“The Bachelor” has been airing on ABC for 33 seasons spanning 15 years. The first Bachelor, Alex Michel, starred in the reality series premiere season in March 2002. In line with fantasies about finding one’s true love ripe with passion among viewers, the show became an instant hit. One year later, “The Bachelorette” premiered the following year in 2003, to complete The Bachelor franchise.
‘The Bachelor’ Lacks Diversity
Since its debut, all those years ago, neither the male nor female version of “The Bachelor” seemed to look to expand their audience beyond white watchers. Consequently, with every year that passed more questions were raised as to why “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” both steered away from having a person of color as a star contestant. Even during the eight years, while a black man served as the U.S. President, these American-taped shows seemingly did not want to have a black person as the star in their series.
“The Bachelor” black-contestant controversy has been a matter of discussion throughout the franchises’ 15 years on the air. Back in 2011, an Entertainment Weekly interview posed the question to Bachelor producer Mike Fliess asking if the audience will ever see a non-white Bachelor or Bachelorette. Accordingly, Fliess remarked that he thought, but could not confirm, that his then Bachelorette, Ashley, was 1/16 Cherokee Indian. He went on to admit feeling guilty of “tokenism” and remarking about the need to cast to be ethnically diverse.
Not long after, a racial discrimination lawsuit was filed in April 2012. This came after 23 seasons and ten years of the shows being aired without choosing a person of color for the Bachelor nor Bachelorette roles. African-American Nashville residents Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson filed the class-action lawsuit citing Civil Rights Act of 1866.
Evidently, the suit was filed after Johnson stated that he was turned away from a casting call for the show. Six months later, in Oct 2012, a federal judge tossed out the lawsuit. He ruled that the First Amendment prevailed to safeguard “The Bachelor” producers freedom of speech in their casting process and program’s end results.
‘The Bachelor’ Welcomes a Black Bachelorette
Finally, it is better late than never, that a non-white person was chosen to take the star’s pedestal ending “The Bachelor” black-contestant controversy. Diversity finally found its way into The Bachelor franchise with the announcement of their choice for a new Bachelorette.
The announcement was made on ABC, with much fanfare, by Jimmy Kimmel on his talk show. Joining Kimmel in the big 2017 Bachelorette reveal was “The Bachelor” host, Chris Harrison.
Harrison walked onto the stage with a red rose ready to hand to Kimmel. In keeping with the hyped rhythm of anticipation, he bantered playfully with Kimmel teasing all waiting for the announcement. Harrison spoofed his own Bachelor franchise playing up the rose ceremonial choosing of a winning contestant.
After he had exited the stage, Kimmel took control and announced Rachel Lindsay as the newest Bachelorette. Lindsey entered among a backdrop of rose pedals to receive the rose from Kimmel.
Beyond being the first black lead for “The Bachelor,” Lindsey is not only stunning and spirited but also well-educated and a practicing attorney. She may have lost the hometown date with Bachelor Nick Viall, but Lindsey won over the hearts of “The Bachelor” producers and fans. Seemingly beautiful, both inside and out, the stately beauty could be the franchise’s ultimate pick for the personification of a woman.
‘The Bachelor’ Historic Awkward Introduction
In keeping with the unprecedented early announcement of the newest Bachelorette, “The Bachelor” had Lindsey meet four suitors on live TV ahead of “The Bachelorette” May 22, 2017, premiere.
As Lindsey waited to meet each man on the “After the Final Rose” special of “The Bachelor,” anticipation built. Specifically, viewers were curious to see how the show would handle a star that showcased diversity. Would they have more non-white suitors on the show as well?
Appropriately, the move led “The Bachelor” to cross interracial lines, as the audience watched four men simply vying for love. One of the men did present a beyond-awkward moment in a comment that he made to Lindsey regarding white versus non-white.
The suitor, who happens to be white, thought he was witty stating, “I’m ready to go black, and I’m never going to go back.” Quickly a backlash ensued with those watching taking to Twitter posting their disbelief in, what was perceived, as a racist comment.
Along with “The Bachelor” black-contestant controversy, it appears that the world keeps walking a fine line in acceptance of all being equal. Whether gender or color, it is a continuous battle of walking the tightrope, balancing just right. Perhaps soon, people around the globe will no longer be fighting for equality and understanding. All the same, “The Bachelor,” at least, has taken the first step in entering the world of diversity; and with first steps falls do arise.
By Carol Ruth Weber
Edited by Cathy Milne
Entertainment Weekly: ‘The Bachelor’ creator on his long-running franchise: ‘The romance space is ours’
The Hollywood Reporter: ‘The Bachelor’ Racial Discrimination Lawsuit: Read the Full Complaint
The Hollywood Reporter: ‘The Bachelor’ Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Dismissed
YouTube: Jimmy Kimmel & Chris Harrison Reveal Next Bachelorette
Huffington Post: The First Black ‘Bachelor’ Lead Had A Ludicrously High Bar To Clear
Refinery 29: People Can’t Believe One Of Bachelorette Rachel’s Suitors Made A “Ready To Go Black” Joke
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Annca’s Pixabay Page – Creative Commons Licence