Monica Spannbauer: Courtney Robertson and Ben deserve each other
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/26/2012
Monica Spannbauer was the only bachelorette eliminated during the Rose Ceremony by The Bachelor star Ben Flajnik during Monday night's fourth episode of the ABC reality dating series' sixteenth season.
During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Monica, a 33-year-old dental consultant from Salt Lake City, UT, talked to Reality TV World about her The Bachelor experience -- including why some of the bachelorettes believed Samantha Levey was on the show for the wrong reasons, what made her think Ben was fine addressing the women's concerns about Samantha but became hostile when they'd discuss Courtney Robertson's alleged two-faced personality, and whether her elimination came as a surprise to her.
Reality TV World: In his blog this week, he wrote that his decision to send Samantha was something he had thought about earlier that day and it had been brought to his attention by some of the other women that she wasn't there for the right reasons. Do you have any idea what Ben was referring to and can you elaborate on what the women had thought about Samantha?
Monica Spannbauer: (Laughs) Samantha's a great girl. She's funny. She's opinionated. I like her. She's a friend. She definitely had about as much feelings for Ben as he had for her. So, and I can't really elaborate on anything. It just got to the point to where, "Why am I here? What do I want?"
But I think she was willing to put herself out there and possibly see if there was something, and at that point, he was over it. Maybe what he saw was disinterest in her up to that point -- maybe it was her aggressive nature when she came out and kind of called him out on some things.
I don't know, but she just wasn't for him and he wasn't for her. So, I think it was a really good thing that he sent her home.
Reality TV World: So can you recall any specifics as to why the women believed Samantha was on The Bachelor for the wrong reasons? What did you think about her and why she was on the show personally?
Monica Spannbauer: I think when you go on the show, it's such a long process that everybody goes in it for some sort of right reason. I don't want to say it's love, because I was completely skeptical, but I wanted to see what it was like. So, people could even say I was there for the wrong reasons. I just felt like it was an experience and if it worked out, great. If it didn't, great.
But I don't think that she came in disingenuous. I think that she came in for the right reasons. I just think she realized very quickly that she didn't like him and she stayed a little bit longer than she should have. I think maybe some other girls should've had the opportunity.
Reality TV World: If Ben didn't have an issue with the girls sharing their concerns about Samantha with him, then why do you think he got so hostile towards Emily O'Brien when she wanted to talk to him about Courtney? Do you think Ben was just very into Courtney and not so much into Samantha and that made all the difference?
Monica Spannbauer: Absolutely. I mean, like I said, I don't see a lot of this stuff. I'm watching it now with the public and when I see Ben's reaction with Courtney, I'm dead shocked.
I knew he liked her, but just last week when they went on the group date, she came back with the rose and everybody was 100% percent convinced that Courtney was going to shoot herself in the foot because she doesn't do well with us and she's obviously a very great actress or a manipulative person with Ben.
We all thought she manipulated him and he gave her the rose, which I thought was the worst decision ever! It really put everybody on edge. They were absolutely beside themselves in tears going, "If this is the kind of girl he wants, I don't know if I should even be here." And so, I absolutely think that it was his connection with her versus his connection that he didn't have with Samantha.
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So it was very easy to be kind of harsh with Samantha and send her home. And again, I mean, there's a lot more behind the scenes that goes on that not everybody sees. So, we don't know how lengthy that conversation was or maybe she was a little crude. Who knows, you know?
Reality TV World: What was going through your mind at the Rose Ceremony when Ben had one rose left? Did you assume it was going to you or Emily and what was your immediate reaction when he chose to give the rose to Emily instead?
Monica Spannbauer: I, first of all, was not even counting who was there and who wasn't. (Laughs) That's why in my "Diary of the Departed," I was like, "Oh, I'm the last one." Through a conversation that Ben and I had, which obviously was off camera, I kind of suspected I was going home. For the record, that's why I wore this ridiculous dress that I wore that night.
It was a joke. I've had this dress for 15 years and it has huge red roses on it and I knew I was going home that night. [The Rose Ceremony location] was a 30-minute drive to my house. I just had this intuitive feeling and I felt like he wasn't feeling anything for me as much as I wasn't feeling for him. If it was going to come out, it was going to come through in that conversation that night.
And so, I kind of made a joke to everybody that I already got my rose. It was on my dress. So, I wasn't paying attention and I was shocked to go, "Oh yeah, I'm the last one." But I kind of felt like I was going home, regardless. I just didn't think I would be the only one going home. (Laughs) But I guess since Samantha had gone home earlier -- I knew Emily was staying.
She's a great girl. I mean, I don't think everybody gets to see the actual depth of Emily. She is funny and she's pretty and she's smart and she's quirky. She's just an all-around great girl. So, I never thought he was sending her home. I didn't realize she was so worried, you know?
I actually broke up the fight between her and Courtney and I said, "You're not doing this. You're not going to sit here and have a yelling match with this girl when she's -- like she said -- verbally assaulting her." I felt bad. I felt kind of bad that Emily had so much anxiety, but I never thought she was going home -- not at all.
Reality TV World: Unless I missed it, your divorce wasn't -- unlike Nicki Sterling -- part of what we saw on TV. Did you ever share that with Ben or, like we've seen of Nicki so far, were you kind of worried about telling him that too soon?
Monica Spannbauer: No, I -- to be honest with you -- there's just too much information and it's about my mom. I have kind of this scary childhood background story and the producers really kind of pushed me to talk about that situation to Ben, and I said, "Oh my God, I would never talk about this to somebody so early on." I'd rather talk about my divorce, so it wasn't that it was a secret.
It's just been so long and I'm so over it, that I don't care. I'm still really good friends with my mother-in-law. It was a divorce through infidelity on his part, but he did me a favor. I didn't want to be in it. I just don't believe in divorce. So, no. I wasn't embarrassed at all. I just don't think it was even necessary. It had been over since '95, you know?
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when Brittney Schreiner chose to quit the show? Did that surprise you and did you see that coming at all? Had she talked to you about wanting to leave or anything?
Monica Spannbauer: No, Brittney was very private about things. I liked the girl a lot and that's when you kind of see in the background that I was really shocked and really sad, because I knew why she went home and I knew her feelings about it. So, it kind of upset me that she probably could have been a better fit over some of the other girls.
It was perceived that maybe they weren't there for Ben or for the right reasons, like Samantha. And that's kind of what Brittney told him about and I think that's where Ben started to look at Samantha. Brittney told him that Samantha was there for the wrong reasons.
So whatever she heard and whatever she knew, she was upset about it and she said, "This isn't for me." She didn't have feelings for him. She didn't want to go through it. The girls get very emotional and all they do is talk about their feelings all day. She was just over it. But I was really sad to see her go, because it was a shock to me.
Reality TV World: Which bachelorettes did you think would be good for Ben or consider frontrunners while you were on the show and did you think anyone in particular was there for the wrong reasons, other than say, Courtney?
Monica Spannbauer: Like I said, I don't know if anybody was there necessarily for the wrong reasons. It just depends on what their reasons are for, you know? I think everybody was at least open to the idea of finding love, but possibly skeptical. For me, it came off as, "Hey, I'm the tough girl and I'm here for the wrong reasons."
Especially me, I know America was looking at me going, "Why is this girl on the show? She has no interest in him?" I went completely open-minded. I think, for sure, Nicki. I think hands down, Nicki is a beautiful individual. She's got a heart of gold and I do think she's a little bit -- she's very emotionally invested in this, obviously, as well as Kacie B and Emily.
So I felt like at the point of when I was there, they would have been great matches for him. But those are probably the only three that I can pick out that for sure, I can actually see Ben with.
Also during the call, Monica told reporters which bachelorette she felt Ben does not deserve to date if he chooses her in the end, what actually happened when it came to her controversial relationship with Blakeley Shea during the premiere episode, why she admitted she's "afraid of love," and what her real feelings are towards Courtney.
You said in your final words you went on The Bachelor to explore yourself and find out what you wanted. Did you find what you wanted?
Monica Spannbauer: Yeah, believe it or not, coming into this experience, I came in with a lot of rules and a lot of expectations and I really didn't think it was ever going to pan out. But I think the one thing I learned about myself is, in kind of a sappy way, how to see me in a different light and even if you've had failed relationships, I think that doesn't define you as a person.
What defines you is the people in your life and how you react to things. I kind of found myself through this show, which is a cool thing for me being 33. I mean, finally.
You also said in your final words that you're afraid of love. Why is that?
Monica Spannbauer: I've been in various relationships. I mean, to be honest, my whole life -- three long relationships and single for about two years in Salt Lake City, and there's a large Mormon culture here and I'm not Mormon.
So, it hasn't been the best thing for me and you know, I was married and I went through a divorce. Just things like that defeat you a little bit and you always wonder if you're ever going to find that right person.
And so, I'm a little bit afraid of it. I'm afraid to be hurt. I'm afraid to open up and I'm just kind of afraid of it. I feel like I'm getting at that point to where whether you fear it or not, you survive it and you're fine. You get over it, you live and you shall pass.
You and Jenna Burke clearly didn't hit it off in the premiere episode, but when we talked to Jenna after her elimination, she said you guys had made up and become friends. Is that true? Are you girls still friends?
Monica Spannbauer: Completely. I mean, I don't talk to Jenna, obviously, but the whole thing was really ridiculous. It was over the stupidest thing -- a complete misunderstanding and after five hours of being questioned about it, that's where everybody saw me get belligerent.
I was just kind of over it and she really -- I think it was just a huge misunderstanding, and the next day, she came to me and apologized. You know what? That's really big of you, because I was just going to push it right under the carpet. And we were fine. We were fine ever since then. It was not a big deal at all.
You said during the premiere episode that you didn't have feelings for Ben but that was probably because you didn't really know him or get to talk to him. Did your feelings for him change or grow at all up until your elimination or did you leave feeling exactly the same way?
Monica Spannbauer: Well, I will kind of clear up something a little bit. I have never seen the show. So, I got onto this show by completely being nominated by a friend. So, I haven't fallen in love with Ben like some of these girls have by watching his character on the last season.
And so, I literally came in knowing four things about this man and the first night, we had a chance to talk and I thought he was kind of stuffy and kind of boring. As I got to know him, he's really fun. Like I said in my exit thing, he's quirky and funny and he's definitely a guy I'd want to hang out with -- just not a guy I'd want to date.
Could you clear up what actually happened that first night between you and Blakeley? Was it portrayed accurately?
Monica Spannbauer: (Laughs) I knew this one was coming. (Laughs) So you arrive at the house, or the mansion, in a limo with five other ladies or four other ladies -- there's five total. And Blakeley, everybody in the limo was, believe it or not, Courtney was in my limo, Anna Snowball was in there, and Blakeley and I just kind of hit it off.
They were much younger than me and we were close in age and we just hit it off as friends. She was funny and we laughed, and I mean, when you get out of that limo, you're nervous as can be and I obviously forgot my line.
You walk into the lion's den, so I'll call it, and it was kind of nice to have somebody on your arm -- like a friend going somewhere with you. And that's what it felt like with Blakeley. I liked her a lot. I think she's a really nice girl. She was very nervous, so as far as did that really happen, yeah.
It wasn't under the context of me being bi-sexual or into her -- absolutely not. I was kind of telling [someone] this, I was aware of the cameras and aware of anything that was happening around me, but not really aware that they could hear me whispering. (Laughs)
I wasn't trying to get her number to be her girlfriend. We're not supposed to talk to each other, so I was kind of trying to break the rules saying, "Look, if all we get out of this -- If we go home tonight and all I get is making a new friend, then this is awesome." You know? Who cares. I just wasn't stressed about getting on film. I was just trying to be comforting. It's funny.
What were your general thoughts about Courtney? Do you think she's right for Ben?
Monica Spannbauer: I absolutely think she's wrong for Ben, but the more I watch the show -- because obviously I don't get to see everything that happens too -- they possibly deserve each other. I think that when I met Courtney, she was very low key the first night. She didn't stand out among anybody. The only thing I remember is her commenting that she is a Vegan.
I just remember looking at her and thinking, "Oh, okay. Well you're very skinny and this and that -- how do you not eat meat?" But that was literally the bulk of my discussion with her or my interaction with her all night. She was nice. She wasn't this mean Courtney that everybody's seeing.
So the whole time you knew Courtney while you were on the show, she was nice?
Monica Spannbauer: I never had a problem with her -- at all. She said very rotten things to the other girls. I became really close with the other women and they would consult with me or use me as kind of their base. They called me "Momma Bear," which is so funny, because I was always just like consoling them. I don't like the way she treated people, but I personally never had an issue, ever.
What do you think about how Ben has seemed to really fall for Courtney. Based on the way she treated the other girls, does that bother you?
Monica Spannbauer: Yeah, I have no idea. I was rooting for Kacie B. the whole way and I still am. I think she's the sweetest, most wonderful girl and Courtney picked on her, which made me very protective of her. I don't know. I don't really read any of the stuff that people are saying because I don't want to read my own, but Courtney's not very nice.
I think she kind of deserves everything that's coming towards her. I can validate that she's somebody different around a group of women than she is around a man and she is really manipulative and really good at what she does. And obviously, that's the kind of girl that Ben's looking for, at least to this point.
So, I don't know. I mean, I kind of think if they end up together, they deserve each other. Because if he's that shallow and she's that manipulative, then they totally work together, you know?
Do you think Ben is watching back the season from home in shock, realizing he got to know a completely different side of Courtney than viewers get to see on TV?
Monica Spannbauer: Absolutely, I do. I watched two interviews with Jimmy Kimmel and this and that, and I watched Ellen yesterday and for the first time ever, knowing the little bit I know about Ben's personality, he's not so light-hearted and easy going about it anymore.
He either wants to solely protect her because he did choose her or he's all of a sudden going, "Wow." Because his mom and sister are fairly conservative and he's kind of had a good time on this journey. I wasn't going to be mean. I wasn't going to worry about it, but he does care about what his family thinks and I guarantee they're not looking at her as a very nice girl for Ben.
Why do you think Kacie B. is right for Ben? Since you said if Ben ends up choosing Courtney they'd deserve each other, are you kind of hoping Kacie won't end up with Ben because you're such a fan of hers?
Monica Spannbauer: Yeah, going through the process, I formed a very close relationship with Kacie B. Like I said, I see myself in her. She's nine years younger, she's the sweetest most adorable thing -- what you see is what you get, honestly. And I really saw a very genuine, real side of Ben while filming all of this and I thought, "Hands down, choose Kacie B. Like, what am I doing here?"
That's kind of why I was glad I left. I felt like I was going to date her boyfriend and I couldn't do that, you know? So, watching the show now though, I really hope he doesn't pick Kacie B. I really don't, because I don't think he's deserving of what a kind and beautiful person she is and I don't think it's fair. I think he'll break her heart.
And to be honest with you, if he did pick her and they're in this wonderful state of a new relationship, and they're having to watch this awfulness, that's just detrimental to a relationship. And if it's Courtney, she obviously can just walk it off and say, "Winning!" You know? And won't care.
So, that's where you kind of hear a little bitterness from me. I didn't see this side of Ben and it's very disappointing, because I do feel like he's genuine and a real person, but the choices he's making, it's certainly being a man and being manipulated.
[What] Emily was trying to do wasn't even for her own sake. It was, "Do you not see what's happening?" You're honestly trying not to see this and I'm giving you a heads up.
Shawntel Newton's return made most of the bachelorettes extremely upset and angry. But looking back, do you wish she would have stayed in attempt to at least steal some of Courtney's spotlight?
Monica Spannbauer: Like I said earlier, I've never seen the show. So when Shawntel walked in, the girls were hands down upset. That was not produced. That was not edited. They were livid and I didn't understand why because I don't know this girl. I had no opinion either way. I don't think that it's fair she came in midway. I don't.
Because I feel like when you start this process, it's very long. It's very daunting, and then you also kind of start from day one. So, that I do agree with being not fair. But Courtney, the only opinion I have on this is with Courtney, she's told me -- because I stood right next to her at the Rose Ceremony -- she came up to me and said, "If he keeps that, you know what? I'm leaving."
And she obviously said it on the show. Well, when she went up to accept her rose, she told us -- or she told me -- that she was going to tell him that -- that she was going to say, "I'll accept this rose, but if you keep her, I'm leaving." And she didn't say that. She just said something kind of weird or whatever, and so I don't know how much I trust any of that.
It seemed like Shawntel and Ben had been talking or they had some sort of relationship, and I think maybe he did want to keep her, because he sent [Jaclyn Swartz and Erika Uhlig] home in the same sentence, which was kind of weird. But it was the moment when I realized he cared enough to continue the relationships with the girls he had met -- us -- and he didn't think it was fair.
So, I kind of took that as a very bold statement and maybe he let himself down. Maybe he could have kept her hoping something would come from it, but I think he was very concerned about how it would make the rest of us feel, especially Courtney. So, yeah, I think he did that for everyone else and not himself... He was maybe a little scared of us. (Laughs) I don't know!
Courtney is apparently the girl Ben goes skinny dipping with during next week's episode. What is your reaction to that?
Monica Spannbauer: I'm not surprised because after watching, like I said, Courtney was not shy about making it very obvious to the rest of us women that she felt better than us. I mean, she's kind of a weird duck. She really is. She had to take a four-hour nap before every event. So if Ben picks her, I hope he's aware of this. She takes long naps.
I'm not surprised. I feel like Courtney's going to pull out any gun or any ammo necessary to make this work for her, because I do -- it is a competition in a way -- but when feelings get involved, and a lot of these girls did have feelings, I don't think it's a competition anymore. It just becomes about you and him and how this is going to be.
I feel like everything Courtney does is to spite the women or it's almost kind of like wrenching that something to hurt everybody and not necessarily to get Ben. I mean, listen. I wouldn't go skinny dipping with him, and it's not because I'm prudish or not cool, it's just like what's the point? What for? I don't get it. About The Author:Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.