Former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe appeared on the season 29 premiere of Dancing With The Stars last night. Along with her pro partner, Artem Chigvintsev, Bristowe, a trained dancer, performed what judge Derek Hough called a "beautiful Cha Cha" routine to Lady Gaga's "Stupid Love." Though her first appearance on the show seemed to go smoothly, fans know that there's a lot of tension bubbling just underneath the surface.
It's no secret that Bristowe has been eager to compete on DWTS for years — and therein lies the controversy. So far, four former Bachelors have competed on the show: Jake Pavelka, Sean Lowe, Chris Soules, and Nick Viall. The only Bachelorettes invited on the show have been Trista Sutter, who appeared on the first season in 2005, and Hannah Brown, who won the show last season. ABC produces both shows, so it would seem to be natural next step for the dating show's alums. But, throughout the years, Bristowe has alleged that Bachelor producer Mike Fleiss barred her from being on the show.
Bristowe had asked to go on the show as early as 2015, but she said Fleiss told her she "wasn't allowed" to join DWTS, even after she had already gotten a contract. Bristowe felt that the producer had a double standard. "I believe men and women should be afforded the same opportunities," she told ET in March 2017. "I was told by Mike that it is bad for his brand, and that he is sick of people wanting fame from his show." She also said that when she told allegedly Fleiss that dancing was her passion, "I was told Shawn should be my only passion."
Her frustration seemed to only escalate over the years. As recently as October 2019, she let out her frustrations when the topic of DWTS came up on an episode of comedian Nikki Glaser's Talkhouse Podcast.
"Anybody that listens to this podcast knows why I cannot go on Dancing with the Stars," said Bristowe. "And it’s because, and I will say this with a mic in my hand and a smile on face, that Mike Fleiss is a piece of shit. He is the creator of The Bachelor, and he hates women.”
Even though Hannah Brown had been allowed to participate on the show last season, Bristowe said that she believes her speaking out about the issue "had something to do with it." She also believes that it has to do with the fact that in July 2019, news broke that Fleiss' wife at the time filed a restraining order against him for verbally and physically abusing her while she was pregnant. The two reached a divorce settlement later that month. Bristowe claimed he probably wanted to use Brown to change his image.
“So [Fleiss] lets all the Bachelors go on and the only reason he let Hannah go on this season of Dancing with the Stars is because [...] he’s in hot water because there’s some shit that came out on him abusing his wife. So he’s like, ‘Look at me, I love women.’ As long as he’s in power with ABC, I will never get on that show.”
Now that Bristowe has finally gotten her chance to compete, it may seem like things between she and Fleiss have been smoothed other. But come on, this is the Bachelor universe we're talking about — is anything ever really smooth?