If there was any hope that Bachelor in Paradise might take a serious approach to addressing the sexual assault allegations that temporarily halted production of its upcoming fourth season, a jaw-dropping new promo just extinguished it.
At first, the ad — which Jezebel points out aired on ABC during Monday’s episode of The Bachelorette — paints a startling picture: “The sun had almost set. Summer was almost ruined,” a grave voiceover intones over dramatic shots of a stormy beach, a crab tumbling out of a margarita glass, and quotes from tweets by despondent viewers. “Paradise was almost lost — until it wasn’t!”
Then the music changes from dire to delighted, and the screen immediately floods with sunshine, ecstatic tweets, and jaunty lizards. “On Monday, August 14,” the voiceover concludes triumphantly, “Paradise is found!”
Ever since Warner Bros. (the show’s production studio) concluded its investigation into allegations of a sexual assault that reportedly took place during a drunken blackout on the Bachelor in Paradise set — though not before sparking an avalanche of criticism and reports of longstanding problematic behavior on the production — Bachelor in Paradise has promised to deal with the incident with all the sensitivity in the world.
But if a viewer saw only this trailer, drunken crab and all, they would probably come away thinking that Bachelor in Paradise just experienced a brief hiccup. Nowhere does this promo demonstrate that anyone involved in the show understands the gravity of the season being shut down to investigate claims of sexual assault, or the complex questions that subsequently arose about producer responsibility and drunken drama as a reality show staple.
I don’t envy the marketing team that had to figure out how to package Bachelor in Paradise’s fourth season. But I don’t think glossing over the messy realities of what unfolded was quite the way to do it. In fact, it only confirms the suspicions held by many that Bachelor in Paradise and other reality shows like it don’t understand the seriousness of claims like the ones that shut down the set in the first place, nor do they care to if they can simply weather any controversy and move on.
From the looks of what the ABC marketing department is trying to sell viewers, sticking your head in the sand is a pretty soothing alternative to dealing with problems directly — especially if that sand happens to be in Paradise.