I’ve just wrapped Huffington Post’s Here To Make Friends podcast with Claire Fallon and Emma Gray, where we delved pretty deeply into this very eventful Men Tell All episode. You know by now I love Tell Alls. It’s a treat to observe if and how people have changed their appearance and whether they’re just dressed up or clearly looking to stand out. After seeing each other’s ITMs, it’s interesting to hear how views on one another might be different than while they lived together. After watching it all back and witnessing others’ connections with the same girl, which men still demand answers of Rachel and wonder what they could’ve done differently, and which ones just chalk the whole thing up to a unique experience?
In keeping with my FLARE tradition of singling out last night’s most memorable moments…
3. Daddy-Daughter Time
I’ve been a huge Kenny fan all season, so I naturally enjoyed how much time he was given to not only speak his mind regarding Lee, but also to show his sensitive side. And I really enjoy watching all the sides of Kenny, from a wronged man with an understandable bone to pick—and an intimidating figure at that—to a total softie who sheds a few tears when his daughter appears. The Disneyland vacay was a nice touch on ABC’s part, but what I like best is how obviously adored Mackenzie is by her doting father, and how that already has affected—and in the long-term, will affect—her sense of self and self-worth. Watching them together was beautiful and sweet.
2. Long Live The Queen
Claire and Emma and I all agreed that we can’t recall still adoring a lead as much as we do this far into the season. Rachel seriously can do no wrong. She cast DeMario just the right amount of shade, saying “Who?” when Chris Harrison brought DeMario’s name up, effectively giving DeMario a taste of his own medicine from when his ex was brought on the show. She stood by her actions, including telling Dean she was falling in love with him, insisting she’s not one to say something just for the sake of it. Best of all was how curtly and concisely she addressed Lee. It had already been discussed ad nauseam at that point (apparently his hot-seat time took ballpark two hours to film?) and she didn’t allow it to become a back-and-forth discussion. She noted that he was a very different person towards her than he was with the other men and in his ITMs, and after watching it back and knowing the details, she knew better than to engage with him. She pointed out her unique position as someone in the public eye, an African American and a woman, coldly but kindly offering him a lesson on Black history and women’s rights. She was classy, involved yet simultaneously above the drama, and warm to only those who deserved it. If she hasn’t been a role model all season long, I don’t know what lead would be.
1. Strength In Numbers
The “meat” of the episode was obviously Lee, his behaviour and tweets, and cracking his veneer. What warmed my heart about all this was the banding together of the other men in pointing out inconsistencies and injustices. It wasn’t just Kenny versus Lee anymore, the way it sometimes seemed during filming. (On that subject though, Dean said it best when he said you can tell who’s in the right based on who’s better liked, and that Kenny was clearly one of the most popular men in the house.) Men who were gone long before the drama with Lee ever developed (DeMario), men who possibly seemed aligned with Lee at times (Iggy), and white men for whom Lee’s views might not strike as deep a chord (Dean, Adam). They all came together, joining Josiah, Anthony, Will and of course Kenny.
It became clear early on that Lee’s angle was to not be defensive and to apologize for ambiguities in a rehearsed fashion, rather than take responsibility or admit any real fault. Rightfully, no one accepted his vague, stock responses of “If I hurt anyone for a bad joke, I apologize,” or the particularly insulting “I should have been a better friend.” They insisted he address why he was apologizing and admit to what he was asking forgiveness for. The golden sentence came from beautifully articulate Anthony: “Are your actions motivated by racist thoughts that are implicitly embedded in your mentality?” When one man was at a loss for words, another stepped in to drive the point home.
The thing with Lee is it took him way too much coaxing to admit the simplest, most obvious mistakes, and for him to think his patronizing “apology” mode would suffice just shows how little he comprehends the seriousness of his words and actions. But, though I don’t believe we witnessed some dramatic transformation in Lee, it was a moment of teamwork and solidarity among the men that I for one appreciated.