Updated Dec. 6, 2019, 6 p.m. ET:
Drumroll, please! After months of anxiously waiting, scanning Instagram comment sections, and squinting at pictures of Nick Viall’s face to try and see the appeal, we finally have a comment from his rumored “new girlfriend”: The O.C.‘s Rachel Bilson. Bilson has responded to the rumors that she’s dating Viall — but her comments left us with a few new unanswered questions.
In a Thursday interview with Us Weekly, Bilson set the record straight: “We’re just friends,” the star said. “We’ve always just been friends. He’s a really nice guy.” Thankfully, Us pressed further, asking what all those flirty Instagram comments were about: According to Bilson, that was two friends “just messing around.”
If “just messing around” is code for “we wanted to start a media frenzy about the possibility of us dating,” we’d say they succeeded handsomely. But we have one other point of contention with Bilson’s comments too: Since when have these two “always” been friends? Is this a Jennifer Lawrence and the Hemsworths situation, and a year from now we’ll find out they grew up on the same street? Oh, and one more thing: When asked whether Viall should return for yet another season of The Bachelor, Bilson gave her blessing. “He should,” she reportedly told the magazine. “He’s very entertaining. I tease him about it, but I don’t think he would ever do it.”
Sept. 16, 2019:
There’s been a strange trend brewing among female celebrities in 2019. While we imagine that these women have no shortage of dating options, somehow they’re all opting for ex-contestants from the Bachelor franchise. The latest in this trend? Rachel Bilson and Bachelor star Nick Viall might be dating, and we’re officially confused by this pairing. Unfortunately, the Insta-stalking behind these rumors is actually pretty airtight.
Bachelor fan Ashley Siegel first shared her Bilson-Viall theory in late July. “Are Nick Viall and Rachel Bilson/Summer Roberts dating because this Instagram caption and comment combo just make me actually scream and scare Marvin,” Siegel wrote, including a recent photo from Viall’s Instagram featuring Viall and Bilson recording an episode for Viall’s podcast “Viall Files.” The Instagram is captioned: “Will we choose to forgo our individual rooms…” Bilson’s comment: “He slid into her…..dms #sheaccepted.” So, did Viall actually start DM-ing Bilson on Instagram, sparking a relationship not unlike Tyler Cameron and Gigi Hadid’s? Or are they just making fun of Bachelor contestants’ affinity for DMing each other off-screen?
During that same podcast recording that Viall posted about, Bilson did reveal a bit more about her dating life — at least, what her dating life was like before she sat down with Viall and sparks (potentially) flew. Since her 2017 split from ex Hayden Christensen, Bilson confirmed that she hasn’t been seeing anyone seriously enough to introduce them to her daughter, 4-year-old Briar Rose. “It would have to be someone I know I’m going to be with,” Bilson told the former Bachelor lead. “It would have to be a very serious relationship” to introduce someone to her daughter.
Are Nick Viall and Rachel Bilson/Summer Roberts dating because this Instagram caption and comment combo just make me actually scream and scare Marvin. #TheBachelor #TheBachelorette #BachelorInParadise #HOLYSHIT pic.twitter.com/FTP4s4uEGb
— Ashley Siegel (@AshleySiegs) July 24, 2019
Bachelor Nation is going off more than this one Instagram, don’t worry. Viall’s also made a habit of commenting on Bilson’s Instagrams, most recently suggestively writing, “Nice mountains,” on her September 15 post. On her August 7 post, he wrote, “Nice foliage,” and on her August 4 post, he wrote “cute dress.” Also, Bilson’s second-to-last post is a not-so-subtle nod to Bachelor in Paradise, Viall’s old stomping grounds.
If there is something going on between Bilson and Viall, they’ll be the third celeb and Bachelor contestant pairing in recent weeks, now that singer Demi Lovato has been seen stepping out with Mike Johnson from Hannah Brown’s season of The Bachelorette. And of course, there’s the couple that arguably started the trend: Wells Adams and Modern Family star Sarah Hyland, who got engaged this past July.
Whether or not this particular couple is for real, there’s no denying that dating Bachelor contestants is officially a celebrity trend, which could dampen the prospect of joining this type of show going forward. It’s hard enough to be genuinely vulnerable on a reality dating show. If you feel like you’re competing with Gigi Hadid, Demi Lovato, or Rachel Bilson, it might feel damn near impossible.
A version of this article was originally published September 2019.