Hi there. You don’t know me, but I’m a loyal fan of The Bachelor and its spinoff shows. I’ve been watching the franchise since the third season of Bachelor Pad, and despite being a Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies major when I was in college, I’ve defended the show through thick and thin. Remember when you made Britt and Kaitlyn compete to be The Bachelorette? I blogged angrily, but I watched. When Kaitlyn got slut-shamed all over the place for sleeping with Nick? I tuned in early, and then I blogged. I’m a proud member of Bachelor Nation, accepting roses from even the worst of seasons (let’s be real, JoJo was a bust).
I started to worry about this franchise when I saw how much fun y’all were having with Chad, the meat-guzzling, throat-grabbing Trump knockoff courting JoJo’s affections on the most recent Bachelorette. Much of his behavior contained red flags of dating violence: he teasingly called JoJo “naggy” (negging) and expressed anger at seeing her in a bikini in front of the other men (controlling). He became violent with Evan and threatened several members of the cast, including Jordan, the eventual winner. Derek, his roommate, was too scared to sleep beside him, and a security guard was called in to monitor the mansion. And yet Bachelorette producers chose to milk Chad’s destructive behavior for editing gold, because in your minds, any drama was good drama. Hurricane Chad was the most “entertaining” thing to happen during JoJo’s dud of a season, and this celebration normalized his abusive behavior for a prime time, national audience.
When I heard Chad was invited to Bachelor In Paradise, I was angry. When I saw the promotion honoring “The Chad” returning to television, I was livid. When I watched Chad get blackout drunk, call women “bitches” and “cunts,” manhandle the infamously addled Lace, refer to Sarah Herron as “Fuck that one arm bitch” and then defend his behavior as “joking, why can’t you all take jokes?” I lost my goddamn mind.
I’m glad the cast of Bachelor In Paradise immediately recognized Chad’s treatment of Lace as disrespectful. It was validating to hear Carly say that Chad’s behavior was “scary and abusive and weird behavior that shouldn’t be happening.” After being berated for sticking up for Lace, Sarah hit the nail on the head when she declared, “I didn’t come to Paradise to be surrounded by drunk, aggressive, abusive jerks.”
Sarah added, “To let Chad stay on this show and talk about women the way that he does… I can’t.”
Sarah was speaking to you, Bachelor In Paradise producers. And so am I. So let me be very clear. Sarah and Carly should never have had to defend Lace, because Chad never should have been invited onto Bachelor In Paradise in the first place. You failed the women of this franchise, and you failed the survivors of Intimate Partner Violence who watch your show every week. You created Chad by playing his game, jokingly branding his abuse as “Hurricane Chad,” milking his violence and sexism for ratings, and then having the gall to act responsible by kicking him off the show only once you’d gotten the explosive premiere that you wanted.
And now, watching the preview for next week, I see that Chad returns to extend his fifteen minutes of fame yet again. He’s followed to Paradise by Josh Murray, who former Bachelorette Andi Dorfman broke off her engagement with because of his emotional abuse.
Earlier in tonight’s premiere, Sarah fantasized that Chad was just misunderstood, hiding a complicated, gentle man underneath his tough façade. JoJo suspected the same last season until Alex let her in on Chad’s threats to beat up Jordan once the season ended. Women will always need to learn the reality of abusive men for themselves because of the stories we tell about abusers. We romanticize their violence as coming from a place of pain that only the right woman can heal. It breaks my heart to watch a franchise I enjoy reinforce the narrative that kept me in a dangerous relationship when I was younger. Giving screen time to these men puts blood on your hands.
Do better. Do better for the brilliant, funny, kind and deserving women who you are lucky enough to cast on your programming. Do better for the millions of viewers whose trust you have earned over decades of broadcasts. Do better for the women who are sick of defending our choice to watch as you degrade and endanger your casts. Do better for the survivors of domestic violence and for the future victims who you are turning your back on. For better or for worse, The Bachelor and its cohort play a central role in American culture. Take that influence seriously and apologize for making the monster that is Chad. And for god sake, never invite him back ever again.