'Love Is Blind' stars slam 'The Bachelor' alum Nick Viall for mocking their foundation
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/02/2023
Love Is Blind alums Nick Thompson and Danielle Ruhl have slammed The Bachelor alum Nick Viall for his "horrific" comments mocking reality TV stars who claim to need money and resources to check their mental health after filming a show.
Thompson, 37, started the UCAN Foundation -- the Unscripted Cast Advocacy Network, which asks for donations for the "exploited and silenced" -- last month to "provide mental health and legal support to past, current and future reality TV contestants."
The organization's website reads, "We need your help! It's time to support the cast instead of the companies who exploit them. DON'T YOU THINK IT'S TIME TO HELP THE CAST? If everyone who watched Reality TV donated just 1 month of what they pay streaming services, we could solve this issue. Forever."
"Reality TV Cast members have put their lives out there for you," the website adds. "Don't you think it's time to give back?
Viall, who starred on The Bachelor's 21st season, took to Instagram late last week and appeared to make fun of Thompson's group.
"Despite all the gifts, access and opportunities that come with it, the poor reality TV stars need your help," Viall wrote.
Viall included a green sad-face emoji and continued in his rant, "Please donate to their ridiculous cause so they don't deal with any stress while they enjoy their free Coachella experience, free clothes, and 5 figure pay days. Check out the full episode for the rest of the rant."
The 42-year-old former The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise contestant's message served as the caption to a video footage of Viall taping the April 27 episode of "The Viall Files" podcast.
Viall also jokingly set his video to music titled "Sad emotional piano."
In the video clip, Viall complained to his podcast listeners about "the audacity" certain reality TV stars must have to raise money for this particular cause.
"There's so many problems going on in this world and these motherf-ckers want you to solve this, what, 'world problem' of the poor reality TV star who got to go on TV and become famous for no f-cking reason [and] be gifted in Instagram followers," Nick said in the podcast clip.
"But let's solve this problem. Let's truly solve this insane problem because once we solve this problem, the world be a better fâ€”cking place... Give us your $14.99 because we don't have trees to save. No, we have poor reality TV stars who aren't smart enough to monetize their Instagram."
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Thompson fired back at Viall by writing in the comments section, "Wow! He's really going to double down on this horrible take [w]hile shilling for reality TV productions over where he came from. SMH," according toUs Weekly.
Thompson later claimed that Viall "deleted" the comment "almost as fast as I posted it."
"@Nickviall is doubling down on his horrific take. This is pathetic," Thompson reportedly wrote via Instagram Stories on April 27. "Keep defending reality TV productions for their inhumane cast treatment from your studio and I'll keep doing the right thing."
Thompson accused Viall of "Propaganda 101" and alleged that The Bachelor alum is "not interested in having a conversation about mental health and reality TV exploitation, he's interested in controlling the narrative."
Ruhl apparently agrees with Thompson, whom she divorced in August 2022 after one year of marriage.
Ruhl suggested Viall's comments could cause serious damage to reality TV stars truly struggling mentally and emotionally.
"I directly messaged @nickviall before posting this about why what he said is triggering for some [people] and why certain parts should be edited out," Ruhl wrote in response to Viall's podcast post, according to Us.
"There was no response and that's why I'm posting this."
Several former Love is Blind contestants claimed they were mistreated and put through "emotional warfare" during their time on the show, according to a report published byBusiness Insider last week.
Contestants from Season 1 alleged they were crammed into "drab trailers" for 10 days while filming. And Danielle Drouin, specifically, claimed contestants were sleep deprived and didn't have access to enough food and water in between tapings.
Ruhl, who starred on Season 2, said she was having panic attacks and "suicidal thoughts" during her time on the show.
The show's production company, Kinetic Content, told Variety in an April 18 statement that the well-being of their participants is "of paramount importance" to them and "rigorous protocols" are in place to care for them post-filming.
But fellow Season 2 alum Jeremy Hartwell even filed a lawsuit against Netflix last year, making a slew of allegations about cast members being underpaid, mistreated, and cut off from the outside world -- including family and friends -- in an unhealthy manner.
"They intentionally underpaid the cast members, deprived them of food, water and sleep, plied them with booze and cut off their access to personal contacts and most of the outside world. This made cast members hungry for social connections and altered their emotions and decision-making," Hartwell's Los Angeles-based attorney Chantal Payton claimed in a July 2022 statement.
"The contracts required contestants to agree that if they left the show before filming was done, they would be penalized by being required to pay $50,000 in 'liquidated damages.' With that being 50 times what some of the cast members would earn during the entire time that they worked, this certainly had the potential to instill fear in the cast and enable production to exert even further control."
The lawsuit reportedly served as "a proposed class action on behalf of all participants in Love Is Blind and other non-scripted productions" created by Kinetic Content between 2018 and 2022.
Kinetic Content denied Hartwell's allegations and pointed out how his involvement with the series "lasted less than one week."
"Unfortunately, for Mr. Hartwell, his journey ended early after he failed to develop a significant connection with any other participant," the production company told Us in a statement at the time.
"While we will not speculate as to his motives for filing the lawsuit, there is absolutely no merit to Mr. Hartwell's allegations, and we will vigorously defend against his claims."