Two years after I handed out my final rose on The Bachelorette Australia, almost daily I'm asked questions about my experience as the Bachelorette. 'Is it scripted?' 'Did you know who you wanted to be with from the first night?' 'Have you watched UnREAL?'
But the one thing I get more than anything is not so much a question as it is a statement: 'Surely you could spot the guys who weren't there for the right reasons?'
I always find this question/statement/judgement amusing. I'm not silly. And I don't think you'd have to be silly to know that out of 18 blokes – who willingly chose to go on a reality TV show – some had intentions other than being my boyfie.
There were, at the very least, three guys on my series who I don't think realised the idea of the show was that someone would end up with me. I'm almost certain two of them didn't know my name.
I could have been annoyed that I'd put everything on the line to find someone genuine and yet here were these guys trying to catch a bit of airtime and leverage fame.
But I'm a realist. And more importantly, I'm a The Bachelor and The Bachelorette tragic. I know as much as anyone that the teeth-licking, maniacal-cackling Keiras and the 'International Male Model Davids' (their legal names, I believe) are half the reason I love the shows so much.
As this juggernaut franchise continues to grow, so too does bitterness about those who make up the cast. Each season, we see more people go in with apparent ulterior motives and come out with teeth-whitening deals. But is this really a bad thing?
There are around 23 participants each season (mine had 18, but I'm totally not reading anything into that). The reality (gasp! – she's talking about actual reality in an article about reality TV?!) is that it's very hard to find and cast 23 people who the Bachelor or Bachelorette will truly like and want to date.
And even if they did, is that what we want to watch? I'd like to think we're not all so masochistic that we want to watch 22 hearts break. That would be awful viewing. So too would an eight-week show focusing on only one or two burgeoning relationships.
But give us one love story, a couple of broken hearts, some class clowns who'll make us laugh and some mean girls and boys who end up getting their own back, and then you have a show.
The final episodes of these shows are when the love stories truly unfold. They make brilliant, romantic – and yes – heartbreaking television. But I don't think viewers want to see 15-plus episodes of just that.
We want drama! We want catfights! We want tears! And if there are people on the show willing to give us that, why complain?
Ultimately, the show is about love. And no matter what the cynics say, the numbers don't lie. To date, the Australian franchise of The Bachelor/The Bachelorette has produced one baby, one marriage and four ongoing, live-in relationships. They're pretty good odds. And odds worth investing your well-earned screen time in, if you ask me.
So let the Vanessa Sunshines shine. Let them entertain us as we switch off from our daily stresses to watch their champagne and jealousy-fuelled ones. Who knows? They may even find love.
After all, when I finish writing this, I'm going back to my couch to cuddle up to the man who brought a donkey to the red carpet to meet me.
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