How an Interracial-Dating Web Series Gets Everything Wrong

In the first episode of Swirlr, we’re introduced to Kurt, Quintana and a bunch of bad information and stereotypes.

Swirlr hosts Christelyn Karazin and Jordan Harbinger 
Swirlr hosts Christelyn Karazin and Jordan Harbinger

“Outside of white,” says the golden-haired part-time model, “I find myself most attracted to Asian woman.” OK. “I haven’t actually really dated a black girl,” he adds. “I just don’t know what to expect!”

Tension builds.

Then there’s Quintana, who just moved on a whim from Atlanta to Los Angeles, likes holding hands and walking on the beach and listening to Frank Sinatra (she actually said that) and has all sorts of coded and not-so-coded commentary on black men. More on that later.

The clumsy messaging: It’s not surprising, given the host’s background, that this first episode sticks to a “Black women don’t have to settle for terrible black men” and “There’s nothing wrong with white women, but maybe white men could help us out and try to be attracted to other people” theme. But it’s all a little heavy-handed.

Why Karazin is trying to make Kurt date someone who’s the furthest thing from his type is anyone’s guess. She implies to him that he’ll somehow be left behind if he doesn’t go out with a black woman, saying, “It’s just the world that we live in. People are really getting together and making those connections.” That’s not actually true when it comes to this particular combination of race and gender but, whatever. Details, details.

The stereotypes: The host is quick to label poor, Taylor Swift-loving Kurt “the most vanilla-country boy that I’ve ever seen walking around Hollywood.” (He seems to get this honor based solely on the fact that he’s, well, white.) Then there’s a sidebar about the many generations of farmers in his family that seems designed just to back that up.

Meanwhile, Quintana sounds like a stop-and-frisk proponent or friend of Don Lemon as she riffs on the men of Atlanta: “I dated the bad boys … the tattoos, with either the dreads or some crazy hairstyle and saggy pants,” she says. Wait, are you taking about “bad” or “black”? Or are those synonyms? “I feel like the only reasons I dated black men were because they were the only ones who would understand my attitude,” she wraps up. Right. Got it.

Nothing like drilling down on worn-out stereotypes to set the stage for cross-racial love and harmony.