Getting through The Bachelorette’s Men Tell All special this year felt especially difficult. It seems the show’s producers knew there wasn’t enough content to fill two hours, since they kicked the episode off with a confusingly long montage of Men Tell All Through The Years. No one needs to see Bad Chad Johnson again. The episode then spent approximately 84.67 percent of its time trying to work through the racism and sexism of Lee Garrett, despite how banal and obvious his prejudice is. The remainder of the installment gave DeMario Jackson’s less-than-stellar explanation for his philandering ways and a reminder of local puppy dog Dean Unglert’s broken heart. That’s why the real star of Men Tell All wasn’t a man at all. It wasn’t even the Bachelorette herself, Rachel Lindsay. Oh, no, the true queen of the evening was none other than Makenzi King, the adorable daughter of beleaguered season 13 contestant Kenny King.
Makenzi has been the stealthy star of The Bachelorette throughout its 2017 cycle. As we all know, it’s Bachelor Nation custom to cut contestants off completely from the outside world, essentially blocking them from even touching an iPhone while they go through their Bachelor(ette) "Journey." But, producers allowed Kenny to buck tradition this year in order to see him FaceTime with his 10-year-old daughter, leaving the wrestler a gooey mess of teary, fatherly love every time he pressed "End Call." The results were especially heartwarming to see as the teddy bear was accused of being "aggressive" by season villain Lee. This is a man who cries every time he sees his daughter’s precious face or even thinks about her — he’s clearly not the kind of person who's comfortable dragging singer-songwriters out of vans, even when they’re using dog whistle politics against him. The feud between Lee and Kenny was an indelible dark spot this season, but seeing Kenzi’s smiling face and hearing her sweet words of encouragement were always helped to brighten up an episode amid all the thinly-veiled, mustache-twirling racism.
After seeing Kenzi solely through her dad’s iPhone screen throughout The Bachelorette, she was a sight for sore eyes on the Men Tell All stage, which was filled with endless nonsense. Before the tween joined the special, her father was forced to go over Lee’s dreadful season 13 sentiments all over again, despite the fact viewers already watched all of the racialized drama go on for weeks this summer. If that filming decision wasn’t already eyeroll-worthy itself, things got even more annoying when former dark horse contestant Will Gaskins accidentally slipped in his own backhanded compliment of Kenny, saying one conversation proved the darker-skinned Black man was "easily one of the smartest guys in the house." The statement feels uncomfortably close to the implying Kenny is "One Of The Good Ones" if you actually get to know him. Thankfully, Makenzi’s entrance put an entire to philosophizing about whether or not literal teddy bear Kenny King is aggressive.
Kenzi and her single red rose made a splash the moment they joined the proceedings, and things only got better from there. The 10-year-old was the most endearing person on the entire special, with her perfect braids, winning smile, and honest commentary about her dad’s time on reality TV. Was there a more memorable line from Men Tell All than Kenzi telling her dad, "Yeah, I’m proud of you. You were, like, number eight?" Bachelorette star Rachel might be the current Queen Of Subtle Shade, but it looks like someone is coming for her crown.
Considering all the madness of the special, I was originally annoyed the Bachelorette dragged an uncorrupted child — who prefers Dubsmash to actually smashing people with Viking swords — to the drama, but Chris Harrison convinced me the filming decision was for the best by the end of Kenzi’s cameo. The Men Tell All special was seemingly taped on July 21, the day before Kenny’s birthday. As host Chris brought up this fact, Kenzi began beaming, realizing her dad was about to get a huge surprise. That’s when Chris revealed the daddy-daughter pair were being sent to Disneyland on ABC’s dime for Kenny's birthday, since the Disney Corporation is the network's parent company, after all. Kenzi’s face lit up was disbelief as she clapped, danced, and hugged her now-famous dad. Before things take a turn for the dark, as they often do on reality television, Kenzi's segment ended, meaning she didn't have to experience any drama, or join in on Lee's armchair therapy session. For once, it was truly sweet moment amid lots of sexist and racist tension on Men Tell All.
Considering the way Kenny was used in Bachelorette season 13, essentially as target practice for Lee’s basest compulsions, it would have been easy to to let the wrestler remain a two-dimensional character in the Bachelor Nation universe. But, by adding in Kenzi and all of her precocious charisma, we were introduced to a fully fleshed out Black man, who can be a fighter in the ring, but loves his daughter more than anything in the world. And, Kenzi is a totally mini boss on her own. I would say #Makenzi4Bachelorette2037, but she’s way too awesome for this all of this rubbish.
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