“UnREAL” is daring to go where the real "reality" dating shows haven’t: They’ve cast the first black suitor. Their bachelor is Darius, a pro quarterback who causes quite a bit of public drama before he even arrives. Former “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” actor B.J. Britt plays him, and before a panel at the Paley Center for Media, he told International Business Times a little about his character.
“Darius is on a reality show to rebuild his image,” Britt explained Monday. “He’s a pro quarterback. He had just finished playing a game. He had an interview just like we’re doing right now. He got a little heated and he ended up calling the female something that — it was taken out of context, okay? So it looks like he disrespected women. He has to go on this show, ‘Everlasting,’ to rehabilitate his image.”
Fans who remember the first season of the Lifetime drama know that there is plenty of racism behind the scenes of the reality show. Quinn (Constance Zimmer) said one contestant automatically wasn’t going to make the cut because of the color of her skin. “It is not my fault that America's racist, people,” she said. Apparently, she is ready to take more risks with Rachel (Shiri Appleby) running the show.
Executive producer Carol Barbee said she is excited about Darius’ plot in “UnREAL” Season 2 and the controversy he causes. “I love the storyline that we have chosen the first black suitor,” Barbee told IBTimes. “It’s something that has never happened in 20 years of dating reality shows, and it’s really starting a conversation. And it’s been so much fun to write, because everybody loses their minds over interracial dating on television and having people of color as the leads of your show. I mean, it’s 2016, I don’t know why we’re still having that conversation, but it’s still very incendiary.”
Co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro said she considered doing a female-led season of “Everlasting,” much like “The Bachelorette,” but she found the idea of a black suitor more interesting and relevant.
“I think that when you have a platform, you have a responsibility to do something with it,” she said at the PaleyLive panel. “And I thought it was a really interesting thing to explore in terms of black masculinity. It was a really scary thing to explore as a white woman. We’ve taken a lot of care in trying to tell the story the best way that we can, but also acknowledge there’s flaws in the way we’re going to tell it and just invited all of the people on the show to participate as much as we can in that conversation because we thought it was worth talking about.”
Britt acknowledged that the role carried “a lot of pressure,” but ultimately, he hopes that his character Darius has an impact on the real entertainment business. “Once [viewers] see it, I hope it opens more doors for diversity in the industry,” he added.
“UnREAL” Season 2 premieres Monday, June 6 at 10 p.m. EDT on Lifetime.