Nice Try, Mike Fleiss, but I’m not Buying Lerone for One Minute (The Bachelorette)

Last night, another season of The Bachelorette began with yet another recycled reject from a previous season. This time, the prize is Emily Maynard, the frail little blonde from North Carolina, who everyone may remember actually received the proposal… and then subsequently found out that Brad Womack was a damaged control freak with a wee bit of a temper.

Every season begins with controversy, but this season marks the first where the controversy was 100% off-camera—a class action lawsuit in which two African-American would-be contestants allege racism in the casting of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. DUH!

So imagine my (initial) surprise when the third Bachelor video introduction of the evening was the very handsome, very well-built, Lerone. Did I mention that Lerone is black (or possibly Blasian)? Say whaaaaaaat?

The second I saw (gorgeous) Lerone, I laughed. Then I declared, “There’s no way he goes past the first night.” And I was right. However, watching it all play out, I’ve gone a little conspiracy theorist. No, I don’t just think Lerone was added to the cast the stave off any allegations of racial bias in casting, I think he was added after taping had generally concluded in an attempt to avoid judgment in the lawsuit. Hear me out.

Sure, he had the audition tape that was aired front and center. Yes, we saw him meet Emily and stand waiting to find out if he was getting a rose (shyeah right!!); but that’s where the normal treatment ends.

1. Lerone was never seen interacting with ANY of the other Bachelors. The other Bachelors were sizing each other up and picking each other apart all night. No one had any conversations with or so much as mentions Lerone. Sure, it could have been edited out, but seeing how these edits are made shortly prior to the episodes airing, and Mike Fleiss & Co. have a lot at stake with the class action suit pending, you’re telling me they would give the first black contestant in forever zero edit time? Unlikely.

2. During the rose ceremony, you could not see anyone else’s face whenever they panned to Lerone—just shoulders. I’m calling ABC stand-ins. We already know from Reality Steve that the rose ceremony is frequently shot and edited out of sequence and sometimes even reshot over and over. Why not weeks later?

3. Lerone did not have an exit interview. They interviewed the other rejected contestants, and those guys “said their goodbyes,” but there was nothing of Lerone in that sequence. I refuse to believe the other 20-some-odd Bachelors were so racist that no one would talk to him. Those odds just don’t compute.

UPDATE: An exit interview now appears on ABC’s website, where a good-natured Lerone shrugs off his dismissal. This guy clearly didn’t believe he was going to stick around for long.

4. The numbers don’t add up. First, there is the odd number of Bachelors. Additionally, the show ran an odd one hour and six minutes last night. Shows are known for going slightly over to screw with the competition, but six minutes is a long and an unusual number. I’m willing to bet that it you add up the bit of screen time given to Lerone, it comes out to close to six minutes. Perfect if you’re adding material into a show that was already edited down to an hour or so.

5. The interaction between Emily and Lerone was weird, to say the least. Sure, it could be her surprise at seeing a black guy on The Bachelorette of all places. Hey, maybe black men make her nervous? I dunno. But it also could be because at some point long after the first night, ABC asked her to squeeze back into that little gold dress and fake it to make it (look real), so Mike Fleiss doesn’t have to cough up millions of dollars in settlement funds.

6. Also, you’re trying to tell me with this lawsuit going on, Mike Fleiss or ANYONE at ABC didn’t immediately come back with a rebuttal that there WAS a black Bachelor in the crew this season? Taping started this past March and went through April or May. The lawsuit was filed in April, looooong after Lerone said his goodbyes (allegedly). However, instead of answering back with, “We DID have a black guy in the cast this year!”, the stock answer from ABC and Mike Fleiss has been along the lines of “Finding black folks to be on this show is hard, yo!”. They have never in the past refrained from leaking details about the contestant pool when it suits their needs. And it is not like anyone was watching “just to see” if there would be a black guy this year, when everyone has already come to expect that no, there will not be.

Bottom line is, I’m not buying Lerone (if that is your real name) for one second. Maybe he’s a paid actor. Maybe he’s just some guy from the trash pile of actual applicants they decided to call back after this lawsuit came to head. Heck, maybe he was a paid actor there on the actual first day of taping (actually, they’re ALL pretty much paid actors anyway). Stranger things have happened. Whoever he is and whatever happened, you cannot convince me that anyone, including him, believed for one minute he was staying in the mansion past night one.

I’m not saying everyone or anyone involved is racist; I’m jus’ sayin’.

UPDATE: This is a tongue-in-cheek post about one woman’s conspiracy theories based on just how outlandish the behind-the-scenes events have been on this godawful show over the years (not to mention the crazy stuff allowed by the contestant contracts). If you don’t get that or appreciate that, please by all means, stay away from this site. There’s a lot of that here. And… you probably should also refrain from reading Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. That’ll just mess you up.

Also, for what it’s worth, I have a whole range of opinions on the lack of diversity of this franchise, none of which are remotely expressed here. If you’re reading anything about my opinions on race on this show beyond “they found a token black guy for the sake of avoiding liability in a lawsuit, even though no one had any plans for him to stick around,” you’re reading too much into it.

– PCM

Image courtesy ABC.com

10 thoughts on “Nice Try, Mike Fleiss, but I’m not Buying Lerone for One Minute (The Bachelorette)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Have you considered the fact that he was just a complete creep who refused to give an exit interview?? THAT is what made Emily uncomfortable. It's ridiculous to think they'd re-tape everything, right down to Emily's hair being in the exact same style. Watch the episode again. He stalked out of the room ahead of her for their one-on-one time. He was staring her down all through the rose ceremony. He came across as an insincere, angry black man with something to prove. Why would Emily want any part in that? Good for her for trusting her instincts.

  2. Anonymous says:

    There are also many sites devoted to the behind-the-scenes happenings on The Bachelor & Bachelorette shows. They have spies trying to infiltrate filming, connections to workers on the show, etc. No way something like what you suggest would've gotten past them. RealitySteve in particular–he regularly predicts everything from what happens on the dates to the eventual winners. The “evidence” provided in this article is hilarious, biased, and absurd.

  3. Blog Admin says:

    This was not “evidence” pointing to a definite fact; it was a list of reasons for my speculation. Look at my wording. That point is very clear. I never once claimed to have any inside information, and have in fact messages Reality Steve to find out if he had heard anything.

    As far as him being a jerk, of course that's a possibility. But since when has ABC left evidence of someone's bad personality on the cutting room floor—especially when they have so much more to gain by justifying his exit?? Just thinking like a lawyer (which I am) here. We're you actually a witness to bad attitude, or are you too speculating? If you're merely speculating, you should drop the attitude. Actually, in either case you should drop the attitude.

  4. Blog Admin says:

    And while we are on the subject, are you seriously insinuating that NONE of the other Bachelors were staring her down, acting like jerks, or acting entitled? If so, we were clearly not watching the same show—or even the same franchise. Every season has no shortage of men who fit that bill, many of whom make it very far. So why in the world does this one contestant have the label of “angry blacken with something to prove,” whereas the guy with a history of domestic violence gets the first impression rose? (not to mention the guy from my hometown who arrived via helicopter and pissed off every guy in the room within five minutes–no label for him? Her judgment off there?) Maybe it is you, anonymous commenter from North Carolina (Emily's home state), who smacks of “bias” here.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I agree that every season has no shortage of jerks… Lerone was far from the only guy I disliked (why would I mention any of them, when this article is about Lerone??). I wanted to like him, actually. I think it would be great to have a kind, attractive black guy on the show. But so much of his body language was hostile, as I described in my first comment. It is far less of a stretch to assume he just didn't give a final interview, than to suggest the producers put together some elaborate scheme, then failed to interview their “hired black guy” at the end. What, he went along with everything else, but not that? And as far as Fleiss denying it–let's not forget how much attention the lawsuit it bringing. It's a great reminder to get everyone to tune in. It makes sense they'd wait to play their “Lerone card” until after the furor brings them plenty of attention. The ideas in your article are absurd and don't add up. I'm sick of seeing headlines full of speculation like this–they don't help anyone.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Another thing I forgot to mention: I don't assume anything about Lerone as a person. His body language was hostile, but I don't dislike him the way I loathed the douche who took his shirt off at the end. I'm sure we can agree Lerone had reason to feel uncomfortable, being one of the only black guys ever to appear on the show, and that kind of pressure combined with fear of rejection can certainly account for his abrupt demeanor and lack of exit interview. I completely disagree with the premise of your article, but this isn't me carrying out a character assassination on Lerone. He had a bad vibe. I wouldn't have picked him either. But like Emily, all I have to go on is a brief first impression.

  7. Blog Admin says:

    Sigh…

    I never purported to  seek to help anyone. In fact, THE SHOW doesn't help anyone either. How about debating the merits of that?

    If the tone of this and similar articles bothers you, one might suggest that a good way to relieve extra stress is to avoid seeking out such articles. People who regularly read this blog know my tone. I know what the only reason you're here is because someone sent you a direct link (so sayeth tracking history), so maybe you should take out your frustration on the person who sent you the link, thinking this is something you would want to read? Certainly that may prove a better use of time (and more fruitful for sure) than arguing about a tongue-in-cheek blog post about my conspiracy theories. 

    As far as whether it makes sense—from the viewpoint of (1) an observer at home, who watches this drivel with an outsider's perspective of the  manufactured drama of this show, the producer's character, and the types of personalities who choose to display themselves in such a forum; coupled with (2) the perspective of a litigator, my conspiracy theory makes a lot more sense than the assumption that ABC (whose in-house and outside counsel presumably have more common sense than Mike Fleiss) would keep quiet about a factor that directly disproves any theories in an on-going CLASS ACTION lawsuit. Obviously, I am not involved with this case in any fashion, or I would not comment on it; but it makes no good business sense to allow a lawsuit to continue (and potentially gain more class members), when you have a fact pattern that directly disproves the main point of litigation. 

    As far as his demeanor, I didn't pick up on any of that from his brief time on screen. I watched the episode twice, and it's just not there. And there certainly isn't enough there to project the “angry black man” title you foisted upon him. I have to wonder, had he been any other race and acted the same way, would you have projected his demeanor in such a way?

  8. Blog Admin says:

    And before this gets into an “OMG, I'm not racist!” back and forth, I'm not saying that you are racist (necessarily. I don't know). I'm just saying that based on something, I don't know what, you may be projecting how much attitude you perceive. “Angry black man” is a VERY strong title to give someone.

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