Kareem Abdul-Jabbars opinion of the Bachelor franchise turned around when the ABC show cast its first black lead.
The NBA legend appeared on Monday nights episode of The Bachelorette to judge the basketball skills of Rachel Lindsays suitors, just months after he accused the franchise of damaging romance in America.
For me, Rachel immediately displayed a clear-eyed view of what was going on and handled herself with dignity while treating the others with compassion, Abdul-Jabbar wrote in a Hollywood Reporter essay before his guest appearance.
I was relieved she wasnt chosen by Nick because, lets face it, she was too good for him. She was smarter, wittier, funnier and more mature than he was, which I suspect he realized and is the reason he didnt select her.
Bachelorette debuts with first black lead
During the episode, the Hall of Famer led the contestants through some drills and then judged a game, along with Lindsay, on the most generous teammates, rather than the stars.
In January, days before The Bachelor returned, Abdul-Jabbar posted a fiery column that accused the show of focusing on a slim demographic.
“You’re not even in the running for love unless you fit a very narrow ideal of Ken and Barbie doll physical beauty,” he wrote for the Hollywood Reporter.
“These shows promote the scorched-earth effects of raising females to be continually judged physically above all other attributes and then measured against impossible physical standards that has marginalized a majority of girls and women and made billions for the beauty products, clothing, and cosmetic surgery industries.”
Bachelorette casts franchise’s first black lead
He also called out the franchise for a lack of diversity.
“The real crime is the lack of intellectual and appearance diversity, which leaves the contestants as interchangeable as the Mr. Potato Head parts,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote.
“The lack of racial diversity has already been commented on. If you’re black on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, you’re usually kept around as a courtesy for a few weeks before being ejected.”
Lindsay, a 31-year-old attorney from Texas, debuted as the first black lead in franchise history in last weeks premiere.
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“Im just trying to find love, and even though Im an African-American woman, its no different than any other Bachelorette,” she said just after being cast in February.
On Monday, Lindsay sent home a suitor whose girlfriend said the couple never broke up.