‘Law & Order: SVU’: Remember When Benson Investigated a Reality Show That Was Just Like ‘The Bachelor’?

Law & Order: SVU often takes inspiration for its stories from the day’s headlines. Among the crimes and scandals that have been the basis for episodes of the long-running NBC series are the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, the case against Casey Anthony, and the death of Anna Nicole Smith. The show even broadcast an episode with a family that resembled the Duggars

But in one case, an SVU episode seemed to predict a scandal rather than cover it after the fact. In this case, it involved a reality TV show that had more than a passing similarity to The Bachelor

A ‘Law & Order: SVU’ episode featured a show that was a lot like ‘The Bachelor’ 

Mariska Hargitay getting out of a car
Mariska Hargitay on the set of Law and Order: SVU | Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

In the SVU Season 17 episode “Assaulting Reality,” Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and the rest of the special victims squad investigate a rape that occured on the set of the fictional reality TV show called Heart’s Desire. 

Like The Bachelor, Heart’s Desire features single women competing for the attention of eligible men. (Though on this show, there are also multiple male contestants.) After a night of drinking, a woman named Melanie goes to the Dream Suite with Ryan. During a live broadcast the next day, everyone sees footage of the two having sex. Melanie is horrified, declaring that she doesn’t remember the incident and then asking if she was raped. 

Benson and the team head to the set to investigate, where they’re stonewalled by the show’s producers. Eventually, we learn that Melanie was raped by a different contestant. After the assault, the people running the show tried to cover up the crime. They even attempt to make SVU’s investigation part of the storyline for an upcoming episode.

The ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ incident

Corinne Olympios | Bob D’Amico via Getty Images

“Assaulting Reality” was about a fictional Bachelor-esque show. But life unfortunately seemed to imitate art a year later, when an alleged sexual assault shut down production of Bachelor in Paradise

In June 2017, production on the fourth season of The Bachelor spin-off was suspended after a producer raised concerns about a troubling encounter between Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Olympios may have been too drunk to consent when the sexual encounter between the two occurred. The complaint triggered an investigation by Warner Bros.

Like Melanie in the SVU episode, Olympios did not recall much about the events of the night. 

“I am a victim and have spent the last week trying to make sense of what happened the night of June 4,” she said in a statement. “Although I have little memory of that night, something bad obviously took place, which I understand is why production on the show has now been suspended and a producer on the show has filed a complaint against the production. As a woman, this is my worst nightmare and it has now become my reality.”

Jackson denied that he had assaulted Olympios. “It’s unfortunate that my character and family name has been assassinated this past week with false claims and malicious allegations,” he told E! News in a statement.

Warner Bros. eventually concluded that no misconduct occurred and production on the season resumed without Olympios and Jackson. 

Chris Harrison thought ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ might not survive the scandal

In the SVU episode, the show’s producers eventually face consequences for attempting to cover up a crime. But “I guarantee you Heart’s Desire will go on,” as one character says. As for BIP, it seemed for a time that the scandal could kill the show. But that didn’t happen. 

“There definitely was a time I thought that the show might not come back,” host Chris Harrison told Entertainment Tonight. But the show made some changes and was able to weather the crisis. “Luckily, we have some great people at the helm and we dove in, myself included, got our hands dirty and fixed it and solved the problem and everybody came back,” he said.  

How to get help: In the U.S., call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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