Clayton Echard and Susie Evans call 'The Bachelorette' premiere an "attack" and inspiration for cyberbullying
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/13/2022
The Bachelor couple Clayton Echard and Susie Evans have admitted they didn't appreciate The Bachelorette premiere, when Season 19 suitors trashed Clayton in their entrances, because they think it was an attack and lead-in for more cyberbullying.
On Monday night's Season 19 premiere of The Bachelorette, many suitors mocked and slammed Clayton as they introduced themselves on Night 1 to Gabby and Rachel at The Bachelor mansion.
Jason Alabaster joked about being in love with three women -- his mother, his sister and his dog -- and Johnny DePhillipo flat out called Clayton a "piece of sh-t."
Ryan Mula dressed like a clown and insisted he's not a clown like Clayton, and Alec Garza had a children's choir sing a lengthy song about how "Clayton sucks."
"I was able to find light in it. Do I think that that's what should have been shown? I mean, no. I do think it was cyberbullying or an attack or it's going to lead to cyberbullying," Clayton said during Tuesday's episode of the "Off the Vine with Kaitlyn Bristowe" podcast.
"And so for that, I'm not the biggest fan of how that was shown, but it was... and it's just the nature of the beast. I'm not gonna lose sleep over it at this point anymore."
Clayton explained, "If I start giving more power to people that have no interest in my passions and they're gonna try to just pull me off this path that I'm now on and I'm full steam ahead on, to me it's as simple as just ignore it and let it pass because I'm not going to... give people power that should have no power over me."
Clayton, who starred on Season 26 of The Bachelor earlier this year, was heavily scrutinized and criticized for how he had treated his bachelorettes during filming.
Clayton faced backlash for telling all of his Final 3 women that he loved them and for sleeping with both Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia before his last Fantasy Suite date with the girl he was supposedly the "most in love" with, Susie Evans, his current girlfriend.
Clayton was also bashed for keeping The Bachelor villain Shanae Ankney around too long and for pitting the women against each other. He even took heat for silly things, such as his alleged "gross" kissing noises, lip-licking habit, and not showing enough personality.
Many fans reached out to Clayton through his Instagram DMs as the season aired, telling him to kill himself and that he's not worthy of love.
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While those memories probably came rushing back as he watched The Bachelorette premiere, Clayton said he was also able to laugh at himself.
"As I saw the episode, I was very happy to just feel that I'm like, you know what? 'It's not personal, it's business,'" Clayton said, recalling how he had learned that motto from reading Matthew McConaughey's book, Greenlights.
"And I'm happy with where I'm at today. I'm pushing the things I want to push on. I'm chasing my true purpose and passion in life, finally, for the first time. And I think through all the muck, and everything that I went through, here I am because of this entire environment."
Clayton shared how opportunities that came out of The Bachelor allowed him to chase after what he's passionate about.
"So as I saw the show, the episode and all of the attacks and the song, the choir that they had -- I'm gonna go chase down those parents. But, you know, I honestly didn't really get a reaction from it," Clayton said.
"I just kind of laughed. I thought, 'This, too, shall pass. And after everything you've been through, this is relatively minor.'"
Clayton said he imagines the jokes at his expense "won't last" on the show this season as it becomes more about Gabby and Rachel's new love stories.
Susie, however, admitted that the two-hour episode hit a nerve with her.
"I thought, 'Come on!' Clayton has given, you know, he can laugh at himself and I can laugh at Clayton. He's the butt of most of my social media jokes... And I can laugh at myself. But also, my fear is, like, 'Does this open the floodgates back up of all the hate and stuff?'"
Susie continued, "So that's where I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, really?' But Clayton, definitely was, like, going with the flow. He thought it was funny. Well, he didn't really think it was funny, but he was able to laugh."
On Monday night, Susie posted a TikTok video of her lip-syncing to Will Smith's "Keep my wife's name out your f-cking mouth" Oscars meltdown earlier this year. (Will slapped host Chris Rock across the face for making a joke about Jade Pinkett Smith's short haircut amid her battle with alopecia.)
Susie also told a fan she may make a video of Clayton and herself dancing to the children's choir "Clayton sucks" song.
Clayton told The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in an interview published Sunday that he's "disgusted" with how he was portrayed on The Bachelor and "would never, ever" do the show again.
Clayton previously said he hit "rock bottom" and sank into depression and anxiety whileThe Bachelor's 26th season was airing. However, he decided to go to therapy and push through the negativity, ultimately becoming an advocate for mental health.
Back in January after his season debuted, Clayton said on Becca Kufrin's "Bachelor Happy Hour" podcast that he needed to take a step back and "stop reading all the comments" because they can be "detrimental."
"You start to go down this rabbit hole of you read one comment and then the next one piles on and then the next one piles on. You just realize very quickly that you can't keep everyone happy," Clayton said at the time.
"I read one recently about how 'Clayton is too reassuring to the women.'"
Clayton complained that he was either saying too much or not enough, adding, "I need to stop trying to please everyone."
Clayton also revealed at the time his mother was really "struggling" with all the bad publicity and mean comments about her son.
"People have to understand your words do affect me. I'll put a smile on and start brand new and start the day over... but you think it's just one comment. Understand that... [it's] 10,000 other comments and they all pile on. And it can be a lot," Clayton said.
"It can really affect someone's mental health -- not only mine but my mom's."
Clayton therefore urged viewers to think twice before writing a nasty message to or about someone on social media.
But Clayton's spirit-breaking experience on The Bachelor ultimately had a happy ending.
Susie -- who quit The Bachelor during her Fantasy Suite date -- ultimately returned to the show and made an appearance at the Final Rose Ceremony, but she dumped the Bachelor instead of accepting his final rose. Susie said at the time that Clayton wasn't her person and they didn't seem meant to be.
However, Susie reached out to Clayton post-filming seeking some answers, and the pair reconciled.
Clayton even quit his job as a medical sales rep and moved to Susie's Virginia hometown following the filming of The Bachelor: After the Final Rose so they could have a real shot at a relationship. They are now dating and in love.
Susie told Us Weekly earlier this year that the couple now agrees they both made mistakes on the show and "could have done better" in having "more empathy for each other" and listening to each other's perspective.