ben sent you home? Jenna: I would've sent myself home, to be honest. I have to admit, going on the group date, you kinda wonder, "Are these the women he puts together that he's unsure about?" That's kind of how I felt. Only two girls got the 1 on 1 dates. It doesn't really make you feel that good and you don't really get a lot of time to talk to him. I knew my last conversation with him was the make or break. I'm not the kind of girl to say, "Excuse me, can I snatch Ben away from you?" If he wants to talk to me, he will. You can't help but feel rejected. I'm human and I have feelings. I want him to like me and get to know me. Unfortunately, men do not like drama and I showed that side of me. It was a lot of pressure. I wanted to say so much but it came out so awkward. It wasn't even what I wanted to say. It was too much pressure.
So it seems the two girls that are still in the house that everyone is talking about are Courtney and Blakeley [Shea]. What are your thoughts on them? Jenna: Alright, so I'll start with Blakeley. I have known girls like Blakeley and I had a lot of time with her. My first impression was aggressive and she doesn't wanna be friends with anyone but Monica. [...] I got to know her more and she does have a heart. I think we all have our insecurities and the way Blakeley deals with hers is she's more aggressive. I can tell why girls are not fond of that. She can only stay strong for so long and it actually got to her. She comes off very strong but there's another side to her. Courtney... I only had probably one conversation with her and I just know she's a model from Santa Monica and she plays with her hair a lot. After watching the show, I think there's a serious case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
You really broke down and cried after you exited the mansion following your elimination, saying you were "mortified." Why do you think you got so emotional? Was it because you were really interested in Ben or were you just overwhelmed by the cameras or embarrassed the journey had ended so soon for you? Jenna: I mean, all of the above. I guess after — a couple girls, I just don't know if they were there for the right reasons and it really upset me that he wasn't able to see through that. I got emotional because I didn't want to be emotional, if that makes any sense. I wish that — I knew I was going through a hard time, because when you talk about love nonstop 24/7, it's not really normal. I don't talk about my past relationships everyday. I don't talk about what I want in a relationship. It kind of makes you a little bit nervous and I started thinking of this as one big therapy session and I kind of broke down. And that's how I kind of look at it. I got a lot out and what was captured was me just upset about the whole experience ending so soon. But like I said before, I was not ready and because of the show, timing is everything. I need to be ready to put yourself out there, let love back in, and I think I was carrying some past pain with me.
You mentioned some girls upset you because you didn't know if they were there for the right reasons. Do you mind mentioning who you were talking about in particular? Jenna: I just really feel like I didn't know what Courtney's intentions were. She kind of kept to herself, but I know people have their "strategies" and some people aren't there to make friends. I get that. But it just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Although I got to know Blakeley really well, I felt like at that second Rose Ceremony, I did not think that was right for her to go out there and steal all of Ben's time when there's girls that haven't even talked to him — haven't had any time. I think that she's just that type and there's just a lot going on. It's a lot for one night, and I feel like just sitting around waiting for an elimination builds up the pressure and the anxiety.
Do you think Courtney is on the show for the right reasons and why do you think some people consider her a frontrunner? Jenna: I watched the second episode and you definitely can tell Ben was smiling inside and out and he kept repeating, "This is too good to be true." You could just tell he was beaming inside and there was something about it. I think their date went really well. I did not like how when she got back to the house — like I said before, it was a serious case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. "Courtney No. 2" came out and I'm like, "Who are you?" Give me one Courtney please because I can't follow, and so that kind of scares me. I'm not going to lie.
Did drinking play a role in your behavior at all or was it just all raw emotion? Jenna: I mean, at this point, I was emotionally drained. I was really sensitive and my nerves got the absolute best of me. I was really breaking down. I was emotionally drained... No, I mean, I had like a couple drinks, but honestly, it was more just talking about this all day long and realizing that maybe I'm not cut out for this — just really upset and hurt that I wasn't given more of an opportunity or more of a chance, because I really thought that me and Ben could have gotten along well. And who knows if we would have met outside of this whole situation if we would have reacted differently, but you know, that was my time.
It's popular for former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants to Tweet live during the episodes. Do you Tweet or read what they're saying? Jenna: I'm not on Twitter at the moment but I am pretty internet savvy. After the first episode you're curious about what people say... I didn't know I was going to be a hashtag. I had to imagine on the other side how I look and I'd say the exact same thing. After it sunk in, it was like, "You know, that's not me. I have to have fun with it." I can look back and laugh at the experience. I'm owning it and I'm in a much different place. At first, I cringed but now I'm totally fine.
While you were on the show, which bachelorettes did you think would be good for Ben or considered frontrunners? Jenna: Frontrunners happened to be my close friends on the show. I think [Kacie Boguskie], [Lindzi Cox] and [Nicki Sterling]. I feel like all of them are in good places in their lives, and I think when I got to talk to them and really get to know them, they're in really happy places and they were ready for this experience. I just think they are genuinely nice people and I don't know. There's just something about them. I really connected with them and I just — I think I was watching the show and I was like, "I wish I was at their place so I could have had the same experience."
Read more of Jenna’s Q&A here. What do you think, Bachelor fans? Do you sympathize with her now? Does she still seem a little unstable? Should she be the Season 8 Bachelorette? (Chills!)