On Monday, Sept. 6, all of Bachelor Nation watched in horror as Brendan Morais and Pieper James broke the biggest (and, arguably, only) rule of Bachelor in Paradise: They formed a close connection before hitting the beach. To make matters worse, they joked on-screen about Morais “playing the game” and biding time with another contestant, Natasha Parker, to stay on the show until James arrived. The drama’s biggest casualty — other than Morais’ dwindling Instagram follower count — was Parker, who believed she was forming a bond with Morais. But Natasha’s quotes about the Brendan and Pieper drama on the Sept. 9 episode of the Click Bait podcast debunked a “hurtful” rumor that she was somehow in on Morais and James’ plan.
“People [are] saying things like, ‘Natasha’s not saying the full truth,’ and ‘Natasha’s in on it,’” she told Click Bait co-hosts Joe Amabile and Tayshia Adams. “People are literally saying that I planned this with Brendan and Pieper, a person I’ve met once in my life and a person I’ve never met, who are in a relationship. Who did me so wrong. And that’s so hurtful that people really think that I am like them… What would I gain from this? Why would I create my own heartbreak?”
In June 2021, Us Weekly reported that Morais and James were a couple after several unofficial Bachelor gossip accounts shared photos of the duo together in New York and Boston. Parker said she was already quarantining for Paradise when the news broke. As soon as she hit the sand, her castmates started speculating about Morais’ relationship status. “When we got to the beach and the whole thing with Pieper came up, it was like, ‘Brendan’s in a relationship with Pieper.’ Well, what are you doing here?” Parker recalled. “He was like, ‘Oh, we’re not in a relationship, we met a few times.’”
His on-screen date with James, however, told a different story. In a one-on-one dinner, she told Morais she was excited to pick up “where they left off,” and accused him of downplaying their relationship to other castmates. Morais used Bachelor platitudes to explain the “certain things” he had to “navigate” to “bring us to this particular moment.” They kissed.
Morais was similarly cagey when he tried to explain the situation to Parker. He argued that he hadn’t led her on or lied to her, and that their relationship had always been platonic; later, while cuddling with James on a daybed, he called Parker “annoying” and implied she should have been grateful to be paired with him, since she had no other “prospects” on the show. Then, he and James had a playful, on-screen conversation about how their stint on the show might boost their social media following. (Another major Paradise no-no, and one that caused Morais to lose nearly 100,000 Instagram followers.)
“Don’t say, ‘Oh, Natasha was brought in to bring Pieper and Brendan down.’ All these things. I’m watching this and I’m reliving this and I cried for two weeks on that f*cking beach,” Parker continued on Click Bait. “To know what they did and the lies that he said, the things that we shared, and it was all just fake to him… It’s been very hard to watch this back.”
Both Morais and James spoke out about their behavior on the show. “I apologize to you Natasha. I hurt you. I am deeply sorry for doing so,” Morais wrote in an Instagram story on Sept. 9. “I understand that the damage is already done and all I can do going forward is acknowledge the error of my ways.” He added that “a full statement and apology will follow,” and implored his followers to place blame on him instead of James.
James, meanwhile, told Us Weekly that she never intended to hurt anyone, and just wanted to try to pursue a relationship with “a guy that I had connected with and liked.” She added, “I am truly sorry for any hurt that I caused [Parker] and hope that I get the opportunity to speak to her soon and make things right.”
One good thing to come out of this whole situation? Parker gained nearly 300,000 Instagram followers in under a week. That kind of support can’t necessarily heal a broken heart, but I’d be lying if I said it isn’t extremely satisfying for Team Natasha.