Note: This article contains coarse language that may offend some readers.
From its inception, season 13 of “The Bachelorette” was one to be remembered. This go-around of ABC’s popular dating show touted a few firsts, including the first ever African-American bachelorette and the most diverse cast in franchise history.
Producers tapped 31-year-old attorney Rachel Lindsay to whittle away at a group of 30 lovesick men until she found herself a dazzling new hubby.
But the Dallas native’s road to love has been bumpy. Several scandals erupted since the program’s premier in May, including possible infidelity and racist remarks by contestants.
Lindsay’s been candid about pressures surrounding the label of “first Black Bachelorette,” even breaking down in front of cameras earlier this season:
In a teary-eyed confessional to producers, Lindsay shared her hesitations:
“The pressures I feel about being a black woman, and what that is … I don’t even want to talk about it. I already know what people are going to say about me, and judge me for the decisions that I’m making … You have no idea what it’s like to be in this position.”
And they may be well warranted.
Throughout this season, Lindsay’s been thrown in the middle of a particularly unsettling rivalry between contestant Lee Garrett and Kenny Layne. Garrett, a white musician who has recently been under fire for “racist” tweets surfacing under his name, found issue with Layne’s, a black wrestler, “aggressive” tone in the house.
Lindsay has taken notice of the two’s ongoing quarrel, and in turn has been awarding more one-on-one time to other members of the Bachelor mansion who are less invested in drama:
In Monday’s episode, Layne made it clear he was sick of Garett’s cocky and brass attitude in a heated aside:
“Lee’s a liar, a fabricator, he’s an alternative facts piece of garbage. It sucks that someone like that has got me in this spot. If I go home I’m gonna feel real sh***y about this entire process.”
The professional wrestler, who denied Garett’s “whack” claims of aggression, decided to take matters into his own hands and confront Lee directly:
“You’re a disingenuous snake and I’m calling you on it. I don’t want you running to Rachel, do you see how calm I am? Before I thought you were my friend.”
The aspiring musician shot back:
“You have an unrealistic violent aspect about you. I’m being honest.”
ABC is cashing in on the rivalry, releasing promos amping up what seems to be the fight of the century between the two very angry and very single contestants:
However, members of “Bachelor Nation” are tapping out of this fight. Several fans of the show feel that the rivalry was orchestrated for ratings, and is counterproductive to the progressive direction the show is attempting.
Emma Gray, executive editor of HuffPost Women, called the storyline a “repulsive” way to “drum up drama”:
Real talk: This two-on-one is repulsive, and ABC using racism to drum up "drama" is completely despicable #TheBachelorette
— Emma Gray (@emmaladyrose) June 27, 2017
She scolded ABC for giving Garett the platform to “gaslight” Layne in front of millions of viewers:
Kenny and Lee are not "settling scores." All we've seen is a white man gaslight and bait a black man with microaggressions. #TheBachelorette
— Emma Gray (@emmaladyrose) June 27, 2017
Others echoed Gray’s sentiments, believing the argument to be emblematic of the current political climate:
A white man (Lee) lying on a black man (Kenny) and using the "he scares me" BS. A scene from real life America #TheBachelorette
— Ashley (@ashburns94) June 27, 2017
Kenny didn't deserve this, Rachel didn't deserve it and Lee sure as hell didn't deserve the platform. Shame on you ABC. #TheBachelorette
— Breigh ? (@LilBreigh) June 27, 2017
#TheBachelorette this racist beef is ruining the show. U finally get a black Bachelorette and the only drama u can stir up is racism??
— Erica Payne (@chillaerie) June 27, 2017
Even “Bachelor” franchise alums voiced their dislike of the newly dubbed “Bachelorette” villain:
I'm starting a petition to vote Lee out of Nashville. #thebachelorette
— Evan Bass (@ebassclinics) June 27, 2017
— Olivia Caridi (@OliviaCaridi) June 27, 2017
ABC is set to air the conclusion of the epic showdown in a grand two-on-one date on Tuesday night.
We’ll see if either come out on top, or if Lindsay kicks them both to the curb, alone and heartbroken in Oslo, Norway.