JSYK, this post contains spoilers for Clayton Echard’s season of the The Bachelor. If you haven’t seen his Fantasy Suites dates yet, scroll at your own risk.
It’s rare that Bachelor Nation unanimously adores/approves of all decisions made by a bachelor or bachelorette lead, but it’s also pretty rare for the fandom to be so unanimously opposed to the star’s decisions, too. Clayton Echard has been rare in the second way.
Clayton’s journey has been *particularly* messy, even by reality TV standards, and fans have been pretty critical of him—as a choice for lead at all (which many fans never quite understood) and of specific decisions he’s made, both during and after filming.
The latest Clayton Controversy™ involves his behavior during his Fantasy Suites dates. Now, to be clear, the fact that Clayton’s Fantasy Suites dates were drama-inducing is not news. ABC basically built the season’s ad campaign around the fact that Clayton professed his love for him to three contestants and slept with two of them (promos throughout the season suggested the reveal of this would lead to a meltdown).
In addition to the drama we knew was coming, however, Clayton’s latest episode also included a dramatic breakup with Susie Evans, who had the third and final Fantasy Suite date. On the date, Susie revealed to Clayton that she couldn’t continue with their relationship if he had slept with either of the other two finalists and then learned that he had already slept with both of them. This led to a very emotional conversation in which many viewers felt Clayton engaged in gaslighting.
In a new interview with VarietyJesse Palmer, who has been tasked with hosting this messy, messy season, defended Clayton’s decision to sleep with multiple contestants, saying that there are “multiple Bachelors and Bachelorettes who slept with three people on their seasons” and that sexual compatibility is “extremely important” especially with a proposal as the show’s endgame.
“Having been on the show and having been in this position, I think it’s important to know if you have sexual compatibility or not. That’s been a big theme on the show since the beginning,” he said, before throwing in a very important caveat . “On the other side, if the Bachelor or Bachelorette already knows in their mind who they are going to pick in the end, I do think you have to be careful about sleeping with other people, because it can get you in trouble. So I don’t know where Clayton’s head was at, with respect to that.”
While the host stopped short of taking a strong stance on the gaslighting issue, he did stress that the show has mental health professionals on set at all times to counsel the lead and contestants if needed—which he says is something the franchise didn’t always do in its early days.
“On set, we have psychologists always there in the moment talking to the Bachelor and Bachelorette and contestants to keep everyone as mentally healthy as possible,” Jesse explained. That’s a massive priority for the show. I don’t think they had that when I was on the show almost 20 years ago.”
So, at least there’s that?
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