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Did The Bachelorette succeed? And 31 other stories about reality shows and stars

Did The Bachelorette succeed? And 31 other stories about reality shows and stars
Bryan Abasolo and Rachel Lindsay with Chris Harrison on The Bachelorette finale. (Photo by Paul Hebert/ABC)

The Bachelorette has concluded. So how well did ABC and the show’s producers treat their first black star, Rachel Lindsay?

I’ve collected six essays that look in-depth at the season—or moments during it—and analyze what happened in thoughtful, thought-provoking ways. Some of them challenged me to see the show in ways that I hadn’t considered.

After that, a round-up of recent reality TV news, from Canada’s own Baking Show to an amazing edit of Kitchen Nightmares.

Rachel Lindsay’s Bachelorette season

  1. When “The Bachelorette” Talks About Race (Medium)

    Ari Curtis writes that The Bachelorette was “merely a window into how ill-equipped we are as a society to talk about race in a meaningful way. Producers awkwardly force themselves into the narrative; contestants only talk about race in the vaguest and in the least-controversial terms; editors use racial tension as a frivolous point of contention rather than the psychologically traumatic experience it can be.”

    But still, she argues, it “is new, important ground for pop culture. I’d much rather see the conversations around interracial dating handled clumsily than not at all (though we really could have done without sentient Confederate flag Lee Garrett).”

  2. A ‘Bachelorette’ Finale, Served With a Dash of Humiliation (New York Times)

    At the end of the season, Rachel (and viewers) were left with the choice no one wanted: Bryan. Both the editing and the show’s structure meant “the finale reduced her to a girl desperate for a ring,” Amanda Hess writes, noting that Rachel was stuck with Bryan because Peter didn’t want to be engaged after such a short time. Hess points out how “Peter refused to honor the show’s compact, and in doing so, he humiliated Rachel” and says “it is completely reasonable to not want to become engaged to a person you’ve gotten to know on a few dates over the course of a couple of months. But it’s not entirely reasonable to feel that way and also appear on a show that makes that romantic timeline its very premise.”

  3. The Heartbreaking First Black Bachelorette (Slate)

    Robin M. Boylorn writes about why this season was not “a fairy tale that makes me really believe in black love,” starting with how, “Over the course of the season, it became clearer and clearer that the decision to cast a black bachelorette was merely evidence of the network’s interest in pushing faux-colorblind love stories as fairy-tale fantasies; the show failed to account for the ways that race would complicate the existing narrative, including the real challenges that interracial couples experience—especially black women who date nonblack men.”

  4. The Bachelorette Has A Black Problem (Huffington Post)

    Bachelorette fan Amanda Borquaye identifies the disturbing producing behind DeMario Jackson’s introduction to The Bachelor universe: “the show decided that it would be worthwhile, and even entertaining, to go to extra lengths in order to have a white women vilify a black man with common stereotypes that depict black men as sex-thirsty, two-timing, beings with an incapacity to be in a committed relationship for long.”

    The ultimate effect, she says: “revealing the tokenism that reeks in this season as we watched the producers reach to include a storyline that aligns with pre-conceived notions and stereotypes about black men in the romantic context.”

  5. The Bachelorette May Have A Black Star, But It’s Still Set In A White World (NPR)

    Eric Deggans, NPR’s TV critic, argued on All Things Considered that, while the show had its first black star, it otherwise didn’t stray from its very white formula: “The Bachelor and The Bachelorette franchises have always glorified an ideal culture that is both upper-middle class and very white,” he says, including “the typical array of luxury resorts and getaway experiences — places and activities that rarely include other black people.”

  6. The Bachelorette Reveals Itself for What It Is (The Atlantic)

    Megan Garber writes about the season’s most direct confrontation of race: Lee’s racism. Not only did The Bachelorette cast Lee despite his racist social media posts (producers were either incompetent, willfully ignorant, or deliberate), but the show’s producers and edit pitted him against another contestant, Kenny, and “delighted in all this. It exploited the tension. It treated racism, as Broadly’s Gabby Bess put it, as entertainment.”

  7. What it’s like being the only black contestant on The Bachelor (Vox)

    This piece isn’t about The Bachelorette, but rather the show’s more typical behavior: casting just one black contestant on The Bachelor. Season 10 contestant Lindsay Smith writes about her experience. “I was there to serve as the token black woman for entertainment purposes — and was never taken seriously as a candidate,” she says, citing specific examples about how the show’s production is still very similar to the one portrayed in UnReal’s first season, including how “producers are there to instigate arguments.”

Reality star news

  1. Two-time Amazing Race contestant Justin Kanew, of Zev and Justin, is running for Congress in Tennessee. The Tennessean calls it “a long-shot bid in Tennessee’s heavily Republican 7th Congressional District.” He says his opponent, Marsha Blackburn, has “been meeting little resistance for the last 16 years. She’s been an entrenched incumbent and there didn’t seem to be anyone stepping up. I felt the call.” (The Tennessean)
  2. The documentary about Double Dare host Marc Summers, On Your Marc, will tour six cities in October, featuring appearances by Summers and Double Dare games. Its director says this will “bring the movie directly to the fans … in what will be memorable evenings throughout the nation!” (On Your Marc)
  3. Bethenny Frankel says The Real Housewives of New York City should look for the kind of diversity  that New York City has when it casts new women: “I would like to see some younger cast members. I’d like to see an African American woman on the show. I suggested someone who didn’t work out. There are really no Jewish women in the cast. There are also no Asian, Latino or gay women on the show. I’d like it to represent New York more.” (Parade)
  4. More bigotry from a Duggar: Derick Dillard, one of the stars of TLC’s Counting On, went after fellow TLC star Jazz Jennings in a tweet, writing, “‘Transgender’ is a myth. Gender is not fluid; it’s ordained by God.” Then Dillard doubled-down on his cruelty—aimed toward a teenager—by referring to Jazz with male pronouns, even though she’s a she: “I want to be clear. I have nothing against him.” TLC has yet to act, unsurprisingly.
  5. Former Apprentice candidate and current White House adviser Omarosa Manigault-Newman’s appearance at the National Association of Black Journalists’ conference “event began cordially, but within minutes, it devolved into a shouting match.” NPR’s Sam Sanders live-tweeted the chaos. (New York Times)
  6. So You Think You Can Dance winner Joshua Allen was sentenced to a year in jail after he “pleaded no contest to willfully injuring an ex-girlfriend after a prior conviction and assault with a deadly weapon, a glass vase,” according to the LA Daily News. He’ll also serve five years of probation and has to go to one year’s worth of “domestic violence counseling.” (Los Angeles Daily News)
  7. Bachelor star Chris Soules’ trial was continued and will now take place Jan. 18. The Gazette reports that his July 19 trial was postponed by the judge “because discovery materials still are being exchanged and many depositions hadn’t been scheduled.” (The Gazette)
  8. Bachelor Jesse Palmer will host the syndicated show DailyMailTV, which debuts Sept. 18, a daily show that brings the tabloid’s stories to TV.
  9. American Idol winner Phillip Phillips settled his contract and labor dispute with 19 Entertainment. (THR)
  10. Donald Trump was in talks to be the president in Sharknado—the role Mark Cuban eventually took—but backed out to actually run for president. (THR)
  11. The Bachelor‘s Vienna Girardi miscarried twins, and wrote about it on Facebook—and why she decided to donate their bodies to science. (CNN)
  12. Survivor cast members Jeremy and Val Collins had their fourth kid, Lenyx Kai Collins, on June 16. (People)
  13. The Hills star Lauren Conrad had a baby. (CNN)
  14. Drew Scott is not leaving Property Brothers; that’s a fake story circulating on Facebook. (People)
  15. TLC’s The Willis Family star Toby Willis was sentenced to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of child rape. (AP)
  16. On the cover of her new single, Jennifer Lopez is wearing a massive flowing dress—and it was designed by Project Runway season eight contestant Michael Costello. (WWD)
  17. Johnny Depp spent $7,000 on a couch from Keeping Up with the Kardashians as a gift for his daughter. (Vanity Fair)
  18. The divorce rate for all The Real Housewives franchises. DC has a 100 percent divorce rate; Atlanta has a 60 percent divorce rate; and New York and Potomac are tied at 50 percent each. (E! News)

Reality industry news

  1. Nominations for the News and Documentary Emmys were announced; they’ll be awarded Oct. 5. (Television Academy)
  2. Another independent production company has been acquired: Evolution Media, the production company responsible for shows including Vanderpump Rules, The Real Housewives of Orange County, and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and which also produced season one of CBS’ Big Brother, has been acquired by MGM Television, which is run by Mark Burnett. (Deadline)
  3. What happens when Hollywood keeps asking you to star in a reality show and you keep saying no. (Washington Post)

Reality show news

  1. Canada will have its own version of GBBO: The Great Canadian Baking Show will air on CBC this fall, and its hosts are actors Dan Levy and Julia Chan. (Hello!)
  2. FremantleMedia North America’s Cecile Frot-Coutaz answers questions about ABC’s reboot of American Idol, including why it’s returning so soon (“We found that we’d recruited new, much younger viewers. Do you wait five or six years, with the landscape continuing to evolve, and risk losing those followers?”) and its costs (“The show is not more expensive than its competitors in the genre.”). (THR)
  3. Phelps vs. Shark, the debut program of this year’s Shark Week, became the highest-rated Shark Week show ever among people 25 to 43, women 25 to 54, and women 18 to 49. Discovery said it “averaged over 5 million Total Viewers.”
  4. Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica producer Sue Kolinsky talks about production on the show and whether Jessica’s ignorance about certain things, such as canned tuna, was an act. (Complex)
  5. History’s Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence was almost immediately discredited by a blogger in Tokyo discovered a photograph in a book in a library—a photograph taken two years before she disappeared, but that was alleged to show her having been captured. (The Guardian)
  6. A car smashed through the wall of the “Three Little Pigs” house featured on season three of Fixer Upper, and a fireplace moved by Chip and Joanna Gaines may have stopped the car and prevented it from entering the bedroom where the owners were sleeping. The driver was arrested for DWI. The couple has been unhappy with the neighborhood; Kelly Downs said “We have been intimidated and harassed. People have complained about their taxes going up because we moved here. Store owners have complained about taxes.” (Waco Tribune)
  7. Clay Aiken claimed that, during Celebrity Apprentice, Donald Trump’s phone was a secret teleprompter producers used to instruct him about what to do. As one who always thought Apprentice’s results were arbitrary—that was part of the fun!—this doesn’t surprise me, nor does it surprise me that a host/judge would get communication from producers. That frequently happens through earpieces, whether it’s for simple stage directions or for more intense direction. (News-Observer)
  8. The First 48 wants to film in Gwinnett County, and its police chief said in a memo that it was a good idea for several reasons: “The benefits of allowing this series access to the department revolve around the following: national department exposure for recruiting new police applicants, increasing the morale and productivity of departmental personnel, and [shedding] light on the hard work that goes into every homicide investigation.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  9. “Here for the Right Reasons” was a one-night exhibition of art inspired by The Bachelor franchise. (New York Times)
  10. Someone edited clips from the British version of Kitchen Nightmares to try to illustrate how Fox sensationally edits their version of the show. First, you’ll see what aired in the UK; then, the edited version. (The AV Club)

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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