Bachelor in Paradise cast: Race 'absolutely' played a part in sex scandal
Chris Harrison was able to officially declare that Bachelor in Paradise was “back open” on Tuesday evening’s episode — but only after a serious discussion with the season 4 cast members.
In the second part of a two-night premiere of the fourth season, Harrison addressed the sexual encounter between DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios that shut down production just days into filming in June. Warner Bros. suspended production on the show and launched an internal investigation into “allegations of misconduct,” which was later cleared after they deemed nothing improper had occurred.
But before production could officially resume — this time without Olympios, 24, and Jackson, 30 (both of whom had been drinking heavily the day of the incident) — the longtime host of the Bachelor/ette spinoff sat down with the new and returning castmates in Mexico to discuss the scandal — and the aftermath — that shook Bachelor Nation. (For more on the scandal, here’s everything you need to know.)
Here’s how the conversation unfolded.
“Before I can officially declare Paradise back open, I think it’s very important that we sit down and have a serious talk, all of us, about what happened, what didn’t happen, and what we all need to do to start this show together,” Harrison began.
He proceeded to explain to the cast that Warner Bros. hired an outside firm to “look into everything that supposedly happened” and “they concluded that there was no evidence of misconduct by cast on the set.”
But Harrison wanted to hear the cast’s interpretation of the incident and made room for them to share.
“Do you trust that conclusion?” Harrison asked the contestants, who sat in a large circle on the beach.
The group was unanimous in vocally agreeing that they trusted the outcome of the investigation and expressed their support for producers, Jackson and Olympios.
“I was confident that nothing happened between DeMario and Corinne that was bad. I trusted everyone that worked here, so I knew everything was going to be okay,” said Raven Gates.
“I think there was a lot in the media regarding the producers as if they’re not our friends and they’re just using us to make us do things like we’re going to just do whatever they say,” said Alex Woytkiw.
Added Derek Peth: “I think there’s a weird perception that exists out there that we’re not in control of ourselves when we’re here. … We all know how realistic the friendships are with and among the cast. … We are here to make our own decisions and develop real relationships with everybody.”
Taylor Nolan, who revealed during casting that she doesn’t drink and said she has never been asked to have a drink by production, told Harrison, “We’re responsible for ourselves and the things we say, how much we drink, who we kiss.”
“We’re all adults here. We’re not here to be babysat by production,” Taylor added.
“My biggest worry was for not only production, because I felt like they were kinda blamed,” Raven added. “My worry was for DeMario and Corrine 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 — it broke my heart because I thought no matter if everything is cleared up, people are still going to associate something bad happening with Corinne and DeMario.”
Like Raven, Kenneth “Diggy” Moreland also worried about DeMario’s future and his name being associated with a sex scandal: “Obviously everything came out clean, but I empathize with DeMario a lot more just because I mean obviously we had a black male, white female. But he has 20-30 years of Google searches that are going to be done in his name,” he said. “I’m thinking of the long-term effects and I was really pissed about that.”
“Do you think race played a part in this?” Harrison asked the cast, who responded with “yes,” “for sure” and “absolutely” answers.
“I’m sensitive to it because I’m from the South and we have a stigma that we’re seeing a white woman with a black man is wrong,” Raven said. “And that night, what happened wasn’t wrong. And so I was super empathetic with DeMario because it’s just another issue. Not only is consent important, but it’s also to get rid of the stigma that interracial couples can’t be or blaming African American men for crimes they didn’t commit.”
When Jasmine Goode returned home from filming, she admittedly thought about and feared for DeMario’s future. “I was just thinking the whole time: what if this happened to my brother?” she said. “He’s a great guy from the guy I met here … and I never felt he was aggressive with any of us. … I just hate that he’s going to have this image stuck with him for a while.”
“I think for me and Jasmine, when we were kind of vocal about sticking up for DeMario, people automatically assumed we were slut-shaming Corinne and that was not the case at all,” Raven explained during the discussion. “We felt for her. It was never calling her any names or judging her for anything she did. Because we didn’t think she did anything wrong and neither did DeMario.”
After news of the scandal broke in Mexico, Corinne released a statement, in which she referred to herself as a “victim.” “Why do you think she [referred to herself as a victim?]” Harrison asked the cast.
“I don’t think Corinne’s statements came from her. It was a very vague lawyer statement,” Derek stated. “It was really interesting to see how that vague statement was turned into an opinion, 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.”
Said Harrison: “Derek touches on an interesting point as well. There was a lot of slut-shaming.”
As the conversation about slut-shaming continued, Raven bravely opened up about a painful past experience in her own life when she was sexually assaulted.
“A lot of people don’t know this that I was in a very abusive relationship and there was a point where I was sexually assaulted and so I guess that’s why I took this kind of really personally,” she shared. “So I hope this situation doesn’t deter actual victims from coming forward and really speaking their truth and getting help and asking for help. I hope this doesn’t deter anybody.”
The last topic that Harrison discussed with the group was consent and the importance of it both on set and in the cast members’ personal lives.
“One of the topics that this has raised and something we should talk about is consent … How do you know when someone has given consent when you are getting intimate with somebody?” and “If somebody is passed out, unresponsive, can they give consent? If somebody is drunk, can they give consent?” were just a few of the questions the longtime host asked.
“The purpose of Paradise and what I’m hoping for all of you — and I’m sure you’re all hoping — is to fall in love here,” Harrison explained. “Part of falling in love is physical intimacy. That’s a big part of any serious relationship. But for while you’re here, please keep consent issues in mind and actually that goes for forever, but it definitely should be something we all talk talk about and something we all think about.”
But before he could state that BiP would officially resume, Harrison openly asked each of the cast members about whether or not they believed production should continue.
“Knowing what we all know now, having lived through what we’ve all lived through and experienced — the shutdown, the scandal, the accusations, everything we’ve all endured — do each of you want to be here?” he asked the group.
“If the majority of you feels like we should not continue, then we will not continue the show. Please be 100 percent honest because it’s important that we get this right. And so I want to literally go person-by-person,” Harrison said before asking them one-by-one if they agreed or disagreed.
After each and every cast member agreed that filming should resume, Harrison concluded by declaring the beach back open: “After we shut down for more than two weeks, with the power vested within me, I now declare Bachelor in Paradise back open.”
Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.
This article originally appeared on People.com
Bachelor in Paradise
Chris Harrison goes international with a cast of former bachelors and bachelorettes looking for love… and a chance to extend their reality fame.