It’s still unclear exactly what happened on the set of “Bachelor in Paradise” to cause production to shut down. But what is clear is that the ABC dating series is certainly not the first reality TV show to deal with difficult decisions regarding sex and alcohol.
Warner Bros. announced on Sunday it had halted filming on the popular series following “allegations of misconduct.” According to numerous accounts, the incident in question involved two cast members who had been drinking, and contestants Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson have both issued statements this week indicating they were the ones involved.
Seth Grossman, a producer on such shows as Reelz’s “Hollywood Hillbillies” and A&E’s “Intervention,” told TheWrap that the “Bachelor” franchise is likely to have strict guidelines in place to prevent this type of debacle.
“On every show that I’ve produced, if we’re going to have a lot of alcohol on set, there’s always a staff meeting to make sure that nobody drives drunk, there’s no non-consensual sex and other risks are mitigated,” Grossman said.
The decision about how to handle hookups is “always made on a show-by-show basis,” according to another individual who has worked as a producer and editor on numerous hit reality shows.
The individual, who declined to be identified by name, said that during his time working on “Hell’s Kitchen,” the Fox cooking show’s crew was unsure about what to do when two finalists started getting affectionate in a hot tub. After a call was placed to a producer, the decision was made to stop serving the pair alcohol and get them out of the water to cool off.
“Alcohol in reality TV is a bit of a double-edged sword, just like in real life,” the insider said. “It’s great for easing inhibitions and making good television, but watching drunk people can get old fast.”
He added, “Sex is a byproduct of the whole process, but allowing it to happen is a decision of the production company and network, if it’s on camera.”
A different reality TV vet who worked on the Fox dating show “I Wanna Marry Harry” told TheWrap that guards were in place in front of the door to the room where “Harry” was staying in order to prevent the women from making surreptitious visits, the type that are typical on the “Bachelor” franchise.
“Shows I’ve been on have always stepped in and put brakes on the cast before they’ve sealed the deal,” he said.
Troy DeVolld, a producer with credits on “Basketball Wives,” “The Surreal Life” and “Dancing With the Stars” and author of the book “Reality TV: An Insider’s Guide to Television’s Hottest Market,” told TheWrap that most producers he’s worked with have been particularly vigilant about looking after the cast when alcohol is involved, even if it means ruffling feathers with cast members.
“It’s sad to be thrust into the position of being the voice of reason on occasion, but sometimes we have to be,” DeVolld said. “I’ve seen many a responsible producer put someone into a cab or prearranged transport if drinking is part of the shoot at bars or restaurants that serve alcohol.”
He explained that producers will sometimes go to great lengths to keep tipsy contestants from getting amorous, which can even mean putting “show participants in separate hotels, locations unknown to other parties.”
Then again, perhaps not all shows have employed the most foolproof policies when it comes to preventing potential scandal.
A TV industry professional told TheWrap that a producer on a network dating series once mandated to the crew about the show’s contestants, “Don’t let them have sex! They haven’t been tested.”