Over the first four episodes of the new season of The Bachelor, we’ve watched poor lovelorn contestant Cassandra Wood, lust after and pour her heart out to Bachelor Nick ‘Honey Badger’ Cummins.
While the pair admittedly knew each other in their pre-Bachie lives, it’s clear that the relationship was more serious on Cass’ end than we all (possibly Nick included) realised, and this week the 23-year-old made sure he knew it, reading him a letter from her diary.
And in the first few episodes, it was a bit of a laugh, all the girls know what they’re getting into when they go on these shows, right? They’re free game and have to take the nasty comments in order to get their 15 minutes of fame, right?
Well maybe sometimes, but in this case it’s clearly gone too far. Look we’re not sure what's gone on behind the scenes here, but it doesn’t appear that Cass did know what she was getting into when she arrived and found the Bachelor was someone she already had feelings for previously. And it’s just become uncomfortable and even upsetting to watch this poor girl, who is so young and vulnerable, have her heart broken on national television.
In last night’s rose ceremony, Cass was deliberately edited to receive the final rose, and her anguish was painful to see.
We’ve all been in Cass’ shoes at some point in our lives, in love with someone who doesn’t love us back. But most of us haven’t had to deal with that on national television, let alone while the guy simultaneously dates her 24 housemates.
Think about how devastated you are when you accidentally double tap your crush’s photo from 2014 on Instagram. Now imagine that being broadcast on national television.
And viewers are in agreement, while initially Cass was branded a “stalker” and a “stage-five clinger” and quickly became the butt of the joke, the sentiment online has now changed, with viewers rallying behind the vulnerable young contestant and urging the Honey Badger to let her down easy and “send the poor girl home”.
Cass herself admitted in an interview with Who magazine that it’s been hard to watch the footage back.
“It’s TV and you only get to see what they show,” she said. “Seeing things online, like being called a stage-five clinger can be really hard— but I have to put my heart on my sleeve here and be open and honest and tell him how I feel.”
But Cass isn’t alone.
Former Married At First Sight star Tracey Jewel recently opened up about her mental health battles after her time on the reality show, revealing that she sought help from a psychologist for post-traumatic stress syndrome before eventually admitting herself into a facility for treatment.
"I’ve been bullied and cyber-trolled relentlessly, pretty much all year," she told New Idea, previously writing on Instagram, "You’ve won trolls. I give up. You’ve ruined my life. You’ve involved my friends, family, clients and sponsors. I have lost everything because of your relentless hate. Hope you’re happy you’ve claimed another one."
Other former reality stars have also spoken out about the toll the show’s take, including Big Brother’s Tully Smith and Survivor's Anneliese Wilson.
“It’s hard to watch back knowing how I felt in those moments and looking at the position that I was in,” Wilson previously told News.com.au.
Love Island UK star Sophie Gradon was open about her struggles with depression and anxiety after her time on the show, before eventually going on to take her own life.
Zara Holland, who was on Gradon’s season of the show says the show was definitely a “contributing factor”.
"I can't sit here and say that it was 100% Love Island that did this to [Sophie] but I think it was a contributory factor," she told the BBC.
"People applying need to know how serious things can be, they see a claim to fame, they don’t see that in ten years’ time, when you’re married with babies, you’ll still be haunted for the rest of your life," Zara told The Mirror.
So as viewers, while we can get lost in the entertainment of it all, we need to remember these are humans behind the screen and to have a little compassion when watching these shows and sharing our thoughts on social media.