While some in the media spent Wednesday trying to determine whether President Donald Trump is going to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, others were busy unearthing old tweets issued by one of the eligible bachelors of ABC’s new season of The Bachelorette – the first edition of the show to feature a black lead.
Lee Garrett, a 30-year-old singer-songwriter from Nashville, says in his show bio the person he admires most is his “Mamaw!” for having survived the Depression as a kid and raised “an incredible family.” In the romance category, he describes himself as a “pleaser under wraps” because he does things “to make someone emotional and happy.” On his Twitter account – which went private on Wednesday – he describes himself as “pleasantly offensive, facetious, exceptionally southern.”
And in his one of old tweets, he explains that the difference between the NAACP and KKK is “one has the sense of shame to cover their racist ass faces.” He also has taken a strong drunk-women-are-gross position and asked rhetorically when was the last time you saw a pretty feminist, while also professing his hatred not of Muslims but of Islam. He pronounces Hillary Clinton the “millennial’s version of O.J.” – sadly, without explaining – and warns never to trust a female liberal or a cat-owning man.
He seems like a real catch – am I right, ladies?
Outraged Reporters Who Cover Reality TV simultaneously asked and answered as they questioned – like they meant it to sting – why a reality series producer would cast a guy who does not think highly of women, or people of color, to date a “bachelorette” who checks both boxes.
We reached out to ABC to see if they’d care to comment; no word back so far.
For those unfamiliar with the whole Bachelor/Bachelorette phenomenon, ABC and parent Disney have provided helpful guides. Disney-owned ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight last week published a romantic primer headlined “How to Spot a Front-Runner on The ‘Bachelor’ Or ‘Bachelorette,'” and ABC offered an always-useful Bachelorette Fantasy League play-along.
Setting aside the question as to whether a sane person would actually search for a meaningful relationship on a reality TV series – or whether, more likely, it’s fame they’re after – and focusing instead on this week’s racist-guy-searching-for-love casting outrage, Serious Students of TV will remember (it also can be found on Wikipedia) that franchise creator Mike Fleiss has, in the past, candidly explained, on ABC’s own air, how he contours contestants to be the sort of characters his viewers crave. And viewers crave a great villain.
Back in February, The Bachelor franchise announced on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that it finally had cast a black lead on the pick-a-mate reality competition series. Rachel Lindsay, a vivacious 31-year-old lawyer who then was competing in The Bachelor, was cast in the lead for the current edition of spinoff The Bachelorette.
There had been 21 editions of The Bachelor since it launched in March 2002 and 12 editions of The Bachelorette. That came to more than 30 missed opportunities over about 15 years to cast an African-American in a lead role, for which the franchise, and the network, understandably were lambasted in the media and other quarters.