The Bachelor presented Olivia Caridi as a villain — vain, oblivious, and slightly elitist. Since the show, she's made it clear that her Bachelor portrayal wasn't accurate, although she never went into detail about her experience on the show. (When Refinery29 reached out to Caridi regarding an article on Bachelor villains, she declined to comment.) Speaking to the LA Times' Amy Kaufman for her podcast Mouthing Off with Olivia Caridi, Caridi finally unspooled. She revealed that her time on the show left her depressed and suicidal.
"It took me so long to get over the whole thing. I was messed up for a long time after that," she told Kaufman. When Kaufman later asked about her mental state, Caridi said, "I was suicidal. I've had depression my entire life. When the show was airing, I was getting messages saying I should kill myself, and, you know, you're not worthy of living." Caridi asked The Bachelor to cover her mental health expenses.
"I was calling The Bachelor people being like, 'You're paying for my therapy and all this stuff because this is your fault,'" she said. "They didn't [pay for it]. They made sure Dr. Selden called me every once in a while to make sure I was still alive." As detailed in Kaufman's book Bachelor Nation, Dr. Catherine Selden is the show's resident psychiatrist. Following production, Dr. Selden and Caridi stayed in touch. Caridi also revealed that Leah Block, a latent villain from her season, asked production to pay for mental health expenses.
"I really, truly felt bullied on the show," Caridi told Kaufman. Caridi discovered after filming that her producer, a cast producer named Caitlin (likely Caitlin Stapleton), would gossip about her with other contestants. "I thought she was my best friend in the world. Come to hear, a lot of the girls, when they were in their [producer interviews] and the producers were trying to get them to talk shit about me, Caitlin would say things like, 'God, isn't she so annoying?'" Producers would manipulate Caridi into doing things that later seemed villainous. For instance, Caridi would often "grab" Bachelor Ben Higgins before the other girls. Then, the other contestants would get angry at Caridi. Ergo, villain.
Recounted Caridi, "At the time, my producer would be like, 'Hey, Ben asked us to ask you if you'll grab him first.' So, I'd be like, 'Oh! Yeah, sure, whatever. Fine.' In hindsight, he probably never cared or even asked for me to grab him first."
Caridi's stint on the show also had financial consequences. When applying for a job at a news organization, Caridi recalls being told she was a "PR nightmare" before being rejected.
Oh, and as for that detail that the producers like to "track" the contestants' periods? Caridi had some interesting correlative evidence. Kaufman reported in Bachelor Nation that, early in the series' lifetime, producers would track the menstrual cycles of the contestants. (All the better to manipulate you with, my dear.) Caridi recalled that during one date during her season of The Bachelor, all the girls were on their period. And, they were forced to wear white biker shorts. And, the date was about pheromones — Higgins was forced to smell the contestants' midriffs to determine if they were "chemically compatible." It was a weird date made all the weirder by the fact that the women were all menstruating.
"I think there were eight people on that date? All of us were on our period. Every single one of us. And then, of course, they put us in white shorts," Caridi said.
As for the producers, Caridi isn't friends with them, as many ex-Bachelor producers are. "I know that this is their job," Caridi said, "And I get it. But I ask myself all the time, 'How do they sleep at night?'"
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.