An ABC Exec Just Explained Why ‘The Bachelor’ Emphasized Colton's Virginity So Much

by Savannah Walsh
ABC/John Fleenor

Nearly every season of The Bachelor or Bachelorette has a defining characteristic or arc that even those not watching the show are bound to hear about. During Colton Underwood's Bachelor season, his virginity was emphasized a lot. On Nick Viall's season, the fact that it was his fourth shot at reality television love was touted regularly. Becca Kufrin was "doing the damn thing." And shall we forget the season of "The Perfect Ben" — Higgins that is. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, an ABC exec is finally opening up about just why Colton's virginity was talked about so much on his season.

ABC's Senior VP Alternative Series Rob Mills finally revealed why viewers were treated to so many innuendos, jokes, and inquires surrounding Colton's virginity during the marketing of the most recent Bachelor season. The reason? Mills said it was all part of Colton's season narrative. Mills even admitted to The Hollywood Reporter it was a little much at times, especially during the bookends to the season. "Was it too much? Absolutely. But is The Bachelor the poster child for overkill? Absolutely. And I think that’s why we love it. It’s over-the-top and fun."

Mills went on to tell The Hollywood Reporter that this kind of pun-filled license with a lead is inherent in the show's DNA.

"Look, we have to own it. We know it’s true. You saw a lot of people saying a week ago after the fence jump, "Wow, they said this was the most dramatic thing and for once they were right." We know there are times where it’s obviously not the "most dramatic" and we hype things up and sometimes over-hype them, but that’s kind of the fun of the show. It's such a social show for people to think: Where does this rank? Was it the most dramatic, the second most dramatic, the least dramatic? And I think that’s where everything with all the virginity talk came from, too."

At least he owns it, right? Still, references to a decision as personal as this one felt a little hedged-in at times, if not completely exploitative at others. Chris Harrison, for example, taking Colton and his final pick Cassie's denials about the fantasy suite "as a yes" that they consummated their relationship felt icky — as did inviting the live studio audience to speculate on whether he had lost his v-card or not.

Colton has recently taken to Twitter to share his thoughts on the marketing of his season, even joking that the much-lauded fence jump was a welcome distraction from his virgin-focused narrative.

Not that Colton didn't participate in his own narrative — for example, he joked with his parents in the final episode that he was no longer a virgin and spoke out about his decision in public. But his relationship to the depiction of his virginity, and just how much airtime it occupied during his season, has ebbed and flowed. Scrolling through his tweets during episodes, he usually took the subject in stride, commenting with humor, while also acknowledging that his virginity is only a small part of his identity as a person. Before Colton's season began, he tweeted the following to his fans on Jan. 7:

I know the virginity thing is overplayed.... hang in there! You will find out other things about me, I promise.

As many loyal viewers can attest, Colton's season had plenty of other entertaining drama besides the v-word to fill a season including the wonder that is Demi, the Caelynn-Hannah B. pageant conflict, and the infamous fence jump. Now that Colton and Cassie have seemingly ridden off in the sunset, and Colton has made it clear he won't speak on his sex life anymore, we can all move on with our lives — and anticipate a new season of The Bachelorette to tide us over.