In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, people are demanding racial equality in all aspects of life – from the government, to police forces, to The Bachelor Franchise. Let’s talk about how the BLM movement is spreading from the streets to our TV screens, with a growing movement demanding more diversity in this reality show’s casting.
The Bachelor has dominated reality TV for over 18 years – creating dozens of spin off shows and launching countless careers for its cast members. However, out of the 40 leads the show has cast, only one has been black, Rachel Lindsey from Season 13 of the Bachelorette. Fans of the show are using the recent momentum of the BLM movement to finally launch a campaign to increase black representation in Bachelor seasons moving forward.
The Bachelor Diversity Campaign launched on June 8th as a social movement pushing to increase diversity in the show, both on and off camera. The campaign says they are “a diverse group of women who came together on a bachelor fan page to demand change in the Bachelor Franchise”. They are targeting ABC and Warner Bro through a petition on Change.org, which as of recording this video, has over 72 thousand signatures. The petition asks for a Black lead on the show’s upcoming 25th season, wants at least 35% of every season contestants to be black indigenous people of color, have BIPOC storylines to be given fair screen time, hire a diversity consultant to work behind the scenes and in the casting department, have the Network condemn racist behaviors from cast members, issue apologize publicly for enabling systemic racism, among other demands. The fanbase wants more from their favorite show to be able to support it!
The Bachelor has long been criticized for their apparent white washing of the contestants. The show’s only Black lead, Rachel Lindsey, has taken to her personal blog to discuss how she will cut her ties with ABC and Warner Brothers if the show’s racism isn’t addressed and corrected soon. Lindsey says she accepted the role of the Bachelorette originally because she “wanted to be a trailblazer in this franchise to diversify the lead role” but she is “sad to say that after almost four years in this franchise, we still don’t have the diversity this show needs, and that our audience deserves”. She announced that “If changes are not made on the inside and outside of the franchise, I will dissociate myself from it” and she calls for the show to acknowledge their “systemic racism”. Rachel isn’t here for anyone’s ignorance!
A lot of reporting on this issue stops with Rachel, but there was actually a lawsuit filed in 2012 claiming the network was racially discriminating in their casting – proving this isn’t a new issue for the show. A lawsuit was brought by Christopher Johnson and Nathaniel Claybrooks, two men who auditioned for the show claimed they were not cast because the show discriminated based on race when choosing what each season will look like and how many people of any one race they are willing to feature.
Clearly there’s a lot of history to unpack with this show’s relationship to race, but the recent Diversity Campaign and their petition, seem to be uniting cast members in the call for real change. Former Bachelorette contestant Diggy Moreland posted “I can’t believe we have to FORCEFULLY ask them for this…”, and season 23 cast member Nicole Lopez-Alvar tweeted “Diversifying the cast diversifies the audience, which creates a community with open doors – one that invites viewers of all backgrounds, ethnicities and ages to experience @BachelorABC”. Ashley Spivey from season 15 also speaks about the show’s current recap season – saying “ABC is extremely tone-deaf to air the greatest seasons that feature ONLY white leads and highlight the lack of diversity on every season.” These cast members are standing strong against their network and demanding they step up to the place.
There’s clearly support for this movement, but some fans online are asking why only black representation is being advocated for in this campaign. One twitter user said “I’m so sick of not seeing any asian representation on the bachelor or bachelorette” and another saying “I bet they’ll cast a black heartthrob before they cast an asian one” and, “diversity in general. Cast short girls, tall girls, plus size girls…”. The current petition and Diversity Campaign are specifically aimed at black indigenous people of color, so some fans are asking why more wide spread representation isn’t being demanded, but the Campaign seems to have not addressed this and are standing by the need for black representation, specially, in our current political climate. Some twitter users are also pointing out that maybe the show is such a harmful representation of women that it’s for the best People of Color are big excluded. One user said “I saw someone watching part of that trash yesterday. It was sad. Why women in two pieces throwing themselves at one dude” and another said “as far as I’m concerned, I’m happy POCs aren’t subjected to the ridicule of this show”.
Let us know what you think – should the campaign be more all encompassing? Is the show even racist at all? Is the show in general problematic and we should cancel it all together? We want to know your thoughts in a comment or a tweet!