Ah, Bachelor In Paradise — it’s always the best of times, and it’s the worst of times. Sometimes, you have really meaningful, special, deep talks about relationships and anxiety on the show (looking at you, Astrid and Kevin), and then other times, you have a grown man rage because someone told the a woman he likes that he had kissed another women, which he most certainly did, on camera. That was Leo, for those you that missed it. And Leo's ensuring Bachelor In Paradise breakdown was really something to as, and it highlights the gross, toxic masculinity that pervades our culture and especially this season of BiP, no matter how much we try to stop it.
Leo came into Bachelor In Paradise late in the game, and he took this to mean that he needed to make up some time and try and couple with as many women at once. While that is, indeed, the point of a show like Bachelor In Paradise, Leo wasn’t exactly truthful about his intentions when it came to Kendall, the show’s resident taxidermy expert and emotionally intelligent contestant. Kevin casually said something to Kendall about Leo’s kissing other women, not knowing Kendall didn’t know.
Kendall approached Leo, calmly, to tell him that she was surprised that he told her that he was solely into her while he was out kissing women. This is a fair response. In reaction, Leo started screaming stuff like, “a kiss is like a handshake in Paradise,” demanding to know who had "tattled" on him, and bouncing around like a boxer in a ring getting ready to fight. Kevin admitted that he spilled the beans, not in a nefarious way, but in a “I thought this was general knowledge” way, but this isn’t about Kevin.
This is about Leo’s very scary reaction to being called out for his actions, which were pretty icky when it came to courting Kendall. He wanted to know who “the rat” was, as if this was an outtake from the tropical sequel to Goodfellas. Someone tattled, and he needed to know who broke the "bro code" by not letting him treat someone terribly and then lie about. First of all, "bro code" is not a thing, especially if all it means is allowing your friends to objectify women (or worse) and promising not to "snitch."
Others were uncomfortable. Astrid said at the beginning of Week 4' second half that he was "aggressive" when he talked. Others in her group agreed with her and shifted uncomfortably on the daybed as Joe tried to take Kendall away from where he had isolated her. Leo’s raging is concerning enough, but when he starts to be emotionally abusive to Kendall for simply asking to be treated like a human being, well, that’s where Leo loses all of Bachelor Nation.
In simultaneously gaslighting Kendall and then raging around the set, Leo highlights the worst parts of the patriarchy. Essentially, he's saying "You shouldn’t question me when I’m bad to you, even when I deserved to be called out on my crap. Also, you need me more than I need you, and also, you’re the best thing in the world, baby, and I could never lose you." Does your stomach feel like it’s been on a rollercoaster? Because mine does.
For every step that the Bachelor takes forward — like Kevin and Astrid’s very frank talk about therapy, anxiety, and building relationships — the show takes four back, because it chooses to cast men like Leo and highlight them on the show. According to Newsweek, Leo is currently under investigation for sexual harassment. According to People, Leo has made a statement denying any of the allegations. Lincoln Adim, who starred on the most recent season of The Bachelorette, was convicted of a 2016 indecent assault and battery charge after he was already cast on the show. Where does ABC find these men, and how does a simple background check miss all of this? According to TV Guide, ABC denied that they knew about Adim's arrest and ABC head Channing Dungey vowed to get better background checks for future castings. Sometimes, especially in light of Leo's actions on Tuesday, it seems the show values "good TV" at the at the risk of other cast members' physical and emotional safety.
The Bachelor needs to do more to encourage healthy relationships, because healthy relationships cannot be formed without good examples of them, and there are millions of people watching each week. Casting men like Leo who treat women like garbage and explode, verbally and physically, when they don’t get what they want does nothing for viewers. Misogyny reigns supreme in America, but shows like The Bachelor and its spinoffs have to take a good, hard look in the mirror and realize their part in perpetuating it. Avoiding casting men like Leo would be a good start.