Although Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey’s first episode of The Bachelorette was relatively drama-free, it did include tons of shade toward their former boyfriend, Clayton Echard. Some were quick jokes, others were attempts at empathy regarding the women’s emotional experiences on The Bachelor, and others were... extensive (see: the limo entrance featuring a children’s choir singing “Clayton sucks”). So, how did Clayton feel about all this? He and his girlfriend, Susie Evans, shared their responses to The Bachelorette’s premiere episode.
The July 11 episode was full of Clayton — so much so, that Gabby and Rachel were getting frustrated by how much the men were dwelling on their past. After all, who wants their first night as Bachelorette to be all about their ex? And yet, the Clayton-bashing footage kept coming. Jason came out of the limo saying he was just like Clayton because he’s in love with three women (his mom, sister, and dog, woof) ,and Johnny just straight up called Clayton “a piece of sh*t.”
It’s not uncommon for the first episode of any new season in the Bachelor franchise to lightly roast the former lead, because the new lead was often scorned and left heartbroken by them. But this level of hate didn’t sit right with a lot of viewers — and it certainly wasn’t appreciated by Clayton. Right after the episode aired, at 10:02 p.m. ET, Clayton tweeted, “It’s not personal, it’s business.”
he expanded on this tweet the day after the episode aired. He and Susie went on former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe’s podcast, Off the Vine, to discuss how the episode affected them. (ICYMI, on his season, Clayton and Susie ended up together after she left the show and Clayton simultaneously broke up with Rachel and Gabby; they now live together in Virginia).
In the hourlong episode, Clayton repeated his tweet from the night before and added, “As I saw the show — the episode and all of the attacks and the song, the choir (I’m gonna go chase down those parents) — I honestly didn’t really get a reaction other than I just kind of laughed.” But when Kaitlyn asked him about the deeper effects of these jokes, he opened up more.
“I do think ... it’s going to lead to cyberbullying,” he said. Susie agreed with Clayton, saying, “My fear is, ‘Does this open the floodgates back up of all the hate?’”
Susie added that she felt more affected by the premiere than Clayton. “Clayton handled it better, overall, than I did,” she said. “I was annoyed.” Susie seems to be channeling her frustration into humor, though. She made a TikTok calling out each contestant who talked about Clayton by lip syncing to the infamous Will Smith “Keep my wife’s name out your f*cking mouth” moment. She also replied to a tweet from the night of the premiere requesting she and Clayton do a TikTok dance to the “Clayton sucks” song, and not long after, they delivered.
The Bachelorette continues Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.