Personally, my first reaction to the headline was 98 levels of WHAT???????????????? in general jaw-dropping shock. As in before I even clicked on the article, I yelled "IS ZEKE SMITH REALLY TRANSGENDER??" (like a weird old lady who doesn't understand search engines) into Google, just in case the headline actually just referred to someone trying to stir up nonsense with fake claims. It was not.
So that took me about an hour to process, because...never would have guessed. That is some serious transformation.
It does not, however, make him any more likeable as a human being, which is unfortunate because now instead of being able to forget him forever ASAP, I instead have to listen to people hold up him up as a sainted victim and praise him as a Brave Wonderful Trans Man who was meanly attacked by a cruel bigot who wants him dead, probably. I mean, I would maybe be more sympathetic, but Zeke seems fine and dandy right now with a nation of support behind him, while Varner is being dragged through the mud**, and I like Varner too much to decide this makes him a monster.
**The bloodlust frenzy of "RUIN HIM" is out in full force, including from people who have no idea who he is beyond this, and I just...no. I don't understand. "RUIN HIM" is appropriate when someone is convicted of molesting a child. Of beating their children within an inch of their life. Of shooting a dog and running it over. Setting someone's house on fire as a hate crime. Actual malicious and violent shit. This weird, savage "fuck your apology, you did a Bad Thing and now you better suffer and be thrown out of polite society, and if your employer doesn't fire you immediately then it means they hate [minority group] and should also be ruined" culture does not sit comfortably with me. It was appropriate that everyone yelled at him in the moment, it was appropriate that he apologize, and it's appropriate that he publicly apologize and acknowledge why he's doing so. Unless he shows a continuing pattern of being disrespectful and unwilling to learn, that is it.
tl;dr like many things in life, can y'all listen to how Tai reacted and follow his example
P.S. omg I gotta laugh @ D Listed's commentary: CBS got a lot of s-bombs thrown at them for airing Varner’s outing of Zeke. CBS defended themselves by saying that they worked with Zeke and GLAAD for months on the best way to handle the episode. Zeke also defended CBS by saying that he’s “been granted unprecedented autonomy in how I wanted to tell my story.” While Zeke, CBS and GLAAD do a group hug, Jeff Varner is probably looking into legally changing his name to Not Jeff Varner so he can get a job interview.
Speaking of -- OK Allen Tate, your handling of the situation also gross and you don't a pass on it just because your reasoning was Noble Heroes With Strong Values Support The Transgenders. (purposely incorrect terminology used because they sure sound like a clueless company whose first thought was something like "shit what do we do IDK let's just appease the mob and get rid of him before somebody boycotts us and we lose a sale")
“He said that Allen Tate Realtors didn’t even personally tell him that they were done with him. They locked him out of the system and he had to call them to find out what was going on. "As I’m spending hours doing press [on Thursday], I discover I can’t access my email. Then the MLS association emails to say, ‘You’ve been terminated.’ I didn’t even find out from my company. Suddenly my real estate license was inactive and my current clients [were] left in the dark. It took hours after my press junket to get anyone with the company on the phone to tell me personally, and even longer to calm my clients, all of whom, by the way, are coming with me to my new firm. It was an ugly day. My former boss told me that I was in a news story they wanted nothing to with."”
In other news, nothing of interest happened in this episode except Varner's early attempt at Tribal to shift the heat onto Ozzy, who says nothing but whose entire facial expression is literally, "Sigh. Can I just play the damn game without everyone assuming I am the most Dangerous and Unstoppable Threat."
Also, it was actually sort of nice I had the heads-up on the spoiler so that I could make sure to spend the whole episode appreciating Varner's essence of delightfulness one last time, because they're never gonna let him show his face around here again. Grossell Hantz, that was all fun and games, but this? Unforgivable.