ABC debuted its latest dating reality show on June 18 with The Proposal, which is basically a season of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette all compressed into one hour of primetime. The first episode featured one mystery man looking for his lady love, and trailers indicated that the second episode was going to put a woman in the hot seat to try to pick the man of her dreams. Now, however, the second episode of The Proposal has been pulled due to sexual assault allegations against one of the male contestants. Here's what we know.
A Milwaukee woman has come out an accused one of The Proposal's male contestants of facilitating a sexual assault against her in November 2017. Erica Denae Meshke alleged via Facebook post that contestant Michael J. Friday had set her up to be drugged with a spiked drink and sexually assaulted by two older men after agreeing to a Tinder date. According to Meshke, she kept the assault to herself aside from telling some close friends and posting about him anonymously on Facebook, but she changed her mind after she saw his face "pop up" on her Facebook timeline while scrolling through news. She then reportedly saw his face on TV, presumably due to advertising for The Proposal. She states that this is what motivated her to tell her story about Friday.
In the wake of the allegations, Deadline reports ABC and production company Warner Horizon released a joint statement sharing the news that the episode of The Proposal featuring Michael J. Friday has been pulled and will not air as originally scheduled. The statement was clear that "the accusation was not related to the contestant's appearance on the program," but the episode is being pulled while the issue is under review. The statement did not reveal how the issue was under review or who was doing the reviewing. However the episode ended, we have to hope that the mystery woman did not choose the man now that there's so much reported wrongdoing.
Only time will tell if these allegations impact The Proposal's future on ABC. The new show was always likely to be divisive given how it handles the condensed "dating" process. The first episode featured a man whose face was hidden from the audience as well as the contestants, sifting through a group of women to try and pick one who would be his ideal mate, asking questions to try and narrow down whether he wanted to spend his life with any of them. That aspect of the series might not be that objectionable to viewers if not for some of the other parts of the show's format.
The episode isn't just question-and-answer. There's also a beachwear round of the competition, and the mystery man in the first episode narrowed down the field of ladies based on their looks. When he later got to question them, he asked some about their thoughts on serious matters while he asked another about sex. Naturally, the episode ended with the bachelor revealing his face and proposing to one of the two women who made it to the final round. Both parties proclaimed that they were ready for a happily-ever-after, although we have to wonder how long their life together will last after they only just met.
It should be interesting to see how The Proposal shuffles to replace the episode that has been pulled. The first episode had a man in the hot seat, and the second clearly was going to have a woman choosing a suitor. The odds are that ABC will move another episode starring a bachelorette looking for love, but we'll have to wait and see. This instance with Michael J. Friday wasn't the only time even recently that a reality dating contestant has allegedly done something seriously objectionable. If you're interested in watching the show, you can catch new episodes on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC after new episodes of The Bachelorette. For some non-reality dating options, check out our summer TV premiere guide.