In multiple previews for Monday’s episode of The Bachelorette, producers strongly suggested Clint Arlis and JJ Lane’s bromance was really a romance — and they went so far as to dub the show “Brokeback Bachelor.”
“There’s already love on The Bachelorette,” said the voiceover. “But it’s not what you think.”
Cut to Clint as he said, “Falling in love with a man never crossed my mind….We’ve grown very close in the shower.”
Before the episode aired, both guys fed the hype on social media.
— Clint Arlis (@ClintonArlis) May 27, 2015
A photo posted by JJ Lane (@jjhlane21) on
Even before the show, it was pretty obvious ABC producers were just trying to play up for the sake of ratings what was really an innocent friendship. Monday’s episode confirmed that. Now, many people aren’t happy with the network.
“Viewers were treated to two-hours in which…much of the action depended on the tired, offensive notion that bisexual people are villainous tricksters out to mislead and hurt poor monosexual innocents,” J. Bryan Lowder wrote for Slate.
Although ABC is being blame for much of the trickery, JJ and Clint are getting criticism for playing up the parts while filming and on social media.
“It was downright offensive for Clint and JJ to act like being gay is some hilarious joke. Is heterosexual masculinity really so fragile that close male friendships have to be laughed off as being ‘gay’? It’s 2015 – how is gay panic still a thing?” Amana Michelle Steiner said in People. “Two women acting in the same way would not have raised any eyebrows, and you can bet they wouldn’t have felt the need to make jokes about their sexuality.”
Time‘s Daniel D’Addario also noted that ABC really took two steps back after airing Diane Sawyer’s interview with Bruce Jenner in April.
“[The show] either felt the need to entirely invent a gay storyline or market it aggressively, all for the apparent purpose of proving that gay people are funny, weird and mind-blowing,” Daniel said, concluding ABC’s entertainment division “didn’t get the same sensitivity training” as their news-based peers.
Worse yet for ABC, the episode aired on a landmark day for LGBT awareness — which made the contrast between the network’s management of LGBT issues and the appropriate management of LGBT issues all the more stark.