Former Bachelor Ben Higgins apologized to contestant Olivia Caridi on Monday night after ABC took another look at his 2016 season on The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons — Ever. The then-23-year-old was the clear villain on the season, but in later years spoke out about how producer intervention affected her behavior, as well as how the backlash from her appearance on the show hurt her emotionally and derailed her career as a news anchor. On Monday, when ABC aired her elimination episode, she specifically referenced critiques from the other women about her body, and Higgins appeared via video chat to acknowledge how he could have been better.
Caridi invited backlash for a number of questionable moments on her season, including referring to Amanda Stanton as a "teen mom" and talking about her "cankles" after Higgins opened up about the death of two family friends. However, she was also made the punching bag for the season to an extreme degree.
"Seeing what people really thought of me and what people were saying, that was really hard," she told host Chris Harrison. "I’m sure a lot of it was deserved, but I did feel like some of it was a little ruthless. It affected me. It was, like, making fun of my physical attributes that I can’t change."
“It took me so long to get over the whole thing. I was messed up for a long time after that," she explained. "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.”
On last night's episode, Harrison was disappointed to hear about Caridi's experience, and surprised her with a heartfelt apology from Higgins himself.
“I don’t know if you remember this Olivia, [but] my only request and my only hope was, if all else fails, everybody that participated in the experience left saying they’re glad they did it,” he said. “As I look back on that time, I think my lack of wisdom and maturity and standing up for you publicly, while I knew this was hard for you, I think the way that I navigated the confrontations and issues of the show, could have been better to help you. Mostly, I wanted to speak to you and say I’m sorry.”
While Caridi was unable to return to her career as a news anchor following the show, she managed to rebuild her professional reputation via her podcast and working as an Instagram influencer.
“The person I am now is so resilient,” she told Higgins. “I am proud of the person that I am today. I’m not ashamed anymore because I know that I am not that person.”
Watch their video chat below.