Welcome back to The Bachelorette, the show where a lawyer and her handicapped puppy search for love amidst the ruins of what used to be man.
This season was hotly anticipated by critics and civilians alike because Rachel (drum roll, please) is the first black bachelorette. Critics wondered things like: Will Rachel’s ascendance finally force Chris Harrison to reckon with the violent misdeeds of his white ancestors? Will this season feature smart, insightful, relatable conversations about interracial dating? What could someone as beautiful and witty and successful as Rachel possibly have seen in Nick Viall?
I’ve spent most of my intellectual energies over the past two months trying to come up with a better motive than “they’re naturally evil and hate God’s children” to explain Republican actions, but I did find time to ask a question of my own: Will Rachel be forced to gracefully deflect the racist actions of the white men vying for her heart so as not to alienate her white audience?
I might be biased toward my own intellectual process, but last night’s episode made a strong case for that last one when a white boy asked Rachel for affirmation that his “Once I go black, I won’t go back” opening line was cute.
“I liked it,” she said with a smile and that robust, fake laugh of hers. They say women who have mastered a fake laugh like Rachel’s will never go to bed cold at night. Later on in the night, this man took Rachel to play in a sandcastle for some reason that now escapes me, but does it matter?
It seems like nary a day goes by without the release of some viral video of a delusional Caucasian screaming bigotries at a baffled person of color who just wants to get their shopping done and go home. White people succeeded in voting in the dumbest, most dangerous president in American history and many of them are still clinging fast to their faith that he’ll turn this country back into the racist, sexist enclave it once was (and never really stopped being). We should have stopped rewarding white women a long time ago with 25 smoking hot singles. Putting a black woman as the lead in one of the most popular reality television shows means a lot to some critics and not much to others—but there’s one thing everyone can agree on: romantic love is dead for people of every race.
Romantic love, of course, died many years ago when meet-cutes were replaced by women’s rights and “sit on my face!” Tinder messages. Who has time for romance when we’re all busy trying to figure out how the fuck checks and balances work? What’s a Constitution? Even Bernie Sanders has managed to make a bad podcast that let us all down. Our only political comfort is the Hamilton soundtrack, and even that only serves as a reminder of what has been denied to most of us by the free market.
Still, The Bachelor/ette franchise refuses to give in to the hopelessness of modern womankind as long as B-list country singers are still willing to collaborate with them.
So what kind of men is Rachel working with this season? Many, but there are only a few who matter.
The one who, perhaps, matters above all is Lucas. Most seasons of The Bachelorette feature a man like Lucas—the millennial id of the show, if you will. From the moment he appears onscreen, Lucas is singularly focused on promoting himself as a brand, and that brand can be summed up in one word: WHABOOM.
Lucas spends every second of his screen time screaming into a megaphone that was likely handed to him by one of the producers when the night became too quiet. He shrieks “WHABOOM” over and over again, like a wild animal trying desperately to communicate his needs to the human beings surrounding him. When one of the other eligible bachelors confronts him about his potentially impure intentions, he doesn’t exactly cop to being there for the wrong reasons, but he also doesn’t really defend himself.
“You make some good points,” he, in fact, tells his accuser.
If pop culture deserves analysis because it’s a lens through which we can understand youth, Lucas is the climate change of human nature. He’s a terrifying, terrifying sign of what our future holds.
Then there’s Kenny, the professional wrestler who has chosen the perfect time to make his pivot from one type of reality show to another. He’s sweet and has a ten-year-old daughter who he really seems to be obsessed with, which is hot but also means he will not break the top four. Rachel will NOT come second in a man’s life.
There’s also Josiah, the 12-year-old wild child turned prosecutor who seems to be among Rachel’s only intellectual equals in the room. Josiah is my early prediction to win the gold. If he learns to keep his ego in check, Rachel just might be his oyster.
And Freddy, a man who was once a boy that Rachel disciplined for being bad when she was his summer camp counselor 15 years ago. A creepy, creepy move on the part of the producers, but I can’t say there aren’t dozens of former camp counselors I would love to come back into my life as a sexual object.
And then, of course, there’s our boyfriend, Bryan. Bryan is the broad-shouldered Colombian who, like Mandy Moore in A Walk to Remember, warned Rachel that falling in love with him would bring nothing but trouble to her life. His quiet humility and mastery of the Spanish language made him a shoe-in for the first impression rose and Rachel’s heart. My guess? Rachel will soon discover that speaking Spanish is a pretty common personality trait, and unless Bryan can prove there’s more to him, she will cast him ‘pon the streets.
Join me next week for all the gossip behind Rachel’s mysterious handicapped puppy companion.
Becky Scott is a Brooklyn-based writer who enjoys buffalo wings and writing journalistic longform pieces on The Bachelor.