Exclusive: Darren McMullen talks about 'Love in the Wild' (Part 2)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 08/03/2011
Love in the Wild viewers have seen five adventure challenges and more than two dozen couples pairings since the new NBC reality dating series, which features singles attempting to find love in the Costa Rican jungle, premiered late June.
Last Friday, Reality TV World caught up with Love in the Wild host Darren McMullen to discuss the season and some of its most memorable events to-date. Click here to read the first half of our exclusive interview with McMullen.
Below is the second half of our interview in which McMullen talked about what viewers have seen so far -- including how many of the cast members he believes actually went on the show looking for a serious relationship, what his thoughts are on the dynamics of some of the couples and whether their relationships may or may not last, if it was a coincidence many of the season's cast members are from the same locations, and why the producers chose to reward the winning couple with a trip around the world.
Reality TV World: Out of all the single men and women who went on the show, how many of them do you think initially flew to Costa Rica looking for a serious relationship and how many just looking for a different dating experience? Do you think some of them have changed their minds about what they want once they got to know the other singles and maybe found someone worthwhile?
Darren McMullen: Well when I watched all the casting tapes, everybody was incredibly convincing that they tried everything else -- blind dates, being set up by their friends, they've met people on the Internet, they've tried everything. And they were genuinely looking for a serious partner and some were almost hesitant about competitive reality TV shows.
They were like, "Oh, I don't know if this was right for me, but okay I guess I'll try it." So, that's the kind of reality show [contestant] that you want. You don't want people that are just on the show for fame, for their 15 minutes or whatever.
So, I would say probably 90% percent of the people were there to genuinely find a long-term partner and maybe in retrospect, when I look back now, maybe 10% percent of people were there to have some fun and do a different kind of dating.
Reality TV World: Could you talk a little bit about the Brandee Dillehay and Benjamin Hooker dynamic? They constantly pick on each other, claim they've formed a good connection, but now Brandee's unconvinced that Ben has feelings for her. They seem to have a classic love/hate relationship, so could you talk about that a little bit?
Darren McMullen: They really do! Going back to what I was talking about whether I think it was a good idea to split the couples up, I really do, because I think it was evident that as I said before, people were like, "Oh my God, I missed my partner so much. I'm so glad we're back together." But they didn't have that at the end.
And I think when she realized that, she particularly said like, "He wasn't excited to see me when I haven't seen him all day." I don't get their relationship at all, I mean if I was Brandee and Ben gave that pathetic excuse and come back with, "Let's give it another go," I would have told him to get lost, trust me. I didn't think that was good enough. I was surprised that she did that.
He had one opportunity there to really tell the girl -- I mean, give the girl a hug and a kiss for God sakes and then say sorry for being a jerk, and he couldn't do it. So, I'm surprised she took him back and it'll be interesting to see how they get along during their next adventure. So, I don't get -- I really don't get their relationship. I can't understand what she's doing with him.
Reality TV World: During last week's episode, Derek Leach talked quite a bit about wanting to steal Samantha Woods from Mike Spiro and since he won the challenge, she wouldn't have been able to reject his offer. So how close do you think Derek actually came to picking Samantha and what do you think his motive was behind that?
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Darren McMullen: I think Derek kind of had a different view from everyone else in Love in the Wild. Derek came off as, "I want to go on adventures with all these girls and then make up my mind of which one maybe is the best for me."
When I think everyone else is like, "Wow, I've got a good thing here, and I know there are other great people here, but I'm not going to" -- I think it was like a little kid in a candy shop. Let's look at it that way.
Samantha is just an absolutely stunning girl, she hadn't been with anyone else, and I think he genuinely wanted to go on an adventure with her to see if there was any spark.
I think ultimately why he didn't is he was probably a little bit scared of Mike (laughs) -- who all of a sudden said, "Look, I'll be pissed off if you pick her. You're breaking up a good thing here. We're getting along really well." So, I think ultimately that's why he didn't do that.
Reality TV World: What can you tell us about Theresa Trujillo and Skip Sullivan because we really haven't seen a lot of them. Why do you think that is, are they really just that boring?
Darren McMullen: (Laughs) That is so funny! Part of the reason you're not seeing a lot of Theresa is because they literally could not keep their hands off each other. A lot of the stuff would be a little bit too X-rated for the timeslot, so maybe that's part of the reason that we're not seeing a lot of them.
They were a very shocking couple to me as well. Skip is absolutely head over heels for Theresa. He thought she was the cat's pajamas. I had even met him in New York shortly when I was there because we were there at the same time and he said, "Yeah, man. They just don't make girls like Theresa in Boston. She is absolutely fantastic." Yeah, that surprised me a little bit that Skip and Theresa carried that on.
I had trouble picturing in my head like what a girl like Theresa would look for in a guy and what a guy like Skip would want in a girl. I wouldn't see those two together, but they were completely relaxed in each other's company and they're both very laid-back.
So I think that's probably what their biggest selling point is. They're both like, "Yeah, you know what? Hey, if we're not winning adventures, it doesn't matter. We're enjoying each other's company; We're having fun while we're doing it."
Everyone else, I think to some level, get quite stressed out or freak out even if they're coming towards the end. But [Theresa and Skip] are like, "Hey, we're in Costa Rica, we're here with each other, we're having a great time, let's just enjoy this." So, I think what they've got is that they're incredibly laid-back and they both think each other are the hottest things to walk the planet. So they're a good match.
Reality TV World: Jessica Soares and Jason Jackson had a very different dynamic as a couple compared to the rest of the show's contestants. Jessica always seemed annoyed with Jason and often insulted him for his actions, while Jason seemed a bit love struck and wanted to do all he could to win her affection. What are your thoughts on that pairing and do you think Jessica's edit was accurate of who she really is?
Darren McMullen: Well, no I don't think it is. When I saw the Twitter reactions of her after that show, it was very negative towards Jessica. It was like, "She's a little bitch," and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. "I can't believe what she did to Jason. He's lovely and I'm so glad she's off the show," blah, blah, blah.
But let's face it, Jason managed to ruin it with every single girl he was with. So, I don't know. I'm like, "Well, can everybody be wrong here?" I don't know! (Laughs) I think maybe Jason was being a little bit too forward with these girls too early. I mean... again, we saw him do this a few weeks before with [Erica Scherle].
He was quite forward with her the entire time and she'd be like, "Stop talking." She's like, "Can you stop talking?" And then before that with [Jess Debolt] too. So I think every week he kind of fell for these girls and was like, "Hi, I'm really into you," and blah, blah, blah.
So, no I don't think the edit was really -- she was such a sweet girl. She really, really was and I think that she really didn't have anything bad to say about Jason other than the fact it just wasn't right: "We're just completely different. We're not meant to be together. We're two different peas in a pod."
Reality TV World: It looks like most of Love in the Wild's cast is from the same three or four cities. Was that an intentional decision made at casting in that they theoretically thought the contestants living near each other might increase their chances of building lasting relationships once the show ended or was that just a coincidence?
Darren McMullen: Sheer coincidence. In fact, I think from what I understand of reality shows is they tend to go to places like New York or LA only to do the casting usually. They cast people from all the same area. Some of these -- most of these -- reality shows I'd say they probably only cast in LA -- all these places use casting agencies.
But we specifically told them we didn't want to do that. We wanted every part of the country represented and I guess what it came down to was they found the most suitable people who applied and were truly into it so maybe it was a little bit of fate working in there on their behalf.
I really believe -- I'm a strong believer that if it's meant to be it's meant to be. I really do think some of these couples are meant to be long-term, and maybe that's a little bit of fate that they are from similar areas.
Reality TV World: The fishing trip that Derek and Jess won didn't seem to be much of a prize. It seemed like they had to squeeze into that small canoe together, so was that setup intentional to force an intimate situation or was there a fancier outing planned that maybe fell through?
Darren McMullen: No, it's weird you're bringing that up because I watched the show the other day and I thought the same thing! Why did they stick them in that silly canoe? Why didn't they give them a boat? I'd like to find out, I don't know. I'll have to ask the producers that, like what happened to the boat?
I thought maybe the boat didn't turn up or it sunk or something like that or maybe they just wanted them to be forced to be close together. So, it's weird wasn't it? -- On that little kayak? I've got no idea what the rationale behind that was because when you look at all the other prizes... this week... sailing on a yacht.
A few weeks ago, they were riding those all-terrain vehicles and then that beautiful dinner by a waterfall and the helicopter ride. Fishing to me is the most boring sport on the planet. That would be a nightmare to me.
But with saying that, they had an absolute ball and I think they felt that it brought them closer together. So, maybe the producers know a little bit more than I do. It seemed to work for them, so.
Reality TV World: The winning couple is going to receive a trip around the world. Could you talk a little bit about what that trip is going to entail and how long it's going to be? Are we talking like two weeks or something?
Darren McMullen: No, I don't think there's a time limit on the trip. I think it's an around-the-world ticket, so I don't know how long they're going to stay in each place. It will determine on how long they can get off work. I really don't know. I don't want to comment in case that's wrong. I guess there would be a time limit, huh? Because they have to pay for all the hotels?
What I can tell you is the premise behind that was we didn't want to give away a million-dollar prize, because if we give away a million dollars, you're not going to get people falling in love. You're going to get people who are pretending to fall in love because they'd become competitive together and would want to win the money.
If the only prize they win is the opportunity to have a beautiful romantic trip around the world with their partner, then they'd be absolutely crazy staying with somebody just to do that. I mean, I'm traveled with friends before and that's hard enough as it is nevermind traveling with somebody you don't particularly like.
So, that was the idea behind the first-class trip around the world. I know they're going to be stopping in some of the most romantic cities like London, Paris, Moscow, Venice, Hong Kong -- places like that around the world. I have no idea the time limit on that though.