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Arts & Entertainment

Four North Texas Women Are Trying to Win Hearts in Fox’s “Farmer Wants a Wife”

A real estate investor, a bartender, an accounting assistant, and an executive coordinator walk into a farm. The rest is made-for-TV courtship.
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Lily, Sarah I., Porschia and Sara V. (the latter two are from North Texas) are vying for the affection of one farmer on Fox's Farmer Wants a Wife, which airs on Wednesdays. FOX

Heather Carwile didn’t think she’d try to find love on a TV show. But she had been in a relationship for nine years, and it had ended badly. She had just turned 40 and was trying to find her footing again. Then the producers of the Fox show Farmer Wants a Wife came calling.

“They actually found me on Instagram at a perfect time, I think, because I had just gone through this terrible, life-changing breakup,” she says a few days after the first episode of this season aired. “I was like, ‘You know what? Let me say yes to this.’”

Carwile, a Dallas real estate investor, is one of four North Texans on the show this season, along with Porschia, an accounting assistant in Irving’s Las Colinas; Sara V., a bartender in Dallas; and Ashley L., an executive coordinator in Dallas. The show debuted last week, and episodes air on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Farmer Wants a Wife is based on a format that first aired in the U.K. 22 years ago, and has since expanded to 32 other countries. According to the publicity materials, the entire franchise boasts a success rate of 180 marriages and 410 children. It first aired in the U.S. in 2008 on the CW with one farmer and 10 women. It lasted a single season, and was picked up this year by Fox. 

The newest iteration splits 32 women among four farmers—horse breeder Ryan Black of North Carolina, cattle rancher Allen Foster of Tennessee, cattle and horse rancher Hunter Grayson of Georgia, and cattle rancher and farmer Landon Heaton of Oklahoma.

The premise is simple: wife up the farmers. Potential partners were able to review online profiles of all four farmers, and then choose a match. The men then culled through those matches to meet eight each, for 10 minutes each. Then each farmer chose five potential wife candidates to come live on their farms for six weeks, hopefully figuring out which one he’d like to marry.

In the first episode, viewers are introduced to the farmers and the 32 women. But given that it’s only an hour, Sugarland front woman and host Jennifer Nettles is tasked with keeping the action moving. Guesses are that we’ll learn more about each of the farmers and their prospective spouses in the next few episodes. 

Social media response to the first episode has been everything from “this is cringe” to “I kind of love this.” The Daily Beast went so far as to call it “surprisingly genius.” While there will no doubt be some drama as all 36 people involved navigate courtship on a TV show, viewers can expect a show that is earnest and, probably, a little corny (they are farmers, after all). One woman is described as being “cuter than a speckled pup sleeping in the shade of a wagon wheel,” for instance. But there’s a well-meaning thread, too.

Carwile says she ultimately didn’t become a farmer’s wife (no word yet if any of the other locals will head down the aisle), she did learn a lot about herself in the process.

“I will be the first to say that I do not like farming, OK?” she laughs. “I don’t know that I could have actually made it on the farm. But it is really telling of our society, and where dating is in our society that I was basically like, ‘You know, let me go on this reality show and let me give farmers a chance because I haven’t found the love of my life.’”

She also says the experience helped her narrow down what she wanted from a prospective partner, too. “Instead of just being willing to give my energy to any opportunity, I have a very specific person in mind that I would see as my husband, as my partner for life,” she says. “I’m not really willing to settle until I get that. I’d rather just be single.”

Heather Carwile’s Perfect Dallas First Date

The Dallas-based Farmer Wants a Wife contestant dishes on what makes a good first impression.

The first step

“They need to plan the whole date,” she says. “I don’t like it when a guy just wants to wing it, because it’s hard to wing it in Dallas when you need reservations just about everywhere.”

To kick things off

Before the evening truly kicks off, “I think you should meet for drinks at Catbird,” Carwile says.

Move to a second location

If you want to stay in the area, then after Catbird, head to “a nice, light dinner at Kessaku.”

Finish the night

“Then go to Monarch, but just for dessert, because their chocolate soufflé is the best thing in life.”

That being said, she says she was surprised with how genuine the experience was, and how her fellow prospects were approaching the show. 

“I think when you see reality TV, you just always assume that they’re just doing it for their Instagram following or whatever,” she says. “But going there and meeting the girls, they really are genuine. They really want love, and they’re willing to put themselves out there on national television in an attempt to find it.”

Heaton and Grayson, who came to North Texas over the weekend to attend the American Western Weekend rodeo and music event at Arlington’s Globe Life Field, say they decided to appear on the show because it was hard to date.

“Without speaking for everyone, if we’d been successful in dating, we wouldn’t have been on this show,” Heaton says. “We just submerge ourselves into our lifestyles and a lot of times put our personal lives on the back burner, and end up out in the middle of nowhere taking care of animals without somebody to share that life with.”

Grayson agrees that he also had “missed the boat looking for that person.”

While not all of the contestants were necessarily prepared for farm and ranch life, “they’re moving in on our ranches and working with us day in and day out, so they see what real life is actually like,” Grayson explains. 

“I can’t speak highly enough about these women though,” Heaton says. “They came out here into a world they’ve never known and we asked them to do things we do every day, which is not an easy task, and they just jumped in feet first—sometimes literally.”

That doesn’t mean there weren’t a few early misfires, however. Both farmers agreed that there was a bit of a learning curve.

“I think on day one, this girl showed up in stark white cowboy boots,” Heaton chuckles. “The first thing I had them do was come feed cattle, and there was a lot of things out there you don’t want on white boots.”

“I think on my first date with Sydney, she shows up in $700 sneakers that are white and gold,” Grayson says.

While there were no other spoilers divulged, both say they were happy with the whole experience.

“I was going in with an open heart, an open mind, and laying it all on the line,” Grayson says. “It was single-handedly the best decision I’ve made, and I’ve decided that I’m truly gonna try and live my life that way for the rest of it just because the experience was so amazing.”


Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson

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Bethany Erickson is the senior digital editor for D Magazine. She's written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.

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