After a season full of controversial contestants and buzzy social issues, “The Bachelorette: Men Tell All” special for Becca Kufrin and her former suitors may go down as one of the most heated reunions yet for the franchise.
At the taping for this year’s show, Kufrin’s most memorable cast-offs returned to talk finding love on TV, dealing with social media reactions and choosing the next “Bachelor.” A surprising shift in the episode, though, came with the intense focus on fan-favorite Colton and his reveal during the season that he is still a virgin.
In a heated moment of the men arguing with each other on stage, former contestant Jean Blanc personally attacked Colton, saying he was “acting like a p— even though you’ve never been inside of one.” This was not the only dig made at the former NFL player’s lack of sexual experience, and culminated in him having an emotional conversation with host Chris Harrison about the judgement and criticism he’s faced, with some calling his virginity “baggage” or having “skeletons in the closet.”
“I think you could tell that were some definitely some unexpected things that went on and happened and some emotions that I wasn’t expecting to have tonight,” Colton told Variety after the show. ” It took a lot of self restraint to stay in my seat when Jean Blanc made that comment because it was something that was so uncalled for, so unnecessary, so disrespectful to not only me but everybody out there in the way he verbalized the female anatomy.”
Despite being criticized by some of his fellow “Bachelorette” contestants, Colton added that when the episode aired, he received plenty of support online as well, including those who thanked him for speaking about his virginity publicly.
“The bottom line is it’s my body, my choice,” he said. “I’m so happy that I started a conversation or at least allowed people and mothers — I can’t tell you how many mothers reached out to me, how many parents, even some 20-plus-year-olds have reached out to me and said ‘Hey I’ve been in your boat before, I’ve been ashamed and thank you for being a voice.’ I love hearing stories like that.”
Harrison praised Colton for being so public about his choice, saying he could’ve easily chosen to just brush it off and joke about it rather than dive into such a intense discussion about his sex life at the “Tell All.”
“To shine a light on that and the double standard of it’s alright if [former ‘Bachelor’ contestant] Ashley I. is a virgin and it’s cute and funny, but it’s shameful if a big stud athlete who could have any woman he wants is a virgin,” the host said. “Again, one thing I love about this show is the social discussions that are kind of forced because of things that we bring to light.”
Colton was at the center of a second controversy this season as well, when it was revealed he had previously dated Tia, Kufrin’s friend and another former contestant on Arie Luyendyk Jr.‘s season of “The Bachelor.” He was eliminated after hometown dates, following Tia’s return to the show to tell Kufrin she still had feelings for him, and was called out by the men at the reunion show about the past relationship.
Tia faced extreme backlash online for admitting her affections so late in the season and putting Kufrin in a difficult spot, but Colton said he has no hard feelings.
“While I was confused and frustrated — because when we left the spa date, I thought we were on the same page — I had no hard feelings, I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t mad, I wasn’t angry, I just had a lot of questions, and I think you’re going to see that play out on ‘Paradise,’” he teased of the upcoming “Bachelor in Paradise,” which he and Tia are both on. “I had a lot of questions and conversations that needed to take place with Tia to move on.”
Kufrin also weighed in on the Tia controversy and the hateful messages she’s received, saying that despite the love triangle with Colton, “we moved on and we continued to stay friends. For me, if I can do that then I can only hope everyone else could too.”
The Bachelorette, who admitted she’s “so ready for it to be over, I just want to be public with my guy,” faced a room full of exes at the “Tell All” but seemed to be on good terms from most of them, even getting apologies from some, including Jean Blanc and Chris, about their behavior on the show. Chris, who became one of this season’s villains, went so far with his apology as to hire to a choir to sing “Chris was a jerk” to Kufrin.
“Overall, I think it went better than I could’ve expected,” she said. “That group of guys is amazing.”
As for who she would like to see take on the role of the Bachelor next season, the Bachelorette said, “Jason [or] Colton would be great, I think a lot of the guys are charismatic and would be open to any person they met in a relationship and it would just be fun to watch.”
Jason, eliminated in the final three, has become a fast fan-favorite, and admitted that the public support has been overwhelming, saying, “I’m a banker from Buffalo, so I try to keep a level headed approach but have fun with it, anybody that reaches out. The fact that I can even say at this stage in my life that I have fans is incomprehensible, but the fact that I do is an honor, a pleasure, I’m humbled by it.”
He added that if ABC were to come calling about becoming the Bachelor, he would consider it.
“I had such a great experience on this journey,” Jason said. “I fell in love in a place I never thought I would, and although it didn’t work out in my favor, I would absolutely be willing to take that step up because I feel like I’m in the best position to find love. I would be open to that.”
Male model Jordan, who caused plenty of drama this season, was also the source of even more drama at the reunion, getting into fights with several of the men. Lincoln Adim, who was recently convicted of indecent assault and battery, was not present at the “Tell All,” and Garrett Yrigoyen, who was found early in the season to have a history of liking Instagram posts that mock Parkland high school students, liberal women, trans people, and undocumented immigrants, is in the show’s final two, so also did not participate in the special.
“The Bachelorette: The Men Tell All” airs July 30 on ABC.