Spoilers ahead for the second episode of The Bachelorette Season 16.
Clare Crawley's long-awaited season of The Bachelorette has been generating headlines ever since she was announced as the next leading lady of the series, but the second episode of her season has people talking for reasons other than excitement about her journey to find love. A group date involving ten bachelors turned out to be a game of strip dodgeball that ended with five guys either entirely naked or close enough that they all had to be blurred from the waist down to air on ABC. Now, former Bachelor Ben Higgins has weighed in on the controversial date.
Ben Higgins first appeared on The Bachelorette Season 11 in 2015 before being selected to star on The Bachelor in Season 20 in 2016, and he has become a favorite with fans over the years despite coming up empty on his search for lasting reality TV love. In an episode of The Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast, which he hosts along with Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise alum Ashley Iaconetti, Higgins shared his thoughts on the strip dodgeball date:
I think we can all be clear that there’s a double standard right now. 100%. A very obvious double standard that was presented and that, I don’t know if the show’s trying to send a message, saying ‘Hey, there is an obvious double standard or not,’ but I watched this, and let’s for a second reverse course and say, okay, if this was a Bachelor season, no way this happens. No way they get away with it. No way it’s appropriate. No way that this just becomes a weekly topic.... I think this show is super smart. They knew this wouldn’t shut down the show, but it’s pushing the envelope here a little bit. Right?
Bachelor Nation pushes the envelope on a regular basis, but the strip dodgeball game is definitely on another level. Sure, Peter Weber's messy season of The Bachelor featured a group date that involved the women dressed in nightgowns that weren't all that modest for some extreme pillow fighting, but the women were all significantly more covered than the losing dodgeball team in Clare Crawley's season of The Bachelorette. I honestly can't imagine The Bachelor ever even considering putting women in this position, but obviously The Bachelorette pushed the envelope that far for the men.
Ben Higgins went on to say that "there's no shot" he could have done it if he was on this season of The Bachelorette, because it's "all fun and games until my buddies and I are naked on national television." He made the point that even though he works out to keep in shape, he wouldn't want to bare it all in front of all of the other hunky guys trying to win the Bachelorette's heart, let alone the entire viewing audience. He also stated that The Bachelorette, Clare Crawley, and Chris Harrison wouldn't have tried to force any of the guys to participate.
That said, Ben Higgins elaborated on how The Bachelorette pushed the envelope this time around with the strip dodgeball:
Maybe I’m crazy, maybe you guys can remind me, but this felt like it was pushing the envelope more than any other date I can remember on The Bachelor. They push the envelope every season. There’s always that controversial thing that happens, that goes, ‘Oh, next year it’s not gonna be as much,’ or whatever. This felt like a lot…. I would say, though, this would not have been a date I participated in. Not because I necessarily have a problem with the whole get naked and run around thing. I don’t know personally if that’s wrong or right. I would have just been so uncomfortable.
I think it's safe to say that people will be talking about the strip dodgeball for a long time to come, although a lot more drama is on the way in The Bachelorette Season 16 to compete with this group date. Spoilers ahead for upcoming episodes of The Bachelorette. Clare Crawley's fixation on Dale Moss will cut her journey short and open none other than Tayshia Adams, who tried to win Colton Underwood's heart on The Bachelor and then tried her hand at reality TV love again on Bachelor in Paradise, to take over as leading lady. End spoilers.
See what happens in the aftermath of the strip dodgeball game with new episodes of The Bachelorette, airing Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Fall TV season is heating up, so be sure to check out our 2020 premiere schedule to make sure not to miss some of the biggest upcoming returns.