How Leo Became Bachelor in Paradise's Supervillain
For five years running, the purpose of Bachelor in Paradise has been to entertain viewers between seasons of The Bachelor’s primary franchises. But Paradise’s even more important narrative function became clear right away: It was a chance at redemption for Bachelor Nation’s most unsavory characters.
The shining example would be Nick Viall. Nick soured his name by openly admitting to having had sex with Andi Dorfman, even though she probably hadn’t planned on getting explicit about the nature of their relations on national TV. Shrouded in a cloak of dishonor, Nick hopped on a plane to Paradise, where he shed his villain title and even won the most coveted gig in the franchise: being crowned the Bachelor. Now, he’s one of the most crushed-on men in Bachelor history. What a redemption arc.
That tradition has continued. In this season alone, we’ve got Jordan the model, who was the villain on Becca’s season but has emerged as an endearing and romantic (if somewhat dim) man and very loyal friend. Then we’ve got Chelsea, the most hated villain from Arie’s season (if he wasn’t villain enough), who’s proven that she not only has a normal voice but is also a responsible, respectful communicator. Joe the Grocer, who was already something of a folk hero but left Becca’s season after one episode in total embarrassment, has become a leading man in his own right.
It’s rare that, in the opposite, a likeable character will come to Paradise and wreck their reputation. Unless you’re Leo Dottavio. Leo torn the romance novel pages he seems to have come from and thrown them into a dumpster fire. He’s made sure that after this stint on reality TV, we’ll never, ever, want to hear from him again.
Before I even get into last night’s episode — or what’s to come tonight — Leo sealed his fate long before Paradise even aired. He stood no chance against Bekah M. from Arie’s season and her army of women who won’t let Leo bury his past.
Bekah, apparently an avid Reddit user, discovered stories from women recounting unwanted advances from Leo and dug a little deeper. Some women accused Leo of sending them unsolicited dick pics while others accused him of being persistent in a “creepy” way when they turned down his sexual advances. After posting her findings on her Instagram (where the screenshots are still viewable), she told The New York Post, “I started posting the screenshots [of their messages] because to me, it’s not a coincidence that multiple women would be saying similar things about the same person … There’s no way these women happen to be lying about the same thing before seeing what other women are saying.”
Leo has somewhat denied these claims, writing in a note shared on his Instagram Story last week, “I want to start by saying no one has ever accused me of sexual harassment … However, I am not a perfect person nor have I ever claimed to be. Did I do things in college that I would be embarrassed about now? Absolutely. Was I a part of my culture, the times, movies? Yes. I have grown as a person since college. I am not the man I was 2 years ago let alone 14 years ago. It’s important for women to speak out if they felt uncomfortable or harassed. I support that. If there was anyone I made feel uncomfortable why not come to me? I would love an opportunity to right my wrongs … I want to take this as an opportunity to better myself and the treatment of women in my life.”
Even though the accusations date back to May, Leo’s elimination from Becca’s season of The Bachelorette wasn’t aired until July, and the claims only became a top news story in early August, right before Paradise began airing. So Leo (and his hair) had enough time to become a fan favorite. After all, before being eliminated by Becca, he said he wasn’t “like the other guys” trying to win over her heart; he felt as though he was a riskier choice, as a more artistic and financially unstable pick. That self-aware if thirsty statement alone was bound to leave about 75 percent of all 18-to-36-year-old women swooning.
But that feeling didn’t last long because first came the sexual harassment claims and then came Leo’s truly unsightly behavior in Paradise. After swooping Kendall out from under Grocery Store Joe’s nose, Leo acted as though she was the only woman on the island — but then went and kissed Chelsea, only to be completely shady about it and conceal it from Kendall. When Kendall found out, via a harmless comment from Kevin, Leo lost his shit. First, he called Kevin a snitch, accusing him and everyone else for ruining his time on the beach. Then, he told Kendall she shouldn’t be angry at him because two-timing women is what Paradise is for.
These antics and his fight to come with Joe tonight — he tosses a drink on our favorite grocer! — are likely to smear his name permanently in the collective memory of Bachelor Nation.
If this show knows what’s good for it, Leo will be sent home before the end of tonight’s episode. Otherwise, I’ll be turning off my TV for once.