The Bachelor is a reality dating show. As such, many would argue that it is not the show’s responsibility to educate the public on social issues and other serious subjects. Yet not everyone agrees.
Ayala Says ‘The Bachelor’ Missed an Opportunity
According to Us Weekly, Ayala wanted to bring awareness to the disease when he was on “The Bachelorette,” but producers would not allow it. He felt like, “This is my moment to bring representation to the 10 million Americans who don’t know how to fight for themselves, who don’t even know the name of the disease that they have.”
However, when he tried to represent, he got shut down. He said that most of the conversations he had about his disease never aired. And the ones that did were “edited and portrayed in like a slapstick comedy kind of way. That crushed me,” the 32-year-old told Us Weekly.
Ayala explained that he used to hide his disease from everyone. However, he wanted to come clean about it on national TV. “So, to have a show that has millions of people who watch it, I could have had a better representation for the lymphedema community by wearing my compression garments with pride, by talking about it and not having [the conversation] removed from what actually aired. That was really disheartening for me,” he asserted to Us Weekly.
Ayala was accused, by his housemates, and many fans of the show, of using his disease to get a “pity rose.” In fact, several of the other bachelors relayed that assumption to Brown. As Reality Steve describes, “Whatever was told to her by the guys, she seemingly believed them over Cam because she sends Cam home during this tailgate party.”
Known for his catchphrase, “ABC: always be Cam,” Ayala had already irked some of his competitors, as well as quite a few audience members, before he revealed his disease to Brown. Ayala recalls how he was accused of using his lymphedema as a “last-ditch effort” to stay on the show, Us Weekly reports.
But what bothered him even more than that was the way producers went out of their way to block his efforts to educate the public. Ayala told Us Weekly, “in the Bachelor in Paradise reunion, I had a T-shirt made that said ‘I have lymphedema, Google it.’” The producers could not stop him from wearing the shirt, so instead, they blurred it out. “That was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back,” according to Ayala.
Ayala’s Leg was Amputated in June
Clearly, Ayala’s disease was in fact, quite serious. According to People, “after 16 knee surgeries over the past seven years, he’s been preparing for this ‘transformative’ amputation for a while.” Three days after the operation, he posted on Instagram several pictures of him smiling in his hospital bed surrounded by loved ones.
He seems to have a positive attitude and is still trying to raise awareness of the disease. In fact, People reports that toward that effort, he has teamed up with “Misery” actress, Kathy Bates, who also suffers from the disease.
Although he is doing well, Ayala is still upset with producers and cast members of ‘The Bachelorette,’ not only for thwarting his efforts to raise awareness on the show, but also for not reaching out to him during this trying time. He told Us Weekly, “now I actually had to go through and get the amputation, there still hasn’t been any reach out from the franchise or any remorse from any of the guys on my season. “
He wishes that they would at least have the courtesy to “be like, ‘Oh bro, I’m so sorry, like, I had no idea that it was that serious.’” He would like to tell them that it was serious then, and it is serious now, and that “If contestants are gonna open up their hearts and tell you things that are especially having to do with a disease that should not be held against them like it was for me.” Ayala said he never would have thought something so personal and devastating would be used against him and that the whole thing still “blows my mind.”
Ayala is not alone in his accusations toward the franchise regarding missed opportunities. The first Black Bachelor, Matt James, has made similar accusations in multiple interviews, as well as in his book “First Impressions: Off Screen Conversations with a Bachelor on Race, Family, and Forgiveness.”
Like Ayala, James blames poor editing for many of the missed opportunities that he claims occurred during his season. James told E! News, “there’s a lot more to my story than, like, how it came about, and like I went deep. Like I talked about real s*** with the people on the show…and when a lot of that didn’t come across, I felt like it just lacked depth that we could have capitalized on, being the first Black bachelor and having important conversations.”
The question of whether it is the responsibility of reality television to do more than entertain is a matter of debate. However Ayala and James feel strongly that “The Bachelor” franchise should have done more to promote their causes.
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