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Lee Does Not Belong on ‘The Bachelorette’

Plus, one of the more useful group dates and a personal tale about blimps

(ABC)
(ABC)

After a whopping two weeks without episodes of The Bachelorette due to the NBA playoffs — don’t worry, we’re getting two next week — we’re back, and this one springs into action right in the middle of drama between Lee and … well, pretty much everybody, as he emerges as this season’s primary antagonist. We’d seen him in action before, and in the third episode he clearly enjoyed riling up Eric after telling Rachel that Eric wasn’t trustworthy. And as the pool of men for Rachel thins, Lee begins to brag about how much he enjoys riling up all of his fellow contestants.

He starts with small stuff, like responding to Kenny’s request for 60 more seconds of conversation with Rachel by intentionally misunderstanding him and barging back in after 16 seconds. Then he moves on to worse mischief, like his accusation that Kenny was aggressive toward him. He’s also duplicitous: To Rachel he’s happy-go-lucky; to everybody else he’s confrontational. Here he is explaining that his quarrel with Kenny is rooted in his love for Kenny:

Later, he says he actually doesn’t like Kenny, and will enjoy “crumbling his miserable world.”

It’s now that we probably should talk about Lee’s racist and sexist tweets. His Twitter account, now private, featured tweets saying that the NAACP is as racist as the KKK, that Irish people were “white slaves” — for the record, they were not — and that the Black Lives Matter movement is a terrorist organization. (He also says he’s never seen a pretty feminist. I wonder what Rachel thinks about that!)

Dean notes that Lee seems interested in picking fights with only “the people who he’s [not] used to seeing on a daily basis from a cultural perspective.” And when Rachel hears about Lee’s fights, she seems to pick up on the racial tension, breaking down in tears over the pressure placed on her as the first black lead on a Bachelor program. She doesn’t go so far as to call Lee racist — in fact, she gives him a rose, keeping him on the show for a little while longer at least — but the stress of his behavior is weighing on her.

Think about what Lee is saying when he compares the NAACP to the KKK: He’s acknowledging the KKK is bad, because he wants you to know he does not support the most overt depiction of racism you can imagine. And now that he’s established himself as Not A Racist, he feels comfortable saying he thinks the intimidation and violence of the KKK are equivalent to the work of an organization that fights racial discrimination through social programs and legal channels.

Yes, Lee is pursuing a black woman on this show. No, he doesn’t launch into over-the-top explicit racist tirades every time he encounters a black castmate. But that doesn’t mean he’s not racist. He sees his black castmates as manipulable, quick to anger, and easy to outwit. He’s the instigator, but he likes to portray the black men he’s instigating as aggressive. (This is not the first time this has happened in American history.)

Lee should not be on this show. Chris Harrison said production was unaware of Lee’s tweets, which seems like a poor excuse considering there is a significant amount of vetting that goes into selecting cast members for this show and the tweets were public. Lee doesn’t deserve the platform, he doesn’t deserve the attention, and it’s unfair that Rachel’s should-be fantasy world is tinged with his views. There shouldn’t be this Lee-related drama, there shouldn’t be these constant escalations to near violence — or as teasers to future episodes suggest, actual violence. And it would be nice if the Bachelorette on The Bachelorette could be black without her having to deal with racism.

But if Lee must be on the show, let’s allow our knowledge of who he is to tint every conversation he has. He’s a reminder that racists are not always caricatures. Sometimes they’re just people who think they’re better than other people, even though all evidence points to the fact that they are not.

Wisest Dating Move: The Spelling Bee

This might sound stupid, but the ability to spell most words correctly is an absolute requirement for me in a partner. It’s not that I’m one of those annoying dudes who claims to be sexually attracted to intelligence. (They exist, and I don’t believe them for a damn second.) It’s just that it’s 2017, and if we’re in a relationship we’re going to text a lot, and if your texts look like they were written by a chicken pecking an iPhone screen covered in seed, I’m going to get disappointed each of the 178 times you text me per day. And if you’re making me upset 178 times per day, well, we probably aren’t going to last. Luckily, this is an easy preference to filter for: Virtually every dating app requires some level of typed interaction.

But Rachel doesn’t have that luxury. The guys on this show don’t have access to their phones during filming, and even if they did, they wouldn’t be able to use them to text Rachel. She’s in serious danger of going through this entire process, finding a guy she thinks she loves, and realizing he writes “your” when he means “you’re.” And honestly, that’s a deal breaker.

So, this week, the show casually held a spelling bee for most of the remaining contestants. They played it off like this was just some cheap diversion, but my guess is this was more important than anything else for Rachel. A guy can be handsome and sexy and charismatic and successful, but if he hears facade and thinks the first letter is a “p”? That’s gotta be game over for him with a law school grad like Rachel, right?

Just one mistake means you’ve spelled a word wrong; Eric managed to be incorrect on four of the six letters in facade.

I think Iggy thought the word he was asked to spell was bordeaux, which he also spelled wrong.

You gotta spell coitus to have coitus.

The real spelling bee makes me feel dumber than people significantly younger than me. This spelling bee made me feel smarter than people slightly older than me. It was much better.

Boldest Fashion Choice: Alex

It’s hard to capture a woman’s eye when you’re standing beside 30 other men. So I’ve got to commend Alex for breaking into a Planet Hollywood, stealing the suit Jack Nicholson wore while playing the Joker in Batman, and wearing it to this rose ceremony.

It probably took a lot of effort on Alex’s part to scan eBay for clothing worn by members of the Brian Setzer Orchestra in the music video for the 1998 swing-revival hit “Jump Jive an’ Wail.” But I’m glad he did — it looks sharp.

Was it legal for Alex to stalk beloved McDonald’s character Grimace, shoot him, and use his hamburger-saturated fur for a suit? Yes: Grimace was the last living example of his endangered species, and now that species is extinct because Alex murdered him and is inside his skin now. But you’ve got to admit it takes guts to wear on TV, and maybe Rachel will acknowledge that.

Most Painful Workout Strategy: Iggy

If Lee is the first antagonist, a guy we can genuinely root against, Iggy is the secondary one, a mild irritant who isn’t intriguing enough to get upset about. His defining trait is that every single time he talks to Rachel, he tells her about the misdeeds of one of his competitors — not necessarily bad things they’ve done, just bad vibes he gets. Previously he told her about his argument with Eric. This week he told her about how he thinks Josiah portrays fake bravado to cover up for his insecurities — that’s a really big assumption! — and how he doesn’t think Rachel would like a guy like him — another really big assumption! I wonder why he’s still around, since he’s not particularly interesting, but I guess Rachel doesn’t mind having a guy willing to tell her about how the other contestants act when she’s not around.

Josiah is having none of this. He says that “with all due respect, Iggy is a bitch.” Smart move by Josiah — Iggy can’t be insulted by being called a bitch because Josiah remembered to say “with all due respect” in front of it.

I would just like to take a moment to say: If any men are reading this, please don’t do steroids, but if you must, please do not do them by putting a needle into your testicles. That is not how you do steroids, and it will not make you strong. It will probably be bad for your testicles. I don’t wish ill on Iggy, but I still don’t think he should shoot steroids into his balls.

Best Screenshot From ‘Mad Max 7: Beyond Bachelordome’:

They went to Hilton Head, South Carolina, this week. They could play golf there, but golf sucks and nobody should play it, so instead they did this:

I want to rent four golf carts with my 16 best bros and go four to a cart and tear up the damn course.

The Other Racist Thing on This Episode: Peter

While on a boat, the guys start freestyle battling! Peter starts off with some OK rhymes (“commitment” to “different!” Hey, not bad!) and ends by … pointing at Rachel and saying she’s “from the hood”???

I’m pretty sure Rachel isn’t! We’ve seen her family’s house! It’s really nice, because her dad is a really prominent judge! There wouldn’t be anything wrong if Rachel was; it’s just that we know she isn’t, and even if we didn’t know that, Peter shouldn’t assume every black person is! Peter was a day-one favorite after landing the first one-on-one date, but after this and the coitus spelling incident, I’m not confident.

Best Product Placement: Goodyear

Dean is scared of heights, which is a problem, because his one-on-one date with Rachel was inside the Goodyear Blimp.

Folks, I have flown in the Goodyear Blimp. I flew in a different one — the Spirit of Innovation, which was retired in March after 11 years. The inside of that one felt like a cramped airplane cockpit, whereas the one Rachel and Dean took, Wingfoot One, looks like a nice charter bus. The one I took was a true blimp, whereas this one is a semirigid airship, because apparently even in 2017 there are still humans designing new and improved blimp models.

But here is what I’ll tell you about it: Blimps are not great. It’s cool that you get to peacefully float over whatever city you’re in, but a lot of things about blimps are not good. They take off and land at really high angles — when you ride a commercial jet, the plane probably doesn’t tilt more than 10 degrees, but since blimps are trying to elevate and descend as quickly as possible, they tilt to about 30 degrees. It feels like you’re riding a very slow, very boring roller coaster. They’re really impractical — takeoff and landing require a bunch of humans holding big ropes to prevent it from flying away, you can’t fly it when it’s windy, and it takes days for the Goodyear blimp to get across the country from one sporting event from another. And it’s hard to ride in one without picturing the Hindenburg disaster — which by the way, was not even a particularly bad blimp disaster. There was a blimp crash literally last week, as an advertising blimp fell to the ground and exploded at the U.S. Open, leaving its pilot severely burned.

Why do they still use blimps if they’re so awful? Well, they’re amazing ads, nearly 300-foot long and flying over every sporting event. Remember how excited Rachel and Dean got when they merely saw the blimp, before they even got in? Blimps catch our eyes, and Ice Cube’s as well. Think about how much we talked about a tire company on The Bachelorette! And this is why enormous dumb balloons will continue to fly around our country.

Most Disappointing Elimination: Either Brady or Bryce, I don’t know

I’d like to issue a correction: In my last post, I said Kenny lost a wrestling match to Bryce, when in fact, Kenny lost a wrestling match to Brady. I apologize for the confusion, but in my defense, here they are side by side:

Brady, on the left, was noted for his pinker shirt with a slightly deeper, more V-shaped neck, and a hair pattern coiffed right to left, whereas Bryce had the squarer face, pointier ears, and hair coiffed left to right. I think Brady was the male model whose no. 1 modeling move is pretending to roll a booger in his hand; Bryce was the firefighter who talked about firefighting. I hope the Br-bros bonded in their time on the show.

Also eliminated was Diggy, who spoke extensively in the season opener about how fashionable he was, a trait that seemed to translate to “wearing bowties.” And now we’re down to 15!

A Brief Word About ‘Bachelor in Paradise’

A few people have asked me my thoughts about the cancellation of this season of Bachelor in Paradise. As a fan of the franchise, it’s a bummer. BIP was secretly the best of the three Bachelor shows. The Bachelor and The Bachelorette depict an extremely unrealistic courtship process. It’s built for drama, but not necessarily for fun. BIP ditched all of that. Contestants are encouraged to drink heavily and try out multiple partners and basically just have fun.

And that appears to have been where they messed up. The show ended over a case of alleged sexual misconduct including DeMario (from this season of The Bachelorette) and Corinne (from last season of The Bachelor), even though she was reportedly too drunk to consent. Nobody stopped filming.

They might not be realistic, but The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are practically monuments to the concept of sexual consent. It is explicitly outlined how sex happens: If you are chosen over 27 other contestants to remain in the final three, you will go on a date with the Bachelor/ette, and at the end of the night the two parties will receive a letter, and while both parties are allowed to go back to their respective rooms, if they are mutually interested in sexual experience they are given the key to a shared hotel room. It sells this protracted romance.

BIP sells a bunch of hot people getting drunk on a beach and having sex. That’s it. That’s the point of the show. And although I’m disappointed, I’m ultimately unsurprised that “cameras rolling during a disturbing sexual encounter” was within the realm of possibility.

With that said: One thing we shouldn’t do is assume what happened based on our understanding of DeMario and Corinne from their appearances on past television shows. For one, those appearances were edited to make DeMario and Corinne look bad so the shows would have feasible villains. You do not actually know Corinne because a television show portrayed her as an evil, persistently drunk girl who likes sex; you definitely don’t know what happened on that videotape; and you shouldn’t let your disappointment over the cancellation of a reality TV show cloud any of this.