by Elizabeth Casolo
For seventeen years, The Bachelor franchise has garnered millions of viewers, fostered various spin-off shows, and certainly made its mark on popular culture. With every new scandal, rumor, or theory that arises on the reality show or its sister programs—most notably The Bachelorette—the media is sure to take a stake in the drama.
On this past season of The Bachelorette, former pageant queen Hannah Brown took the lead after getting to know Colton Underwood, the most recent bachelor. The season’s promotional videos included songs like “You Don’t Own Me” by Grace featuring G-Eazy, alluding to the themes of Hannah’s journey as The Bachelorette. Season teasers highlighted more theatrical and notorious contestants, such as Luke Parker, as well as fan favorites, like Mike Johnson, Tyler Cameron, and “Pilot Pete.”
However, the show’s producers were quick to brush over one controversy: the early dismissal of contestant Tyler Gwozdz.
Interestingly enough, Gwozdz hails from Greenwich, Connecticut and was brought up in the Greenwich Public Schools system. After completing his earlier years at Riverside Elementary and Eastern Middle School, he enrolled at Greenwich High. During an interview with The Beak, Gwozdz fondly recalled his time playing basketball, football, lacrosse, and baseball during these formative years. He was “exposed to so many different kinds of people” throughout his secondary education and reflected on his beloved friends and encouraging teachers.
Gwozdz’s path to appearing on The Bachelorette was not what one may typically envision: “I don’t think in a million years I would go on a reality show,” Gwozdz remarked. In fact, he wasn’t entirely sure of how the show’s casting directors got a hold of his information, but he was eventually sent a direct message through Instagram. Figuring that one of his friends submitted his handle to the production team, Gwozdz had an open mind and successfully auditioned in Los Angeles.
“Competition was something that I liked from a young age,” Gwozdz said, evidenced by his participation in GHS sports teams. He believed that his time at the high school gave him a thicker skin which, in turn, prepared him well for the show’s fierce environment.
So, what exactly put Gwozdz in the spotlight? He received the first one-on-one date, which included some rare alone time with Hannah (except for the team of cameras and producers, of course).
However, one episode later, Gwozdz was mysteriously left packing, but it wasn’t because he was formally “eliminated” during a rose ceremony: “It was mutual” between him and the production team. Gwozdz could not disclose the specifics of his departure, but, in a statement to Refinery29, he wrote, “The decision not to air my exit was a choice made mostly on the production side… It was a very classy move by ABC.”
His surprising exit left many questioning, but, again, Gwozdz could not delve into the details. Gwozdz explained that he “got wrist-slapped” when speaking about it. This led to speculation from a variety of sources, including one Reddit user who described Gwozdz as an “extreme misogynist” among other choice words.
When asked about whether he expected the scrutiny, Gwozdz responded with “We knew what we were getting ourselves into when we signed up.” In his Refinery29 press release, Gwozdz also added, “Addressing totally unsubstantiated rumors posted to Reddit from an anonymous account seems imprudent… Above everything else, I am a son to my mother. She raised me better than these sorts of baseless accusations.”
Although this was a major component of his decision to leave the show, Gwozdz was not feeling the chemistry with the bachelorette, Hannah Brown, either. “She was a better match with some of the other guys on the show,” he said. Gwozdz is not allowed to disclose the “winner” of the season, but he said that he enjoyed spending time with the other contestants, even the infamous Luke Parker and Camron “Cam” Ayala.
Despite the criticism, Gwozdz had a positive experience during and after filming: “I was able to meet some pretty cool people including Lori, whose daughter died in the Parkland shooting.”
Since leaving the series, Gwozdz teamed up with Lori to work on passing meaningful gun control legislation. Since the time of this interview, People magazine published an article about Brown’s chosen fiancee Jed Wyatt having a girlfriend throughout production. Gwozdz has now said, “That was a curveball… It’s too bad that Hannah wasn’t able to move on from Jed’s past… But she did what she thought she had to do, and I respect that. I do really like Jed as a person, he’s a solid guy with a big heart.” Clearly, even when ABC does not intentionally stir the pot, drama will always surface when it comes to The Bachelorette.