Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 75

like you. But hot and not crazy and actually takes showers from time to time.” She knows she cannot fire Jeremy because a sexual harassment suit would likely follow, so she gets revenge by firing one of his important crewmembers. Rachel’s and Quinn’s quest for money, dick, and power governs the arc of the season.  As Bastién puts it, “The show lets women be monsters.” While Quinn and Rachel do occupy a male space of power, they use feminine wisdom to their advantage. Their dominance is not mere gender-bending, but also an example that women, qua women, can dominate in unique ways. As Bastién writes, “[Quinn’s] understanding of people’s emotional weaknesses is culled from years of learning how to navigate a world that, as a woman, seeks to keep her powerless.” Quinn’s and Rachel’s pursuit embraces hierarchy and dominance theory, as effortlessly as Chet does in his conventional desire for money, women, and power—even if his efforts are couched in the ridiculous pathological masculinity sustained by essentialist notions. The Construction of Race and Gender The producers’ construction of conventional categories of gender cannot be decoupled from their construction of race. For example, Rachel attempts to brand Ruby as the “angry black woman” wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” tee shirt and manipulates Beth Ann into putting on her Confederate flag bikini. Ruby is depicted as torn between being true to her intelligence and social activism and dawning the markers of totemic femininity, including fake eye lashes and a pretty red dress. This is problematic in that it does insinuate that these are mutually exclusive options, such that Ruby cannot have the autonomy to make her fashion statements in line with the norms of white beauty and be a genuine social activist for the black cause.  In Episode 1 the show-runners also attempt to persuade the Pakistani contestant, London (Sunita Prasad), to wear a headscarf, but she refuses to participate in the producers’ racist agenda. Rachel and Quinn think having the first black male suitor is a progressive move, and on some level this is plausible. But given that these women are after money, dick, and power— in that order—the goal of this move is improved ratings. What drives these ratings is the expected titillation ensuing from the violation of same-race dating norms, such that the viewers get to participate vicariously in all of the racist tropes the show- runners attempt to highlight. This is the white, liberal, feminist racism made manifest. Rachel wants Beth Ann’s father to be appalled at the idea of his pure, white daughter having sex with a hypersexualized black man, though her hopes go unfulfilled. Rachel wants race to be a part of the contestants battle for Darrius, such that the black contestants manifest an historical 75