If you've been in the general vicinity of a television in the past few months, you're well aware that
. From the time he was announced as the next star of the franchise, the show has been using the 26-year-old's sexual experience — or lack thereof — as a dramatic angle to play up this season's plotlines and get as many eyeballs to the screen as possible. It became exhausting almost immediately. Colton Underwood from The Bachelor is a virgin
It seemed at first like Colton wouldn't be on board with making his virginity *a thing* for the entire season. He said in the
first promo for the show that being a virgin is "just a small part of who I am," and Entertainment Tonight even cited former co-star Blake Horstmann as saying Colton was "getting sick" of the conversation surrounding it. But despite these comments, it's become an inescapable topic that nearly everyone involved in the show has played into.
It should go without saying: there's absolutely nothing wrong with
Colton being a virgin. The amount of sexual partners he's had has no impact on his worth, his maturity, or his readiness for love. It's absolutely messed up that he's been made to feel like he was ever "less than" because he'd never had sex, and it's obvious that Colton's come a long way to be comfortable in his own skin. It's perfectly fine that he's choosing to be open with that part of his life. But it's only one part of his life, and it's one that plenty of people couldn't care less about. Being a virgin is not a personality trait, and it's unfortunate that so much screentime is being dedicated to the non-issue.
It's worth asking if a woman in this situation would be so unabashedly treated with the same intrigue. Back in 2015,
Ashley I. was a virgin and ABC was all over it, but something is a little different about the way people are talking about Colton, as if it's impossible a guy could make it to 26 years old without having sex. In the second episode of the season, guest Billy Eichner echoes some fans and suggests that his virginity means he's actually gay. (It doesn't.)
If, in 2019, a woman's virginity were talked about like a topic for public debate and speculation, or a commodity male contestants were eager to score, perhaps the strangeness of this whole thing would be more obvious to everyone. But here we are, settling in for a season that's sure keep on joking about a grown man's sexual choices.
In the name of digging into those differences, I'm updating this every week with each and every mention of Colton's virginity. Unfortunately, something tells me we'll never lack for content.
Week One — 24 Mentions Of Colton's Virginity
Colton's premiere hadn't even really begun before people started to talk and joke about his virginity.
Chris Harrison mentioned it two times in the intro to the live premiere, first joking that Colton might gain love, but "lose something" along the way. Then, he said the season starts "with a bang." Jason Tartick and Blake Horstmann attended a viewing party where they were drinking "virgin cocktails." And Jason mentions that his buddy Colton is "the first virgin Bachelor." (Well, aside from born-again Christian Sean Lowe.) Right after, Ashley Iaconnetti asks members of the live crowd what they think about Colton being a virgin. In a video montage, a contestant says she thinks it's cool he's a virgin, even if he doesn't look the part. During her intro video, Hannah B. makes it very clear that she's not a virgin (with the subtext being that Colton is) and says that sex is a big deal to her. In Heather's intro video, she says that not only is she a virgin, too, but that she's never even been kissed. Kirpa, a dental hygienist, says that the closest one can come to Colton is to floss his teeth in her intro video, obviously making reference to the fact that he hasn't slept with someone. Oneyka says that if she got to take Colton's virginity, she would pull out all of her "tricks." Demi doesn't hold back in her intro package and launches into a metaphor laden monologue comparing cupcakes to sex acts and flavors to people...or something. It was hard to keep up, but the gist was that she wants to "try all the cupcakes" before settling down with someone. In his own intro package, Colton reminds viewers yet again that he's the "first virgin Bachelor ever." In the same video, Colton says that he was ready to lose his virginity with Becca ( but no mention of Tia). Colton and Chris then sit down and have a conversation about some of the backlash the Bachelor faced for being a virgin on social media. Then, Chris narrates the start of the *actual* show and wonders if Colton will have sex this season. Again. Kaitlyn Bristowe says during her standup spot in the live crowd, “Did you know that dolphins are the only mammals like humans that enjoy sex... unlike Colton?” Demi gets out of the limo and tells the former NFL player that she hasn't dated a virgin "since she was 12 years old." Caitlin arrives at the mansion holding a red balloon, saying that she's going to "pop his cherry." Nicole tells producers in an interview that she would never bring up his virginity to his face and feels uncomfortable with all the women's jokes. Katie arrives and does a card trick, which ends with the predictable "V-card" punchline. Alex D., the sloth, tells Colton that she heard he likes to take things slooooooowly. The women gather over cocktails in the mansion and talk about how they can't believe Colton has never had sex, given how attractive he is in person. Erika steals Colton at the cocktail party and immediately asks him to explain to her why he's waited so long. Colton takes a deep breath before launching into his spiel. Caelynn gets the first kiss and remarks that he kisses rather well "for a virgin."
Week Two — 16 Mentions Of Colton's Virginity
It's time for the first group dates, and the first one-on-one date! Women begin to butt heads, the competition heats up, and of course, there are plenty of comments about Colton's virginity and how the women want to be his "first."
Colton says the first group date involves going to a theater to tell "stories of their firsts." It's unclear exactly what he means, but the wording is too on point to be accidental. The date card says "you never forget your first date." Again, not an explicit mention, but the theme they're playing up is clear. Guest stars Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman appear to tell "stories of firsts." Offerman says he hopes the date comes to an "arousing climax." They both go on to tell stories of losing their own virginities, thinly veiled innuendo. Tracy says that by the end of the season, she hopes Colton has a "first" that involves her. Colton talks onstage later in the date about becoming comfortable with his virginity, in front of a crowd. Elyse says she thinks Colton's speech about virginity was brave because of the stereotypes surrounding men and male athletes. Elyse suggestively jokes that she has things to "teach" Colton. Tracy tells a story about the first time she "tried" to date a virgin. On their one-on-one date, Hannah B. asks Colton straight up why he's a virgin. He gives the reasons we've heard time and time again. Hannah then shares that she's not a virgin, and that it bothers her that she can't share that experience with the person she'll eventually spend the rest of her life with. Caelynn comments on his virginity when she realizes part of the second group date involves some of the women camping with him overnight. "Our first night and it's already an overnight. This virgin moves fast." Guest star Billy Eichner pulls Colton aside to talk about his virginity and basically ask what he's been waiting for. He then implies that Colton could be gay, since he's never slept with a woman. Eichner says last time he was around this many virgins, he "was on The View." Eichner jokes again about Colton's lack of experience when commenting on one team's progress during a competition on the group date. "It's like Colton trying to find a vagina. It hasn't happened yet." Before she confesses that she's never even kissed anyone before, Heather asks Colton about what it was like telling Becca about his virginity during her season of The Bachelorette. During the end credits, Offerman asks Colton if, as a football player, he has an end-zone dance prepared for when he "scores" in the bedroom.
Week Three — Only 1 Mention
In the third episode of Colton's season,
Hannah B. and Caelynn's drama ramps up, Tracy and Demi solidify themselves as enemies, and mentions of the leading man's virginity actually taper off for now. Only one mention? Could this really be true? This is either a blessed gift or an elaborate fever dream I had, but for now, let's bask in the single mention of Colton's sexual status, and hope this pattern continues. Cassie says Colton "isn't a stretching virgin anymore, that's for sure," after Sydney had him help her stretch.
Week Four — Three Mentions
Week Four's episode was a truly heavy episode of
The Bachelor. It tackled a contestant's sexual assault head-on, discussed another's divorce, and did both things with a surprising and impressive amount of sensitivity. Colton's virginity was discussed a bit more than it was last week, but instead of an onslaught of silly, outdated jokes, the topic was actually relevant to the important conversation at hand. Onyeka says she's "far from an international traveling virgin" when it's announced that the cast is headed to Singapore for the week. Was she directly hinting at Colton's sex life? It's unclear, but at this point I refuse to believe any use of the word "virgin" is an accident. Demi excitedly wonders if Colton will lose his virginity in Singapore. In a devastating conversation, Caelynn opens up about her past sexual assault, and Colton is a super supportive shoulder to lean on. He mentions that he's had a relationship in the past with a woman who was sexually abused, and one of the details he shares is that his reasoning for being a virgin is "complicated" because of it. He seems to be alluding to his understanding of the intimacy issues that can follow abuse.
Week Five — Three Mentions
This week, the crew heads to Thailand. Colton is thoroughly thrown off by one
surprising departure, and the bickering between the contestants reaches an all-time high. And, even though they're in a pretty romantic destination that Demi calls the "perfect place to take the next step" with Colton, the virgin jokes and jabs largely take a backseat yet again. There are only a few mentions: During Cassie and Colton's very steamy one-on-one, Cassie says something that's weighing on her mind is that she's not a virgin like Colton is. She worries that the topic will be difficult to talk about. "I hope he's OK with that. But if I'm gonna be here, it needs to be all out there." She goes on to say that coming on the show means that all their personal lives are exposed. Colton's "thing" is that she's a virgin, and she feels like hers is that she's not. She's worried members of her community or extended family might judge her when they watch the show and realize Cassie has had sex. Colton says he's secure in who he is as a virgin, even though he's still figuring things out. He tells Cassie he's never going to judge her.
The drama continues this week as Onyeka and Nicole are sent home and the rest of the women head to Vietnam. All the women are excited to get more time with Colton, but not all of them will get it! Things certainly get steamy between Colton and a few of the contestants, but miraculously the virgin talk doesn't come about until the back half of the episode.
Kirpa mentions that her ex and Colton had something in common — he was also a virgin, and had chosen to save himself for marriage. Kirpa says that's why she didn't care about "the whole virgin thing" when it came to Colton — she'd been there before. Colton makes sure to tell her that it's not a religious thing for him — though he's saving himself, it's not for marriage. It's just for the "right person." Kirpa says she respects his decision. Demi — in a very daring move — heads to Colton's suite saying she needs to make a big move, and that hopefully after that night, "Colton won't be a virgin anymore." (Spoiler: he was still a virgin after that night — Colton sends Demi home after she says she's falling in love with him, and he still doesn't think he can see himself with her at the end.)
'Twas the week before hometowns, when all through the state, mentions of Colton's virginity dropped at quite an impressive rate.
Instead of sucking up screen time with the non-issue,
The Bachelor focused on some unfortunate drama between Tayshia, Kirpa, Caelynn and Cassie. Unless I entered an idealistic alternate dimension of reality TV for the duration of the show, it appears that no one said a thing about Colton's sexual status this entire episode. This marks the first episode all season that The Bachelor managed to avoid the topic completely, so let's hope they don't try and make up for lost opportunities next week.
Hometown dates are always a strange affair, and it certainly doesn't make things
less awkward when families who just met Colton discuss his virginity! There were only a few mentions, but it definitely hasn't been forgotten. Hannah's sister asks her if it scares her that he's a virgin and that he's "put it out there." Hannah says it's not an issue — that it's a part of Colton that's never been a red flag for her. When Tayshia takes Colton skydiving, he is faced with his own mortality enough to recount all of the things he hasn't been able to do yet. At the top of his list? Having sex. At the tail end of the episode, the idea of fantasy suites is on everyone's minds. Tayshia says the fact that Colton is a virgin means that next week could "make it or break it."
Fantasy suites are here! Talk of sex cannot be escaped. Most of it is contained to the beginning of the episode through Tayshia's date, and once all hell breaks loose with Cassie, it's put on the back burner. Here we go:
Colton talks to Chris Harrison about how now he knows what happens in fantasy suites, apparently joking about his awkward conversation he had with Chris during Becca's season. Tayshia mentions that she knows Colton is a virgin, but that being physical is an important part of a relationship with her. Colton says he only would lose his virginity to a woman he was in love with, and he's now falling for all three of the women. Tayshia says she hopes her date with Colton involves a lot of "firsts." Wonder how many times we'll hear this from the three remaining women! Colton jokes that Portugal exports "extra virgin olive oil." Come on, man. Colton again says he's been waiting for the right person, and that if he figures out Tayshia is his person, you never know what could happen on their date. Tayshia and Colton start talking about things Colton hasn't done, and conversations turn to fantasy suites and his virginity. Colton then says his pants are too tight, "probably because he's a virgin." (???) Tayshia says she knows Colton is probably nervous about fantasy suites, but that she wants to calm his nerves. Colton says he wants his first time to be caring, passionate, and something he'll remember forever. Colton says he jokes about being a virgin a lot, but he knows that sex is an important part of a relationship. Tayshia says she waited to have sex too — her husband was the first one she was with. She gets that intimacy can be a big deal. When they go to the fantasy suite, Tayshia says she might be the one Colton is waiting for. "I don't know if he'll wake up a virgin tomorrow," she says. "If he wakes up in the morning with a big smile, you can guess why." Colton says he's thought about losing his virginity a lot (you don't say!) and that men are expected to perform, which can put pressure on a situation. He then says he's not totally inexperienced, and he's done some ~stuff~, I guess? I'm uncomfortable. I didn't ask for this. Tayshia and Colton spend the night together, but she says she didn't want to pressure him when he was nervous, so they spent the night talking. Colton says he's not ready to take the next step with Tayshia — he's falling in love. Not in love.
Women Tell All — 8 Mentions
Women Tell All isn't a traditional episode, but it's still a televised part of the Bachelor season, so we're counting it. Let's see how much this episode, which is supposed to focus on the women, talks about Colton's sex life. While Chris Harrison recaps what happened in Monday night's episode, he says there are so many questions still to answer — including if Colton will stay a virgin. Chris mentions that the sloth girl likes to take it slow, and follows up by asking how the women felt about Colton being a virgin. Demi says she likes to take control in the bedroom, and was turned on by Colton being a virgin. I don't love it! A montage of past clips mentions that competing for a virgin is bound to get dramatic. Does a past mention that's replayed count toward this list? I'm counting it. The comment from Demi that she hasn't dated a virgin since she was 12 replays in her montage. Chris says Demi "hit the virginity angle pretty hard," and she says it's something about Colton that intrigued her. Sydney asks if Colton is still a virgin — if anyone's "picked his flowers." A series of gardening innuendos ensues. Chris cuts him off before he can answer Chris then asks all the women to dig into their deep knowledge of his life post-show and raise their hands if they still think Colton is a virgin. A few oblige.
Finale Part 1 — 6 Mentions
This episode was a little traumatic for everyone involved, including viewers. But even though Colton and the women were dealing with having their hearts broken, there still managed to be some virginity speculation going on, as if that matters nearly as much!
When Chris Harrison teases the episode to come, he asks "will Colton remain a virgin?" Yes, surely this is what we should focus on while Colton is lost in the Portuguese countryside. And then after he comes out onstage, Harrison asks the same question. Yet another flashback of Demi saying she hasn't dated a virgin since she was 12 plays. Why do I feel like I've seen this exact moment 100 times? After footage rolls of production finding Colton out in the woods and Harrison is about to throw to commercial, he asks again if Colton will remain a virgin. It's not the issue right now, Chris! Near the end of the show, Harrison says Colton is "single and a virgin," just as he was when they started the show. And as he sends off the show for the night, Harrison speculates AGAIN whether viewers will find out if Colton is still a virgin.
Finale Part 2 — 16 Mentions
It's the end of the road, folks. It's sure to be dramatic and full of virginity speculation, because why wouldn't it be? Let's dig in.
Chris Harrison immediately asks if Colton can win Cassie back, or if he'll remain a virgin forever. You know, the only two options. Seconds later, Harrison asks AGAIN if Colton will end his journey the same way he began it — alone and a virgin. After Colton gets Cassie to come to Spain with him and meet his family, it throws back to Harrison, who... AGAIN... asks if Colton could lose his virginity soon. Colton tells his family that he's no longer a virgin, but then he says he's just kidding. Fun family jokes! Harrison speculates to the audience that Cassie might be Colton's "first," before throwing to commercial. The commercial ends, and Harrison asks again! I'm so tired. Colton heads to the fantasy suite, and says he's always been waiting to have sex for the right person. He hopes Cassie is the right person. He says if the night is the right one, he could lose his virginity. They hang a "do not disturb" sign on the door, and shut the cameras out. Harrison throws to commercial, but not before wondering if Colton's having sex! Onyeka says if there's anyone he should lose his virginity to, it should be Cassie. Jason shows up and says that we just lost Colton in Portugal, so what more can he lose? Get it? After a commercial break, Harrison asks, again, if Colton is still a virgin after the fantasy suite. Please stop. Colton won't confirm or deny whether they had sex — good! — but says to "use your imagination." Can this be the end, please? Nope! Chris Harrison will not let it go. He asks Colton if he lost his virginity in the fantasy suite. Colton says he's been very open and candid about his virginity up until now, but since it involves another person now, he's keeping it to himself. Harrison says he'll take that as a "yes."
It was a long season of sexual innuendo, but, Bachelor Nation, we made it.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.