Monday night’s premiere of “The Bachelorette” was mostly business as usual, as the show’s new star JoJo Fletcher greeted 26 suitors who will compete to win her love. And similar to other seasons, producers teased that a special guest would stop by to confront JoJo during the episode, which any regular viewer knows is code for “cause as much drama as possible.”
Immediately, fans started guessing: Who was the mystery guy? Chad, JoJo’s ex-boyfriend, who tried to start trouble when she was on “The Bachelor” last season? Ben Higgins, the bachelor who dumped JoJo and proposed to the other finalist? During the premiere, the man’s identity was finally revealed – and for some viewers, it was worse than they ever could have imagined.
You may be thinking, what’s the deal with this Jake Pavelka guy? Why did social media freak out when he suddenly appeared, whisking JoJo away for a private talk? (For the record, even though it was edited to look like Jake might want to swoop in and steal JoJo away, it turns out they’re longtime family friends, and he was just there to offer her advice about looking for love on reality TV.)
For those unfamiliar, Pavelka, 38, is one of the more despised former “Bachelor” stars in the show’s history. He appeared as a contestant in “The Bachelorette” in summer 2009 as one of Jillian Harris’s suitors, though he was eliminated fairly early. Yet in January 2010, ABC made him the star of the next “Bachelor.”
The season was a low point, as Jake proposed to Vienna Girardi, known as the season’s villain – though most of the controversy occurred after the episodes ended. Mere weeks later, Jake and Vienna’s relationship quickly imploded and the two split. What followed was the most explosive break-up in franchise history, as the ex-couple proceeded to fire back and forth at each other in the tabloids. (Vienna was on the cover of Star calling Jake a “monster.” In return, Jake told Us Weekly she cheated on him.)
But the truly horrifying moments came when ABC decided to cash in on all this drama and bring the pair back for a special segment, where they could air all their grievances on camera. During the taping, things between Jake and Vienna got so ugly that the show was forced to issue a statement before the episode even aired, as rumors surfaced about a possibly dangerous situation. A show rep admitted that while Jake and Vienna’s sitdown was “emotionally charged,” no one was “ever physically in harm’s way, nor was anyone ever threatened with physical violence.”
The segment aired in July 2010 with host Chris Harrison acting as mediator. It was one of the most cringe-worthy things ever seen on TV, as the two visibly despised each other. Though they both came out of the episode looking terrible, Jake seemed especially like the villain. Vienna got increasingly upset, and he sat there smirking, trying to play calm but looking extremely callous.
At one point, he loudly snapped at Vienna to stop interrupting him; she burst into tears and walked off set. As viewers watched in horror, Jake stayed seated and appeared almost pleased with himself – as he’d proved his point that his ex was just impossible to deal with.
This incident did endear him to “Bachelor” franchise fans. Jake, who proceeded to take dabble in reality TV and even wound up on spin-off “Bachelor Pad,” is still considered one of the most widely-disliked contestants ever.
As a result, Twitter went crazy when he walked in to interrupt JoJo’s rose ceremony during Monday’s premiere, and took her aside in private. “What I’m trying to say is I want love … for you,” Jake said with an exaggerated pause, as JoJo looked terrified that he was about to reveal a longtime crush. “And I want you to find love here. And I believe it’s in that room.”
Meanwhile, after Jake gave JoJo some very wise advice like “trust your gut” and “don’t throw your walls up,” she walked back in, as the rest of the contestants looked annoyed and confused. (Several were also wondering about the identity of this random guy who crashed the set: “Who is that?” “How old is that dude?”)
While JoJo said she appreciated her pal Jake stopping by to throw in his two cents — and stirring up controversy is always the primary goal of “The Bachelor” – some viewers would be thrilled to never see him on TV again.