We're used to social media scandals from Bachelor contestants, but discovering a current cast member's reality TV past is definitely a rarer circumstance. Only days after frontrunner Cassie Randolph's first one-on-one date with Colton Underwood aired on The Bachelor, her current involvement with a second reality series has come to Bachelor Nation's attention. ICYMI, she appears with her ex-boyfriend on an online series, but Cassie's comments on the Young Once documentary about her and her ex definitely clarify whether she's on The Bachelor for the right reasons.
The 23-year-old speech pathology assistant shone when she taught Colton sign language on Night One of the current Bachelor season, but it wasn't until her own date on Feb. 4's episode that fans saw a deeper side to Cassie. She opened up about fearing judgment from her community when they learned via The Bachelor that she wasn't a virgin, but with the context of her Young Once role, her worries totally gain a greater meaning. It turns out that Cassie has a more religiously devout background than this brief conversation alluded.
Available on YouTube and the Christian streaming service Castle, Season 1 of Young Once debuted in 2016, introducing a group of students from California's Biola University, which bans sex, alcohol, and drugs among its student body. The show's synopsis on its YouTube channel reads:
Woven between the campus pranks, romances, and finals, is a funny and endearing coming-of-age story that doesn't take itself too seriously but shows the depth and contemplative nature of the students. It reminds us that we’re all only YOUNG ONCE.
Essentially a Christian version of The Hills, Season 1 of Young Once followed Cassie's relationship with her college boyfriend Caelan Tiongson, who she split up with after filming. When the show's second season premiered on Feb. 4 with insight into Cassie and Caelan's more recent bond, questions about filming timelines and whether Cassie was still in love with Caelan when she went on The Bachelor began popping up in Bachelor Nation. After all, why else would Young Once's Season 2 trailer focus almost exclusively on the pair's interactions?
On Feb. 5, Caelan, now a basketball player in the Philippines, was the first of the two to speak about their history. In an Instagram post, he wrote:
[Young Once] happened to catch the closing of mine and Cassie’s on and off relationship during the recording of this show. Make no mistake that Young Once was filmed before The Bachelor, and the fact that they are airing at the same time is a strategy to attract viewers... The reality of the situation is that Cassie is a great girl. Her decision to go on The Bachelor was a decisive moment in my life to move forward so why couldn’t it serve as that for her as well?
Cassie then explained her side of the situation in her own Instagram post. Writing that the former college sweethearts filmed Young Once in 2015 and that they became friends following their breakup, she said:
While we were never officially a couple again, there was a time last spring that we considered getting back together, but that didn’t work out... Over the summer, unexpectedly and out of the blue, we were contacted by [Young Once] and learned they were considering a [Season 2]- a follow up on some of the original cast. This again put Caelan and I directly back in each other’s lives as our social circle overlaps. One of the storylines highlighted is our drawn out/complex relationship and the challenges of us staying friends post breakup and whether it is possible or not.
Cassie also reiterated Caelan's point that they filmed the second season several weeks before she learned she was cast for The Bachelor. "The timing of everything was completely chance," she wrote. "I care very much about Caelan and I want nothing but the best for him and his life."
Well, as Chris Harrison would say, this is one of the most dramatic twists ever, but we probably shouldn't expect Cassie to address her past on-camera experiences in future Bachelor episodes. This is actually a good sign, hinting that Cassie doesn't want her reality TV history to be her selling factor in the long run of Bachelor Nation fame. She may be ready to commit to a potential relationship with Colton, but that won't stop me from catching up on Young Once and seeing how she functions as part of a couple. It's just a sweet prequel series about what motivates women to audition for The Bachelor, right?
Season 23 of The Bachelor continues on Monday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.