‘The Bachelorette’: The Real Reason ABC Released The Contestant Names Early This Season

The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have been around for about 17 years now, and in that time certain traditions have been established. For the first time ever, ABC released the names of 33 possible Bachelorette contestants early to the public. Thirty would be moving on to actually compete for Hannah Brown’s heart. So why the early release? And why the release of 33 names when only 30 would be moving on?

Hannah Brown and her contestants | ABC/Craig Sjodin
Hannah Brown and her contestants | ABC/Craig Sjodin

According to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Chris Harrison says he was not a part of the decision.

“That came from Rob and the heads of the network. I agree with it,” he told the publication.

Was the early release a way for ABC to get Bachelor Nation to vet contestants?

The host and producer went on to say that the decision was a bit of an experiment. ABC knew that certain things were bound to come out of the woodwork about the released contestants, and maybe even make their decision on who to keep and who to cut easier.

“Look, this is a really slippery slope and a gray area. One thing about our show that I’ve enjoyed, especially lately, is that it really raises the level of debate around a lot of social issues going on and this is another one,” Harrison told The Hollywood Reporter. “You would think that we’re going to release these names and that it would make it very cut and dry. But that’s not necessarily the case, because who is to say that an angry ex isn’t going to come out of the woodwork and bash the guy or girl that they were dating? So in a lot of ways, it could make things more difficult. That’s the whole effect of social media. There’s a ripple effect to everything and there’s one to this too. It was a good idea. I believe in it. But it’s not without its faults.”

The issue, in particular, that Harrison is probably referring to is the issue of problematic men getting cast on The Bachelorette. In the season prior to Hannah Brown’s, there were a couple contestants allowed on the show despite their history of alleged sexual assault. Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss responded to the issue and promised to do better.  

It seems as if the show’s attempt to “do better” includes hoping the audience does the vetting for them. It’s a fine place to start, but it’s not considering the fact that 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. What makes ABC think victims will come forward publically online if they’re not reporting to authorities. We don’t know what the official Bachelorette vetting process looks like but the fact of the matter is that the network needs to start looking into their male contestants better because problematic men keep slipping through the cracks.    

‘The Bachelorette’ is willing to try new tactics

Harrison went on to say that he’s not married to the process of early releasing contestant names.

“But that’s what you do in this business. You throw it against the wall and see if it sticks and, if not, you build something better and you evolve and you get better at it. That’s what we’ve done for 17 years and the good news is that we’re really good at that. We don’t mind changing course or fixing things if we feel like they are broken or could be better,” he said.

Read more: ‘The Bachelor’: Cassie and Colton Want to be a Normal Couple But They’re Not a Normal Couple

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