The Bachelor Made Olivia Caridi A Villain — Now It’s Time To Admit She Didn’t Deserve It

Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images.
The Bachelor always has a villain, even if none of the contestants are particularly villainous in real life. On Ben Higgins’ season, the title went to Olivia Caridi, a 23-year-old news anchor from Austin, Texas. Unlike some other Bachelor franchise lightning rods (Lee Garrett, Luke Parker, Chad Johnson... hmm all the really bad ones are men), Olivia wasn’t actually that terrible. Now that Ben’s season is re-airing as part of The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons — Ever! and Olivia is being interviewed on the show, it's worth noting that not only has she moved on from the franchise, but she never deserved the "villain" label the show slapped on her back then.
In case your memory is foggy, in The Bachelor season 20, Olivia made waves on night one by making sure she had plenty of time with the lead and getting the first impression rose. This attention only continued, with Olivia getting two group date roses. From there, producers put her in a variety of situations that would either upset her, or upset the other women. During one group date, she was asked to pop out of a giant cake and danced in a showgirl outfit, which left her embarrassed and gave the editors plenty of footage to further cement her as an attention grabber.
During another group date that had all the women pair up, she was paired with Ben, which made the other women jealous. Finally, she was put on a two-on-one date with Bachelor twin Emily Ferguson, her "rival" among the women, didn't get a rose, and was left stranded on a tiny beach island alone for melodramatic effect. In many ways, she was a pawn of production's need to find a villain every season.
Olivia wasn’t totally innocent, though. When it was brought up that she didn’t connect with the other women in the house, she insulted their intelligence and said her famous line, “I want to talk smart things.” And the cherry on top was when she said Ben should be running the other way from contestant Amanda Stanton because she was a single mother. “I feel like it’s an episode of Teen Mom,” she said. There was also that time she brought up her insecurity over her "cankles" immediately after Ben told the group two of his family friends had just died in a plane crash.
But the way Olivia tells it, she’s in the history books as a Bachelor villain because of producer prodding and an unfair edit. On a 2018 episode of her podcast Mouthing Off with Olivia Caridi, she talked about always “grabbing” the Bachelor, which is a surefire way to upset the other contestants. “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,” she said.
The effects of falling into the villain role on The Bachelor, whether because of her own misguided comments on the show or expert producing, however, were tough. Even though she said the things she said, no one deserves to go through the very dark time she did after filming the show.
“It took me so long to get over the whole thing. I was messed up for a long time after that," she said on the podcast. "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.” 
She also had trouble getting a job after the season aired. “I wanted to go back into TV news and I would send my tape to every station in the country essentially and I kept hearing people say, ‘You’d be a PR nightmare. We couldn’t do that, you didn’t look great on the show. We’d lose viewers,’” she told The Everygirl in 2017. “That was heartbreaking because my career before the show was my world and to know that a horrible experience on a reality show hurt that really broke me.”
Luckily, things are going much better for Olivia now. She’s been hosting her podcast for three years, she used her Bachelor expertise to blog about the show after her season ended, and she's promoting sunglasses on Instagram like all good reality stars do.
As evidenced by her Instagram, she was doing a ton of traveling pre-COVID-19, including to Ashley Iaconetti and Jared Haibon’s wedding in Rhode Island.
On top of all that, she found love without Chris Harrison's help. Sadly, Olivia and her boyfriend, who lives in Amsterdam, are apart because of the pandemic right now, but they seem happy. 
Thanks to time, the introduction of actual villains, and some much needed additional context, Olivia is now more known as a reaction gif than a villain. And we should all be able to admit that's a far fairer legacy.
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.
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