Where does Bachelor in Paradise go from here?
The consensus among speculative reports this morning (insofar as ABC hasn’t officially confirmed the show’s fate) is that it goes nowhere. By all accounts this season could be irreversibly off the rails in the wake of a sudden production shutdown due to allegations of “misconduct” during filming.
“We have become aware of allegations of misconduct on the set of Bachelor in Paradise in Mexico,” Warner Bros. said in a statement Monday. “We have suspended production and we are conducting a thorough investigation of these allegations. Once the investigation is complete, we will take appropriate responsive action.”
“Misconduct” almost sounds tepid but, in this case, the word comes fully loaded with a backstory involving a hookup between Corinne Olympios, of Bachelor infamy, and DeMario Jackson, a castoff from the circus-with-an-apparent-happy-ending that is the current season of The Bachelorette. On-the-record explanations haven’t been forthcoming, but the details that have been trickling out in all different directions haven’t yet painted a cohesive story.
And who knows what sort of story is going to come out once people (other than their disappointed BIP castmates, that is) start talking.
But it was fun while it lasted—if your definition of fun is immersing yourself in the romantic but frequently embarrassing, often obnoxious and sometimes downright conniving behavior of others.
For the record, that’s many people’s definition of fun, considering the millions of people who still invest themselves in the Bachelor rose garden season after season (though Nick Viall‘s proposal was a bit down in the ratings from Ben Higgins‘ proposal).
In fact, some fans who were tiring of The Bachelor and Bachelorette‘s formula ended up preferring the spin-offs—first Bachelor Pad with its MTV Challenge vibe, and then Bachelor in Paradise, where the challenge was to keep all the hookups straight in an idyllic setting.
And if that old, put-the-hot-people-in-close-quarters-and-watch-them-play formula wasn’t broken, why fix it, right?
Well, as it turns out, it is broken. While whatever happened during BIP filming was troublesome enough to put the kibosh on the production (likely for the whole season and quite possibly for forever), that doesn’t mean the behavior and the means through which scenarios are encouraged to unfold weren’t due for an overhaul anyway.
Simply, what makes for good television doesn’t often align with what’s right—and we can see that in every facet of TV these days, from the news to the reality shows.
Already, before this happened, Rachel Lindsay—a confident, accomplished attorney—was confronted with a veritable wack pack of suitors on The Bachelorette this season. And while she’s now engaged to one of the actually eligible fellows of the bunch, it couldn’t have been her idea to have to wade through the “whaboom” guy, et al., first. She knew she was signing up for some early shenanigans, but a guy with a racist-tweet past? The “tickle monster” who went right in for the tickle upon meeting?
Give a woman a break.
Maybe that’s why the show decided, for the first time ever, that it would be a good move for the Bachelorette to reveal she was engaged before the season even began. Perhaps they predicted that audiences might want some assurance that, amid all the jokers and the B.S., the show was still for real this season.
Because while it’s never been easy to take this franchise seriously as far as its stated intended purpose goes, it’s become even harder to ignore the behind-the-scenes manipulation that goes into the drama playing out on camera. And while we’ve always known that “unscripted” TV has many helping hands behind the scenes—from The Real World‘s suspiciously large showers to the ripped-from-reality plot points on UnREAL—we’d still rather the hands not be quite so visible.
A source told E! News that a hookup between Corinne and DeMario, both controversial contestants on their Bachelor/Bachelorette seasons, had been encouraged prior to filming. Regardless of what exactly that means, the outcome was not good. Period.
“We were told to stay in a certain part of the [resort] while they figured out what the hell had happened,” a current BIP participant who did not want to be named told People today. “We knew something bad had happened; there was a dark energy that came around the house. You have to understand that we weren’t even there a week. The game hadn’t even really begun yet.”
This doesn’t mean that all reality shows are bad (existential arguments aside) or that everyone is just a pawn in the producers’ twisted schemes.
Past Bachelor in Paradise stars have been tweeting their concern in the wake of this weekend’s events, including Tanner Tolbert, who ended up marrying cast mate Jade Roper and therefore can attest to the merits of such an experience.
“It’s always sad when the actions of few…affect many,” he wrote on Instagram this morning. “I feel bad for everyone involved… cast and crew… and that people aren’t going to be able to enjoy an experience that meant so much to us.”
But what about those who didn’t find lasting love?
“The best part about Paradise was the friendships made,” Kirk DeWindt, who caught heat from fans after breaking up with Carly Waddell (who’s now engaged to Evan Bass, so it’s fine) told The Ashley in 2015 after season two wrapped up. “The cast spends all day together and you get to know one another very well quickly. The group of guys (and girls) were great and no matter what the show may have portrayed of some of the cast, there really were stand-up people there.”
But what did they do all day?
“We sat around. A lot. And bulls–t. A lot,” DeWindt said. “We would swim in the pool and the ocean a good bit, lay by the pool and the ocean, and drink fruity ‘Paradise’ drinks. We also had a bocce ball set that we abused daily which was good fun. Dan [Cox], Mikey [Tenerelli] and I would get a workout in everyday which was part of our routine as well. Mostly we ate, drank, and were lazy.”
As for the drama: “It’s real,” he said. “It’s not scripted although heavily edited. But really, it’s a bunch of cool, Type A personalities hanging out on a beach. Rough life, right?”
“It was paradise the first day, and then it went downhill from there,” Jami Letain, who originally hailed from Ben Higgins’ Bachelor season before competing on Bachelor in Paradise last year told Glamour. “I really enjoyed my time with Wells. I had a really, really awesome date with him, and then I realized he [had already] been on a date with Ashley I. when he got here. I was like, ‘OK, I can deal with that. I can deal with one other girl.’ Then, on the next day, two out of my three best friends came up and went on a date with Wells, and I was like, ‘OK, I’m breaking a little bit.'”
Sort of like being on The Bachelor all over again, only with more sun.
But Jami didn’t say that she regretted going on the show, and neither have most of the people who’ve given exit interviews upon leaving.
Yet those who stick around for awhile also don’t know what the finished product is going to look like. A source told E! News before production began that Corinne was nervous about BIP, because she didn’t want a repeat of the drama among the women that plagued her Bachelor experience.
“She’s not interested in dating anyone in Paradise. She’s going along for the ride,” the source said, “to have fun and support her girls. She’s going to be the best wing woman. But, you never know what will happen.”
Meanwhile, the men and women who show up to compete for one person’s affection on The Bachelorette and Bachelor have to first compete for attention—and a handful of them don’t even make it past the first impression. But once the cameras start rolling, anything can become fodder for on-air drama.
Isabel Goodkind, who wore pajamas for her initial greeting with Ben Higgins and didn’t get a rose on night one, said that the women understandably engaged in “nervous chitchat” in the limo, before any of them had met Ben.
“At that point, we were all mic’d, so I think that’s when it hit us that anything we said could have been aired,” she told AV Club after her unremarkable exit from the show. “We were all just rambling off about how nervous we would be and how excited we were. The girls in my limo and I said some pretty ridiculous things which weren’t aired, thank God. It was so exciting. We were all very nervous, but it was the first time we had met each other, so we were all in the same boat. We were really supportive of each other. You know, ‘You look great. You’re beautiful. Your hair is fine, don’t worry about it. You need a little lipstick.’ I kind of just got the chills talking about it, because that was so exciting.”
But while that actually sounds kinda nice—and seeing that would make the support a lot of the women at least appear to give each other once the show really gets underway seem more believable—inevitably lines are drawn in the sand early on.
But Isabel, who admitted that tons of preparation went into what amounted to not even 15 minutes of fame, didn’t recall anything nefarious happening around the house.
“You could definitely get a drink,” she said. “There was food. If they wanted to have a glass of wine, they could. If they didn’t, they didn’t. Everyone was kind of just sitting around, looking around the house. You know, observing our surroundings and getting to know each other. It was really cool. I wasn’t as nervous once I got in there and started talking to girls.”
We get it. As Kirk indicated, a bunch of “lazy” people lying around most of the day, no matter how attractive, doesn’t necessarily make for scintillating TV. Nor, sadly, does a group of women making nervous chit-chat and trying to both bond and suss each other out at the same time. So opportunities for plot lines need to be nudged into existence.
But isn’t real life, if you let it play out naturally, enough of an obstacle course? No “whaboom” necessary.