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?
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.
Image courtesy ABC.com