Entertainment

The Bachelorette Exploited The Death Of A Contestant For Ratings, Which Is Super Cool

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Andi Dorfman on The Bachelorette season ten presenting rose GIFIt's not like The Bachelorette is exactly the pinnacle of ‘doing what is right on television', but I was hopeful that they'd at least find a tasteful way of handling the tragic death of one of the show's contestants, Eric Hill. And yet…no such luck.

If this story sounds familiar to you, it's because the original news of Eric's death after a hang-gliding accident broke about three months ago, while the show was still filming. It didn't change the show's outcome, because Andi Dorfman had already sent Eric home, but the news of his passing was bound to be jarring to Andi, who'd rejected him, and the rest of the guys who'd been his roommates and constant companions for weeks. 

The producers dedicated the season to him and put out a statement mourning his loss, but both of those things are kind of outweighed by the fact that they also televised the moment that they told the cast that Eric had died. And not only that, but they teased it throughout the episode just to keep people watching, which I felt was incredibly tacky.

I understand the need to tell everyone at the same time, and the fact that this is very difficult subject matter to handle, but I think the decision to air so much of the footage of everyone hearing about the tragedy was misguided. I think it was more about ratings than it was about honoring the life of a former contestant on the show, because instead of taking the time and space they needed to grieve however they wanted, everyone had to be on camera for the moment they heard. They had to have that extra layer of measuring their responses to make sure they're fit for TV, and someone had to edit those responses down.

It's just callous, and embarrassing, and it puts a lot of pressure on Andi to have an appropriate response. She had sent Eric home early after he offended her during an argument in Week 4. His death has nothing to do with her, but in the moments after she hears about it, she's voicing her guilt for ‘kicking him out' of the house. She's making the story of his death about her, which is exactly what she's encouraged to do when she's given the news while a camera is pointed in her face.

Chris Harrison can defend the decision all he wants — and he has, in this Entertainment Weekly blog post — but for me, this was a clear case of the producers allowing their hunger for drama on the show to drown out their compassion for a man who spent only a brief portion of his all-too-short life on the set of their reality show.

(Image: Vulture)

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