The “Bachelor in Paradise” sexual assault scandal may have turned two contestants’ lives upside-down, but that won’t stop ABC from using it to draw in viewers.
The show has teased fans for weeks as to how the alcohol-fueled sexual encounter between DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios that shut down production will be addressed once the matchmaking “The Bachelor” spin-off comes back to the air.
Now, in what feels to some as an exploitative ploy to capitalize on the attention the scandal attracted, host Chris Harrison revealed that “Paradise” will air footage of both Jackson and Olympios’ short-lived tenures on the beaches of Mexico — though it will steer clear of showing the actual encounter in question.
“You’re going to see more than enough to show you what was happening that led up to the shutdown, within certain taste and values of what we can show on network TV,” Harrison told Entertainment Weekly.
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Harrison’s confirmation that Jackson and Olympios will be featured on the upcoming season marked a breaking point for some fans.
“I don’t want to see it. They are using it to make the show more interesting,” one wrote on Twitter. “I think they have finally crossed a line I can’t handle.”
Production shut down in June after a producer filed a complaint alleging Olympios was too drunk to consent when she stripped off her clothes and hooked up with Jackson in the pool.
A Warner Bros. investigation revealed no evidence of misconduct and cleared Jackson of any wrongdoing, and filming quickly resumed.
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Olympios, who claimed she did not remember what happened, vowed to open her own investigation into the matter, but later closed it.
The “Paradise” cameras captured all of the day’s events leading up to the pair’s encounter, as well as its aftermath.
It’s that footage — footage which likely should have been submitted as evidence in a criminal investigation — that is now being touted as a key reason to tune into the show’s return.
“I think people have this preconceived notion of what it was like and what was going on and really the only way to prove anything or show you anything is to all watch it and you can judge for yourself,” Harrison said. “So that will involve seeing Corinne and DeMario.”
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Both Olympios and Jackson declined to return to the show once production resumed, though both have said they will appear on a reunion special later in the summer.
ABC teasing the footage as a way to pique viewers’ interests comes as no surprise to fans initially taken aback by the series’ incredibly tone-deaf trailer that made a mockery of the incident, comparing the alleged assault to rain on the other contestants’ sun-soaked, booze-filled parade.
“The sun had almost set. Summer was almost ruined. Paradise was almost lost,” the ad cooed, as “devastated” fans on Twitter expressed their sadness at the show’s shutdown.
The ad then shifted tone completely, glossing over the fact that the “hurricane” symbolizing the assault was a serious incident that, according to Jackson, led him to be fired from his job.
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Many fans were angered by the promo, including one who wrote, “So the #BachelorInParadise marketing campaign is shaming someone for coming forward about sexual assault and I am officially done with 2017.”
Meanwhile, just like ABC, Jackson and Olympios’ fellow contestants also showed no shame in celebrating the series’ return.
Contestant Robby Hayes, for example, took the opportunity to share a brooding selfie on Instagram with the punny caption, “Let’s try this again… ‘Bachelor in ParaTwice.’
In making its return, “Paradise” has made baby steps in trying to right its wrongs.
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Last week, former contestant Vinny Ventiera said that all contestants were now limited to two drinks per hour, and had to give on-camera consent before having sex.
Still, some have lamented the effort as too little, too late.
“As Olympios picks up the pieces from a night she can barely remember, and Jackson tearfully describes what it’s like to watch his mother cry every day, it’s hard to understand how anyone can watch this season of ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ in good conscience,” Vanity Fair writer Laura Bradley wrote.
“Bachelor in Paradise” will return Aug. 14.
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