Kareem Abdul–Jabbar once criticized The Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise, but he appeared as a guest star on Monday's episode of The Bachelorette.
So what changed?
Kareem's initial critique appeared in an article for The Hollywood Reporter, “How the Bachelor and Bachelorette Franchise Are Damaging Romance in America.” He criticized the show for hiding an "insidious darkness beneath the fairytale pabulum they are serving up," and he also argued that "the real crime is the lack of intellectual and appearance diversity." The essay is a really thoughtful critique of the Bachelor/Bachelorette's concept of love. (Abdul–Jabbar did concede that the show is "compelling fun.")
But as Abdul–Jabbar explains in a Hollywood Reporter column on Monday, the emergence of Rachel Lindsay as a contestant on last season's Bachelor and the show's decision to cast her as the first black bachelorette (or bachelor) helped change his opinion.
"Rachel distinguished herself as intelligent, athletic, playful, witty and emotionally mature," Abdul–Jabbar writes. "She also happened to be black.
"After my article appeared — and while [Nick] Viall’s Bachelor season was being broadcast with Rachel still in the mix — the producers of The Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise called me up to tell me that the upcoming Bachelorette would feature a black woman. There were three black women among the remaining contestants, and though the producers wouldn’t reveal whom it would be, clearly Rachel had been a standout. They then asked me if I would like to come on the show and run the men through some basketball drills that would reveal some of their character traits to Rachel. As a fan of the shows, I naturally agreed."
Abdul–Jabbar helped Rachel facilitate a basketball group date during Monday's episode, surprising the contestants, who absolutely freaked out when the NBA legend entered the gym. The guys bricked a bunch of shots and may have set basketball back generations, but it was sufficient to help me get through the lull between the conference finals and NBA Finals.
If you're a fan of the show, be sure to read Abdul–Jabbar's entire column.