So the talk of the town in Bachelor Nation surrounds Bachelor In Paradise contestants, Brendan Morais and Pieper James, who thought they could crack the Bachelor code and were caught red-handed. After they were exposed for their plan, Brendan lost at least 86,000 followers, and Pieper lost 9,000 (talk about a plan backfiring).
But this time, it was the cast members who did the cancelling first, and that’s most likely why there was such a reaction from the audience, leading to such a detrimental followers loss. That also means the show allowed this, and encouraged it. I see this as the show letting everyone know they will bite back if you try to take things out of their control.
This season of Bachelor In Paradise was long-awaited because last year’s season was cancelled due to the pandemic. But a season right after a pandemic brought some complexities to the show that we’ve never seen before. Since a summer season was skipped, franchise favourites were meeting up for parties, hangouts, and flirty trips that have resulted in the show feeling less authentic than other years. The Love Island-esque extension of the franchise puts together men and women from various seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette trying to find love on a beach in Mexico. The men and women alternate for the power at the rose ceremonies each week, where they couple up with whoever they’re vibing with. Anyone without a rose gets sent home. And of course they send more contestants to the beach to shake things up, because this is reality TV and we need drama and heartbreak. So watching the contestants come down to the beach and pretend like they didn’t know each other was super annoying for me and any other fans who follow them on Instagram. But these contestants depend on Bachelor In Paradise for a follower bump, and since the season was cancelled last year, they made their own unofficial Paradise.
Brendan, who was on Tayshia Adams’ season, was one of the original cast members on the beach in the first episode, and when I saw him, I was a little confused because there were reports that he was with Pieper, from Matt James’ season, outside of the show. I quickly brushed it off because of course he wouldn’t show up on the island with a girlfriend. He was a fan favourite when he was on The Bachelorette, and was my ideal winner for Tayshia, so there’s no way he could ever do something like that on the beach, right? (SO wrong). He ended up getting cozy with Natasha Parker, who was on Peter Weber’s Bachelor season. While Natasha was expressing her feelings for him, he was being super reserved. Despite him acting really sus, he still reciprocated feelings for Natasha with words, and they exchanged roses every week…until Pieper came along. As soon as she came down to the Island, she asked Brendan to the date right away without speaking to any other guys, and that was that, they were together.
The most frustrating part about all of this is how smug they were about it. They know that the drama of it all would make their names huge on social media, and we even see Pieper saying she doesn’t care that people may see right through their little plan because “she’s not stupid” when it pertains to gaining followers on the beach. Brendan didn’t care that he used Natasha until Pieper showed up, because he figured that even if he was a villain, he would still get engagement on his accounts.
I am confident that if it wasn’t for the producers’ hand in this, it might not have resulted in the way that this all has. Like I’m sure Brendan and Pieper thought, there have been plenty of moments on this show that created villains, but it never resulted in this much of a loss of followers. There are also recent moments where social media got in the mix with no repercussion from the show, or Instagram followers. Former Bachelorette, Clare Crawley, ended her season early because she knew she wanted to pick Dale Moss after the first night, but what was shady about that was how she had already known of him before filming through Instagram because of the abrupt filming delay due to the pandemic. Although fans weren’t so happy about that, the show celebrated her decision to follow her heart. It’s been over a year now, and Clare and Dale are living it up together (with no loss of Instagram followers).
The thing about producers is that they know everything. Of course they knew that Brendan and Pieper were dating, which is why they put space between their appearances on the island. So the only difference between this moment of villain behaviour versus others is that Brendan and Pieper tried to play the show’s format for their own gain. The show thrives on true relationships formed in front of the cameras, not behind them. The show doesn’t want to follow along blindly because they don’t want other people to think they can get away with it, because the show would completely crumble if people were to see this work.
Another bad move by Brendan was picking Natasha as the one he would use to coast through. Natasha is a co-host of Clickbait which is an official Bachelor Nation podcast. The show is going to want to protect Natasha at all costs because she recaps the show on the podcast, and if she isn’t happy with how things are portrayed, that could mean she takes a stand against the show by stopping the recording of the podcast. But all of that business stuff aside, Natasha is also a person, and she should not have been disrespected the way she was. Not only did Brendan blatantly use her to get through the show, but he also repeatedly said that he doesn’t understand why she’d be so upset because no one else would be interested in her on the island in the first place. It is difficult to see a dark-skinned Black woman on the island told that, especially because the show has had a past of portraying Black women as undesirable through micro-aggressions and editing. Colourism is a huge issue in the world of dating, and it has been put under a magnifying glass because of the show as well. Thankfully, the Bachelor franchise has shown that they are making strides towards being better, and everyone rallied around Natasha and supported her through this.
When Brendan and Pieper were confronted by contestants of the show, which led to them leaving the island together, Natasha was given a rose by the show to give her a second chance at love because it was taken away from her. As much as I’d like to believe that this was solely because they wanted to support her through this hurtful time, it’s definitely also a statement to any future contestants not to mess with the process, because you will be caught.
The support is rampant on social media as well, because Natasha has gained over 200,000 followers since the blowout. Brendan and Pieper have also released statements connected to the matter, and it turns out that they aren’t even an official couple right now. Is this the reset that the show needed to restore its integrity? The show is losing whatever shred of authenticity it had because everyone is able to slide into DMs, or meet up for the sake of boosting engagement, but with that comes the lack of care for actual...engagements. Brendan was a fan-favourite, cherished by the whole nation, so if the producers are willing to throw that under the bus to prove a point, that shows that they are not happy with it.
Now, he is most likely facing monetary consequences from this, because followers are money, and I don’t think there’s any way to gain those followers back any time soon. Hopefully this debacle will demonstrate to people that when the show becomes involved, the consequences can be serious. Most importantly, I hope the show makes it a habit to protect people who are walked over, because as much drama as it was to see the situation play out, it was even more drama to see the bad guy actually taken down.