#RHONY, Bachelor Nation, Bravo TV, Real Housewives, Reality TV

#RHONY & #TheBachelor Crossover? The Countess Once Hit on Nick Viall

ABC’s former Bachelor Nick Viall revealed some tantalizing information on the podcast Juicy Scoop with Heather McDonald, released yesterday. Aside from tentatively dishing about some of the manipulative tactics by Bachelor production, he recounted a story of meeting Real Housewives of New York‘s Luann De Lesseps in Chicago. It was after his first stint on ABC’s The Bachelorette.

“I was out to dinner with friends…It was approximately 4 or 5 years ago. Someone in my entourage wanted to introduce me to…a duchess…or countess. I thought ‘Oh cool, a royal. I’ve never met a princess.’ She proceeded to enjoy the evening with some drinks. At some point, I had to get out of there. I had plans to go meet friends at a divey bar and I thought…for a moment…it would be really funny if I brought her. I don’t think she would have enjoyed that place. She leaned over and said ‘Where are you going? I do have a hotel and this hotel room.'”

Alas, there was no hookup because Viall went to meet his friends, and he hasn’t seen Luann De Lesseps since that evening. From the conversation with McDonald, it doesn’t sound like Viall follows any of Bravo’s Real Housewives franchises, but regarding the Countess, he added: “She was very nice, but it was before rehab and she was about 12 beers deep.”

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Bachelor in Paradise, Bachelor Nation, The Bachelor, Women

Ashley Spivey on Making #TheBachelor Franchise Better

Ashley Spivey, Twitter

If you’re an avid fan of ABC’s The Bachelor, you might know the name Ashley Spivey. You may have been familiar with her as a contender on the 2011 season, Brad Womack‘s second go as Bachelor (he had already been in the starring role in 2007, but left without a leading lady). Or, she may have only recently come to your attention due to her unique social media activity and interviews on Reality Steve‘s podcast. This is because Spivey has unintentionally become a sort of whistleblower, calling out injustices and controversial aspects of The Bachelor franchise.

Spivey truly didn’t set out to become this person, but as the moderator of a subreddit forum about the franchise, and as a survivor of sexual assault, she’s passionate about how today’s contestants should be treated, represented and protected.

Early on in the process during her season, Spivey detected her brand of ardent feminism wasn’t a match for Womack. “I saw him as wanting to be more in the ‘traditional’ role as a man,” she relates. Spivey had applied for the show after catching her ex boyfriend – who had left a career in finance to pursue one in acting – in bed with another woman. She thought it would be poetic justice to star on television before he ever got the chance. Her father had just passed away and her mood was glum, but she was ready to take a chance on something new and out of character. She completed the lengthy application despite being someone who “doesn’t love being on camera.”

Of course, producers loved the New York based nanny’s feisty backstory. “I think they called me 30 minutes after reviewing my application,” she half jokes.

Her employers at the time weren’t so keen about their child’s caretaker starring on a reality dating show, so once dismissed of these responsibilities (“I thought I was done with nannying and at that point, didn’t envision going back to it like I eventually did.”), Spivey was free to meet the man whose affections two dozen other women would be vying for.

Had producers not followed up regularly with her, she probably would have dropped the ball, she concedes.

Like her friend Sharleen Joynt (Juan Pablo’s season), Spivey homed in on the antiquated aspects of The Bachelor process early on. She recognized and internally recoiled from the reactionary. She was a “one and done” in her mind as far as being on reality TV, but after her season, joined the millions of viewers to opine on social media. There she became a shrewd and critical observer. Now happily married, Spivey remains committed to bettering the process for the singles of Bachelor Nation.

In the years leading up to #MeToo, #TimesUp and women calling out men for bad behavior, more eyeballs landed on Spivey’s Twitter timeline. Social media platforms hadn’t been as popular when she was a contestant back in 2011, but now people were weighing in with alacrity. Like other critics of the ABC franchise, she was not a fan of the public’s shaming of the first Bachelorette to have sex before fantasy suite dates and made that viewpoint known. This resonated with others who replied and responded. Bloggers and reporters focused on the flaws within the franchise as a direct result. Spivey’s tweets took the position of: People seem to take it easy on the men, so why are women being slammed?

She posted and blogged about these types of injustices and her following continued to amass, even more so after pointing public attention to the bad behaviors of The Bachelorette contenders hoping Becca Kufrin would choose them.

As a former contestant, “Bachelor Nation” was paying attention to Spivey, though she was met with polarizing reaction due to the political diversity of that audience. Some of the more conservative viewers were upset when after following a tip, she looked into and verified the strange Instagram activity of Bachelorette contender Garrett Yrigoyen (comprised of “likes” on offensive and racist posts and memes).

When blogger Reality Steve got word of Lincoln Adim‘s battery assault conviction, Spivey arranged for her sister in law to pick up the court documents in person. “Because I manage a Bachelor Subreddit forum, I need to make sure the conversations there don’t get out of hand and that false information isn’t being spread,” she explains, “I also feel that these contestants deserve the very best and it upsets me that there wasn’t a better vetting process in place to protect Becca.”

Spivey’s successful efforts obtaining proof from the courtroom had a greater impact: Adim did not attend The Men Tell All episode.

“They could have done much better than that,” Spivey insists. “Becca should not have been placed in a position where she’d have to choose between controversial men. Producers could also have chosen to address the Lincoln scandal and discuss what is not acceptable during The Men Tell All…They also could have edited out a handful of Lincoln’s earlier scenes.”

Producer Elan Gale did reach out to Spivey to let her know the franchise had a pretty solid selection process. With regard to Yrigoyen, he expressed, there is no way to determine what a person is “liking” unless one follows that person and goes through every single post. Spivey understands how difficult and tedious it is, but something she tells me about herself should be modeled by production: “I always double and triple check things – it’s something I hear from multiple people that you’ll eventually end up reading about – before addressing it.”

Spivey adds that there was another missed opportunity by the franchise during 2017’s nearly-canceled season of Bachelor in Paradise. After allegations of sexual impropriety were investigated, the show reconvened with a post hiatus episode featuring a conversation between Chris Harrison and cast mates. “A professional should have been called in to address the issue of ‘Consent’ and clearly define what it means. In a way, this huge issue was somewhat glossed over following a public controversy. In my opinion, they fumbled the ball by not having a psychologist there. This was an opportunity to educate properly.”

While Spivey expects certain things from the franchise in 2018, it’s amazing that she still watches the show after what she experienced in 2011:

“I spoke about being a victim of sexual assault and rape in a prior relationship that was abusive. I knew there were other women that would be able to relate to my experience and I wanted to be authentic about real life issues. All of that was cut out of the show.”

With a social climate that is changing for victims of sexual assault, Spivey has been able to note progress made by the franchise more recently, but perhaps it is her own scarring past experience that keeps her fighting. By highlighting issues with contestants, it is inevitable that producers are tuned in and making changes –even if some regard her as a troublemaker or fail to credit her.

After exploring claims that a contestant of The Proposal (a spinoff show of the franchise’s) had once drugged and sexually assaulted a woman, Spivey was instrumental in bringing the information to light. Although no one from the network contacted Spivey, ABC promptly pulled the episode and it never aired. “That indicates they’re responding, but there’s still a long way to go.”

There are many viewers who see The Bachelor as a safe entertainment haven, one away from politics. As a result, that contingent would not want to be lurking on Ashley Spivey’s timeline. She tells me she was pleasantly surprised when Bekkah Martinez’s Trump reference wasn’t edited out of Arie’s season of The Bachelor.

“The reality is that there are viewers in Middle America that the franchise doesn’t want to alienate, so you’re not going to hear much political discussion. I believe that Rachel and Nick’s fantasy suite date was on election night, but producers know how polarizing these types of conversations can be. I think contestants are also highly aware of this and as a result, reluctant to discuss politics. Michael Garofola brought up Trump a lot during Bachelor Winter Games – Know that, despite the fact that you didn’t get to see it on the show.”

A more recent controversy Spivey has spotlighted is the one surrounding Leo Dottavio from Becca’s season of The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise.

“I had seen mumblings about Leo sending dick pics and inappropriate messages to women. Bekkah Martinez had Instagram stories about people coming forward to her regarding unwanted advances from Leo. He claimed it was all photo- shopped and fabricated, but there were multiple people coming forward to back Bekkah up. Then Amanda Stanton posted about him and Leo responded by sending threats.”

(Ironically, Spivey and I spoke right before Amanda Stanton’s arrest following a physical altercation with her boyfriend. Stanton’s lawyer issued a statement acknowledging that any violence is wrong and conveying Stanton’s regrets about her actions.)

Spivey would like to see more progress from the franchise, including more inclusiveness and diversity. She is currently disgruntled by the demographics. “Rachel Lindsay, the first black Bachelorette, is also the only Bachelorette to not reach a million followers. That shows you how racist viewers still are.”

Spivey would have also liked to see the first black Bachelor this upcoming season. There were some great candidates, she notes, including Wills Reid and Eric Bigger. However, Spivey sees the selection of Colton Underwood as a response to a call for change and proactively safer casting choices.

“There are lots of crazy stories out there about contestants, but there is nothing bad on Colton,” she emphasizes. “Colton is a good person. I think that raising awareness about what’s problematic really did have an impact. You see that with the choice of Colton as the next Bachelor.”

Spivey is quick to add: “On the other hand, if the whole season is ragging on Colton for being a virgin…that would be a complete step backwards…”

“If they don’t make significant changes, it will be hard for me to continue watching.”

(Photos, from left to right, courtesy of Wet Paint and Brides.com. Spivey has said that during her season of The Bachelor, she was more in love with fellow content Ashley Hebert than Bachelor Brad Womack.)

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Bachelor Nation, Bravo TV, public figures, Reality TV

#BachelorNation and #BravoTV Stars: Kim Biermann Said WHAT?!

I had this same reaction when Kathryn Dennis said something similar:

I’m familiar with #BachelorNation, the culture surrounding ABC’s The Bachelor franchise and many of its antiquated notions with regard to casting.

Weeks ago, Kathryn Dennis claimed to have been courted by production to be an upcoming Bachelorette (People Magazine article), and now, Kim Zolciak Biermann is saying she too was once considered for the title roll.

The Bachelorette may have finally welcomed its first black lead with Rachel Lindsay during its thirteenth season to help reject rumors related to racism, but CLASSISM still marks the franchise. I don’t envision that changing anytime soon.

Lindsay was an accomplished attorney with a stellar reputation overall. Single mom Emily Maynard (Season 8’s Bachelorette) was a gorgeous widow who had tragically lost her young husband. However, a trash talking, cussing, chain-smoking single mom (Biermann) wouldn’t have fit the franchise’s “brand”, particularly at the time she claims to have been approached. That brand is about having a wholesome as apple pie image (or one as close to it as possible for a show that concludes with a “Fantasy Suite” catering to the final three contenders and lead).

Dennis’s turbulent, televised and highly publicized history with the scandalous Thomas Ravenel could not feasibly have garnered such an invitation by ABC. Simply put, they are just not that open minded. It boils down to viewership demographics and ratings.

I have to wonder about WHO was actually talking to these women and scamming them into believing these were valid offers.

In the interim, I am all for a Bravo show encouraging men to step up to the plate and vie for Kathryn Dennis’s affections. After all, Bravo gave her a platform and allowed fans to witness her maturations from season to season on Southern Charm.

Because of how Biermann was received on Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA), as well as unresolved havoc following the show’s reunion, I cannot imagine Bravo and its viewers would be on board for something similar with her as the lead.

Tamara Tattles brings us more information here about Zolciak Biermann’s recent remarks.

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Dating, Reality TV, The Bachelor

#BachelorNation: A Perplexing Pick for ABC’s The Bachelor

**Be forewarned there are spoilers ahead. If you do not wish to know who was selected as the next Bachelor on ABC’s eponymous program, save this post for another day.

When E! leaked deets about the upcoming season of The Bachelor a few weeks ago, ABC’s choices for the title role were: Joe Amabile, Colton Underwood, Jason Tartick, and Blake Horstmann.

If Reality Steve is as right as he is usually proven to be, we’re getting Colton, AKA “the 26 year old virgin.” He was rejected by Becca Kufrin on last season’s The Bachelorette.

“Bachelor Nation” has not been reacting well to this news. Colton seems (to many) young and unready for marriage. During Becca’s season, Tia Booth admitted to still having feelings for him as the two had briefly dated before he came on the show to vie for Becca’s affection and final rose.

Subsequently, Colton and Tia reconnected on Bachelor In Paradise and it took an abundance of tears and turmoil before he made her his “girlfriend” (for about a week).

Previews for tonight’s episode indicate that this “relationship” goes to hell in a hand-basket as Colton is plagued by doubts about Tia being “the one”.

So now, this confused and (perhaps) commitment-phobic young man has agreed to choose a wife on national television, with producers present to egg him on and encourage…er, enforce… overtures? (Read the book Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman to get more insight into the process.)

Colton is a perplexing production pick when banker Jason Tartick, from Becca’s season seemed to be the ideal candidate. Wealthy, established, handsome, considerate and from an admirably loving family, Jason was a contender who didn’t even make it to the final two to amass his impressive social media following.

He seemed mature, “ready to settle down” and – well, let’s face it because we’re comparing him to a virgin – more equipped to handle the requisite Fantasy Suite at the end of the journey.

Then again, I hail from a religious community where many a young virgin with limited relationship experience has jumped right in to marriage, grabbed a life vest, realized they were fine without it and made it.

Who is to say Colton won’t find his ideal life partner through the magical matchmaking process of selective casting?

With this franchise and the few solid relationships that have resulted from it, you just never know.

Share your thoughts on Colton as the next Bachelor in the comments.

(Photo Source: Entertainment Tonight)

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Bravo TV, Psychology, public figures, Reality TV

An Abundance of Ashleys

Between the years of 1983 and 1988, “Ashley” was a top choice for American parents naming baby girls. It was, in fact, the second most popular girl’s name in the nation in 1985, which means if you are a Millennial, there’s a good chance you know an Ashley or two…or seven as I currently have programmed in my phone.

On reality television now, there are three Ashleys – within the aforementioned cohort – who have people talking. Perhaps there is a special formula for all Ashleys to crack (one I wish I knew!) because each of the three Ashleys I’m about to discuss have either had to overcome hurdles in the maze of reality TV, perception and reality, or are still bumbling through that complicated labyrinth.

Let’s begin with Ashley Iaconetti from The Bachelor franchise. This Ashley first came to our collective attention during Chris Soules’ season of The Bachelor. She was the emotionally overwrought Kardashian lookalike who seemed to cry on a whim. She also quickly became known to us for another more notable characteristic: being the virgin and was rapidly embraced by Bachelor Nation, the dysfunctional franchise-family that feverishly recycles favorites in spinoffs. So of course, Ashley appeared, and shed a ton of tears, on Bachelor in Paradise and later found lust on Bachelor Winter Games.

After many overly emotional scenes and plenty of loud sobs regarding being relegated to the “friend zone,” Iaconetti’s long-time pal and crush from Paradise finally started to reciprocate her feelings. She had cried over him in Paradise and had been encouraged to give up hope by their mutual friend (former Bachelor) Nick Viall. Years and too many tears later, after baring her soul to cameras ad nauseum, Ioconetti has been publicly vindicated, I guess: The object of her documented obsession, Jared Haibon, recently proposed. The perpetually pining princess will need to be recast as the fiance who turned her commitment phobic pumpkin into her prince.

Another Ashley who some of you are familiar with is Ashley Borders of Southern Charm Savannah. I wasn’t wild about the show, a sentiment not uncommon among Bravo fans, but I found this Ashley endearing even before I had the chance to meet her in person and confirm this.

A crowd of white, somewhat wealthy Savannians were introduced to us as a group of friends – except immediately, we got the sense that Borders was more of a free spirit. This was especially so when juxtaposed with the more traditional, snooty Southerner cast mates. They seemed stuck in the past and we witnessed how they were so bothered by Borders’ bathing suit-clad bod and the effect it might have on the taken men. It was clear that Borders was merely an on-camera friend to those who shunned her on the show, and we got a glimpse of the more liberal Savannians who accepted her, like the cute jewelry designer who appears in one episode.

According to one of my sources in Savannah, Ashley was demoted from a main cast member to a “friend of” for the soon to be airing Season Two. This was because the least likable, most stodgy and snobbish cast mates refused to film with her. Luckily enough, not all of them are total dicks, so although Borders will not get the redemption season she deserves after cast mates lambasted her last season, she will appear in a few scenes this time around.

Last season, while focused on her fashion career, she had a side gig with Delta airlines that afforded her travel opportunities. Her cast mates made a big deal about the side gig, calling her dishonest because she didn’t talk as much about it. In doing so, they unwittingly brought attention to their elitist and classist notions about career choices.

Ashley Borders’ liberal views and openness towards those from all walks of life, made her a breath of fresh air alongside this catty and cliquish crew. It will be interesting to see if she gets some redemption in her diminished role this season. Perhaps refraining from having to hang out too much with elitist cast mates is vindication enough for anyone.

The last of the Ashleys on my mind is the most talked about currently. Ashley Jacobs of Bravo’s Southern Charm (the original Southern Charm, as Savannah is a newer addition to the main franchise) is getting a lot of attention for her missteps on the show, as well as backfiring efforts to repair her image via social media.

Jacobs has had a really tough season and is in over her head as a reality television rookie. The hospice nurse attached herself to a paramour with a personal baggage, including the fact that he and his ex (the mother of his two kids) film together seasonally. It has not gone well for Jacobs who clashes on camera during the current season with Kathryn Dennis, mom to her beau Thomas Ravenel’s children.

While initially welcomed by the rest of the crew, they have taken several steps back from Jacobs and rallied around Dennis. The shifting allegiances, and the apparent disdain for Jacobs that has grown since cameras stopped rolling, attest to several complicated off-camera storylines.

The gossip blogs have played their own part in pitting the Charmers against one another.

While everyone loves a comeback and a redemption tale, many fans feel she is beyond reproach and that the influences behind her behavior, the motives and some of the individuals who nudged her behavior along (i.e. those bloggers), will never be revealed to the public.

To me, it would be a shame if we don’t get to see how bloggers contributed, how Jacobs’ relationship with Ravenel factored in, and whether or not Jacobs will acknowledge her bad behaviors after the upcoming reunion airs…Even more so, when ample time passes and realities (beyond reality TV) set in.

Whether Jacobs will have her opportunity to turn the tide and change the minds is something that seems more uncertain than what is likely for the other Ashleys. Her words seemed more astounding, more regrettable and her actions post-filming more shocking. However, when a person takes major initiatives to revamp their life and starts to see things differently, it’s a beginning towards healing all that has been greatly damaged. Having seen young reality stars mature and become more humbled by public reaction, who knows what could happen in the future after life changes offer new perspectives….In the United States of Amnesia, (to borrow the late Gore Vidal’s term) I’ve witnessed fans change their minds when it previously seemed impossible.

Perhaps there is some formula for all Ashleys to follow in order to become successful – especially in this arena of reality television. Or maybe you don’t believe there’s anything significant about a particular name. Rather, that the three Ashleys above coincidently had rough starts, and faced the challenge of being scrutinized by cast mates, viewers and the world of social media.

In the event that it’s not a fluke, here are Things To Know About the Name Ashley if you happen to be an Ashley yourself or know someone who is.

(The title of this post was inspired by the title of John Green’s novel, An Abundance of Katherines.)

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Reality TV, Uncategorized

What the Hell, Luke Pell?: ‘The Bachelor’ Franchise Contestant Has Been There For All The Wrong Reasons

luke and stassi

ABC/PAUL HEBERT, Stassi Yaramchuk and Luke Pell at the World Tells All special.

The Bachelor Winter Games just ended and like former iterations of The Bachelor franchise spinoffs, the objectives were murky, the competitions silly, the rules ridiculous and the overarching goals unclear….except to have contestants coupling up at the end. The franchise smacks of desperation and if I ever hear the term “I think I could fall in love with him (her)…” again, I might have to tear my hair out. Something about it all is very inorganic and rushed, which is why it’s unsurprising that Bachelor Winter Games contestant Luke Pell proved to be an insincere jackass.

The Winter Games was comprised of contestants from around the world who had been on their countries’ versions of The Bachelor and Luke bonded quickly with Stassi Yaramchuk who had been on The Bachelor: Sweden. The “deep talk” that connected the two of them was about how they both had battled heart problems. Immediately, that became the discussion point to solidify a bond and it seemed that the two were inseparable and mutually devoted to one another throughout the competition. Ever since Luke vied for Jojo’s affections during her season of The Bachelorette, rumors had dogged the Nashville musician as well as claims that he had been approached to be The Bachelor, but had demanded that his season be all about his music. Nick Viall was chosen instead. The sense was that Luke was about getting likes, Instagram followers and song downloads, rather than being sincere about looking for love. However, when Stassi showed up on Winter Games, viewers saw a tender side of the country crooner.

After expressing how much he cared about her during the competition, it was a complete 180 when he iced her out at the show’s reunion last Thursday night. Stassi attempted to talk with him and find out why he had not been in contact at all since the show ended. Luke referenced a conversation that Stassi was completely unaware of ever having (and which, it was clear to viewers, had never taken place) about agreeing to go their separate ways. It was obvious to one and all that Luke was lying and he had ghosted Stassi once Winter Games were over. When Stassi tried to talk to him during the commercial break, he made it clear that he wasn’t interested in even responding to her.

Luke represents a sinister reality behind reality television. He is someone who went on a show to raise his following and promote his music rather than being sincere about looking for long term love. In the past, the franchise has been compassionate about (seemingly) commitment-phobic men and giving them another chance: Dean Unglert juggled two women on Bachelor in Paradise, coming across as a royal jerk to a smitten Kristina Schulman, yet he returned for this season’s Winter Games and found love with contestant Lesley Murphy.

dean and lesley

PAUL HEBERT, Dean “proposes” to Lesley – well, not really. He offers her a key to his apartment.

Then there was Bachelor Brad Womack who rejected both suitors in the finale of his first season, but was brought back to be the Bachelor a second time and got engaged to Emily Maynard (they broke up 8 months later).  However, these men were not as overtly obnoxious and icy as Luke was on The Bachelor Winter Games reunion. Luke was afforded two chances with the franchise and one can only hope producers realize that in this case, he is not deserving of a third chance. If he appears on this summer’s Bachelor in Paradise, fans will be outraged and it will look like a case of producers rewarding bad boy behavior. Then again, anything is possible within this vapid franchise. Either way, I’ll be tuning in.

 

 

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