- The Bachelor franchise has historically struggled with issues of race, with people of color being largely underrepresented.
- The executive producers of the show failed to provide a satisfactory response when questioned about these racial controversies.
- The Bachelor’s silence and mishandling of racial issues is nothing new, as seen in their handling of past problematic behavior.
The Bachelor has been called out for some issues the series has faced in the past with race, but their response was underwhelming to fans and all around awkward. Throughout the duration of The Bachelor franchise, there has been an undercurrent of tension regarding the show’s stance on race. People of color were not featured in the franchise’s early days. It took until The Bachelorette season 13 to feature a lead of color, Rachel Lindsay, and until The Bachelor season 25 to feature man of color, Matt James. Unfortunately, many fans felt the development was too little, too late.
According to TVLine, during a panel at a Television Critics Association event, NPR’s Eric Deggans asked about the franchise’s controversies surrounding race over the years. “Why does it seem that The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have such a hard time dealing with racial issues? Have you learned anything from these past scandals that led to the departure of [former host] Chris Harrison?” After a pause from the executive team on stage, Executive Producer Claire Freeland explained, “I can speak to where we are now. Our goal is to represent the fabric of the country…we’ll continue to do so moving forward.”
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Bachelor Nation’s Ongoing Issues With Race Explained
While the executive producers tried to provide an answer that would suffice, NPR’s Eric pressed the question. “Why has The Bachelor struggled to deal with race, particularly when Black people are the star of the show?” While the panel had provided an answer for the first question regarding race, they struggled to answer the second question entirely. After they were unable to answer the question, falling into complete silence, Eric broke the silence himself, saying, “I guess we have our answer.” While The Bachelor’s executive team chose to stay silent, their silence isn’t new when it comes to problematic behavior.
The Bachelor franchise has faced criticism about their position on race for years, including the fact that a lead of color was not cast until 2017, over a decade into the show’s life. While Rachel, the first franchise lead of color, has cut ties with Bachelor Nation entirely, the franchise has kept others in the fold despite handling delicate issues poorly. Most Bachelor viewers recall the issues the franchise faced in 2021, when winner Rachael Kirkconnell’s racially insensitive past was brought to light. Original Bachelor host Chris faced such vitriol for defending Rachael that he stepped down from his position.
While the series producers have shared that they’re hopeful to represent the true diversity of the US in their programming, it’s clear that they’re missing the mark when it comes to representing true diversity. As the majority of the series’ franchise leads have not been people of color, The Bachelor has some serious work to do in addressing their past and moving into the future as a fair, equal series. With the executives who produce the show refusing to comment, The Bachelor has quite a bit of room to grow from this experience.