Very few people will come out of the "Bachelor In Paradise" scandal unscathed, but changes could be good for the franchise and reality TV as a whole.
Amid all the press and scandal surrounding "Bachelor in Paradise" right now, it's clear that very few of the people and companies involved will get out unscathed.
On the most basic level, we have a man who, according to allegations from sources close to production, performed sex acts on a woman who was too intoxicated to give proper consent. The alleged aggressor, "The Bachelorette's" DeMario Jackson, says he's innocent and is a victim of an assassination of his character.
At the same time, the woman in question, allegedly "The Bachelor's" Corinne Olympios, has said she is a victim as well.
Is it possible for both of them to be victims?
Yes. Sure, they signed up to exploit their good looks and loose ideas of what constitutes true love for the world to watch. But "Bachelor in Paradise" can be blamed for placing them in these predicaments to begin with and letting things go too far.
We have to acknowledge that all the elements for an incident like this have been cooking for years. It's almost a wonder that it took 15 years of "The Bachelor" and multiple spin-offs for a sexual-misconduct scandal to happen.
Just look at the mix: an attractive young man or woman being vied for by 20 equally attractive people, competition, hunger for celebrity, and, in many cases, a real desire to fall in love. Throw alcohol into the mix, and you have a recipe for possible disaster.
That is why reality TV contestants basically sign away all their rights to sue a network and the show's producers before they can get one second of airtime. Everyone, especially the producers, knows that the conditions of dating shows like this are likely to lead to some pretty questionable situations. I'm willing to bet that similar drunken sexual altercations have happened during shooting on other seasons, but were taken care of quietly because they occurred between adults off-camera.
As one reality TV producer told Variety, what set this situation apart is that there were allegedly producers and crew members watching the incident go down as the cameras continued to roll and not one of them decided to step in to stop what was happening. That's the "smoking gun" that forced ABC and Warner to shut down a multimillion-dollar production and begin an investigation.
The failure to act of those people employed by Warner, and by extension ABC, made this drunken sexual encounter hard to keep contained. It opens the companies up to all kinds of legal liabilities. There will probably be payouts to those cast members involved, several people fired, and a lot of embarrassment for the companies involved.
Okay, so what's this good thing I mentioned that would come from all this?
You know how they say that flying after a terrorist attack is the safest time to do so, because everyone is on high alert? Well, we're about to enter the safest time ever to be on a reality dating show.
After this scandal, not only will the "Bachelor" franchise be more careful about protecting its cast members, the entire industry will be. Again, not because they especially care about the welfare of their cast members, but because they're going to want to protect themselves from being liable. I even predict less alcohol, more creative ideas for triggering drama and romance, and more stringent casting practices.
So go ahead, shoot your audition tape. This is the time to do it.