ABC’s normally carefree “Bachelor” franchise encountered a dark situation this summer, when former contestant Gia Allemand, 29, committed suicide. Sunday night, during the first part of this season’s two-night premiere, Allemand’s castmates sat down for an emotional tribute as they reflected on the loss of their friend. Later, her mother appeared for a short, but devastating, interview.
It was a tough line for “Bachelor” producers to walk, as they normally specialize in reality show staples of hot tubs and catfights, gleefully basking in contestant breakdowns. And overall, seeing the show address such a tragedy in in the middle of its “Countdown to Juan Pablo” special was a tad unsettling (very few details about Allemand’s death were given), though the show tried to keep a respectful tone.
“It is heart-wrenching,” Allemand’s mother, Donna, said. “I wouldn’t want to see any other parent go through this.”
This followed a photo montage, along with remembrances from co-stars who talked about her being a loving and loyal friend. Was it a little out of place in the middle of the premiere night special? Maybe — it could have been placed at the beginning of the two hours. Or maybe it should have aired as a separate, longer public service announcement about suicide prevention; host Chris Harrison did give a short voiceover telling viewers to go to abc.com for more information.
Sure enough, the network’s homepage features a link to “Remembering Gia,” as well as ways to donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. A good move by ABC, and one that could have been used on air during a difficult situation.
Here’s an excerpt of the tribute: