Aside from commercials that air during NFL games, I have never seen a minute of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. Almost everything I know about The Bachelor comes from SNL parodies and critical articles written about Chris Harrison before he stepped away from the show. Likewise, until today, I had no idea who Colton Underwood was. If you’d asked me, based on his name and likeness, I’d have probably guessed he was an evangelical former college football star, which is weirdly not totally inaccurate. Before his stint on The Bachelor, he was a college football star who tried to make it to the NFL but was cut from several teams’ practice squads before he turned to his reality television career.
In any respect, I read roughly the same story about Colton Underwood 10 times today. It’s a feel-good story that he presented on Good Morning America this morning, which was timed with the announcement that Underwood is filming a new Netflix reality show. Again, I know nothing about Underwood, I know nothing about The Bachelor, and I know nothing about Cassie Randolph, the woman Underwood chose at the end of his season of The Bachelor. However, I have repeatedly read the same timeline of events:
— 2014-2016: Underwood attempts to play for the NFL
— 2016-17: Underwood dates gymnast Aly Raisman
— 2018: Underwood is a contestant on The Bacheloroette.
— 2019: Underwood is The Bachelor, and branded the “virgin bachelor.” He chooses Cassie Randolph.
— March 2020: Underwood tests positive for COVID-19; Randolph helps to nurse him back to health.
— May 2020: Cassie Randolph and Colton Underwood break up amicably.
— September 2020: Randolph files a restraining order against Underwood, claiming that he placed a tracker on her car; that he stalked her; that he showed up unannounced to her parents’ apartment, that he loitered outside of her apartment at 2 a.m.; he bombarded her and others with harassing texts from an anonymous number; he accused her of hanging out with an ex-boyfriend.
— October 2020: Randolph drops the restraining order after she and Underwood came to a “private agreement.”
— April 2021: Underwood comes out as gay on Good Morning America, reveals he has a Netflix reality series currently filming about his life as a gay man. In the course of revealing that he is gay, Underwood also apologizes to Randolph.
Now look: I understand and appreciate how difficult it is for some people to come out of the closet. My father was gay, deeply ashamed about it, and didn’t come out until the last couple of years of his life and even then, he remained deeply ashamed. Underwood, likewise, comes from a Christian family from Indiana. I’m sure it was not easy, and I’m glad he’s “the happiest and healthiest he’s been in his life.”
But I guess I’m a little bothered — again, knowing nothing else about Underwood or The Bachelor — that a reality star can go on to Good Morning America and come out as gay while also promoting his new Netflix series and that whole restraining order/stalking/harassing phone calls using an anonymous number just gets swept under the rug. I mean, ultimately I’m happy for Underwood that he was able to come out and be himself and that enough people think fondly enough of him that he can get a reality show, featuring an Olympian, about the experience, but also? The tabloids talk about this period in Underwood’s life where he was stalking his ex-girlfriend as little more than a passing “dark phase,” but like, everything is totally chill now?
Is that how the reality TV world works?
Folks are giving Colton Underwood the Aaron Shock hot-white-straight-presenting wave away and it’s making me MAD. I’m not in the community, so admittedly I’m an interloper. But excusing a dude stalking a woman bc things were tough is the epitome of straight dude bullshit— Rae Sanni (@raesanni) April 14, 2021
I am very split on Colton Underwood’s coming out this morning. The public nature of it seems like he(and more likely his people) are trying to shift the narrative away from the stalking and abuse. I’m not saying he’s not gay, I’m saying he’s likely gay and also an asshole— Lily Mandell (@lilymandell1) April 14, 2021
But also if anyone’s response to Colton Underwood is to give him a pass for the very scary, very REAL, harassment and stalking of his ex (including tracking device in car) then that’s not it either 👀— Helen (@helenteee) April 14, 2021
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