Ratings up as Bachelorette 5’s Ed returns, Jake accuses Wes of having a secret girlfriend

The Bachelorette 5 is nearing its end—there are two more episodes until the reunion, and then the finale airs July 27—and while Jillian Harris’s quest for a man hasn’t yet come close to the drama that her suitor Jason Mesnick caused on The Bachelor 13, there have been interesting developments as one cast member has accused another—one who seems to be using the show for publicity—of having a secret girlfriend. And that happened while another contestant, Ed Swiderski, returned after having quit the show.

On Monday’s episode, one of the (current) four remaining contestants, Wes Hayden, was accused of having a girlfriend. A previously eliminated suitor named Jake returned to the show just to tell Jillian that Wes was secretly dating someone named Laurel. But Laurel Kaygay, who dated Wes in 2006 and also once dated Brad Womack, told People, “I’m absolutely not with Wes, nor would I be with Wes if he were going on a show to be with another girl. That’s absolutely crazy.”

Jake Pavelka still insists that Laurel and Wes dated, though, claiming that they “had an agreement, and this came from Wes. They had an agreement that they were going to put their relationship kind of on the back-burner so that he could go on there and sell CDs. I think Wes’ motivation is to move CDs. The guy’s smart. He’s real quick on his feet. He shouldn’t of even been on there. It’s hard for me to be real sympathetic about this situation, because I know 100% — 100% — that he and Laurel are together, and they were together during the show. I think it’s all an act, and I think Laurel’s in cahoots with him,” Jake told reporters after his elimination, according to Reality TV World.

Jake repeated that to People Thursday, saying Wes’ “biggest fear was making it far enough to go on overnight dates because that wasn’t okay with Laurel. Evidently she cleared [him] to kiss. I’m a God-fearing man and if I am mistaken or he didn’t tell me that, God can strike me down with lightning right now.”

Despite Jake telling Jillian about Wes, Jillian kept him, and she’s now defending her decision to keep Wes, telling fans on People.com, “I totally understand where you’re coming from though and I know how frustrating it is when you wish I could have seen what you’re seeing now (I feel your pain!) But if there is any consolation to you at all, it is that my promise still stands … I AM a smart girl, and I AM extremely happy with the final result. And the most important decision (which is the only one that really matters) was the right one!”

In other words, she seems to be saying, she won’t be picking Wes.

Meanwhile, Bachelor critic Reality Steve writes about the editing (in a post that ironically needs some editing itself) with the goal of “[educating] enough of you out there to where you stop believing the lies this show spreads on a weekly basis.” Among other things, he cites Wes’ claim on a radio show that, as Wes said, “a lot of what was said was either taken out of context or it was edited in with voice overs, on different subject matters,” an unethical practice known as Frankenbyting, where editors and producers use clips to construct fake or misleading dialogue.

Specifically, Wes claims that his statement about fame (“I can taste the fame, I can feel it”) came when producers asked about songwriting, and says they similarly edited the context out of his other statements that have turned him into this season’s villain.

There was also some minor controversy from Reality Steve about cast members being paid ringers, basically. Earlier this season, Chris Harrison took to EW.com to lament that “nobody is responsible or culpable for what they say or write on the Internet” and attack the rumor that producers “paid two of the guys $50,000 and guaranteed they would make it to the final four or three.” Steve responded and said that accusation is “something I never said. I said I know of two guys that turned down money to come on this season.”

In any case, all of this has translated to ratings; this summer, The Bachelorette 5 “remains one of the [networks’] few standouts,” Variety reported, as this Monday’s episode’s audience increased 17 percent from last week.

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