I love reality television, particularly The Bachelor.
The roses, the crying women in limos, the wine I drink while watching it… I love every bit of it and its experience. What started as something that I simply wanted to try out has now become a beloved show that I tune into every Monday night it is on.
The Bachelor premiered in 2002 as a simple dating show and soon became one of the most popular shows on network television. It has several spin-off shows – The Bachelorette, Bachelor Winter Games, Bachelor Pad, and Bachelor in Paradise – yet, like many reality tv shows, this show still has its very present flaws.
For it is still lacking one very important thing, diversity, particularly when it comes to the show’s leads.
There have been 23 seasons of The Bachelor and 15 seasons of The Bachelorette to date, but only two leads of color have been featured: Juan Pablo who is Venezualan and Rachel Lindsay who is African-American.
Every other lead has been white. Let that sink in.
There have been 23 seasons of The Bachelor and 15 seasons of The Bachelorette to date, but only two leads of color have been featured.
Now, this has not been for lack of trying from the viewers’ end. This year, in particular, many viewers rallied together in support of contestant Mike Johnson in hopes of him becoming the first black bachelor. Throughout The Bachelorette season he was a contestant on, Johnson was charming, classy, and very well-received by many of the show’s viewers.
As per usual, though, the franchise decided to go with another white lead, Peter Weber, from the upcoming season of The Bachelor. While I am a fan of our guy Pilot Pete, I would be lying if I wasn’t a bit disappointed when I found out the news.
So, why have The Bachelor and its franchise shows been so white throughout all of these years?
It isn’t because of a lack of contestants of color. Throughout the years, the franchise has featured many contestants that have come from a wide variety of backgrounds but these contestants typically get much less screen time, with many sent home at an early point of the season, and so are much less likely to be chosen at the end of their season.
More than 23 seasons and this show is still basically Barbie meeting Ken and vice versa, over and over again.
The bias that the franchise has towards its white contestants can be seen through social media as well. Typically, contestants of color have a much smaller amount of followers in comparison to their white counterparts.
For example, black bachelorette Rachel Lindsay has 872,000 followers on Instagram, while Jojo Fletcher, a white bachelorette, has around 2.2 million followers. So, while Lindsay is not disliked by the fanbase or franchise, she does have a much smaller following online, compared to the other white bachelorettes.
The ratings of Lindsay’s season were also lower than in previous seasons. The first five episodes of her season had around 5.7 million viewers instead of the typical 6.7 million. This occurred despite Lindsay being extremely camera-friendly and charismatic.
Lindsay even criticized the franchise for how her season was made. She said, “I was denied my on-camera happy ending and labeled an angry black female.”
“Bachelor Nation just doesn’t care about people of color.” – Rachel Lindsay
With all this being said and taken into consideration, one could say that it will probably be a while until we get our first black bachelor, if at all, because of the franchise’s attitude towards its contestants of color. For, as Lindsay said herself on the Bachelor Party Podcast, “Bachelor Nation just doesn’t care about people of color.”
Look, as someone who is definitely in the minority of the show’s viewership, I know that these facts are disappointing. Is this the best they can do? More than 23 seasons and this show is still basically Barbie meeting Ken and vice versa, over and over again.
This franchise can, and should, do better. Hopefully, if fans keep pushing for change, more diversity will come to this cheesy yet entertaining show.