How The Bachelor Is Trying To Avoid Contestant Scandals In Future Seasons

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(Image credit: Image courtesy of ABC)

The various shows of the Bachelor franchise are relatively straightforward as they showcase singles as they search for love, although not without the kinds of crazy shenanigans and hurdles viewers should expect of reality television. The fun shenanigans have been dampered in recent years, however, due to scandals that emerged after the new seasons of The Bachelor (and The Bachelorette) had already kicked off. Now, longtime Bachelor host has shared how the show is working to avoid scandals regarding contestants in the future:

I do know that measures were taken and people were hired to do some deep dives into people's social media and to try to cover our bases as much -- as much more -- as possible. But at the end of the day, we live in a very different world than when the show started 17 years ago. We're evolving and changing and doing the best you can. But there will be things that come up. You hate to be reactive; you'd love to be proactive. But you can only be so proactive. Stuff is going to happen, so you just do the best you can with the information you have at the time.

Background checks (and medical tests that reveal a certain STD on a regular basis) were always a part of the Bachelor screening process, but times have changed since the very first season back in 2002, and a lot of that has to do with social media. Contestants have found themselves in hot water in recent seasons of both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette thanks to their social media activity.

Not everybody can be as cute and harmless online as former Bachelor leading man Sean Lowe, who weighed in on the Season 23 pick! Chris Harrison's comments to THR aren't altogether surprising considering former ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey's comments over the summer of 2018 about stricter contestant background checks. At that point, the call for stricter checks was more centered on Bachelorette contestant Lincoln Adim's charges and then conviction for indecent assault and battery rather than anything to do with social media.

That said, the latest season of The Bachelorette did see one contestant wind up in the spotlight for negative reasons, and he just so happened to be the guy who won leading lady Becca Kufrin's heart. Garrett Yrigoyen allegedly "liked" Instagram posts that mocked the trans community, liberal feminists, and undocumented immigrants, and spread inaccurate information regarding a shooting survivor.

Would the Bachelor franchise's new methods of screening have stopped Garrett from ever making it to The Bachelorette? We'll never know. If he hadn't been selected as a suitor for Becca, her season certainly would have gone differently! Maybe Jason would have come out on top. Chris Harrison went on to address the reality that it will never be possible for any background checks to uncover absolutely everything potentially problematic, saying this:

It's silly to expect everybody to know everything and know what everyone has done their entire lives. All we can do, and all people who are trying to run legitimate businesses can do, is that you do the best you can. You hire the best people, you are as diligent as you can possibly be, and then when things do come up -- and God knows they will, because they have -- you try to deal with it the best you can. That's all we've done and all I think any business can do in this day and age of hyper political correctness. We're all walking this bizarre, moral minefield right now. Some of it is just and has been a great correction. But there is also a flip side of that where there can be an overkill.

The Bachelor franchise team will have to work out what crosses a line to warrant ruling out a potential contestant and what isn't actually bad enough to stop somebody from chasing reality TV love. I'm guessing that Lee Garrett would have been cut. Lee participated in Rachel Lindsay's season of The Bachelorette, causing a stir after tweets surfaced in which he compared the NAACP to the KKK, called the Black Lives Matter group a terror organization, among other sentiments that struck man as seriously problematic.

Another contestant from Rachel Lindsay's run as The Bachelorette star caused a stir based on his online presence as well, and ABC wasn't able to delete the comment until after damage had already been done. Bryce Powers' online dating profile for The Bachelorette stated that his biggest fear about going on a date with a woman was that the "chick is actually a dude."

Interestingly, one Bachelor leading man and contestant actually caused a negative stir on social media after they finished their reality TV run. Arie Luyendyk Jr., a.k.a. the guy who broke Becca Kufrin's heart and earned himself the enmity of many members of Bachelor nation, and Lauren Burnham attempted to troll fans via social on April Fool's Day by hinting that Lauren was pregnant, and folks online did not react well.

A situation of a contestant with an ugly past arose on The Proposal in 2018 as well, and that show hails from The Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss. Although technically not part of the Bachelor franchise, The Proposal was quite similar in many ways. One episode of the series was pulled when a woman alleged via Facebook that one contestant had facilitated sexual assault against her in 2017.

As The Proposal swapped in a new group of contestants every week, it wasn't too complicated for ABC to simply pull the one episode the man appeared in. It's not so simple for somebody who appears in an ongoing fashion on The Bachelor and Bachelorette, so it's easy to understand why vetting the potential contestants needs to be even more of a priority moving forward.

You can catch the next round of Bachelor action -- featuring one contestant who has already had to apologize for offensive tweets -- with the Season 23 premiere on Monday, January 7 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. The premiere will be a three-hour event showcasing Colton Underwood, who already appeared with no lasting luck in the love department on The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise. Maybe the third time will be the charm. Viewers can probably count on the show milking his virginity for all it's worth (for as long as it lasts). For more viewing options, check out our midseason TV premiere guide.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).