“The Bachelorette”: All fun and games until it isn’t anymore. That has become painfully obvious this season, as 31-year-old contestant Eric Hill died in an accident several weeks after exiting the ABC dating show. The producers have cautiously paid tribute to Eric while weaving in hours of footage of him competing for Andi Dorfman’s attention; a tough balancing act on any show, let alone one as typically frothy as “The Bachelorette.”
Then, a new challenge came up on Monday night’s episode — Eric not only exited the series, but left in an upsetting way. As a result, “The Bachelorette” pulled a rare move: Producers scrapped the traditional rose ceremony (where Andi eliminates one or more bachelors) at the end of the episode in favor of an updated, taped interview featuring host Chris Harrison and a tearful Andi, in which she explained the circumstances of Hill’s departure and reflected on her time with him.
The audience had just seen Andi and Eric have their last conversation, a fight that left her crying and him leaving the set in a taxi. Harrison explained that shortly after departing the show, Eric was tragically killed in a paragliding accident at home in Utah.
“Normally, right now, we’d all be watching the rose ceremony. But that just didn’t seem right tonight. It just didn’t seem important who did or didn’t get a rose,” Harrison said. “What does seem right is to talk about Eric. And so that’s what we’re gonna do.”
No word on when this segment was filmed, though presumably sometime recently when the show wrapped filming. After offering his “heartfelt condolences, prayers and best wishes” to Eric’s family, Harrison asked her all about what exactly happened between the two on the show that led to such a controversial goodbye.
The gist: While Eric was the first guy chosen for Andi to take on a solo date a couple weeks ago, things had slowly started fizzling between the two as Andi narrowed down her suitors. Throughout Monday’s episode, the pair addressed that their relationship was “stalling.” Eric said he felt like he couldn’t get to know her true personality, and that everything felt so formal all the time with the cameras. Andi reminded him that this was a reality show and they didn’t have much of a choice, and encouraged him to be more open. That led to a truly sad (in retrospect), prolonged scene where he talked all about how much loved his family and how his siblings meant the world to him.
All seemed okay after that, but it crumbled quickly later after a group date. During their one-on-one time, Eric confronted Andi about the fact that he didn’t really know her at all and accused her of being fake. “I came on this to meet a person, not a TV actress,” he told her. That comment made Andi particularly angry, which resulted in a long, emotional argument. She wound up breaking down in tears saying how hard it was to try to find your soulmate with cameras watching; he told her he just wanted her to be her true self.
It spiraled until she basically told him to leave. “I think at this point, you and I both know this is not going to work,” she fumed. Eric looked confused at how the conversation had arrived at that point; alas, he left, and Andi stormed off as well.
Back in real time, Harrison asked Andi about how things went south so quickly with Eric considering they really hit it off at first; she went on about how she felt sparks initially, but ultimately it just wasn’t a relationship that was going to work. Then Harrison got all “insensitive reality show host” and probed, “Looking at it now — and I know this might be tough considering the circumstances — would you have changed anything? Would you have handled it differently?”
“To be honest, the way Eric left and my last conversation with him, it’s not ideally the last conversation that I would want to have with somebody,” Andi sighed, reflecting during a moment of unusual gravitas on “The Bachelorette”: Realizing that you never know when it could be the final time you ever see someone you care about.
“It changed me in so many ways,” she said. “You know, you tend to kind of get caught up in all of this. And I’m definitely guilty of that myself. You know, you get worried in these little details and a conversation here, or your emotions there, and this date, and the logistics of things…And to lose somebody puts everything in perspective. And it just makes all those little things seem just completely irrelevant.”
Speaking of which, if “Bachelorette” fans care, Harrison added, Tasos — the 30-year-old wedding event coordinator from Denver — was eliminated in what was supposed to be Monday’s rose ceremony.
He seemed like a great guy. What a shame.