Season 15 of The Bachelorette just started filming, but it looks like it’s off to the most *dramatic* start yet. If you thought last season’s fence jump was off (or more aptly, over) the wall, then you’re in for a wild ride. Within the same week that the franchise announced former beauty queen Hannah Brown (also known as “Alabama Hannah” to her Bach Nation friends) as Season 15’s Bachelorette, the upcoming crop of contestants were already mired in controversy. For the first time in franchise history, the full roster of men vying for Hannah’s heart was released before filming even started, leaving plenty of time for internet sleuths to do a deep dive—and TBH they didn’t have to look that far.
On March 15, Twitter user @SamSmithburger sent Bachelor Nation into a frenzy, singling out one of Hannah’s contestants—Matt Dione from Winter Park, Florida—tweeting: “This guy used to dm me on insta consistently for like 2 years and now he’s a contestant on the new Bachelorette lmao.”
This guy used to dm me on insta consistently for like 2 years and now he’s a contestant on the new Bachelorette lmao pic.twitter.com/bhUuZsTKQG
— sam smithburger (@SamSmithburger) March 16, 2019
The tweet featured screenshots from Smithburger’s Instagram DMs, which showed Matt D., as he’s named on the show, appearing to consistently message her, with no response from Smithburger. The messages that Smithburger shared on social media span January 2017 to November 2018—four months before Matt D. was announced as a contestant on The Bachelorette. The DMs include statements like: “I’m not giving up on you,” “Hook a brother up?” and “Rude AF sam I expect better from you.”
Several other women responded to Smithburger’s tweet with similar stories of their own. Florida-based university student Victoria Mohebpour says she dated Matt D. for two and a half months. While Mohebpour says things got off to a good start with Matt D., but as their relationship progressed, she became concerned. “He wanted to move in [the direction of] a more serious relationship, but we had only been acquainted for such a short time, I felt as if the relationship was moving faster than it should,” she told FLARE via email.
After blocking him on social media and several months of no contact, Mohebpour says Matt D. managed to add her back on Snapchat. When she accepted his request, she says he repeatedly asked her to go for coffee. “I replied saying I didn’t want to and that I didn’t want to reconcile, to which he later responded by calling me a ‘gold digger,'” she says.
It’s crazy how this guy I “dated” who was crazy ended up doing the same thing to other girls in the Orlando area, now he’s on the new season of bachelorette and it concerns me… @BacheloretteABC pic.twitter.com/rsRYnGJoxA
— VICTORIA (@VicMoheb) March 16, 2019
When she saw that he’d been selected for The Bachelorette, Mohebpour says she felt it made sense given how badly he seemed to want a wife and family. But, she was also concerned at the number of women who tweeted similar experiences to hers. “It wasn’t until reading the DMs Matt sent [to another woman] that made me realize I wasn’t the only person he spoke to in those matters,” she says. “At that point I felt that I needed [to] let other women know I had a similar experience with him even while briefly dating. His ability to be manipulative had resulted in us breaking up. He was pushing for something too fast; moving in, wanting kids and after only one month of dating. [It] was too much for me.”
The intensity of Matt D.’s messages—and alleged IRL behaviour—drew comparisons between the Bachelorette contestant and another TV star: bookstore owner/serial stalker Joe Goldberg from Lifetime’s You.
he sounds like Joe from YOU watch out girl
— mina thee pony (@minajaytay) March 16, 2019
And TBH, we’d have to agree. Reading these Insta DMs is like looking straight into the mind, and creepy monologues, of You‘s seriously problematic main character. Like Joe, Matt D.’s online and IRL interactions with women have thus far been possessive, shaming and really uncalled for—and that’s super scary. And like literally everyone else except Peach (RIP) who saw nothing wrong with Joe’s behaviour on You, the Bach franchise seems just as keen to overlook seriously problematic men—again and again.
Truly, this scenario feels all too familiar. Matt D. isn’t the first contestant with a problematic history to join Bachelor Nation—and this is also not the first time that fans of the show seem to have done a better job vetting the upcoming contestants than the actual Bach creators.
In May 2018, contestant Lincoln Adim was found guilty of indecent assault and battery relating back to a May 2016 incident in which he groped a women’s breast. While Lincoln was charged before the show aired, his conviction happened days before the premiere of Becca Kufrin’s season. In August of the same year, former Bach contestant and soon-to-be Bachelor in Paradise contestant Leo Dottavio was accused of sexually harassing several women. The allegations against Leo were brought forward by Bachelor contestant Bekah M, who shared DMs she’d received from women claiming that while in college, Leo made lewd comments and unwanted advances towards women. And, for the trifecta in Becca’s season, her hubby-to-be Garrett Yrigoyen was called out by former Bachelor contestant Ashley Spivey for ‘liking’ online posts that mocked feminism, the trans community and immigrants.
All this real-life drama seems particularly odd since the franchise claims to have a *super* intense vetting process. At the time of Lincoln’s conviction, Warner Bros, the studio that produces the show, released a statement saying that they’d employed a “well-respected and highly experienced” third party to perform background checks on all the contestants. According to The Ringer, show creator Mike Fleiss has bragged that Bachelor Nation cast members are the most thoroughly vetted people on TV. “We’re really careful about who we let on the show,” Fleiss said at a 2012 Banff World Media Festival panel. “Anyone who has any sort of borderline personality disorder or instability or any sort of past involving contemplation of suicide—we just can’t take the risk. We just don’t.” So if the vetting process is that thorough, it seems like the show must’ve known about dudes like Matt D., but didn’t care about the problems this could cause for Hannah.
If anything, Matt D.’s casting seems to indicate that while the show *loves* debating whether or not contestants are “here for the right reason,” the showrunners’ motivations are equally questionable. Mainly, they’re not here for true love, they’re here for real drama. And often, these men deliver (ie: Leo’s aggressive confrontation with Kendall on BIP).
But fear not, because unlike Joe, Matt D. might not be making an appearance on your TV screen anytime soon. Bach franchise insider Steve Carbone, better known online as Reality Steve, told FLARE that Matt D. is no longer a part of the franchise. “He didn’t get cast. He got cut before the show started. Probably [because] that got out I’m assuming,” Steve said via email of the recent tweets. “That’s why they released the guys early for the first time ever.” So, don’t expect to see this Matt D. stepping out of the limo on night one (although there’s still one more Matt D. up for the rose). “You’ll never see him on the show as a contestant,” Steve said.
As of publication ABC hasn’t confirmed the news or returned FLARE’s request for comment. Matt D.’s photo and bio are still up on the franchise’s Facebook page.
While we hope that it’s true and the franchise did send this particular problematic guy packing before the show taped, instead of using this discussion for drama (like Colton’s long-belaboured virginity)—it’s a baby step. What if he hadn’t been called out online? It can’t be up to social media to monitor these problematic men, it should be on the franchise.
For once, we’re seriously hoping that this isn’t the the cause of the most dramatic season yet. TBH we’d love to see Hannah find some stress-free, and more importantly, real love. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.