As most of y’all know, Sweet Home Alabama wrapped up last Friday night with Paige choosing Jeremiah in the finale. If you’ve been reading my blogs all season (see the review of the finale here) then you know I was rooting for Paige and Jeremiah, so I was really excited to talk with them on Wednesday about the show and where they are now.
Paige and Jeremiah couldn’t have been sweeter and had a lot to say about their experiences on the show.
“It’s been exciting,” Paige said, even though some of the reactions she’s gotten since the finale have been negative. “Facebook and Twitter have blown up so much we can’t even keep up with our own. There’s some negativity, but it’s a TV show and it’s great that people are passionate about it.” But in the face of a lot of criticism, Paige got some important advice from her dad. “He said ‘Don’t let defending yourself take away from the joy of meeting this person you’ve been praying for’, so you’ve just got to keep the right mindset. We just had our first date out in public, we went out for dinner up here, so that was really nice.”
Paige and Jeremiah were under a strict contract not to let the cat out of the bag. Jeremiah said that when his family members would come over, they’d walk in and if Paige were there “she’d have to dive behind the sofa or hide somewhere, and be there the whole time my family’s there having a conversation.”
“Our families were really supportive and would have kept the secret,” said Paige, “We only told our close, immediate family members.”
Paige said she knew Jeremiah was sort of painted as the bad guy on the show, because the show couldn’t have her pick a guy on the first day. “They have a show to make and they needed more episodes, so they had to make it like a surprise ending.”
The most important thing for Paige and Jeremiah was protecting their relationship – after all, it’s pretty new. “I only spent fifteen hours with Jeremiah and Bubba during the month that we were filming, so it’s already hard with a new relationship and there’s the added pressure.”
Paige said she knew how Jeremiah felt about her “because of the way he would look at me, and he hugged me longer than anyone else”, but when he hid a letter to her in her boots at the beach it reassured her. “Jeremiah opened up in a letter and not in front of the cameras, so he wasn’t a good character for them. They did have to make a show and wanted a good show, and you can’t have a relationship develop on paper.”
After that Paige and Jeremiah kept writing each other letters, but they weren’t able to exchange them until the show had wrapped.
Paige said the fact that Jeremiah had trouble sharing his feelings with her on camera made her feel better, because she didn’t question his intentions. “You do wonder, is this guy only saying this for the show or to try and stay one more week. People will say anything for the sake of being on TV.”
So why did Jeremiah have such a hard time opening up on camera? One reason is that he knows how reality shows worked – when living in L.A. and pursuing music, he spent a few years working as a camera operator on The Hills and other reality TV shows.
“There’s so many ways they [reality TV show producers in general] can play tricks with you to get you to say what they want you to say. They might say ‘You know, Paige’s friends really didn’t like you,’ so you say ‘Well I don’t care if they liked me!’ and they’ve gotten you all riled up so that’s what they’re going to show. And then you think, man, I should’ve just, like, stayed in bed today.” (And now Paige says her friends couldn’t be happier for them.)
Jeremiah said that he felt episode five painted him in a different light than how things had actually happened, so he stopped watching the show for a little while.
“Once you love that person and it’s mutual, you want to hold her tight,” said Jeremiah. “But you’re living with people who are becoming your friends and it’s an unrealistic setting but you’re dealing with such a real thing, it’s your heart, it’s who you’re going to spend the rest of your life with.”
Best Friends Forever
Paige also cared about the guys in the house, and wants everyone to know that she had the best intentions.
“I grew to love Little Shaun and Bubba, and even Big Shaun so much as people. I meant what I said, and I never said I loved them, I only told Jeremiah I loved him. I really could see myself living on a ranch. I tried to do what I could do. It’s hard on everyone. I couldn’t tell Jeremiah that I loved him and was going to pick him, and I couldn’t tell Bubba that I loved him only as a friend and wasn’t going to choose him. I tried not to say anything to lead him on, but I did feel like I had to for the show, and it’s what we all signed up for. I felt like I had to carry that burden, and I cried so many nights. It wasn’t fair to anyone.”
Paige didn’t know Bubba had gone and bought an engagement ring until she saw it. “I had no idea, until I saw it on the preview for the finale. I thought, ‘What? When did he get that?’ I don’t know…it was strange, it felt like maybe he knew I wasn’t going to pick him at eliminations.”
Paige said she has no idea if Bubba was tipped off by producers about her final choice. Jeremiah pointed out, those are things they’ll never really know. But once they knew Paige was choosing Jeremiah, why wouldn’t they pick a character who everyone could like a root for, so that those people would return next season. “I don’t know, but if I were the producer on a reality TV show, that’s what I would do!” Jeremiah joked.
If Bubba were to star in the next season of Sweet Home Alabama, Paige said her advice to him would be “Follow your heart and don’t say anything you don’t mean 100%. It’s hard because you want to be good and help them make a good show, but you need to put yourself and your heart before the show.”
And as for Paige and Jeremiah now? “We’re in Minnesota, I’m working at Kruger Farms and coming up to see Jeremiah at his farm or going home to South Carolina when I can.” Paige said she encouraged Jeremiah to keep pursuing his music career. “I did want him to pursue it and finish his album so that I can play it in the car when we can’t be together!”
At the end of the interview, what Paige and Jeremiah really wanted to stress was how happy they were to have done the show and met each other, and how highly they think of the other people from the show. “We’re like a little Sweet Home Alabama family, and I’m close with some of the girls and guys. I really did grow to love some of the guys in the house. Bubba is really just an awesome person, and he’s best friends with Jeremiah.”
Paige said doing Sweet Home Alabama was “amazing, as stressful as it was,” and that “it was such a blessing to be a part of it.”
“I’m very traditional in how I would meet a girl, and this was a very untraditional thing,” Jeremiah said. “Which is what leads me to believe that God did have a hand in it.”