It's been a tough road for sure. ABC is in a tight spot when dealing with Andi Dorfman's journey to find love because one of her suitors, Eric Hill, passed away before The Bachelorette's 10th Season began airing. The series can't and shouldn't erase his involvement in the show — which turned out to be rather extensive — but there are ways to treat something like Eric's passing appropriately and lately, ABC hasn't exactly hit the mark.
The most egregious example landed on our screens last week, after Dylan Pettit and Brian "Normcore" Osborne were eliminated leading into Season 10's hometown dates. ABC rolled the "exciting" and "dramatic" footage from hometown week, and while we had plenty of romantic drama to focus on between Nick Viall's waterworks and Josh Murray's competitive hubris, the teaser still focused on The Bachelorette's reaction to Eric Hill's death. It was a cheap way to rile up viewers to finish out the season by tuning in live. And it was totally unnecessary.
Of course, when the Hometown Dates episode airs, it will be important that The Bachelorette includes the moment at which Andi and Co. find out that their former cast mate has passed away. This is a reality show and their grief is the reality of their experience. Plus, it would cheapen Eric's memory to ignore or diminish the emotional toll his death takes on the people who knew him, however briefly they actually knew him.
If, however, The Bachelorette uses this as a moment to "teach" Andi something about the meaning of love and life or, worse, the necessity to live life to the fullest right this moment (I can hear Chris Harrison putting those words in her mouth now), we're going to be at odds, ABC.
And because I don't yet trust this show to do Eric's legacy justice, here's what we should be focusing on during Monday's devastating episode, even if the series doesn't:
Eric Did Not Leave The Show As The Bad Guy — He Was The Honest Guy
While he and Andi greatly disagreed on what it meant to get to know someone, and she cried to the other guys about it while each of them told the cameras that they were so not cool with Eric "making Andi cry," that's not exactly what happened. Eric was open and honest with Andi — which is, newsflash, a really healthy thing to do. It just turned out that this conversation made it obvious that they weren't meant for each other. There's no good or bad side of any of it.
He Lived An Incredible, Inspiring Life
Before he passed, Eric was on a mission called GO With Eric, in which he attempted to visit every country on Earth and share his findings and learnings with people across the globe. While The Bachelorette hasn't handled his inclusion in the show perfectly, it has shed light on his incredible passion project and its universal message. It's something Hill's sister said she was pleased with when she wrote an essay about her late brother for Today:
In some ways, it’s only fitting that he is defying death in this way. My brother always thought bigger and dreamed bigger than anyone I have ever known.
He Has Inspired Passion In Others
In the wake of his passing, HELP International has teamed up with the Live Like Eric Foundation, which aims to promote the passion and love that Eric had for exploring, learning about other cultures, and making the globe feel just a bit smaller. Perhaps we should let this be what we remember Eric for, rather than worrying about how the devastating news affected a TV show.
Image: ABC (2)