As soon as Warner Bros. Television confirmed on Sunday that they were shutting-down production on the fourth season of Bachelor in Paradise in the wake of "allegations of misconduct" on set, unconfirmed reports began circulating through various media outlets that Warner Bros. was investigating an inappropriate sexual encounter between two contestants on the reality dating show. Both MSN and TMZ would later report that contestants DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios had engaged in sex acts in a pool and were reported by one of the show's producers who felt "uncomfortable" with what was filmed. Complicating the situation even more (if that's possible) is that TMZ is alleging that Jackson's version of events differs greatly from the versions given to them by others who were present during the filming.
So for now, production has been shut down as ABC awaits the fallout from the Warner Bros. investigation…with both denying that the show has been cancelled. But are ABC and Warner Bros. just delaying the inevitable? And could this incident be some kind of "teachable moment" not just for the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise but for the entire scripted "reality show" industry? Some things to keep in mind:
▪ Let's start by considering the filming itself. If there's any kind of "silver lining" to take away from this, it's that the incident was filmed so there shouldn't be the need for as heavy a reliance on "he said/she said." Having said that, if what is being alleged by DeMario and others is true…that producers arranged for DeMario and Olympios to "hook-up" as part of the show's storyline and encouraged them to drink and spend time together in the pool…then you essentially have a major network and a major studio willing to risk rape or sexual assault for the sake of ratings points and Twitter buzz. If Olympios was intoxicated at the time of the incident, she wouldn't have been in any condition to consent to sex….which means the producers and film crew would've witnessed and filmed a rape, no matter "how into it" they might claim she was at the time. That's the "ripple effect" that should be felt the hardest by everyone involved in scripting "reality television:" using alcohol as a "social lubricant" and as a means of getting the storylines they want has been a game of "Russian Roulette" that's gone on for far too long. Sadly, it seems like most times people have to get hurt before any kind of lessons are learned.
▪ Do you really think "The Mouse" wants anywhere near this situation? Disney is very concerned with maintaining its family-friendly veneer. Disney has a mountain of cash. Disney owns ABC. Is there anything about those last three statements that would make you believe that good old Walt has any interest in backing this for much longer? Disney might be quiet for now, but with each passing day there's a public relations rep and an accountant making the argument that there's little to lose but a lot to gain from just scratching this season and letting things settle before moving forward.
▪ They sent the cast home on Sunday, with one fan even grabbing a a pic of most of them at the airport in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Cast members from the show have even begun tweeting from their hometowns and beginning the process of getting back to their daily lives. That's fourteen people ( Raven Gates, Amanda Stanton, Alexis Waters, Derek Peth, Lacey Mark, Kristina Schulman, Nick Benvenutti, Danielle Maltby, Taylor Nolan, Robby Hayes, Ben Zorn, Jasmine Goode, Vinny Ventiera, and Alex Woytkiw) they would need to uproot again and send back on-location…and that's not taking into consideration film and production crews. For all of the hassles it would entail from just a premiere timing standpoint alone, sending them away just to have them come back seems pointless…unless their true intention was to "scorched earth" the season once an investigation into what happened was needed.
▪ Even with the premiere date still almost two months away (early August), most familiar with the show's filming schedule admitted to Variety that there may not be enough usable material filmed for them to be able to edit it together and get it to air. Even if that could happen, the network would be forced to put the show on a mini-hiatus for filming to catch-up…which could be a death blow for the show. Their only other option would be for ABC to push the show onto another season to buy them more time, but "more time" can be more of a negative than a positive for a show already starting-off with bad press.
For networks and studios, it usually comes down to a battle between dollars and sense…between doing what's right and doing what's right for the shareholders. Or as a well-known reality producer who has worked on a number of "reality" dating shows told Variety:
There is no way that Warner Bros. would be shutting down production on that show unless something happened that they could not possibly defend. You're talking about a franchise that is worth millions of dollars to ABC. For them to shut the whole thing down and send everybody home and walk away, something happened that was not right.