After months of rumors about why ABC’s hit “Bachelor in Paradise” shut down production after allegations of possible misconduct between contestants Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson, the show — which was cleared in an investigation — finally provided some answers Tuesday night in a sitdown with host Chris Harrison and the cast.
It was an educational experience, as Harrison led a lesson on sexual consent (“If somebody’s passed out, unresponsive, can they give consent?” “If somebody’s drunk, can they give consent?”). The contestants shared their thoughts on whether race was a factor because the alleged controversy was about a black man and a white woman. (“Unfortunately, yes.”)
The episode was also pretty cringeworthy damage control, relieving the show of any responsibility, complete with a dose of media-bashing. Here are some other takeaways:
1) “Bachelor in Paradise” is a beautiful show with only pure intentions to help people find love.
Did you think “Bachelor in Paradise” was just a seedy “Bachelor” spin-off where former contestants try to extend their 15 minutes of fame and drink and hook up? Then that’s your problem, because actually, it is truly a life-affirming experience for lost souls just trying to find a partner.
The episode started the wedding of Evan Bass and Carly Waddell, who met and got engaged last season. “Even though our production was technically shut down, we didn’t want anyone to miss this joyous occasion,” Harrison explained. How annoying when producers on your show are so disturbed by a situation that they have to file complaints about possible misconduct before a made-for-TV wedding can happen.
Luckily, the wedding took place. “This is going to be the most beautiful wedding ever. Carly and Evan are completely a testament to what ‘Paradise’ can do for people,” sighed contestant Sarah Herron in an on-camera interview.
2) “Bachelor in Paradise” producers and ABC are completely blameless.
The gist of the controversy: Production shut down after an incident in a pool between DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios, or, as People reported, possibly “a drunk sexual encounter with a female contestant who may have been too intoxicated to consent.” Olympios hired a lawyer and said she was a “victim”; Jackson said the reports were false and character assassination. An investigation found the footage showed no misconduct. Production started again, though without Jackson and Olympios.
The second half of the episode kicked off as Harrison gathered the cast around for a Very Serious Talk. On Monday, viewers briefly saw footage of Jackson and Olympios laughing and cuddling in the pool; Tuesday, there was no such footage. But producers really want the audience to know that they did absolutely nothing wrong.
“Warner Bros. hired an outside firm to look into everything that supposedly happened here,” Harrison said. “They looked at all the video footage, sent people down here to interview all of you, our staff. They concluded that there was no evidence of misconduct by cast on the set. So let’s talk about that. Do you trust that conclusion?”
There was a large chorus of “Yes!” and “Absolutely.” “I was confident that nothing happened between DeMario and Corinne that was bad, and I trusted everyone that worked here, so I knew everything was gonna be okay,” declared Raven Gates.
“My biggest worry was for not only production, because I felt like they were kind of blamed,” she continued. “And then my worry was for DeMario and Corinne because we knew what happened, but it was so unfair the way that people were speaking about DeMario and the blame he was getting and the horrible things said to him, and Corinne both.”
3) “Bachelor in Paradise” producers would never coerce contestants to do anything, especially drink, and how dare you even think that.
After the “Paradise” shutdown, the series got a lot of backlash for the amount of booze on the show, as former contestants have described how producers will encourage cast members to drink to help provoke drama. After the shutdown, the show implemented new safety policies, and one was reportedly a limit on alcohol.
The “Bachelor in Paradise” cast, however, was incredibly offended that anyone would think the producers don’t have their best interests at heart.
“I feel like it was tough on all of us emotionally — producers, crew, cast. So, for me, it was nice to see all of us kind of, like, come together,” said Taylor Nolan. “The divides in the roles of producers versus cast kind of blended, and we all, like, supported one another.”
“That’s a good point,” Harrison agreed. “I know you guys get close, but a lot of tears were shed that night. It was a really rough, emotional — not even just that night. The days that followed as well, on the men and women you see standing behind the cameras right here. It was brutal. It was really rough, and in the 16 years I’ve been doing this, easily the most emotional time that we’ve ever been through as far as a show.”
Derek Peth jumped in to agree that the producers are certainly not at fault. “I think there’s a weird perception that exists out there, that we’re not in control of ourselves when we’re here. And that there’s this puppet master thing occurring — ”
“Evil, manipulative producers,” sneered one female cast member.
“We all know how, like, realistic the friendships are amongst the cast and then the crew and the producers,” Peth continued. “I mean, it’s not some sort of crazy — ”
“You guys aren’t mindless robots?” Harrison interrupted sarcastically.
“Right,” Peth said, as everyone laughed appreciatively.
Nolan — who emphasized that she doesn’t drink and the producers have never tried to encourage her — rolled her eyes at viewers who come up to her and say that they love her character.
“Like, we’re all real people just being ourselves,” she said. “Everything that we do here and that we say here is because we decide to.”
4) It’s all the media’s fault, anyway.
A popular opinion these days, and the “Paradise” cast rolled with it.
“It was just hard going back home and seeing, like, the media blow it so out of proportion,” Alexis Waters explained.
“I think there was a lot in the media regarding the producers as if they’re not our friends and that they’re just using us to make us do things, like we’re gonna just do whatever they say,” Alex Woytkiw agreed.
They also blamed on the press for how Jackson and Olympios were portrayed.
Iggy Rodriguez said of DeMario, “He has his faults. I think we all do. It was just really hard to see him typecast as this individual who sort of almost created the event, right? … I think it was a really unfair representation of what happened.”
5) No one is sure why Olympios referred to herself as a victim.
Before Olympios stated that her own investigation into the incident was completed to her satisfaction, she released this statement: “I am a victim and have spent the last week trying to make sense of what happened on June 4…as a woman, this is my worst nightmare and it has now become my reality.”
In one bizarre segment, Harrison asked, “In Corinne’s statement, she referred to herself as a victim. Why do you think she did that?”
There was a pause. “Maybe she wanted to try and save face,” offered Danielle Maltby. “That was kind of what I took from it.”
“It was a very vague statement, and it was left to interpretation by design,” Woytkiw added. “And it’s unfortunate.”
“I don’t think Corinne’s statements came from her,” Peth declared. “It was a very vague lawyer statement and so it was really interesting to see how that vague statement was turned into an opinion, right? Which wasn’t said. There was no statements about who was in the right, who was in the wrong. But instantly people made their decisions about that.”