The Bachelor host Jesse Palmer unpacks the intense fan backlash to Clayton Echard’s fantasy suites. Jesse also teased the jaw-dropping finale.
TheBachelor host Jesse Palmer is unpacking the backlash to Clayton Echard’s fantasy suite dates. Jesse, who was The Bachelor in 2004, took over hosting duties for season 26 after Chris Harrison’s exit. His first season of him as host has been tumultuous, with Clayton as a very polarizing lead.
Clayton’s casting earned a lot of backlash before his season aired, especially after he failed to stand out on Michelle Young’s The Bachelorette. But the former football player earned a new level of fan scorn after the show’s infamous fantasy suite dates. To start, the Missouri native told contestants Susie Evans, Gabby Windey, and Rachel Recchia that he loved each of them. Gabby and Rachel reciprocated their feelings from him, and he slept with both. But Susie said she couldn’t go further if he slept with another contestant, and subsequently went home. Viewers were furious at the 28-year-old for his actions and his behavior towards Susie as they split. Clayton already defended himself on Kaitlyn Bristowe’s off the vine podcast. Now, Jesse is addressing the criticism as well.
In an interview with Variety ahead of the season 26 finale, Jesse reflected on fans’ reactions to the previous episode. Responding to the criticism of Clayton sleeping with multiple contestants, he said, “There have multiple Bachelors and Bachelorettes who have slept with three people on their seasons. ” Jesse also explained that sexual compatibility is important in relationships. And, considering Bachelor seasons usually end with an engagement, many want to know if they are sexually compatible before moving forward. These remarks echoed Kaitlyn Bristowe’s defense of Clayton. However, the former football player also admitted that the situation between Susie and Clayton was complicated. Jesse also acknowledged the various social media reactions. Some were angry about Clayton’s tone of him, even accusing him of gaslighting. Others defended him and said Susie should’ve confided in him earlier. Jesse remarked, “I think that’s what makes this situation so compelling — there are so many different opinions, and there is no obvious right or wrong answer.” He also gave insight into Clayton’s state of mind at the time.
Jesse revealed that Clayton was excited to tell Susie he loved her and did not see her complicated feelings or ultimatum coming. As it was unfolding, Jesse said the Bachelor was spiraling. He also explained that he jumped in to calm Clayton down, and give him someone to talk things out with. The ESPN commentator admitted that, much like viewers, he could get confused by Clayton’s journey from him. He even joked about the amount of questions he’d have for the season 26 lead on After The Final Rose. Later in the interview, Jesse teased the upcoming season finale. The host wouldn’t confirm or deny a return from Susie, which has been a popular fan theory. He also emphasized just how shocking the episode would be, sharing that her jaw was on the floor at certain moments.
Fans’ social media reactions can be a complicated thing. Often, they go too far, potentially harming individuals’ mental health. Jesse addressed this in the interview, revealing, “we have psychologists always there in the moment talking to the Bachelor and Bachelorette and contestants to keep everyone as mentally healthy as possible.” I have added that while this wasn’t the case in his time as Bachelor, it is now a priority for the series. Other times, however, there can be a great deal of truth within fan backlash. Many of the criticisms over Clayton’s casting continued the important conversation about the franchise’s handling of race. Viewers will have to wait and see if producers listen to those concerns when casting upcoming seasons. So far, the next bachelor or bachelorette lead has not been officially announced.
Next: Bachelor: Clayton Echard Admits He ‘Wasn’t Ready’ For Criticism From Fans
TheBachelor season 26 finale airs Monday and Tuesday on ABC.
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