All Day, Daily Dose, DeMario, Josiah, Rachel Lindsay, The Bachelorette -

Just another day for ‘The Bachelorette’ with its first black woman as the lead, the reality dating show avoids any land mines

All Day, Daily Dose, DeMario, Josiah, Rachel Lindsay, The Bachelorette -

Just another day for ‘The Bachelorette’ with its first black woman as the lead, the reality dating show avoids any land mines

It could have been a mess. It probably should have been a disaster. But Rachel Lindsay’s grace, a screaming goofball and one Colombian chiropractor made the season premiere of ABC’s 21st season of The Bachelorette exactly what they wanted it to be: just another episode.

With the first black woman to take the title role of the show, there was a reasonable amount of pressure. This isn’t just some goofball show for girlfriends drinking wine on the couch anymore. It’s one of the network’s premier brands, so much so that it pre-empted its own storyline last season in the flagship show to make sure America knew that Lindsay was its newest star.

But in a country where black schoolgirls are still going to court over how they wear their hair to school, the opportunities for pitfalls were obvious. When it comes to attitudes about so-called traditional standards of beauty, mixed with show business and with a healthy dose of likely toxic masculinity thrown in, having a black woman as the center of attention was a potential recipe for someone to say something really not OK and get checked on camera.

Quite a few longtime watchers of the show were bracing themselves for the usual tropes of Lindsay’s beauty being described as exotic, or an extension of something we saw at the end of The Bachelor last season, when Dean, a startup recruiter, on live television said to a newly introduced Bachelorette Rachel, “I’m ready to go black, and I’m never going to go back.” While it was not an outright racist thing to say, it was certainly cringeworthy, and everyone knew it.

This time, when Dean came out of the limo, his attitude was far more demure and he knew he had an uphill battle to win Rachel’s heart after that stunt. In general, though, her being black is certainly not something she plans on shying away from when it comes to promoting the show, thankfully.

In an interview with espnW’s Katie Barnes, she talked about what that meant to her. “It’s huge. It’s very humbling to be the first. It was something that, I’ll admit, I was scared to do,” Lindsay said. “I have the opportunity to represent myself as a black woman to America, and show them that just because I’m black doesn’t mean my search for love has to be any different. There’s a lot of brave people that have paved the way for me to even have the opportunity to be the first black ‘Bachelorette.’ ”

As for Monday night’s episode, it was every bit the madcap foolishness that we’ve come to know and love. One guy wore a penguin suit, then later claimed he’s both black and white (get it?). Another brought a legit ice block and a sledgehammer and another went so far as to dress up like Steve Urkel on Family Matters, before re-emerging from the limo as Stefan Urquelle.

At this stage of the game, there are far too many personalities to break down each one, but the three standouts were obvious. Aside from my man Lucas, who was only there to sell T-shirts with his catchphrase on it and angered the whole house the entire time with his antics. Don’t hate, I bought one.

The Natural Fit

Josiah is a prosecuting attorney who turned around his life of crime as a youth to become a guy working in actual courtrooms as an adult. He brought a little legal jargon humor to the table as his intro, which was predictable yet adorable. He did refer to himself in the third person a couple of times, which was awkward, and he also used the ultrapossessive terminology of “making someone my wife,” but we’ll have to look past that for now. He seems genuine.

The Playboy

DeMario was one of the guys who appeared after the rose ceremony from last season’s The Bachelor but also was the clear standout after the initial bios were released. He also is a relative pretty boy and was very confident in himself, a trait that Rachel said she enjoyed quite a bit. An executive recruiter by trade, he also seemed like the leader of the cool guy crew, which should be an interesting development as this goes on.

The Family Man

Kenny was one of the contestants who got an extended look in the initial bio segment of the first hour of the show, leading us to believe he’ll likely go relatively far in this competition. He’s a professional wrestler with a 10-year-old daughter, so there’s an automatic soft spot for him. He also did the Deion Sanders touchdown dance on his way into the house, so he scores points with me.

The EgoManiac

In Blake’s initial introduction, he made no fewer than 500 references to his penis. That might be an exaggeration, but it was such a strange way to bring him in. Then, he decided that being a part of a marching band was the way he wanted to make his entrance and initial introduction to Rachel, and he didn’t say one word about his package. Very confusing. He also took it very personally that Lucas, aka Mr. Whaboomski, made the cut, which should make for an interesting scene down the line.

The Lothario

We mentioned him earlier, but Bryan was the one who stepped to the first episode with the clearest game plan of all. He started off by speaking Spanish to Rachel in what we presume was designed to be a seductive manner, then acted surprised when she understood a bit of it, which was a tad condescending. He then went on to point out that because he’s a chiropractor he’s good with his hands, which, again, was rather lame. But, he was also the guy who made the first aggressive move and kissed Rachel. It happened not once but twice, the second time after he received the first impression rose. My man had the full two-hand head grab approach to making out, too, giving the impression that he’s got a decent side career as a soap opera actor should this not work out. He also dropped a “gurl,” which we’ll just take note of for later. Either way, homie is in the lead.

Overall, they avoided the monster storyline of race and got through two hours without too many awkward situations surrounding race. The “Scenes from The Season” portion led to all sorts of speculation about drama down the line, but for the moment, no one here appears to be trying to satisfy a fetish of being with a black woman or out to prove how nonracist he is while simultaneously trying to find love. Maybe we’ll get through this whole thing without incident.

Most people seem to be there for the right reasons, which is either Rachel or Hollywood fame. If they can manage to keep up this facade for 11 more episodes, it should be a good season. But the second that all the brothas decide they want to start boxing out the white guys, things will get interesting. Until then, it’s all daps and backslaps.

Tierra Wilkins contributed to this report.

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