How do you think Chris Harrison woke up on the morning of the “Men Tell All” special? Did he fall asleep the night before watching 13th on Netflix? Did he wake up, scarf down an açai bowl, read a chapter or two of James Baldwin? On his drive to the studio, did he listen to an episode of Code Switch or The Read? Did he have a meeting with his staff full of black men and women about the content he was about to wade right into? Did he listen to their input and acknowledge their varied experiences? Oh, what? What is that? What is that you’re saying to me? This guy certainly did not do any single one of those things, so why the hell is he responsible for a conversation about racism on The Bachelorette?!
Who let Chris Harrison go on that stage and joke that “testosterone” and “ego” caused the most conflicts and fights they’ve ever seen? Raise your hand if you laughed when Host Chris joked that they thought about beefing up security … for the “Men Tell All” special for the first Black Bachelorette with the most black contesticles. I will wait. Who on Beyoncé’s good green Earth asked for this? Because I most certainly did not, ABC. Ugh, let’s do this. I guess.
Host Chris kicks the whole thing off with a montage of that “testosterone-fueled drama.” It’s literally just Whaboom and Blake. Two guys who banged each other’s girlfriends on another reality show. Lee clashing with Eric and Kenny. That’s a racist guy being racist for fun. And DeMario. That’s just a clown who didn’t even wear a jacket to the special. He looks like he’s on his break at Sonic.
Speaking of DeMario, he’s far too hype. He’s excited to get to tell his side of the story. He obviously thinks it’s charming when he goes, “She says I’m her girlfriend, but I text everybody!” He also uses a the Weeknd song to explain what a side chick is. It’s 2017. I’m sure Terry Gross has used the term “side chick” on Fresh Air by now as an extended metaphor for mastering the cello or whatever they talk about on Fresh Air. DeMario also asks for any “ocular facts” that he and this girl were ever dating. If you want to know if your man has done something he shouldn’t, look for two clues. One: He’s asking for proof beyond what you’ve got. If you’ve got texts, he wants pictures. If you’ve got pictures, he wants video. Baby, are you gonna believe your lying eyes and that video and those pictures and a sworn testimony, or what I tell you? Two: He’s making up or misusing words. “Ocular facts” is not a thing. “You got some ophthalmic data?” “I’m gonna need to see some optometristicological confirmation?” The word you’re looking for is PICTURES. When Host Chris says that maybe the girl saw the relationship differently than he did, DeMario goes, “I mean, Bill Clinton had sex with Monica Lewinsky.”
Hey … hey, DeMario? Lean in, buddy. Maybe invoking one of the most famous cases of workplace sexual misconduct isn’t a good look. You might as well have gone, “I mean, c’mon man, that pube isn’t going to put itself on that Coke can.”
There’s a little shouting match about whether Iggy is a joke and Kenny gets up and wags his finger in Whaboom’s face and Kenny continues to be full of surprises.
Now it’s time to get into the Kenny/Lee of it all. Kenny describes the whole ordeal: Everyone had agreed to play the game by a certain set of rules, but Lee wasn’t playing by those rules and seemed to enjoy breaking those rules. Kenny felt that he checked Lee once or twice and he wasn’t trying to drag everything out. Will chimes in that the whole situation was frustrating for everyone else too because they were trying to give Lee the benefit of the doubt, but every time anyone looked up, he was in a screaming match with someone.
Dean says that Kenny might be the most well-liked guy in the house, so if it’s 30 people against one person, guess who is obviously in the wrong. Dean says that Lee made a point to badger certain people and he took away from Kenny, Josiah, Eric, and Anthony’s experiences. What does everyone on that list have in common?
For some reason, DeMario defends Lee and calls him a wholesome, genuine guy. How is it possible for someone to make that awful judgment? Kenny says that it didn’t feel like racism in the moment, but just a guy who felt outclassed lashing out. That’s one way to look at it. Maybe Lee did feel outclassed, but all the tactics and tools he used to lash out were straight out of a racist’s playbook and he only used them against the black men in the house. He wasn’t accusing Peter or Matt (WHO?) of dragging him out of a van. Kenny gets time in the hot seat and he talks about how when he was younger, the aggressive label might have been accurate, but he works very hard to be a role model for his daughter.
Lee finally admits that he made up the van story and Kenny goes, “No shit.” I was dead. Kenny says it’s hard to take Lee’s apology seriously after every one of his in-the-moment interviews talked about how he enjoyed ruffling people’s feathers.
Then they bring McKenzie out! She’s the best and adorable and they’re sending her and Kenny to Disneyland for Kenny’s birthday. #KennyForBachelor.
Up next, Lee’s turn in the hot seat. They keep cutting to this black lady in the audience and when they called Lee up, she was just shaking her head. She is our moral compass. Lee uses basically every “I’ve just been accused of being racist” diversion in the book. Trust me, I’ve seen them all.
The “I was just making a joke!” The “I learned so much about myself through this process!” The “I want to be a better friend to you!” The “I have things to learn!” Homie, you don’t go on The Bachelorette to “learn.” Also, it’s 2017. You know comparing the KKK to the NAACP is racist.
The most amazing part of this 30-minute segment is hearing the other men drag Lee. Diggy says he’s disappointed that Rachel gave Lee a rose when we all wish Diggy was around longer. Dean says that Lee never took any opportunity to go on social media and denounce the tweets that had been dragged up. Kenny says that Lee should take ownership for his words. Lee keeps saying his tweets were inconsiderate. That’s not what inconsiderate is, Lee. The word you keep searching for is RACIST.
Josiah sits down next to Lee and lays it all out on the line: “I want you to articulate to all of us, why did you come on a show where the Bachelorette was an African-American woman, if on the other hand, you’re tweeting about black people and groups of black people who fought and died so I can be on the stage next to you. People came before me so that I could go to the same school like you, so I could drink from the fountain like you. And if you’re comparing them to the KKK, people who hung my ancestors, why are you trying to date a woman who looks like me?”
There ain’t much more to say about that. Lee’s response? “I don’t like racism at all.” OH WELL THEN. Lee also laughs when DeMario tries to take him to task about the tweets and says, “Facebook cut them in half.” Josiah says again, “It’s hard for me to fathom that you are somebody other than somebody who has racist views.” Lee apologizes again if he hurt anybody with a bad joke.
Then, it’s time for Anthony to PUT. ON. A. CLINIC.
“Lee, I understand where you’re coming from, but I feel like you haven’t acknowledged exactly what we’re trying to forgive you for. I think you’re just saying, ‘I’ve been a bad person,’ but you’re not acknowledging the kind of invisible racism in your mind. You may not be doing it intentionally, but it’s still motivating your actions. The racism that is ingrained in your behavior, to the point of invisibility, is still pushing you to behave in a certain way towards Kenny, towards Eric, towards me in a way that you don’t even recognize. So, are your actions motivated by racist thoughts that are implicitly embedded in your mentality?”
The black lady in the audience gave that a standing ovation.
The stupid thing is that Host Chris gives Lee the last word in this situation after all the labor the black men put into this moment. They weren’t just contesticles. They had to educate. They had to do work and they were expected to forgive and accept whatever apology Lee finally gave when the producers were saying it was time to go to commercial and agree to continue to teach Lee in the future.
Whew. I’m exhausted from watching even more mishandled conversations about racism. Dean gets a moment in the hot seat that might be his Bachelor audition tape. Rachel comes out and tells Lee that he had an opportunity to get to know men from all over and he wasted it. She also throws a little shade on people who asked who Adam and Matt were. Fred says that he thought it would have been easier for him because he already knew Rachel and she didn’t give him a real chance, but he just wants her to be happy. Kenny says they had the most mature breakup he’s ever had and she’s got his number. Keep that number close, girl.
The best part of the bloopers are when Rachel is eating a bag of chips and says they’re salty like Josiah on his way home; clips of Josiah eating approximately 14 cheese skewers (which is what I would do if I was on The Bachelor); and a clip of Alex, Diggy, and Tickle Monster giving themselves a body scrub while wearing face masks (also, what I would do).
The preview for the next episode had me confused until I realized we haven’t gotten the roses after the fantasy suites yet. See what happens when you waste all this time on Lee?