Right before this season of “Bachelor in Paradise” debuted, ABC assured viewers that they would learn what really happened during the biggest controversy in the tawdry franchise’s history — when “Paradise” was forced to briefly suspend production earlier this summer.
It’s true that the show has exhaustively covered the scandal, culminating Tuesday night in an interview with Corinne Olympios. In the premiere, viewers saw Olympios and DeMario Jackson hit it off in “Paradise.” Though the show didn’t show footage of what happened next, a producer filed a complaint after witnessing an incident in the pool between the two, with Olympios possibly “too drunk to consent” according to reports. So the show shut down while production company Warner Bros. launched an investigation into “alleged misconduct.”
In the meantime, rumors flew and the media frenzy increased when Olympios hired a top Hollywood lawyer and released a statement: “I am a victim and have spent the last week trying to make sense of what happened. … Although I have little memory of that night, something bad obviously took place. … As a woman, this is my worst nightmare and it has now become my reality.” Jackson denied any wrongdoing and added the reports that said otherwise were character assassination.
Then suddenly, Warner Bros. announced it found no misconduct had taken place, and production would resume. Just as quickly, Olympios confirmed her team’s independent investigation was completed to her satisfaction. So “Paradise” continued, on track for its August premiere date, though Olympios and Jackson were not invited back.
Anyway, “Paradise” has devoted segments in four episodes to what happened, analyzing it from multiple angles. Last week, Harrison interviewed Jackson, who reiterated he did nothing wrong and this situation nearly destroyed his life. In Tuesday’s interview, Olympios said she can’t remember anything from the night in question because she accidentally mixed alcohol with medication; and she added that she doesn’t blame Jackson for anything at all and is sorry he got caught up in this mess.
“I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault. I just think that it was just, again, an unfortunate, annoying situation,” Olympios said. “It really sucks.”
Through the whole sit-down, however, Harrison never asked one important question on viewers’ minds: Why did Olympios’s statement — which implied that the controversy was about to get even uglier — refer to herself as a victim?
Curiously, except for Harrison’s interview with Olympios herself, the question keeps coming up. (In a follow-up statement, after the investigation was complete, Olympios clarified, “I felt victimized by the fact that others were judging me through conflicting and unsubstantiated reports, while I myself had no recollection of the events that transpired.”) Still, during a discussion about the incident with the whole cast in Episode 2, Harrison asked them for their thoughts.
“In Corinne’s statement, she referred to herself as a victim,” Harrison said. “Why do you think she did that?”
There was a long pause. “Maybe she wanted to try and save face,” suggested 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,” Alex Woytkiw said. “And it’s unfortunate.”
“I don’t think Corinne’s statements came from her,” Derek Peth opined. “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.”
If this question was deemed important enough to ask her cast members, who just offered pure speculation, why not ask Olympios directly? Not giving her the chance to respond — or, depending on editing, not airing her response — seems odd.
Earlier Tuesday, Olympios sat for her first live interview on “Good Morning America,” where co-anchor Amy Robach asked her the same query that Harrison posed to the cast.
“When production shut down you released a statement using the words, ‘I am victim,'” Robach said. “How are you a victim?”
“I was a victim of, you know, just being blown into the media and having people make these crazy assumptions and judgments about what happened that day. I was really a victim of the media,” Olympios replied. “It was just all of a sudden people became an expert on the situation and on what happened and it’s like, well, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what happened. And it was just horrible to deal with.”
Olympios doubled down on this point in a Tuesday morning story in People magazine, which has a partnership with “The Bachelor” franchise.
“At that point in time, I saw myself as a victim of having something this serious happen to you and have the media paint you a certain way that you know you aren’t and having all these people make their judgments and comments and they don’t even know what happened or went on,” she said. “That’s what I’m a victim of. I never meant that I was a victim of DeMario. I strongly believe he had no bad intentions at all.”
Again, while it’s helpful for viewers (not to mention Jackson) to hear Olympios answer the question, she should have been given the opportunity to answer in front of millions who watch “Bachelor in Paradise” — the show where the controversy all started in the first place.