On last night’s episode of The Bachelor, there was a troubling twist — and no, I’m not talking about Madison’s fantasy suite ultimatum. Instead of Peter’s final three contestants living in separate apartments while they wait to go on their overnight dates, Season 24 had them all living under the same roof. While viewers (rightly) assumed this was the producers’ way of stirring up drama, knowing that Madison was uncomfortable with Peter being intimate with the other women, host Chris Harrison says there was a practical purpose too. Since Madison hadn’t yet confessed to Peter about her virginity, Harrison says they needed to force that confrontation — and apparently, forcing her to watch Hannah Ann and Victoria F. leave and spend the night with Peter was the best way to do that.
A quick recap if you missed the events of last night: Madison told Peter she’d walk away if he slept with Hannah Ann and Victoria on their fantasy suite dates. Peter proceeded to sleep with both. On his date with Madison, she confessed she was a virgin, he told her he’d slept with the other two women, and she walked away. (The episode ended there.)
Talking on the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast, host Harrison implied that having Madison live with the other two women was their way of forcing a necessary conversation between her and Peter: an opportunity for her to tell him about her virginity, and him to tell her about his time with Hannah and Victoria.
“There are things that we do as producers that will force you into this uncomfortable zone and force you into making a decision,” he said. “This situation was pretty extraordinary because Peter had kicked the can down the road but also, this time Madison had. And so this was to force a situation that had to happen, and it had to happen this week.”
“If we get to proposal week, then this guy is really screwed and there’s no chance this works,” Harrison continued. “We gotta figure this out and there’s really only one way to do it. So yeah, it was tough love and it was really awkward. As you know in the history of the show, I don’t know if we’ve ever done this. But we decided to do it this week because these are conversations that needed to be had.”
So, Harrison’s saying that it wouldn’t be fair to have Peter get engaged to Madison without knowing about her virginity and why that decision was important to her. Fine; I’m on board with that. But I still don’t understand their methods. What part of forcing Madison to watch Hannah and Victoria come back the morning after is “forcing” these conversations? Sure, it makes it harder for Peter to lie about whether or not he slept with them, but I’m pretty sure we’re meant to assume he’d tell the truth anyway.
In the end, we don’t know why Madison waited so long to tell Peter she was a virgin. But not giving her the same courtesy every other contestant has gotten — the ability to turn a blind eye to the fact that your maybe-fiancé is sleeping with several other women a week before proposals — seems more like a punishment than “tough love.”
Harrison’s next comments on why the women lived together seems to get closer to the real truth. ABC was afraid that Peter would be judged for sleeping with the other women, so they needed to get Hannah Ann and Victoria F. on camera saying it was messed up of Madison to put him in that position.
“It was because of the double standard and the things that Peter was going to deal with,” Harrison explained. “We kind of needed the women’s perspective on this. We needed Madison to face Victoria and Hannah Ann and have them express their emotions on this because, again, it’s just this guy and his perspective and I don’t know if that’s the greatest thing right now.”
If that was their goal, they succeeded. Both Hannah and Victoria were highly critical of Madison putting Peter “on the spot” like that, and trying to limit how he explored his other relationships with them. Many on Twitter drew comparisons between Madison’s ultimatum and Luke P., another devout Christian contestant from Hannah Brown’s season who told her he’d walk away if she’d slept with other contestants.
It seems that former Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay agrees with Madison’s critics: “If she leaves, it is so hypocritical, a contradiction, to hold that against him when you withheld this information from him knowing what this show is and knowing who Peter is.” (Peter became famous for having sex four times with Hannah Brown on their fantasy suite date; so yes, Madison knew that Peter is a fan of premarital sex.)
But there’s a key difference between Madison and Luke P. While the latter implied that Hannah should be ashamed of her choice to have sex before marriage, Madison never expressed judgement for Peter’s decisions (or those of the other contestants). She simply repeated that she had certain expectations for her own relationship and her own marriage, and she wasn’t willing to compromise on that boundary.
Peter had all the information he needed to decide whether or not the terms Madison offered were ones he could accept. No one should judge Peter for deciding that exploring his other relationships took priority; the only way Peter looks bad here is if he tries to eat his cake and have it too (sleep with the other women and still try to get Madison to stay, which is of course what he’s doing).
As far as I can tell, having the women live together forced exactly zero confrontations that wouldn’t have happened anyway, and just made three women more miserable than they needed to be. In other words, this is still The Bachelor.
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