In a classic example of reality-TV gimmickry, a few of those exchanges unfold after Underwood expresses his anxiety about the conservation, then end on cliffhangers, such as they are, leading into the next episode.
As Underwood notes, his existence has been a mass of perceived contradictions that prompted him to keep who he is secret. Concerns about how others would react informed his decision to go on “The Bachelor,” and his roles as a football player (“my second family,” he says) and devout Christian further complicated coming to terms with his true self.
Underwood, now 29, provides an obvious service in using his profile to highlight these issues, addressing thoughts of suicide and the need to find help as well as homophobia he witnessed in football locker rooms, which contributed to his decision to remain closeted. Yet the program also falls victim to the quirks of reality TV, from the awkwardness of conducting discussions in front of cameras to the conspicuously produced efforts to build tension around these situations.
On the plus side, if Underwood’s story helps one kid wrestling with similar doubts and apprehensions there’s clearly a benefit to that. And a few genuinely touching moments emerge, including Underwood’s interactions with his father, Scott, as a source of love and support. (Among other things, dad has the good sense to advise him to stop looking at Twitter.)
“Coming Out Colton” makes the point that Underwood’s story couldn’t be fully done justice in one morning-show interview. Nevertheless, as is frequently true in this genre, expanding that into a six-episode series feels like a bit of a stretch.
“Coming Out Colton” premieres Dec. 3 on Netflix.