And just like that, it’s over. No, I’m not talking about this cycle of The Bachelorette. I’m referring to the controversy that has already plagued the upcoming season of Bachelor in Paradise, which airs this Monday. ABC is laying it on pretty thickly in their promotional material. The trailers for this season are dramatic and in some ways, problematic.
In June, it was widely reported that production on BIP was halted due to allegations of misconduct on the Mexico set. In the days that followed, we learned that the incident that prompted the shutdown allegedly involved a sexual encounter between DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios in a pool. Warner Bros., which produces Bachelor in Paradise, eventually concluded its investigation, finding that no such misconduct had occurred. In the aftermath of this scandal, production resumed — both Olympios and Jackson declined invitations to return to Mexico — and everything is supposedly back to normal in paradise.
Now, with all of its legal ducks in a row, ABC has decided to bank on the scandal as a hook to get viewers to tune in. During last night’s Bachelorette finale, host Chris Harrison promised that viewers would finally see what happened in “the pool.” Viewers get short clips of the alleged incident unfolding with some commentary from the cast, but it quickly switches to, "But now Paradise is back!". I'm not sure about you, but it feels icky that sexual assault allegations, unfounded or not, are being framed as reality TV drama. But that's just one of the problems with the new BIP teaser.
The other contestant that stands out in the trailer is Jasmine, who weirdly offered to choke Nick Viall during the most recent season of The Bachelor. She is obviously making the most of her time at the BIP resort, and can be seen making out with several of the male participants. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. She’s a grown woman and can do what she wants with however many consenting partners.
What I have a problem with is former Bachelorette contestant Daniel Maguire providing the following commentary “Jasmine’s like a T-rex that’s taken a Viagra. These guys better be careful because they might get their dick ripped off.” Not only is Daniel sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong and judging the sexual decisions of another adult, his language is completely dehumanising. A T-rex? Really? In other words, viewers are led to believe that Jasmine is this season’s wild child.
So we have a Black guy positioned as being involved in alleged misconduct, and a Black woman framed as a literal dinosaur with an insatiable sex drive. After all of the progress that the franchise made with this season of The Bachelorette, they just set themselves back a few steps with reductive stereotypes. I’m not sold on any show that markets people of colour as derogatory tropes.
Meanwhile, the trailer ends with the possibility of true love for some of the contestants, all of whom are white. Clearly the producers haven’t gotten the memo that diversity is not won via representation alone.