15 Controversies and Scandals of ‘The Bachelor’ & ‘The Bachelorette’ (VIDEO)
ABC is bringing out another season of The Bachelorette this month, with Bachelor Nation veteran Clare Crowley taking her pick amongst 31 suitors. Concurrently, the network is gearing up for Season 25 of The Bachelor, with Matt James marking the show’s first Black lead.
But have producers learned from their past mistakes? The franchise has suffered one PR nightmare after another, more so in recent years. We’ve rounded up some of the biggest Bachelor/ette scandals and controversies below — many of which could have been avoided with a little forethought and some social media vetting — as well as the shows’ more systemic problems.
Sexism criticisms against the franchise
Some critics believe Bachelor Nation was founded upon a sexist premise. “This franchise revived the idea that grown adult women in this century still want to imagine themselves to be 1900s princesses,” Jennifer L. Pozner, author of Reality Bites Back, told Vox in 2014. “That [women] don’t want or have any professional or personal goals, that we don’t want or have any sexual fantasies, and that men get to make all of the decisions.”
Juan Pablo Galavis’ homophobic comments
In January 2014, Bachelor Season 18 star Juan Pablo Galavis told The TV Page that there shouldn’t be an openly gay or bisexual Bachelor because it’s not “a good example for kids to watch that on TV,” and he described gay people as “more pervert [sic] in a sense.” In a joint statement, ABC, Warner Horizon Television, and Bachelor producers said Galavis’ comments “were careless, thoughtless and insensitive, and in no way reflect the views of the network, the show’s producers or studio.”
Chris Soules’ car accident
Chris Soules rear-ended a tractor in April 2017 in an accident near Aurora, Iowa, that left a 68-year-old man dead, and the Bachelor Season 19 star agreed to a two-year suspended sentence for fleeing the scene of a fatal crash in August 2019, as NBC News reported.
Lee Garrett’s hateful tweets
In May 2017, during Rachel Lindsay’s season of The Bachelorette, contestant Lee Garrett came under fire for a slew of misogynistic, sexist, and racist tweets he had posted in the year and a half before his appearance on the show, per People. “I’m sorry for saying things when I was not educated and ignorant in those subjects,” Garrett said during the season’s Men Tell All special.
The shows’ authenticity issues
Amy Kaufman’s 2018 book Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure exposed the lengths Bachelor and Bachelorproducers go to elicit emotions from contestants, splice juicy soundbites, and paint contestants as villains. “I went out and bought Police Interrogation and American Justice, the 2008 book by Richard A. Leo that explains tried-and-true methods officers use to obtain confessions from potential criminals,” Kaufman wrote in the book, per Vice. “The similarities between a police interrogation and a Bachelor interview are rather striking.”
Lincoln Adim’s battery conviction
In May 2018, Lincoln Adim was convicted of indecent assault and battery in a case stemming from a 2016 incident in Boston, and he was sentenced to a year in a house of correction, according to The Hollywood Reporter. When the news broke, he was still in the running in Becca Kufrin’s Bachelorette season, and Warner Bros. TV said the production’s third-party background check hadn’t revealed the incident.
Garrett Yrigoyen’s Instagram history
Days later, Garrett Yrigoyen — who ultimately won Kufrin’s season — apologized after screenshots of his past Instagram “likes” indicated he liked posts that mocked undocumented immigrants, transgender individuals, and liberal feminists, per THR. In his apology, he said, in part, “I do not want my social media to define who I am, and I will take better care moving forward to support all walks of life.”
Leo Dottavio’s alleged harassment
Leo Dottavio, another contestant from the same Bachelorette season, faced sexual harassment accusations in August 2018 that former Bachelor contestant Bekah Martinez relayed on her Instagram Stories, per USA Today. In response, Dottavio claimed, “No one has ever accused me of sexual harassment. No one has ever come to me in any way and told me I made them feel uncomfortable.”
Slut-shaming on The Bachelorette
At least three Bachelorette stars have contended with slut-shaming from fans, pundits, and even contestants. Fox News called Season 10 star Andi Dorfman a slut in 2014, per TIME; host Chris Harrison read viewers’ slut-shaming tweets about Season 11’s Kaitlyn Bristowe in a 2015 episode, and contestant Luke Parker told Season 15 star Hannah Brown that having sex isn’t “something [she] should be doing” in a 2019 installment.
Victoria Fuller’s “White Lives Matters” photos
In February 2020, midway through Peter Weber’s season of The Bachelor, photos surfaced of contestant Victoria Fuller modeling “White Lives Matter” merchandise from a brand that also offered “Blue Lives Matter” products. Fuller claimed the merchandise supported blue and white marlin and her “intention was only to support an endangered species,” but Cosmopolitan canceled her appearance on the magazine’s digital cover because “both phrases and the belief systems they represent are rooted in racism and therefore problematic.”
Hannah Brown’s N-word rap
The aforementioned Brown apologized in May after using the N-word while rapping along to the DaBaby track “Rockstar” on Instagram Live. “I owe you all a major apology,” she wrote in an Instagram statement, per CNN. “There is no excuse and I will not justify what I said. I have read your messages and seen the hurt I have caused. I own it all. I am terribly sorry and know that whether in public or private, this language is unacceptable. I promise to do better.”
Diversity criticisms against the franchise
Bachelor and Bachelorette producers took responsibility for the shows’ diversity problems a week after Rachel Lindsay threatened to sever her ties to the franchise this June. “You’ve cast for 40 seasons and in 40 seasons you’ve had one black lead. We are on 45 presidents and in 45 presidents there’s been one black president,” Lindsay said in an Afterbuzz interview at the time. “You’re almost on par to say you’re more likely to become the president of the United States than you are [to become] a black lead in this franchise. That’s insane.”
Chad Johnson’s plea deal
Chad Johnson, a contestant from JoJo Fletcher’s Bachelorette season, struck a plea deal in a domestic violence case this August — pleading no contest to a count of vandalism and a count of intimidating a witness — after getting arrested in February for an alleged altercation with his girlfriend Annalise Mishler, according to TMZ.
Colton Underwood’s restraining order
In September, Bachelor Season 23 winner Cassie Randolph got a temporary restraining order against star Colton Underwood, with whom she split earlier this year. According to court documents obtained by TMZ, Randolph alleged that Underwood stalked her, harassed her with disturbing text messages, attached a tracking device to her car, and showed up uninvited to her apartment and her parents’ house.
Toxic behavior criticisms against The Bachelor
Randolph’s restraining order against Underwood inspired a Vice critique that dinged The Bachelor for romanticizing toxic behavior. “The series’ treatment of his reactive conduct as romantic sweeping gestures has only served to perpetuate abusive relationship standards,” wrote critic Alex Zaragoza.
The Bachelorette, Season 16 Premiere, Tuesday, October 13, 8/7c, ABC