I tend to roll my eyes at fan theories, because they are often 10 percent evidence, 30 percent reaching, and 70 percent ignoring the text of a given show/movie/book series. So, I present my own fan theory for Lifetime’s UnReal with full awareness it will be met with skepticism. I know, we’re early on in season two, but hear me out:
The bachelor is gay.
Darius Beck (B.J. Britt) is a professional football player in need of a PR makeover. He’s the first black quarterback on his team. He’s “Everlasting”s first black bachelor, and he is noticeably reluctant about the show. No surprise there. Last season’s bachelor, Adam, also resented being put in the position of playing Prince Charming to revamp his sullied image. But there’s something different in Darius’s angst. Namely, he’s disinterested.
Adam was a total horn-dog gamely getting down with any would-be wifey. But when Darius was presented with an army of scantily clad women, he was cool to the point of indifference. Then when Confederate Flag bikini babe Beth Ann (Lindsay Musil) pulled her top off as an apology for her poor taste in swimwear, Darius didn’t check out the off-camera boobs. He looked above her head like he was blandly birdwatching.
Maybe he’s a gentleman. Maybe his time in the NFL has swamped him in so many gushy groupies the thrill is gone. But I doubt it. There are hints that the footballer and these girls don’t play for the same team, as it were.
Let’s look at the PR nightmare. Adam was in trouble for being an unscrupulous playboy, complete with hookers and a broken-hearted fiancee. But Darius earned ire by sneering, “Bitch, please,” at a female reporter. Presumably, the remark was seen as aggressive and misogynistic, playing into the dangerous stereotypes that could hurt an NFL star’s career. However, “bitch please” is a phrase also popular in gay culture, where gender slurs like “slut” and “whore” are subversively embraced with humor and camp.
For a sense of its prevalence, Google “Rupaul’s Drag Race bitch please gif.” Or just click here.
I know. That might be reaching. Lots of people say “bitch, please,” so it’s not necessarily that Darius’s friend/manager Romeo (Gentry White) worried that people might think, “Where there’s gay smoke, there’s flamer.” Then consider Darius’s early moment of introspection.
In the first episode, a dismayed Darius is reluctant to get out of the limo and check out his new home/ surveillance situation. When he worries about surrendering his privacy, Rachel tries to sell him on the love angle with “Well, I have a house full of lovely ladies. You have the opportunity to fall in love with one of them.” To which he scoffs, “Let’s not get crazy.”
Maybe Darius just doesn’t believe you find love on an exploitative reality show. But when Rachel follows up with, “What? Where do we stand? Do you not believe in love?” He responds with a cryptic, “Hey, when you’re Darius Beck, things get a little complicated.”
He talks briefly about how so much is expected of him. He says his mom taught him “the rules were always going to be different for me. I couldn’t walk down the street with a hoodie up, didn’t want people to get the wrong idea. Kept my nose pretty clean. You know? Image: squeaky clean. No drugs. No drama. No baby-mamas…If we’re being honest: mostly I feel like a caged lion who’s barely keeping a lid on it most of the time.”
This could speak to the incredible pressure a black role model may feel in the spotlight, shouldering the heavy burden of representation. I expect it largely does. But that last bit speaks to something he’s repressing. Also, Darius notes his devotion to doing right by his mother, who he references again in episode 2 with “My mother says I clean up nicely.” The mother talk could be a clue on its own. Back in the days of classic Hollywood, mentioning a “confirmed bachelor”s devotion to his mother in a celebrity profile was code for “he’s gay,” as was noting that he sported a purple item of clothing, like a handkerchief or blazer.
Even Chet notices something seems off. When he catches Romeo and Darius dourly conversing in ep one, he cuts in with, “For two potent young studs about to meet a herd of willing female, you two don’t look as happy as you should.”
What about “When you’re Darius Beck, things get a little complicated”? Does he mean when you’re a gay man in a culture where such a thing is often a taboo? Does he mean being a gay man in a profession where it might be seen as a liability, as many argued it would be for Michael Sam? If so, Rachel got way more than she bargained for with her game-changing bachelor.
My guess is Darius is not only worried about revamping his image as a likable man, but a likable straight man. Living in the closet in the public eye is one thing, living in the closet when a scandal-thirsty mob of producers and cameramen are swarming you is quite another. Is Darius so keen on keeping his entourage around because they make him comfortable? Or because maybe his boyfriend is in the mix? Was that a key part of the allure of Chet’s new deal? Not to mention the network gig that could preserve his career should the scandal crush his NFL line.
I think we can all safely assume Darius has a secret he’s keeping from Rachel. That’s just how good soap operas work, and UnReal is an incredible soap opera. If Darius is gay, that’d be an exciting dynamic. It’s a twist that could destroy “Everlasting”s season, because women who tune in for romance don’t want to learn the Bachelor is totally unavailable. By extension it could destroy Rachel’s career, as he—as she points out on the always—was her pick. Since Rachel is at constant war with loving and loathing her job, such a dilemma would play right into UnReal’s sweet spot.
I know. They did something like this last season with Faith, the farm girl who turned out to be more in love with her hometown gal pal than with Adam. So is it likely they’d repeat that plot? Well, first off, the Faith thread was so popular that it spurred an entire webseries, “The Faith Diaries.” And secondly, a white woman—even a Southern Fried White Woman—coming out of the closet is a very different endeavor than a black NFL player coming out. Considering the fearlessness with which UnReal is touching on issues of feminism, MRA nonsense, the Confederate flag controversy, and Black Lives Matter, I wouldn’t be surprised if they brought in LGBTA issues more heavily in the second season.
As Constance Zimmerman (who plays Quinn with devilish relish) said, “We’re not afraid to do anything. It’s actually really exciting because I do feel like the second season for us means we can kind of go darker. And we can maybe go a little bit further than we might’ve been afraid to in the first season.”
Creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro told E! that this season would deal with the intersection of feminism and masculinity. And sure, we’re seeing that play out between Quinn and Chet, Rachel and Jeremy (A.K.A. THE WORST). But maybe she’s also hinting at the intersection of feminism and masculinity through the LGBTAQ rainbow? For one thing, a great producer knows not to tease everything ahead of the big show. And for another, UnReal could present an approachable talking point for the current issues of queer stigma that still affect our society in painful ways.
Shapiro also said, “It’s a really complicated issue and that being PC about it sometimes stops us from making progress because we’re all too scared to talk about it. It’s such a compelling issue in our time right now…and that’s something we’re passionate about talking about even though we’re scared of talking about it.”
She was talking about race. But maybe race wasn’t all she was talking about.
Kristy Puchko lives in
perpetual fear that ice cream will become self-aware New York City.