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(63,023 posts)
Wed Jul 10, 2024, 07:30 AM Jul 10

Angel Reese is too good to be the bad guy

For a while, this whole villain cosplay might have been necessary — and personally beneficial. Reese probably would not have graced magazine covers or won entertainment show awards without creating that viral moment with Clark at the end of the 2023 national championship game. Sure, Reese has been gobbling up double-doubles since her Baltimore prep days, but she doesn’t reach celebrity status without imitating the “You can’t see me” gesture and pointing to her ring finger to mock Clark in the closing moments of the title game. And ever since she trolled America’s sweetheart, Reese has become a target for one crowd that has dog-whistled its dislike and an icon for another group willing to rush to her defense.

Between the clashing camps, she was simultaneously called “classless” and “authentic.” An enemy but also a cultural hero. Because the viewing public needs easily digestible narratives, during the year or so in which Reese has blossomed into a household name, she has been pitted against Clark as the antihero. For all of its flaws and divisions, this story arc has grown the game.

When the Sky faces the Fever, the league’s television partners enjoy a ratings bonanza. The first meeting June 1 — long sigh — when the Sky’s Chennedy Carter committed a flagrant foul on Clark and Reese popped off the bench to applaud her teammate, created a hysteria of hot takes. A few weeks later, the rematch generated an average of 2.25 million viewers. When the teams met for a third time June 23, that game toppled the previous record and averaged 2.3 million viewers, the most for a WNBA game in 23 years.

This is the playbook to get eyeballs. Good vs. evil — even if the so-called meanie is simply acting out the role. Savvy enough to recognize the audience’s appetite and self-assured enough to handle any negativity, Reese has willingly played to the perception. Last month, Reese allowed the audience a peek at the playbook.


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