Last night, The Bachelorette had the unfortunate task of addressing the recent untimely death of The Bachelorette contestant Eric Hill. The 31-year-old contestant vied for the affection of Andi Dorfman’s heart, and months later died after a freak paragliding accident. The accident happened on April 2014, months after he had ended his run on the show. Throughout that time, the production team had been thinking about how they would honor Eric Hill’s time on the show with Andi Dorfman.
Hill’s passing was immediately addressed in the season’s opener. To kick things off, the show made a brief dedication to Eric Hill and decided that they would still feature Hill among the 25 men who were competing to win Dorfman’s heart.
Chris Harrison, the host of The Bachelorette, told Entertainment Weekly in a statement:
“The whole thing was so unbelievably tragic.”
Of Eric Hill’s passing, Harrison said:
“So it was wise and important for us to slow down and stop and realize that we were upset about this as well and needed to take it all in and mourn and deal with it emotionally and personally, and then try to figure out how professionally we would deal with it.”
Harrison continued to speak about the difficult decision ahead in terms of telling Eric’s story:
“Our first step was to obviously honor him at the top of the show because we had made the decision, I think wisely, to leave him in and not take him out of the show. So the start was to at least acknowledge it there, and then honestly, we’re still figuring it out. We’re still dealing with the day-to-day of how to best respectfully and honorably include him in the show, but at the same time, not sensationalize it and make it anything that it wasn’t.”
Of course, Chris Harrison wasn’t alone in this decision to feature Eric Hill in the opening episode. As we previously reported, The Bachelorette creator Mike Fleiss had a lot weighing on his mind as well:
“We’re going to try to be as sensitive as possible. It’s a bizarre predicament that we never expected to be in, but our problems aren’t important. It’s about his family now. My heart goes out to them. I pray for them and my staff, they’re just wrecked.”
So far, there’s no word on how producers will include Eric in the upcoming season past the premiere. Most of the contestants take part in a few key make out scenes in the hot tub, which could be seen as distasteful in the wake of Hill’s death, so the fact that everyone seems to be dealing with the situation with a cautious and gentle hand looks promising for the rest of the season.
[Image via ABC]