The Bachelor franchise is many things: romantic, cringe-worthy, intense, exciting, and dramatic; it has also become extremely controversial and especially recently.
Controversial moments from the Bachelor franchise go back decades, from leads changing their minds, to contestants having relationships with producers.
With the prevalence of social media, many controversies take place off the show on Instagram, or Twitter when contestants just don’t know how to keep their mouths shut.
The recent season of The Bachelor with Matt James was one of the most controversial seasons to date, with racism becoming a hot topic, and even leading to the host Chris Harrison getting himself in hot water.
For a show that is seemingly about people looking for their future husband or wife, there sure are quite a few scandals that take place on and off screen that have nothing to do with looking for love.
Below are the top 10 most controversial moments in the history of The Bachelor franchise. Take a few breaths before you dive in!
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1. Rachel Kirkconnell racist pictures emerge
The Rachel Kirkconnell racism scandal is easily the most controversial on this list, and the most recent.
During Matt James season of The Bachelor, pictures emerged of Rachael attending an antebellum plantation-themed party while at college in 2018.
To make matters worse, Bachelor host Chris Harrison was interviewed by the first black Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, and came to the defense of Rachael Kirkconnell.
He spoke about “cancel culture” and having “a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion.” His comments drew ire from Bachelor Nation, forcing him to step down from his duties for the time being.
Rachael won the season, and during the After the Final Rose special it was revealed that Matt had broken up with her due to the racist photos.
2. Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson sexual misconduct
Corinne Olympios and Demario Jackson faced sexual misconduct allegations during the fourth season of Bachelor in Paradise.
During the first night, Corinne and DeMario were drinking heavily and engaged in a sexual encounter. A producer later filed a formal complaint, claiming Corinne was not able to consent, leading to an investigation by Warner Bros.
Bachelor in Paradise production was shut down and producers got the dramatic trailer they had always wanted.
3. Garrett Yrigoyen controversial social media posts
Garrett Yrigoyen won Becca Kufrin’s season of The Bachelorette with the pair becoming engaged during the finale. While things looked to be smooth sailing at first, they took a controversial turn when Garrett’s social media activity came to light.
Ashley Spivey posted photos to her Twitter that Garrett had “liked” on Instagram. The majority were memes from a far right page called MericaSupplyCo, including an insensitive photo mocking Liberal women. Interestingly enough, Becca Kufrin was an outspoken supporter of Hillary Clinton, and participated in the Women’s March.
Despite apoligizing during the After the Final Rose special, Garrett later posted an Instagram photo supporting police officers during the Black Lives Matter movement, which many considered tone-deaf. He and Becca split up not long after this.
4. Lincoln Adim had a criminal history
Lincoln Adim was another controversial contestant on Becca Kufrin’s season of The Bachelorette.
In 2018, just one week before The Bachelorette premiered, Lincoln was convicted of indecent assault and battery. The conviction stems from a 2016 incident in which he allegedly groped a woman while on a harbor cruise in Boston.
Bachelor producers claimed to have had no prior knowledge of this beforehand, leading many viewers to question the screening process contestants go through.
5. Clare Crawley Quits The Bachelorette to be with Dale Moss
Clare Crawley clearly believes in love at first sight because she felt it when Dale Moss stepped out of the limo on night one.
During the first few episodes of Clare’s season of The Bachelorette, it was obvious that she only had eyes for Dale which lead to a proposal from him and her leaving the show. Taysia Adams stepped into the role, finishing out the season.
It appears things didn’t quite work out for Dale and Clare (shocker!) and they broke up not long after. However, rumors have swirled that they are back together after a romantic getaway together for Clare’s 40th birthday; they have yet to confirm their reconciliation.
6. Jason Mesnick goes back to his runner-up Molly Malaney
Jason Mesnick was the first Bachelor to change his mind after choosing a fiance and go back to his runner-up.
During The Bachelor finale, Jason broke up with Molly Malaney which lead to quite the meltdown. He was shown absolutely sobbing over a balcony after sending her home, and many viewers questioned why he hadn’t chosen her in the first place.
During the live After the Final Rose special, Jason broke up with winner Melissa Rycroft in front of millions of viewers. Later on, he asked Molly for another chance in an embarrassingly awkward way.
It appears the second time was the charm though because he and Molly are still going strong and even have children together.
Unfortunately for Jason, he was the inspiration for the term “pulling a Mesnick.”
7. Arie Luyendyk Jr. dumps Becca Kufrin for his runner-up Lauren Burnham
Speaking of “pulling a Mesnick,” Arie Luyendyk Jr. did what no other Bachelor had done since Jason Mesnick received so much backlash.
Arie broke up with his final choice, Becca Kufrin, in front of cameras when the pair met up at an Airbnb for (ironically) a “happy couples weekend.”
He later went back to his runner-up Lauren Burnham, and apparently things worked out well for them because they are married with a daughter, and twins on the way.
For most people in Bachelor Nation though, it wasn’t just that Arie changed his mind, but many felt the way he allowed the show to film everything was a major betrayal to Becca.
Bachelor producers went crazy with the previews, with Chris Harrison even calling it “the first unedited scene in reality television history.”
8. Contestants choose between Britt Nillson and Kaitlyn Bristowe as The Bachelorette
On every season of The Bachelorette up until this point, one woman was chosen as the lead and would have her pick of 25 or 30 guys. However, Bachelor producers clearly felt they needed a new gimmick to keep viewers interested, and perhaps they wanted something controversial to get people talking.
Britt Nillson and Kaitlyn Bristowe were both chosen as the lead, but the men who would be on the show got to vote for which one of them would be The Bachelorette. Many felt the move was completely disgusting and degrading, especially considering it’s a show that was meant to give the power back to the woman.
Sean Lowe put it perfectly in an angry blog post he wrote about the premiere, writing, “This move transfers the power back to the men on the show specifically designed for the women.”
9. Brad Womack returns for a second time
Brad Womack shocked viewers during his season of The Bachelor when he broke up with both of his final two women, DeAnna Pappas and Jenni Croft. It was the first time a lead had chosen to go home single, and Brad looked pretty lonely sitting on that platform all alone.
However, controversially, Bachelor producers asked Brad Womack to return as The Bachelor and do the whole process again. In the end, Brad chose Emily Maynard, with the pair splitting while the show was running. They got back together in time for After the Final Rose, and split two months after that.
During The Bachelor: Greatest Seasons-Ever!, Emily took some of the blame for the split, telling Chris Harrison, “I was 24. I’m 34 now. I didn’t have the maturity to deal with all of that. And it was really hard. We both put in a lot of work traveling back and forth and all of that, but I think we both knew, ‘This is just not fun anymore. This is just not going to work.”
10. Rozlyn Papa gets intimate with a Bachelor producer
During Jake Pavelka’s season of The Bachelor, contestant Rozlyn Papa was embroiled in controversy when it was revealed that she allegedly had a physcial relationship with a Bachelor producer during filming.
In a deeply uncomfortable scene, Chris Harrison confronted her about it, and asked her to leave the show. Despite Rozlyn denying the claims, other contestants came forward, saying they had seen the pair together.
The producer was fired, with Chris Harrison telling PEOPLE, “This was a friend of ours and a member of our family. A lot of feelings were hurt; were upset. I never witnessed anything like it onscreen or off.”
The Bachelor is currently on hiatus at ABC.
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