The Bachelor In Paradise Format Is Broken. The Contestants Are Trying To Fix That

Photo: courtesy of ABC.
Bachelor in Paradise has always touted a rotating cast of contestants, but that structure has created turmoil not once but twice this season when relationships formed outside of Paradise were brought to the beach. It's against the premise of the show, and now we can see why.
It first happened earlier this week when Pieper James showed up after hanging out with Brendan Morais a few times previous to Paradise. Even if they didn't label things prior to appearing on the show, as they've both claimed, they were clearly interested in one another. So when Brendan was placed in the initial cast group and Pieper wasn't brought on until several episodes in, that meant that Brendan would need a shield to keep him in Paradise long enough to see Pieper. He struck up a connection with Natasha Parker, who was heartbroken to discover that Brendan hadn't been truthful about how well he and Pieper knew each other outside of the show. 
Then on the September 7 episode, we watched Chris Conran's attention immediately shift to Alana Milne when she entered the house. He'd been dating Jessenia Cruz, but quickly jumped ship to hang out with Alana, whom he'd previously met in real life when she'd visited San Diego. (For the record, Jessenia also met him on that same trip.) When the rest of the Paradise cast caught wind of Chris and Alana's connection, several cast members teamed up to tell them that they needed to leave. Alana insisted that they hadn't been in a relationship prior to the show, but for people like Joe Amabile and Riley Christian, they'd seen enough. As far as they were concerned, if Chris and Alana's connection was so strong, they could take it off the beach and continue dating at home. The cast confrontation worked, and the duo left — albeit separately. And now the promo for the September 14 episode reveals that Brendan and Pieper might be next.
Demi Burnett seems to be leading the charge on the "get Brendan and Pieper out of Paradise" train, but if contestants like Jessenia, Joe, and Riley team up to get them to leave, it may not be long before Brendan and Pieper are packing their bags too. In the promo for next week, it sounds like guest host Tituss Burgess gets involved when he says, "If you're already in a relationship, that defeats the purpose of coming here." 
Obviously some of these people come to the beach for fame and exposure rather than love, but that issue could be solved by updating the show's format: No outside relationships should be allowed to enter the beach. It's not fair that women like Natasha and Jessenia have to be casualties in these men's pursuits of other people. If everyone in the cast was just brought in on on day one, with no late additions, this wouldn't happen. An even playing field would also help newcomer contestants like Chelsea Vaughn, who got the short end of the stick by coming so late in the game while other people were already forming tight connections. This has been a flaw of the show for several seasons now, and it's time for a change. It's gotten to the point where the show's own contestants are forced to step in and try to get people eliminated rather than focus on finding love.
That being said, it is nearly impossible for these cast members to not have some connections from outside the show. From sliding into Instagram DMs to cast parties, there's always going to opportunities for future BIP contestants to flirt and date. That's fine. But there's no need to split potential couples by bringing in people who are already dating. In the end, it's hurting other contestants in the process, and forcing the rest of the cast to step in.
BIP is messy, but this is a pot-stirring tradition that needs to be stopped. Until then, contestants will just fix it themselves.

More from TV

R29 Original Series