If you’re interested in this blog and the Bachelorette, you have probably heard that Bachelor in Paradise was shut down two weeks ago, and then restarted this week. There’s a lot of information floating around about what happened, and much of it comes from anonymous sources, but I want to lay out what we know and my thoughts on what went down.
Bachelor in Paradise is the trashy little sister to the Bachelor/Bachelorette mainstream love story. The producers, Chris Harrison, and ABC still pretend that the Bachelor/Bachelorette can lead to true love. They’ve given up that completely when it comes to Bachelor in Paradise. The premise of the show is getting a bunch of rejected suitors from the mainstream shows, put them in a resort in Mexico, isolate them from the world, ply them with alcohol, and roll the cameras.
It is no surprise that people get drunk in that situation. It is also no surprise that people hook up, sometimes with lots of different people, all on camera. But the issue of consent has never come up, and the show has never, NEVER, stopped production before.
There are still a lot of competing stories out there, but I’ll do my best to break it down.
Bachelor in Paradise started filming on June 4 in Mexico. On the first day of filming, Corinne and DeMario hooked up after allegedly being told by the show that their “story line” would be that the two of them hang out. The two had both been drinking heavily, and the hookup happened in the pool.
Stories diverge a bit about what the actual hookup entailed. According to sources close to DeMario (anonymous, so grain of salt), the two were both heavily intoxicated, they were naked, but did not engage in intercourse. According to sources from ABC (anonymous again), at one point Corinne “seemed to go limp and was sliding under the water.” The two appeared to have intercourse briefly. Corinne issued a statement today. In her words: “I am a victim and have spent the last week trying to make sense of what happened on June 4. Although I have little memory of that night, something bad obviously took place, which I understand is why production on the show has now been suspended and a producer on the show has filed a complaint against the production.”
After June 4, a producer filed a complaint with the show. It has been reported that the producer was Corinne’s handler who had not seen the interaction the night before. It has also been reported that another producer filed a similar complaint. The show quarantined contestants, shut down production, and started investigating. Towards the end of the week, the show shut down production indefinitely, sent the cast and crew home. No lawsuit has been filed by any party, although both Corinne and DeMario have stated that they have hired lawyers.
This past week, Warner Brothers announced that it had concluded its investigation and found no wrongdoing by any party. The investigation was over in 10 days. They flew everyone back to Mexico and have since resumed filming.
I have a lot of questions. If the tape proved no wrongdoing, why did they send everyone home? Wouldn’t that have been dispositive and readily available information? I find it odd that they shut down production only to conclude that nothing wrong happened.
Viewed in the best possible light, ABC took allegations very seriously, assumed the worst, and proceeded with extreme caution. I hope that’s what happened, but I’m pretty skeptical. This show is, at its core, a moneymaker for ABC. Sending everyone home and shutting down production “indefinitely” is a huge blow to the network. If they didn’t resume filming, it would have been six weeks of two times a week primetime that wouldn’t have been filled with anything.
What I think is the more likely scenario (based entirely on speculation and lots of reading about how this networks acts) is that a producer, who had not been present the night of the incident, made a report about bad behavior. The network took it seriously and investigated. They realized this would be great publicity. They issued statements, sent everyone home, and flew them all back, even when they must have seen the tape on Day 1. People will be riveted now. They’ll tune in to see what went down with Corinne and DeMario. ABC says it won’t be airing the incident – wanna bet they air everything but?
The incident brings up some interesting questions about consent and what that means when you’ve signed your life over to a show. Consent can be so simple but so complex. People sometimes think it’s easy – get affirmative consent and you’re good to go. But what if two adults are equally intoxicated and equally participating in a hookup? What if both are too drunk to consent? Add another layer. Someone has told you that your storyline is hooking up with this individual. You know your producer. You trust your producer. You’re coming from an environment where everything is managed for you. You’re hungry? Someone will get you food. You want a drink? Coming right up. You’re confused about your feelings? Someone will talk you through it (on camera, of course).
What I find most interesting about this whole thing is the conversation about what responsibility, if any, the producers have to put a stop to behavior they find potentially harmful or criminal. BIP has been skirting pretty close the line for awhile now. Last season, Chad and Lace got WASTED, hooked up in a hot tub (which of course was aired), and he then proceeded to verbally assault her. Then he pooped his pants. Is that behavior ok? Should someone have stepped in and told them they were too drunk to consent? That Chad shouldn’t drink any more? That he was clearly processing something deep (death of a parent) and he wasn’t equipped to be on television at that time?
I think yes. I think the producers have a heightened obligation to protect the contestants from incidents like this. I don’t know if that fits with the model, and I don’t know if that makes for good TV, but the power dynamic is skewed. Producers decide how contestants look to the world. They tell contestants what to do and there’s a level of trust that exists between a producer and his or her contestant. From what I’ve heard, participating in the Bachelor, Bachelorette, or BIP is a very isolating experience and you are only exposed to and can “trust” people who are paid to make a television show out of your behavior. Power balance off, heightened responsibility for the people with the power.
That being said, it looks like we’re full steam ahead with this season’s BIP. I have my own totally unsubstantiated theories about why ABC chose to handle the incident this way, and we’ll probably never know what really went down and why ABC did what they did. But do I think they approached it in a way to increase ratings? Absolutely. SO. That’s that, we’ll have BIP this summer, and we’ll have to see how it all goes down (no pun intended).
Meanwhile, ABC is taking us on a Rachel rollercoaster with NO rose ceremonies at the end of the episode. ANNOYING. We’re still at the part of the season where we have to deal with a bunch of assholes who clearly aren’t going to win but take up all our screen time. Asshole of the week is named Lee. Lee is the worst. He’s the contestant who is “playing the game” and the lead can’t see it but everyone else is like, whyyyy is he still here. He started out by befriending Kenny, Eric, and other men in the house, only to deliberately antagonize them, prod them, and try to get them to react. The way Lee describes his interactions with Eric and Kenny is classic coding for “angry black man.” Eric wasn’t just expressing himself, he was “screaming.” Kenny wasn’t just standing up for himself, he was “aggressive.”
Even if we HADN’T seen Lee’s Twitter feed, which confirms that this turd is not woke, his behavior is pretty obvious and is a classic manifestation of racism. Yes, racism. Calling a black man aggressive and out of control because he engaged in a conversation with you is an overreaction based on stereotypes and fear. Saying a black man was “screaming” when he was speaking slightly louder than a conversational tone is playing into stereotypes and fear. You know who WAS screaming? Mr. Whaboom. That was a legitimate yell. Where was Lee for that?
Anyway. I’m bummed that Lee and Kenny have to go on a 2-1 this week. They never end well, even if you get picked. Kenny is one of my favorite contestants this season and he’s getting sucked into the trap of dealing with house dynamics over his own relationship with Rachel. I do want to note, however, that Lee has been a thorn in Eric’s side as well, and Eric has moved past it with Rachel. I think that’s more of a testament to how Rachel feels about Eric, rather than Eric’s behavior. I don’t think she’s that into Kenny, which breaks my heart. I hope Kenny finds love soon! Can’t wait to see how it all plays out tomorrow.
As always, my rankings.
- Dean. Dean was on fire this episode. He’s super charming and I was so there for him taking Lee down and naming exactly what was going on in the house. I’m concerned he’s too young for Rachel but I don’t even care.
- Peter. Peter made it his mission to stay out of the drama and stay focused on his relationship with Rachel. He seems to be a calming force for Rachel, and I think she keeps getting more and more interested in him. Kind of a slower burn, but it’s there.
- Bryan. Bryan hasn’t had a 1-on-1 yet, but he did get the first impression rose. I think he’s going to be a big player this season, once we weed through the rest of the contestants. Rachel is totally attracted to him. I don’t love their kissing style, but who am I to judge? I hope Rachel’s concern that he’s too good to be true is misplaced.
Honorable mention: Josiah. I find him funny! I get that it might be a little obnoxious to showboat like that when you have the mic, but I think it shows confidence and ease. I thought him making out with the trophy was hilarious. I assume he’s joking. Otherwise none of this is funny. But I like Josiah.
Also, this week we had to say goodbye to Diggy. I literally yelled out loud when I realized he had been sent home. Diggy, I love you and I love your bow-ties. I hope we haven’t seen the last of you.