Demi Burnett has been shaking things up in Paradise.
Burnett formed a connection with contestant Derek Peth almost immediately this summer. Shortly into their budding relationship, she told Peth that, prior to coming to Mexico, she had been dating a woman in Los Angeles. She even told Peth that she missed her deeply.
As of the most recent episode, the woman Burnett was dating in Los Angeles, Kristian Haggerty, has joined the Bachelor In Paradise cast. It’s an unprecedented move for the franchise, but Chris Harrison said in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he felt it was the best way to embrace the situation.
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“I’m not exactly sure how we would have embraced Demi’s situation in year’s past. But with the way we do the show now, we let it come to us,” he told the publication. “When this situation presented itself to us with somebody we really love and care about in Demi, I think our initial instinct was the right one: ‘Let’s lean into it. Let’s go there. Let’s explore this.'”
Harrison went on to say that there are no real “rules” in Paradise, so bringing on Haggerty was a no-brainer.
“We could have easily said that because Demi is in somewhat of a relationship back home that she won’t find love here and we should send her home and go on our way. Instead, we all made the decision to break or bend the rules a little bit. And the good news is, there is no rulebook. I always say that to contestants and producers. We have no rules and can essentially do what we want with the show as long as we’re treating everybody fairly and with respect. It was a pretty easy but big decision to go down that path with Demi, especially since it’s with someone who is outside of our franchise and our family,” he said.
Harrison says that the unprecedented move works because of Haggerty’s personality.
“The reason why it works so well — and in my opinion it does work — is because [Haggerty] is so innocent and naïve about the world she’s about to come into, that you can tell it’s 100 percent genuine,” he said.
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Harrison also told the publication that the show’s LGBTQ producers helped to tell Burnett’s story authentically and respectfully.
“We’re a microcosm of what’s happening in the world. We’re all evolving and getting more intelligent, and our eyes are opening in a lot of ways,” he said. “I’m not going to say we’re changing the world — it’s an entertainment show, so let’s stay in our lane a little bit. But I am proud of the fact that we aren’t afraid of these social issues and are pushing these issues a little bit, and hopefully, we do our part in raising the level of debate. And like society, our show will continue to evolve as well.”