Bachelor Nation villain is one of the best gigs in reality TV. Back in early 2018, Krystal Nielson infuriated audiences with what many believed was a “fake voice” and an (allegedly) off-camera tirade about The Bachelor. But, by that summer, Krystal was a Bachelor in Paradise hero with a producer-approved relationship. The next year, Krystal's wedding with Chris Randone was a central piece of the Paradise puzzle.
You can start to see Bachelor puppet masters setting up a similar pathway for Victoria Larson, who was eliminated during Monday night’s “Week 5.” Last week, the season 25 villain appeared on ABC flagship daytime series Good Morning America to “speak out” against the bullying criticisms levied against her and explain away her recent mugshot reveal. It was a plum opportunity rarely given to anyone besides a Bachelor Nation lead. Victoria then dominates the first third of “Week 5,” as viewers are forced to watch her angrily come to terms with the fact that Matt James is aware of her cruel machinations throughout the series.
By the end of “Week 5’s” rose ceremony, Victoria is off of season 25. But that simple decision isn’t enough. The Bachelor — and its ever-growing stable of spin-offs — needs to fully cut ties with Victoria. She’s isn’t a “playful” baddie, as Victoria says in “Week 5.” She is an insidious presence who makes the show toxic for cast members and viewers alike.
Victoria has made The Bachelor a hostile environment since the beginning of the season. In a single episode, she manipulated the downfall of Marylynn Sienna, interrupted the photo shoot of Mari Pepin, and attempted to sabotage Jessenia Cruz with the producers. You will notice all of these contestants are women of colour.
“Week 5” puts a fine point on the inherent racism of Victoria’s actions during The Bachelor. After Matt eliminates Anna Redman, he checks in with remaining “new girl” Ryan Claytor. Ryan immediately breaks down over Victoria’s behaviour, describing her “constant digs,” including a particularly painful encounter: “She told me to my face, that because I’m a dancer, she flat out stated that I was a ‘ho.’” To add insult to injury, Ryan says Victoria “laughed about it after” — as though slut shaming and criticizing a Black woman with a word dripping in such historical misogynoir was funny. It is impossible to pretend a word like “ho” has not been crafted to shame Black women like Ryan for their sexuality, bodies, and skin colour.
Matt gives Victoria the chance to reckon with the harm in her words. She refuses. When he brings up the darkness of the “ho” comment, Victoria responds, “That was completely taken out of context.” Matt asks what “context” is acceptable for such name calling. According to footage, Victoria had no response. For the remainder of her time on The Bachelor, Victoria avoids any form of apology or thoughtful consideration for hurting her co-stars. She says their responses to her behaviour is “crazy,” calls Ryan “the shadiest bitch” and an “idiot,” and swears “that she didn’t do anything wrong.”
That last detail is what really drives home why Bachelor Nation cannot waste its time working to turn Victoria into a beloved franchise star post-elimination. She was hostile and harmful to everyone around her — especially women of colour — and ultimately believes she is right. Victoria believes this even after “apologizing” in front of the camera. Before Victoria speaks to Matt, she told Latinx contestant Catalina Morales, “I’m sorry I took your crown. It was just, like, silly. It was never malicious,” minimizing the hostility of invading someone else’s space and ripping a crown off of their head. Victoria shared the same “apologetic” sentiment with Ryan, telling her, “I’m always playful, I’m never, like, malicious.”
Still, as soon as Victoria was faced with consequences for her words and actions, these allegedly kind feelings disappeared. We were left with more abusive insults.
Victoria continued to trivialize her damage on Good Morning America, months after filming. When directly asked if she regretted her treatment of her co-stars, she said, “They knew me and knew my heart. I really never have ill intent, so I think they viewed it differently,” and reiterated multiple times that her destructive behavior (which, again, included the “ho” comment and the crown-ripping moment) was “all in good fun.” Victoria’s final quote of the interview proves how adorable she finds her behaviour. When asked if she became friends with Catalina, she joked, “Mmm. One queen only.” There is no remorse here.
Victoria’s Bachelor stunts were not adorable. Her inevitable “After the Final Rose” performance will not make her adorable (as Ryan tells Matt, “The only reason apologies are coming my way is because you stood up and said something about it. And it does not feel sincere and I do not believe it one bit”). Victoria’s time on national morning television was not adorable. It was time that could have gone to Brittany, who deserved to speak her own truth after a lengthy slut shaming attack — which will live on in Google search results forever — was waged against her hours earlier on The Bachelor.
When it comes time for Paradise, women like Britany and Ryan should have the limelight for their love stories after they were sucked into the black hole that is remorseless Victoria. A starring role on television is a privilege and an entertainment decision — not a right. Getting permanently removed from that opportunity is a consequence, like blocking an abusive account (or traumatizing ex) on Instagram. And Victoria doesn't deserve body shaming or death threats, as she told Good Morning America she receives — just a fame-free life away from cameras and the Bachelor Nation denizens who populate them.
As Matt said to Victoria about the idea of keeping her around, “I’m doing the other women a disservice by not making this a safe space for everybody.” Bachelor Nation should follow his advice.