Bachelor Nation

Vicky Mochama on How The Bachelorette Producers Are Ruining This Season

Instead of being the groundbreaking show we were promised, it's become seriously problematic—and we have the producers to blame

(Vicky Mochama)

(Vicky Mochama)

Rachel needs to just go on ahead and marry Bryan. Instead of keeping up this charade, let the rest of the season be us watching the first couple weeks of their marriage. The guys can stay to help them move.

Can you tell I’m tired of the nonsense?

It’s ridiculous that a grown man who willingly calls himself a “Tickle Monster” lasted so long. It’s wild to me that the remaining men aren’t wearing name tags because I can’t remember who’s “Matt” and who’s “Jason.” Is there even a Jason? Probably not. [FLARE fact check: No, there’s not.] It’s preposterous that Kenny is being painted into a highly predictable corner by Lee’s racist microaggressions.

I know the show is driving towards whatever confrontation Kenny and Lee are about to have and I’m beginning to find it low-key unacceptable. As the Daily Beast’s Ira Madison wrote last week, “It’s unfortunate that in lieu of portraying the first Black Bachelorette in a negative light, the producers of The Bachelor seem intent on using the Black male contestants as fodder in their race experiment.” It is exhausting.

Whatever promise the show might have had as a way to create a nuanced or in-depth conversation about race is not happening.

That said, despite the Lee vs. Kenny narrative, there was a glimpse of what is possible if, indeed, there must be a conversation on race.

Sitting in armchairs in Oslo, Eric spoke to Anthony about a trend he was noticing. Eric felt that there was something ‘off’ about the Bachelorette process given that only one in five of the 1-on-1 dates have gone to Black contestants. However, Anthony—who is the only Black contestant who’s had a 1-on-1 so far—wasn’t sure. He felt that it was less about race, but more about each individual guy and whether or not Rachel actually wanted to spend additional time with that person. Within that, there was insight that maybe there isn’t a uniformity in how Black men feel in this environment. There was empathy, criticism and an awareness that race was worth considering. It lasted less than two minutes.

More time was spent on The Lee Problem, which reared its ugly head over and over. (AS IF the fact that this Southern boy’s name is Lee isn’t a racial red flag. You can’t tell me the producers didn’t notice that.)

The episode “ends” with—for reasons that are not at all clear to me—Lee and Kenny trapped on a 2-on-1 date. They both tell Rachel their version of the story. Lee maliciously exaggerates and Kenny obfuscates, but with sincerity. Lee lies because he knows that as a white man, his words have a weight that Kenny’s do not. Kenny lies because there isn’t a version of the truth that works for him. Complaining that Lee’s sniping is racially motivated makes him lesser, but surfacing the ways Kenny has responded—by calling Lee names and calmly sniping back—does that too.

It’s a trap. And I’m tired of it for Rachel, but also for me. Like Rachel, I didn’t want to litigate Black masculinity in a dynamic that is clearly imbalanced. The producer that doesn’t know that 187 is a police code for murder isn’t just a one-off note; it’s symbolic of a show that isn’t equipped to have this conversation. 

Watch Part 2 of The Bachelorette’s double episode tomorrow, June 28 at 8:00 p.m. EST on City. Then, head on over to FLARE.com/themorningafter for recaps from Vicky Mochama and Sharleen Joynt, plus loads of other Bachelorette content!

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