The jury is out on the specifics of what went down in Paradise this summer. Reports indicate the show’s shutdown was the result of two contestants, DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios, extremely intoxicated (yet producer driven) engaging in an explicit sexual encounter in the pool.
According to anonymous sources, cameras continued to film even though the two showed signs they were much to drunk to consent. But, it wasn’t until a line producer, who did not return to work the next morning, filed misconduct complaints against the show, that it suspended filming.
Speculation, slut-shaming, racial comments and outrage are running rampant in the aftermath of the shows shutdown, which is not only inappropriate considering the allegations, but indicates just how far down the rabbit hole we as bachelor nation continue to fall.
Clare Fallon, Here To Make Friends co-host and HuffPost culture writer explains, “But the disappointment [over the shows cancelation] can, and should, be an opportunity for the show itself and for the audience to think carefully about how much messy drama we expect from our reality shows, and what risks cast members may assume in order to meet those expectations.”
Are we really surprised the show has stepped over the line? A line that has for years been gray and constantly moving.
Fallon and co-host Emma Gray often tackle the most cringe-worthy moments of the show in their “feminist fails” section of Here To Make Friends. The podcast explains what we reality television viewers are all thinking, it’s something we love to hate. We know the show consistently toes the line when it comes to safety and mental health of the contestants, but we can’t seem to pull ourselves away from the juicy drama long enough to see how immune we are.
The truth is, the Bachelor franchise has created a culture of desensitized viewers for over twenty years. This is not the first time the show has had to respond to allegations that it’s gone too far. The franchise continues to draw the line and step right over it. And we as viewers continue to let them.
Consider Chad Johnson, a contestant on Jo Jo’s season, who threatened physical violence to other contestants on several occasions. Johnson went farther than the average Jerry Springer type argument reality show viewers crave – telling future winner Jordan Rodgers ‘You think this is a show and you think you’re safe for now, but one day this ends, and when I go home” adding, “You think I can’t find you?”
Though drama has yet to completely unfold in the current Bachelorette season of the franchise, it is becoming more apparent that ABC used contestant Lee Garret’s racist tweets to insight hostility on a season that features a larger pool of people of color. Is that an acceptable line to cross?
The franchise has never felt an ounce of remorse for capitalizing on the shows villains, who in many cases aren’t villains at all. Though former villains have gone on to use the label to their benefit – think Courtney Robertson ‘I Didn’t Come Here To Make Friends’ – it does not negate that the show twisted their words and actions to fit their plot lines.
Some critics point out that viewers are more outraged of the show’s cancelation than the actual incident. This shouldn’t be that shocking. Over the past twenty plus years, multiple franchises, The Bachelor has conditioned us to accept the outrageous – choosing instead to convince us it is in good fun, producer driven, and all in the name of love.
Although we almost made it to paradise this summer, this specific arm of the franchise is most likely finished. As bachelor nation waits in anticipation for whatever installment comes next, they don’t have to wait long. The next episode of the Bachelorette will be sure to redraw the line, step over it, and start again.