12:22pm PT by Jackie Strause
'Bachelorette' Rachel Lindsay Breaks Silence on Controversial Contestant Lee Garrett
Rachel Lindsay has broken her silence on controversial contestant Lee Garrett.
For two episodes and counting, The Bachelorette has centered its drama on Garrett, a contestant who has been accused of picking fights with black contestants. On Monday's episode, Garrett, a white singer-songwriter from Nashville, antagonized Kenny "Pretty Boy Pitbull" King, a black wrestler from Las Vegas.
Their onscreen confrontations — many of which happened when Lindsay wasn't around — ultimately caused the Bachelorette to have a tearful breakdown over the pressure of being the first black lead in the franchise. "I get pressure from so many ways being in this position," she said to the camera, directly addressing the high-stakes of her history-making season for the first time. "I already know what people are going to say about me, and judge me for the decisions I'm making. I'm going to have to be the one who has to deal with that and nobody else, and that's a lot."
Ahead of Garrett's on-air behavior, viewers uncovered racist tweets allegedly sent from his Twitter account in 2015 and 2016. Though the posts have since been deleted, most of Bachelor Nation went into the episodes already aware of Garrett's alleged predispositions.
One person who perhaps wasn't aware, however, was former Bachelor contestant Leah Block. Block, who appeared on Ben Higgins' season of The Bachelor and last season's Bachelor in Paradise, took to Twitter during the racially charged episode to compare this season to an episode of the VH1 reality series Love and Hip Hop.
She wrote, "I'm sitting here watching @BacheloretteABC and my roommate just sat down on the couch and said 'what is this? @LoveAndHipHop_?" Block included a laughing emoji and wrote in all caps, "DEAD." (The post has been deleted, but was captured by users on Twitter.)
The reference to the VH1 series, which features a predominantly black cast, wasn't lost on Lindsay. Her contestants make up the most diverse cast in the history of the ABC franchise and unlike many seasons prior, many of the non-white contestants are still competing on the show, now in its fourth week.
"Let me know if she wants to meet Lee," Lindsay replied to Block, "they sound like they would have a lot in common." She added the hashtag #ihavetimetoday
With most of Garrett's antics happening in Lindsay's absence, the Bachelorette is likely learning of his behavior while watching the show.
"I didn’t foresee how much conflict that would arise between the men," Lindsay wrote in a blog for People about casting a diverse group of contestants. "Yes, I only have two eyes, but if someone is on this journey who doesn't belong, I'll figure out that for myself even if it takes me longer than it should."
The tension between Garrett and King is only set to escalate, as their upcoming head-to-head was the main attraction teased during the preview for next week's two-night event, which shows King with a bloody eye.
"I never believed the drama would lead to the explosion that happens next week," wrote Lindsay. "There will be blood, tears and threats that cannot be taken lightly. I think some of these guys take the old phrase 'all is fair in love and war' a little too seriously. ... I just hoped they wouldn't forget the love."
ABC teased the event in a press release for the two episodes as such: "On the much-anticipated two-on-one date between two bitter rivals, one man causes the more emotional guy to settle the score once and for all in one of the most riveting and shocking confrontations ever on the show. How will it end? Who will go home or will Rachel clean house?"
Lindsay's tweet seems to suggest Garrett will soon be free to hang with whomever he likes, though the future also doesn't look overly bright for the "emotional guy" — assumed to be King.