On Saturday, The Bachelor's Corinne Olympios revealed that she did a scary-sounding fake interview for Sacha Baron Cohen's satire show Who Is America? Fortunately, we didn't have to wait long to see what she was talking about because that interview aired during Sunday's episode of the Showtime series, and no one came out of it looking good.
In the bit, Baron Cohen posed as Gio Madano, an Italian photographer who documents the fabulous lives of the .001 percent. Olympios was invited to do a photoshoot and interview for "Madano's" charity, which helped people in Sierra Leone with ebola. To start things off, Baron Cohen photographed Olympios in a bikini/hazmat suit combo and photoshopped her into a picture of relief workers. Then they sat for an interview, which is when things got really crazy.
First, Baron Cohen got Olympios to say she went to Africa to help people with ebola (she didn't). At first, she said she was there for about a week, and when he tried to get her to say a month, she said, "They're going to know that I wasn't there." But then with a little more prodding, she gave in and said she was there about a month.
Then Baron Cohen asked her to tell the story about the warlord who "was gonna do a massacre of this village" until he recognized Olympios and she talked him out of it. A look of confusion briefly passed over her face, but then she seemed to make up a story about how the warlord was a big fan, saying "he was really nice, actually," and that she "saved 6000 people" as a result of her intervention.
Later in the episode, she does a fake PSA where she asks for viewers to "Adopt a Child Soldier," as in buying grenades for child soldiers to launch at hospitals.
It's not good that she said all that. It's bad to lie in interviews, especially when the person is saying they did humanitarian work they didn't actually do. But in Olympios' defense, she said producers separated her from her manager and her phone and wouldn't let her leave when she tried to walk out. It sounds like it was a scary experience, and maybe she was just saying whatever they wanted her to in order to escape what felt like an unsafe situation. Plus, we don't see if there was any coaching to get that warlord story out of her.
Olympios has come to peace with the prank, saying, "I'm kind of honored that he chose me to talk to." But there are far more worthy reality show targets than Corinne Olympios, who's just hustling to stay in the game. She's been through a lot. She got chewed up by the reality TV machine faster and harder than almost anyone in reality TV history as a result of the Bachelor in Paradise sex scandal. She's barely even on TV anymore. She's not someone with any significant power or influence, certainly not as much as Sacha Baron Cohen. He's punching down in a needlessly cruel way here. Olympios deserves to live her life in peace, not be embarrassed on TV again against her will. Baron Cohen would need to prank a Kardashian to effectively make his point about the phoniness and desperation of reality TV. (He probably tried, but they're too savvy for this.)
I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Baron Cohen should stick to politics. The episode contains his interview with former vice president Dick Cheney, which is funny and disturbing. In the segment before Olympios', he humiliates Jason Spencer, a hideously racist Republican state representative from Georgia, by getting him to show his butt and scream the n-word, and it's fantastic. Spencer has announced he'll be resigning from the state legislature as a result of his appearance on the show (he lost his re-election bid in the spring but had planned to serve out the rest of his term), which shows that Cohen's comedy can be used for good. But Spencer was open about his racism before he ever went on the show, so Baron Cohen wasn't exposing anything except Spencer's literal naked butt, which is the central flaw of Who Is America? Reality stars and Republicans can't be shamed anymore.
Who Is America? airs Sundays at 10/9c on Showtime.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, Showtime's parent company.)