Watching The Bachelor is more fun when there’s someone local like Genevie Mayo to befriend

I don’t know current “The Bachelor” contestant Genevie Mayo personally. I know she’s an adorable nurse, Ravens fan, and “can drive a stick shifter… kinda”. Although I’ve only seen about three minutes of her on TV, she’s now my favorite person and I’ll be cheering her on every week to win the heart of the gently handsome lead actor, Zach Shallcross. I’ll even be mad if he doesn’t pick her.

That’s because she’s one of two current contestants from Baltimore, and I’m covering pop culture for a Baltimore publication, which gives me a professional reason to watch this ridiculous show. You can poke fun at me because every Monday night I’m parked in front of my TV, tweeting live, and ordering sushi, which I’m pretty sure is tax deductible now. I do not care. Because I am Work.

I’ve used journalistic reasons to follow reality television since 2001, when I was a reporter for York Dispatch in York, Pennsylvania, covering the “Big Brother” journey of hometown model and future South Beach nightlife impresario Hardy-Ames Hill, faithfully recapitulated. The show originally listed him as being from Philadelphia, two hours away, because someone in the CBS advertising department clearly thought there was only one city in Pennsylvania. But someone on my desk recognized him as a local, and an official beat was born.

Arriving at the Palm Beach Post in South Florida, I looked forward to poring over the cast lists of reality show contestants the way my late husband studied those NFL draft magazines, except my players wore tans and sequins . The area is warm all year round and attracts pretty young people who look good with little clothing, so there’s almost always been a local on The Bachelor or Survivor or Big Brother. I got to attend watch parties, have Twitter exchanges with former high school friends and teachers, and felt a part of something that was mostly wholesome and silly.

In fact, picking your reality TV favorites by geography is closer to rooting yourself on your home team than you might think. It’s an instant reason to get behind them, wanting them to do well, and yelling at the screen when they finally run out of roses and openly cry in the Sad Limo of Rejection. I got so good at Hometown Reality Reporting that in 2021 I was the official “Bachelorette” repeat offender for the Seattle Times, a dispensary in a city I’ve never been to because this summer’s leading lady, Katie Thurston, is from the Evergreen State came from. Laugh if you want, but it paid for my son’s summer camp. That is not cheap.

Of course, sometimes you run the risk of the hometown girl or guy being the absolute worst, like when Amanda Zuckerman, a “Big Brother” contestant from Boca Raton, near my Florida newspaper, was the leader of a group of racist bullies and I had to call her mother and ask her about it. (Yikes.) But for the most part, the people I’ve treated have been pretty nice people trying to do something weird and funny, although some of them may have been more looking for fame and sponsorships than love.

Baltimore isn’t South Florida, but it was packed with Bachelor Nation cast members. Anastasia Keramidas, a lifestyle digital content creator who grew up here and now lives in San Diego, is back this season and made a splash with a pant suit! Baltimore City College graduate Eric Bigger made it just before the end of Rachel Lindsay’s season of The Bachelorette. Justin Glaze, also from Baltimore, was in Katie’s squadron; Though he didn’t win her heart, he won the internet with GIFs of his hilarious facial expressions ranging from exaggerated shock to a “Did that guy just say what I thought he said?” see. (Yes, he probably has.)

Non-Baltimore standouts at last week’s premiere include Charity Lawson, whose response to Zach’s desire for a child was a sweet, “Oh my god, of course,” as if he’d asked her to pass her the sugar at a tea party. Then there’s Christina Mandrell, niece of country legend Barbara Mandrell. i like christine mostly because I’m an old person who actually knows who Barbara Mandrell is, and in my middle-aged Generation X proximity, it makes me feel superior. We also have Greer Blitzer, who got the “first impression” of Rose but had to post a lengthy Instagram apology for defending blackface when she was in high school. Blackface is bad, but defending it online is just stupid.

So far, our girl Genevie hasn’t done much to attract attention other than being pretty and not making a fool of herself. But no one has posted evidence that she’s being silly or racist on Instagram — sometimes that’s all you need. Even if she doesn’t get the last rose from Zach, she has at least one fan willing to share some tax-deductible sushi with her.

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