This Bachelorette season is about class: Schneller

Reality TV game show is delicate with a contentious topic for once.

Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay and Eric Bigger.


Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay and Eric Bigger.

The Show: The Bachelorette, Season 13, Episode 7 (City/ABC)

The Moment: Eric’s story

Rachel Lindsay, the first African-American Bachelorette, is choosing the four suitors whose families she’ll meet. She and Eric, a 29-year-old personal trainer from Los Angeles — and the only remaining black suitor — sit by a fire in Geneva.

If Rachel meets Eric’s family, he confides, “It’ll be my first time ever in my life bringing a girl home.” Rachel looks startled. “Baltimore is a challenging city, and how I grew up wasn’t easy,” Eric continues. “All the men in my family were in the streets, dealing drugs, committing crimes.”

“Your dad, too?” Rachel asks. “Dad, uncle, cousin,” Eric replies. His uncle went to prison. He knew kids who couldn’t afford school clothes. He’s seen abusive relationships, and “family members getting high. Mom, dad — never seen them together ever in my life.”

Later, Rachel admits to the camera that what Eric told her “is a little scary.” But she gives him a rose.

Everyone assumed this season would be about race, and social media tutted every time Rachel sent away a black suitor. But this moment was different, more delicate — so delicate that for once, the show didn’t tease it at every commercial. This moment was about class.

Rachel is a supremely polished attorney from Dallas. Eric “knew friends who were killed in the streets.” North Americans don’t like to talk about class, but here, as it intersects with race, it’s impossible not to.

Rachel would have looked mighty callous if she’d booted Eric after he opened up. But Monday night’s hometown visit should be fascinating.

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