Season 16 of The Bachelorette has been strange, to say the least. From a switch in lead mid-season to the cast not being allowed to travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, the producers have had to get creative to keep the show moving. And while fans have learned to expect anything from the ever-changing show, the appearance of a familiar face really threw viewers for a loop... especially since many didn't know who the heck he was. Basically, the tweets about Big Paulie on Tayshia's Bachelorette episode are all over the place.
During the Dec. 21 episode, Bachelor Nation watched with bated breath as Tayshia and Ivan attempted to break a record on their 1-on-1 date. The couple sat in ice baths and kissed for over six minutes to break the world record for, well, the world's longest ice bath kiss. While they shivered in the tubs, Chris Harrison served as a faux sports commentator, adding cheesy commentary in true Bachelorette fashion. He was joined by someone he called a "Bachelor Nation fan-favorite," Paul "Big Paulie" Danner.
While most of the dates in Season 16 have been unique, having the couple share a very long, very freezing kiss while two guys watched was definitely something that confused fans. But the cherry on top was including Big Paulie in the 1-on-1, a choice which evidently had lots of viewers (likely those who are newer to the franchise) confused.
Even though he might not be as well known as Chris Harrison or JoJo Fletcher, Big Paulie is actually an integral part of the show. The 6’3” Army veteran has been working for the franchise for over 20 years and has served as the stage manager since 2006. He told Entertainment Weekly in Jan. 2019 this means he acts as the middle man for pretty much everything. "Keeping us on schedule, putting out fires when we can," he explained. "If you have a problem, come talk to me, and I can talk to people who are higher up and then we’ll figure it out."
While he handles a lot of stuff behind the scenes, there's a chance you've caught him on-screen before as well. He often jumps in as the show's "muscle" and escorts contestants off the grounds or kicks down doors to add a level of drama. Additionally, he's stepped up to play butlers and bartenders when production needed him to. One glance at Twitter and it's clear some viewers have been fans of Big Paulie since before his announcer stint on Season 16.
Hopefully fans will get to see much more from Big Paulie — whether he's serving drinks, commentating dates, or busting down doors — in future seasons of the franchise.
Season 16 of The Bachelorette concludes on Tuesday, Dec. 22, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.