33 seasons ago, The Bachelor franchise started its journey. The journey has been full of roses, helicopter rides, sequined dresses, all of the douchebags in America, itty bitty bikinis and gaudy Neil Lane diamonds. At times, the journey has been tearful and heartbreaking, always hilarious and cringe-worthy and without fail, super white. So, so, so white. I’ve been watching drunk white people find love for 33 goddamn seasons. I’m not down with the Housewives or Kanye’s wife’s family so this is my one reality TV guilty pleasure. Go ahead and judge me. I’m judging me.
Usually Lainey doesn’t pay attention to reality TV. I didn’t even pitch her this story because I didn’t think she’d let me contaminate this blog with such low classy sh-t like The Bachelor (although I did write once about The Bachelorette once but only because of Aaron Rodgers’ Rogue Relatives). Well, Rachel Lindsay is about to bring some class to a series which finds pride in putting hot tubs in the most unlikely places. Why is there a hot tub in the middle of a football field? Ask the producers of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Last night, Jimmy Kimmel confirmed that the producers have made their best decision, unrelated to hot tubs: Rachel Lindsay will be the series’ first black lead.
After 14 years (12 seasons of The Bachelorette specifically), this was my reaction to the news that there was finally going to be a black Bachelorette:
I’m going to tell you why I give a sh-t that there will finally be a black woman as the face of this series but first, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Yes, this is a dumb reality show none of us should really be wasting our intelligence on but the fact is it’s one of the most popular shows on television. These contestants go on to get millions of followers and, for better or worse, they become famous. Earlier this month, Vulture called the series “the quintessential rom-com of our time.” It called out the show’s ridiculous obsession with “the marriage plot” and the producer manipulation that goes into every season but it also made the point that it’s our modern day fairytale. Since we’re barely getting rom-coms on screen, this is all we’ve got. I’ve written before about the lack of diversity in the black experience depicted on film. It is important to see black people fall in love, just like everyone else. Until now, the black characters on this show have been after-thoughts, the ultimate tokens – strategically placed so ABC could pretend they weren’t racist. When I talk about how white the series has been, I’m not ignoring the few characters of colour that have popped up over the years (we’re all still trying to forget Juan Pablo), but their presence on the show has largely been ignored or relegated to the first few weeks. Click here for a history on the history of black contestants on the show. Enter, Rachel Lindsay.
If you haven’t been keeping up with The Bachelor, let me bring you up to speed. Rachel is a contestant on the current season. She’s dating Nick, a curly-haired, circa 2002 Justin Timberlake wannabe who I actually don’t hate but he is not even remotely worthy of Rachel’s affection. Dude has been on various incarnations of the Bachelor universe THREE times. All of these ladies should run. Rachel Lindsay is a 31 year old lawyer from Texas. Her father is a federal judge who was appointed by Bill Clinton. She shouted out Basquiat in her contestant profile. She’s smart, funny, articulate and gorgeous. She’s basically the Barack Obama of Bachelorette contestants. After so many seasons of putting hot messes on screen and claiming black contestants just weren’t the “right fit” for the series, ABC did not have a choice here. Rachel Lindsay is a fan favourite and she’s basically the gold standard of human beings. We’ve written before about how, if you are black, you have to be twice as good to get half as much. In this case, Rachel had to be a brilliant, beautiful and have everyone scratching their heads about why the f-ck she’s on this reality show to find love before it was even considered. This doesn’t give ABC a pass. This is a reality show. It should be a reflection of real-life diversity. One Bachelorette does not fix the institutionalized prejudice that exists in television but it’s a start.
I am so excited to watch a black woman be adored and admired by men who will probably be douchey and unworthy but SHE will be the object of their affection. And my guess is that a large number of those men will be black. And if they aren’t, that’s cool too. Rachel will have her pick. I’ve written before about how interracial relationships are still considered taboo. We know how racist America can be. For 9 weeks or however long her season is, we’ll watch Rachel make connections with men of different races and shine bright like a f-cking diamond – probably in a hot tub or two. I can’t wait.