Nearly five years and multiple seasons after producers of The Bachelor and Bachelorette reportedly began exploring options to cast a person of color, both shows are still without much diversity. In fact, current Bachelor Juan Pablo Galavis is the first “non-white” star — and even he was deemed “pretty white” by noted critics.
“They didn’t go outside the books of what that guy looks like. It’s not like the next bachelor looks like Barack Obama or has dreadlocks or has darker skin even,” author Jennifer Weiner told The Wire when Juan Pablo was cast.
A New York Post writer commented New York-born Juan Pablo “looks so white he could easily slip into a Mitt Romney family photo.”
Part of the problem is the show’s formulaic way of casting bachelors and bachelorettes: The new star is generally one of the previous finalists. So, if the preceding bachelor or bachelorette didn’t pick one of the contestants of color, then there’s little chance the following season will feature that contestant.
Producers also blame the problem on lack of interest from diverse groups of people. In a 2011 interview, producer Mike Fleiss said people of color “don’t come forward.” The comment was quickly criticized by The Shield creator Shawn Ryan, who accused Bachelor/Bachelorette producers of “straight up racism.”
“They just don’t think America will watch black bachelor [sic] or root for mixed-race marriage,” Shawn Ryan said in 2011.
The following year, two African-American men filed a lawsuit against The Bachlelor/Bachelorette, claiming they weren’t given equal casting chances. The judge dismissed the case, but seemed to personally support their message.
“The plaintiffs’ goals here are laudable: they seek to support the social acceptance of interracial relationships, to eradicate outdated racial taboos, and to encourage television networks not to perpetuate outdated racial stereotypes,” U.S. District Court judge Aleta Trauger said in the ruling. “Nevertheless, the First Amendment prevents the plaintiffs from effectuating these goals by forcing the defendants to employ race-neutral criteria in their casting decisions in order to ‘showcase’ a more progressive message.”
Now, because a picture’s worth 1,000 words, here are all of The Bachelor and Bachelorette stars…
Do you think producers should try harder to increase racial diversity on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette?