Despite the varying casts and locations, there are a few constants viewers can count on in The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. The lead delivers emotional, dramatic monologues (occasionally through tears) about making sure each contestant is tHerE fOr The RiGht rEasOns, but spoiler alert: they rarely are. While some contestants are able to be more subtle about their goal to ultimately become FabFitFun partners or start a podcast, others’ fame-chasing aspirations get exposed. Another point that happens season after season without fail? There’s always someone who, mid-filming, seemingly forgets that the entire premise of the show revolves around one person dating multiple suitors. Fueled by confusion and jealousy (and perhaps the desire for more airtime), that contestant has an on-camera breakdown that’s equal parts perplexing and cringey.
This season, Greg Grippo has proven to be both of those contestants, after a confusing exchange with Katie Thurston and rumors about his acting past surfaced. Greg, who ABC described as “the full package” and “handsome, kind, vulnerable and serious about wanting to settle down,” might be less of the full package and more of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, depending on your interpretation of Monday night’s episode. Fans and Katie alike fell for the New Jersey resident on night one; he received the first impression rose and melted our screens with his steel-cut bod and perfect locks. In the second episode and first one-on-one of the season, he shared an honest conversation with Katie where they bonded over the shared trauma of losing a father.
But, in another spell of predictability, it turns out the frontrunner may have been a secret villain all along. Greg introduced himself on the show as a marketing sales representative, and although he only listed a Bachelor’s in marketing at Saint Michael’s college on his LinkedIn, he also studied at the prestigious William Esper Studio, a NYC acting school. In May 2019, Greg posted a shot standing outside the school, writing in the caption, “What a journey. Forever grateful for these last two years.”
Bachelor Nation, upon learning Greg might be an actor:
Was Greg for real, or was acting like he was falling for Katie just method acting? His premature, confusing exit from The Bachelorette has lead some fans to wonder if this was just an audition for his next role. It all went downhill during the franchise’s cheesy excuse for hometowns, when Greg tearfully professed his love for Katie. Her immediate response? “I just love looking at you.” Yikes.
Now, anyone remotely familiar with The Bachelor/ette knows the unofficial rule that prohibits saying “I love you” until the end. Moreover, Katie made it clear from the beginning that she didn’t want to tell any of the guys she loved them until the finale. Nonetheless, she admittedly could have responded with something deeper than “I just love looking at you”. Katie, the man is crying.
The gaffe sent Greg into a tailspin, first outside the hometown date, and then later, when he went to visit Katie at her hotel room. Even though Katie did everything except explicitly tell Greg that he would be her final pick (and before their confrontation, she told his mom, “Greg will 100% be at the finale, I have no question”) Greg later told Katie, “It was never about a rose for me this week, and I was never asking you to confess your love to me. All I was asking for was Katie” He maintained that Katie had dismissed his feelings: “When I said I love you, I felt like I was telling it to a stranger,” he said through tears. While, in her hotel room, Katie scrambled to figure out what, exactly, she’d done wrong and repeatedly apologized, Greg insisted, “I feel like you’re giving me a surface level response.” Ultimately, he decided that Katie had “put up a wall” and said her “whole demeanor shifted”. After telling Katie “I’ve never given up on us”, he left the show. As a reminder, before said scene, Greg stared straight into the camera and said, “[there is] no question in my mind that there can be an engagement at the end of this.”
Some fans were quick to point out that Greg’s behavior looked like gaslighting, and Katie herself shared a thread of posts about gaslighting on her Instagram stories in the wake of the episode. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse “that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts, and sanity”. There are a variety of tactics an abuser might use to gaslight their partner, including countering (which the NDVH explains as “questioning the victim’s memory of events”), trivializing (“making the victim’s needs feel unimportant”), and forgetting or denial (pretending to have forgotten things that occurred or denying they did).
Bachelor Nation had a lot to say about the confrontation. John, one of Katie’s contestants who was eliminated on night two, wrote on his Instagram stories, “Along with many of you, I watched last night’s episode and was shocked by some of the behavior I witnesses [sic], namely the words and body language exhibited by Greg. Watching these actions get defended (and therefore normalized) strikes me as extremely unhealthy and a step in the wrong direction.” He also pointed out, “It should be noted that an individual can be a good friend to some while simultaneously being harmful to others in another relationship; friendship cannot be an excuse to blindly defend someone’s behavior.”
Bekah Martinez, a contestant on Arie Luyendyk’s season, wrote on Instagram, “I know he opened up to her and she said ‘the wrong thing’ but shutting down emotionally being like, ‘wut, nothing’s wrong why would you think that’ and then punishing with silence is emotional manipulation 101.”
Not everyone agreed with the assessment that Greg’s behavior was manipulative, though. Andrew, another fan favorite on Katie’s season, posted to Twitter, “I care for Katie and Greg very much,” adding, “their love was sooo real! Hate to see Katie like that.” Tre, another contestant of Katie’s, tweeted, “Greg/Justin/Blake slander won’t be tolerated on my TL.” The next day, he followed that up with, “Katie slander OBVIOUSLY won’t be tolerated either.”
Others surmised that maybe this was all an act on Greg’s part. Luke Stone, a contestant on Hannah Brown’s season, tweeted, “I’m getting the strong vibe that Greg is sabotaging this on purpose. If you aren’t into her be a man and tell her you want out rather than gas lighting the situation. My theory: Greg got further than he expected/wanted and pushed the eject button real quick.”
While it seems like Greg has left the show for good, we’ll have to wait until Monday to see what this all means for Katie—and co-host Tayshia Adams told Ryan Seacrest that the rumors about Greg’s acting past “will be addressed”. One thing we do know? After the Men Tell All, the Bachelorette told UsWeekly that her ending is “a first, for sure” and “a shocking ending”. However it shakes out, for now, fans can take comfort in knowing that she’s said, “ultimately I’m very happy with how everything turned out.”
Images: Craig Sjodin/ABC; Giphy