When I turned on Bachelor in Paradise tonight and saw it was TWO HOURS and that it would feature an interview with DeMario, I just thought to myself: Oh, for Christ’s sake! We are a country full of people ready and willing to embrace something problematic because at our core, we are garbage. This is a garbage country full of garbage people and we want to watch our garbage television show. Chris Harrison sitting in a chair, wearing a somber suit, and using his big-boy words is not what I signed up for, especially when it continues to be handled so poorly.
This whole debacle could be a footnote in the Bachelor Nation history books that Sam Tarly would tell Gilly to skip over during one of his mansplaining fits, BUT, INSTEAD, it’s consuming this season. The fourth wall between reality and the show is vibrating so quickly that the spaces between the molecules are slowly spreading apart.
Remember when a huge sin on this show was Joe making an arrangement with Samantha to stick around until she arrived? Remember when that was enough to turn everyone against him?
Now, we have everyone revealing what happened when the production was shut down and who slept with who and it’s all kosher. Call me an old bitch but I love when my reality shows pretend that the real world doesn’t exist and they’re all living in the Matrix. Anyway, we find out that Raven and Sarah shared an evening with Adam and Sarah was the one who woke up with him.
That brings me to another thing: Are any of the men this season interested in finding love? Or are they interested in a free vacation to Mexico? I mean, I ain’t mad at it, but just make it The Real World. Remove the forced romance. I would watch The Real World with these idiots.
The first arrival this episode is Sarah from Nick’s season in a cute li’l floral matching set. I need an annotated guide to looking fresh and flirty in 90-degree weather and 100 percent humidity. Also, take a drink any time a man describes a woman this episode as “bubbly.”
Sarah has a date card and everyone, including Raven, pushes her toward going on a date with Ben. WHY WOULD YOU RESIST THAT ADVICE? Was Ben Z.’s father cursed by an old witch so that any child from his loins would appear hideous to the world? Sarah decides to take Adam out on a date. They just spend the whole time making out and talking about how they rush into relationships.
Up next, someone on production feels sorry for Lacey and gives her a date card. She takes the men aside one by one to ask if any of them have romantic feelings for her. This is sad. This is quietly sad. I’m worried about her and someone needs to swaddle her and tuck her in. She takes Diggy and they go on horseback to the beach where Jorge the Bartender was conceived.
The next arrival is Dominique, also from Nick’s season, and she got some amazing Marley twists. That’s the real strategy to looking amazing in Paradise. She’s also aggressively shimmying on her way in. Dominique is making me miss my braids. She steals Diggy away and after some convincing from Taylor, Dominique asks Diggy on her date. Lacey has a full-on meltdown because no one asked her permission or gave her a heads-up that Diggy was going on another date. Lacey tries to shame Taylor into feeling bad, but she forgot that Taylor doesn’t have a heart, only a cold shard of obsidian and an emotional-intelligence textbook.
Dominique and Diggy go on a seventh-grader’s fantasy of a “sexy” date. They feed each other strawberries and make out in a hot tub. Diggy is also one corny motherfucker. He goes in for a kiss with Dominique by saying he’s jealous of the strawberry and wants to know what the strawberry just experienced. So Dominique doused him with stomach acid.
The final moment of the episode is Danielle M. deciding whether to leave the show. She had had the choice between going to help children in Africa or being on Bachelor in Paradise. She picked Paradise. What is going on with these girls? Who is guiding them? Danielle M. decides that she’s going to go to Africa to walk with the children in nature. On her way out, she says good-bye to Wells and he walks her out. When he puts her bag in the back of the unmarked SUV that shuttles them all to the airport, he KISSES her! Whoa! What?! This is the most natural and organic and sweet moment on the show so far. And it’s over now?
The cast keeps saying, “Relationships are forming,” and my ass is over here like, “Where?” Someone needs to show me who is in a relationship. Why are these people here?
The second hour of the episode is a bizarre “special” hosted by Chris Harrison. First, there’s a montage of the Paradise marriages and then Carly and Evan reveal that they’re pregnant. It’s a sweet moment, but it’s very weird when Chris Harrison congratulates him from escaping “the Friend Zone” as if it’s a real thing and being friends with a woman sucks. Then they do an ultrasound on-air and Carly and Evan both sit there and say, “I can’t imagine what would happen if we have a daughter! What would we do! That would be impossible to manage!” Because raising women sucks? I hate everyone.
And then Raven, Jasmine, Diggy, Derek, and Robby come out to once again insist that DeMario didn’t do anything wrong and he’s the real victim in this situation. I missed the part where any of them were lawyers or even qualified to talk about accusations of sexual misconduct.
Then DeMario’s punk ass comes out. All you need to know about his segment is this: When he’s asked about being accused of sexual assault, he says, “It’s every man’s nightmare.”
It’s. Every. Man’s. Nightmare.
Why is the show putting DeMario first? That’s the real problem with how they’re framing this. I can understand the impulse to have DeMario on the show to talk about what happened, but there’s so little acknowledgment of Corinne, what she went through, or even any attempt to believe her. It’s all presented to sympathize with DeMario and the idea that being accused of sexual assault is as bad or even worse than living through it. The show’s goal in these moments is to make us feel bad for DeMario and sympathize and laugh along with him.
I just couldn’t help but think that the show continues to parrot some really terrible “men’s-rights activist” language about sexual assault and harassment, or at the very least, it allows DeMario to parrot that language without pushing back. That when a woman makes an allegation, the movement to ruin a man’s life immediately goes into motion.
But we know that’s simply not true. All language like that does is prevent women from coming forward because now they’re more worried about ruining a man’s life than getting closure or help for themselves.
The show also had a really powerful opportunity to question and challenge how men interact with sex and sexuality. We could have had a man sit on that stage and say, “The fact that I did anything with a woman that made her feel victimized, hurt, or scared — either during the moment or after — is terrifying and makes me feel ashamed. We all growing up believing that we have to be drunk to have sex or loosen up to do what we really want. I had to take a long look at my behavior. I decided after all of this, it was time for me to grow up and make better choices so I never put a woman through something like that again.” But the show didn’t do that.
Instead of a message of personal accountability, we walk away with the message that if you are ever accused of sexual assault, the woman will not be believed and eventually the world will applaud your bravery and strength for enduring this harrowing ordeal. That if you just invoke the words of Michelle Obama, an audience will applaud you. That you can go back to being your carefree, fun-loving self without taking any responsibility for your behavior.
But for me, the most chilling part was when DeMario said that what Corinne went through and is probably still going through was “just a little bit more intense” than what he went through. “Just a little bit more intense.”
That’s one fucking way to put it.
Note: This season of Bachelor in Paradise was shut down for ”allegations of misconduct” involving Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson. After a Warner Bros. investigation found no evidence of misconduct, production resumed. Vulture will continue recapping the season while providing resources for survivors of sexual harassment and assault.
I will be donating a portion of my writing fee to survivors of sexual assault. Join me this week by donating to Joyful Heart. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault or harassment, please call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with RAINN’s network of service providers.