By Richard Miller
Although reality television is quite infamous for being scripted and calculated, one show appears to have finally decided to go way off-script. “The Bachelor,” a long-running ABC rating juggernaut that documents trademark catty drama between gorgeous contestants as they all fall in love with the ‘perfect’ man, is a fantasy bubble of romance that is entirely unrealistic (the success rates of the couples don’t lie). However, on the Jan. 28 episode of “The Bachelor,” something unprecedented happened.
Contestant Caelynn Miller-Keys revealed to leading man Colton Underwood that she was a victim of sexual assault while attending Virginia Commonwealth University. She shared a horrifying story, that is, unfortunately, her reality.
I have mighty respect for the show for letting her share it and not censor her. She described the attack in vivid detail, which included her drink being drugged, being sexually assaulted by two different men in the same night and later finding photos and videos of herself in an incapacitated state on social media. Perhaps the most disturbing part of the story was that Miller-Keys was turned away from the first hospital she went to for a rape kit, which she cites as the reason only one of the students was found guilty. Underwood did not once interrupt her and did something that I’d consider rare in today’s social climate –– he listened. Underwood and the producers allowed her to tell her story, the way she wanted it to be told, without any fluff or interruptions.
This decision is something that is in sharp contrast with the history of the show. “The Bachelor” has had quite a controversial history with matters like this. In 2017, the show came under intense scrutiny after the spinoff series “Bachelor in Paradise” featured two of the contestants engaging in sexual acts while at least one of them was reportedly inebriated beyond the point of consent. The show then performed an “investigation,” conducted by, none other than their managing company, and of course found no evidence of misconduct.
The show’s checkered past in dealing with these controversial issues is what makes this moment so profound.
Chris Harrison, the show’s host, was quoted saying, “It’s one of those rare things where the show kind of stops and now you just want to take care of these people and walk them through this.” Underwood took to social media to express his support for Miller-Keys by saying that “there are moments that are bigger than the show itself.”
A quick search of the show’s signature hashtag, #TheBachelor, shows thousands of fans that are offering an outpouring of support to Caelynn.
“The Bachelor” is certainly not an award-winning documentary or a source for people to look for ideas on how to save the world (the rest of the episode was the typical drama and contestant fighting), but a woman being able to safely reveal her trauma is a high point for the show. One can only hope that “The Bachelor” continues to make these steps to document more of the reality behind the romance.
Students share opinions around campus
“Should reality TV stars be censored?”
“With swear words, people shouldn’t be [censored]. It’s very common to hear words like that.
“Reality TV should not be censored. The whole point is to be real.”