After weeks of waiting and theorizing, fans of “The Bachelor” finally witnessed “the jump heard around the world” when season 23’s “virgin” Bachelor, Colton Underwood, jumped an eight-foot-tall fence in the “middle of nowhere,” Portugal, apparently quitting the reality dating show. All throughout the season, fans and haters alike anticipated the jump featured in promotions, complaining on social media every time credits rolled without a single fence in sight. Once the jump finally happened, fans were not disappointed. Contrary to most predictions, the “tea” behind the jump was actually worth waiting for and the epitome of excellent reality television.
Rather than a petty temper tantrum by this season’s lead, the jump was actually a crack in the extremely polished and fantastical Bachelor universe. After having his heart broken on national television by the season’s runner up, speech pathologist Cassie Randolph, Colton claimed to be the done with show and the process, throwing his microphone on the floor and punching one of the several cameras constantly shoved in his face. While I do think that Colton was definitely pushed over the fence by Cassie’s, albeit unsurprising, exit, I think Colton’s main motivation was to get away from his ultimate betrayers, the producers of “The Bachelor.”
According to the edited narrative of the show, Colton jumped the fence after Cassie confessed that she wasn’t in love with him and did not see herself getting engaged at the end of filming. Although Colton insisted they didn’t need to get engaged, Cassie was steadfast in her decision, especially after talking to her father –– who was flown by production to Portugal from California –– right before the evening portion of the date.
As soon as Cassie informed Colton of the conversation with her father, there is a key moment all commentators reference: Colton makes eye contact with production clearly “blindsided” –– I have to use Bachelor vocabulary in this recap –– by this revelation from Cassie. Production flying Cassie’s dad from California to talk her out of an engagement was the ultimate betrayal for Colton because he thought production was looking out for his best interests. In reality, they were looking for the best ratings.
Production has done shady things to contestants and leads alike in the past. No one can ever forget the now infamous unedited breakup between Season 22 Bachelor Arie Luyendyk Jr. and winner Becca Kufrin. Kufrin had no idea about the breakup even while production silently set up for the televised moment in front of her. Arie and Becca’s filmed breakup was quite controversial because Becca was unaware that Arie and production orchestrated the moment behind her back. After this moment however, a precedent was set for more “raw and unedited” moments on the show which at this point has become predictable and formulaic.
Contrary to the belief of some, I think that Colton’s breakup with Cassie and the subsequent jump was the most real I have ever seen the show. Never in Bachelor history has a lead broke with protocol and confessed to a contestant two weeks before the proposal that he had made up his mind. While Colton might have said that in an act of desperation to keep Cassie on the show, he was still being very real in my opinion. After she rebuffed him and left, the Bachelor continued to spiral and took all his anger out on the production team he felt had betrayed him.
In the Bachelor universe, it is normal for leads and contestants to do interviews with production for hours after breakups happen. Given that Colton refused to talk to production, ripped off his mic and literally jumped a fence, it was evident that he was really quitting. This action gave us a glimpse of the behind the scenes people who make this fantasy possible. Given the ratings for that episode alone, it is clear “the jump heard around the world” smashed the Bachelor facade and now us, the audience, only craves the most real footage rather than the same vanilla-manufactured love stories. Who knows where the Bachelor franchise can go from here? I am more than ready to find out.