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[This story contains spoilers for the season 27 finale of ABC’s The Bachelor.]
Zach Shallcross may have been worried about being the “boring Bachelor,” but it’s unlikely that “boring” would be the first word in viewers’ minds to describe the emotional conclusion to his run on the ABC dating show.
Shallcross, who ended up brokenhearted after pursuing Rachel Recchia on last year’s The Bachelorette, finally found his perfect match in Kaity Biggar, with the pair getting engaged during the season finale of The Bachelor that aired Monday. However, the rose-laden journey was not without its thorns, as Shallcross faced criticism for declaring prior to the fantasy suites that sex would be off the table, only to later reveal that he had, in fact, gotten intimate with runner-up Gabi Elnicki.
During a joint interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Shallcross and Biggar discuss regrets after the roller-coaster finish, Elnicki’s fans pushing for her to get a shot as the Bachelorette, whether the drama with Recchia feels different in hindsight, continued concerns over the franchise’s vetting process and why they believe they’ll become one of the rare show couples to tie the knot.
After the season wrapped, how did you ensure that your connection stayed strong?
Zach Shallcross: First and foremost, something that we both have — and was very clear — was how good of communicators we are. Obviously, the first thing you want to do after an engagement is tell everyone and share it with the world. But the hardest thing about this is, you can’t. So we kept our communication daily — calls, FaceTimes. We had our little secret house visits that we would do every few weeks, based off of our schedules. We kept it going really strong and actually grew our relationship stronger.
Kaity Biggar: Every day.
The finale was very emotional, especially your conversation with Gabi. Were you surprised by her comments about feeling violated, and what was going through your mind in that moment?
Shallcross: It’s very tough seeing Gabi very emotional and in pain. My actions of that overnights week caused a lot of pain for all the women involved, and that was the last thing I ever intended and wanted. And seeing her upset with how everything played, rewatching it, I completely understand. When you even rewatch something that happened six months prior, you’re going to feel something, and what I did was wrong. Seeing that pain, I just wanted her to know that I am sorry for my actions and that that was the last thing I ever intended. I have so much respect for her, and I know I didn’t do things right, but I hope that that doesn’t fully affect the way that I think about you because she is one of Kaity’s best friends and someone that’s going to be in our lives. I wish her the best, but it was really, really painful.
Some people on social media have suggested that maybe Gabi was extra focused on seducing you during your fantasy suite. Did you have a take on that?
Shallcross: No, no. That time in the fantasy suites or the overnights — whatever you want to call it — it’s between two adults, and you make a decision together. It’s nothing of some wild narrative like that.
Biggar: And, as Gabi said, it was consensual.
Biggar: Not that I need to be chiming in on that. She’s also my friend, too.
There have been two seasons for you, Zach, where the fantasy suite has been a tough moment, including the experience with Rachel. Do you think there’s pressure that makes it a really momentous thing? Or why has the fantasy suite been challenging?
Shallcross: Absolutely. Because I try to imagine — and I can’t — when, in normal life, are you presented with this, a mere week before an engagement? Being someone that’s not familiar with it but knowing the idea, I was scared. I didn’t know how to handle it. I sought advice, and I just wanted to do the best thing I could. There’s pressure because this is not normal life in the slightest — that scenario doesn’t happen — so I didn’t know how to handle it.
You seemed to have felt during Rachel’s season that maybe she was stringing you along. Does seeing Gabi react to your rejection speech and her sense of this whole process, in general, give you a different impression of Rachel’s season?
Shallcross: Just living through it and being in this position, it’s unlike anything you can ever be prepared for. So that’s something I give Rachel credit for and all previous Bachelors and Bachelorettes. A lot of mistakes have been made in previous seasons — my season included. But it allows me to look at it with grace because your mind is going all over the place. You’re presented with all these challenges, you’re exhausted, you’re this and that, and you just feel for them. Show me a perfect Bachelor, and I’ll show you a liar. I look back with everyone, including Rachel, and am just impressed on how everyone’s journey went, because they’ve all been formative.
Rachel tweeted support for Gabi during the finale. Are you surprised to see her weighing in?
Shallcross: No. I’m happy that she’s supporting Gabi.
Do you think that having the Sean Lowe influence — in terms of wanting to have the type of season that he had — maybe got in your head regarding sex?
Shallcross: Obviously, that played a little bit of a role. He is someone I look up to, someone who has this beautiful marriage and a beautiful family, and he’s a success story from this unique show experience. In a time of me panicking and trying to figure out how I would handle a week like this, I wanted to do what he did, because it obviously worked out so well for him. There was definitely some influence there in going into the week, and obviously, we saw how that played out.
During the Women Tell All, Greer Blitzer spoke about her Blackface controversy, and on your season with Erich Schwer, he dealt with his own. How do you feel about Greer’s explanation and also the fact that the show seems to have trouble vetting for things like this?
Shallcross: It is something frustrating. Every time you see this after the fact, you always wish that it was vetted before, in an ideal circumstance. I know Erich has apologized and is striving to be better. I haven’t watched Greer’s apology. I am familiar with the situation, but I heard she handled herself well on that. But still, it’s just a frustrating thing that all that has happened.
Kaity, with all that you’ve gone through, you managed to stay positive in the episodes that aired over the past two weeks. How did you get through all of this?
Biggar: I think just what you said there: I’m a very positive person, and I try to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I’m also a very understanding person, and it hasn’t been easy. It was really tough to watch back, but Zach’s been there for me, and that’s all I could ask for.
It’s exciting that Charity Lawson is starting her season soon as the Bachelorette. Her announcement led to a lot of praise, and also, as with this show, there were trolls that she had to deal with as a person of color. Do you think the show is taking the right steps toward inclusivity, both with contestants and leads?
Shallcross: Absolutely. It’s always an ongoing thing, I believe, and when you look at the internet, you’re going to have people always on both sides of the fence. You can’t win everyone over. I don’t think the internet troll will ever go away. But I think it is great, the steps that the show is making, and they’re always trying to make it more diverse, and that’s all you can ask for. So it is impressive.
Biggar: Zach and I are super excited to watch her season.
Shallcross: She’s gonna kill it.
Some fans have suggested that Gabi would be a fun choice as Bachelorette. Should she get a shot?
Biggar: I honestly think there are so many great women that could have been the Bachelorette, and everybody’s so different. Their personalities are different. They offer different things. To solely point out Gabi — there are so many great options, but I do think Gabi would have been a fantastic Bachelorette.
Zach, in terms of potential regrets, would you do things differently when it comes to bringing up sex?
Shallcross: I think you know the answer on that.
Shallcross: But yes, that week is something that I wish I handled differently. Simple as that. Me setting up these parameters for everyone, that was unfair of me to do. I absolutely take that back, and I am very apologetic for all the hurt that I have caused. That was always the last intention.
Biggar: You’re not perfect. Zach has an amazing heart, truly.
We haven’t had a Bachelor wedding in a while. Why do you feel you’ll end the streak?
Shallcross: It’s as simple as she’s the love of my life. Not a doubt in my mind. We’ve met each other on a TV show, but it’s so much more than that. We both truly want this to work and know it will work, and it’s a feeling I’ve never had. We’re not rushing to get to the altar. We want to enjoy life together because we have the rest of time to figure it out. I just haven’t felt love this strong.
Biggar: It’s amazing. We have incredible chemistry.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
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