With the announcement that last season’s runner-up, Ben Flajnik, will be the new Bachelor on the show’s 16th season one thing about him and the series stands out — leaving us to wonder: Why is The Bachelor always white?
America is a melting pot of different cultures and nationalities. The country’s demographics are constantly changing and popular culture slowly but surely evolves to keep pace with the real world. That is unless you are a hit reality series on ABC where 25 women and men compete for the affections of a Bachelor or Bachelorette. That is as long as everyone is white.
One would think that in 16 seasons of the hit TV series The Bachelor ABC would have thought to reflect the make up of their real world viewers by choosing a person of color as the ultimate romantic prize.
It’s not only the bachelors that are white but the majority of contestants competing for the bachelor’s heart are also white. This then becomes a repeated cycle because the runner up of one show almost always becomes the new Bachelor or Bachelorette in the next season of the related show. And the cycle of the white romantic prize repeats for another season
It’s not that there have not been any minority contestants of at all. It’s just that the people of color that do make it on the cast of the show, end up eliminated in the early rounds of eliminations leaving white suitors vying for a white prize.
Season after season minority contestants that are few and far in between never make it past the first rose ceremony. Often if you are a person of color expect to leave the show on episode one with no rose and no life partner. With the exception of Bachelor season 6 winner Mary Delgado, who is Cuban-American, minority suitors are the first to go home.
In addition, in the combined 22 seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette there have been no people of color chosen by ABC for the title role of either show. Minority contestants are fine for dancing, singing, and racing around the globe but when it comes to matters of the heart only white is right.
This criticism of the show is not new and in the past when questioned about the whiteness of The Bachelor the show’s executive producer Mike Fleiss has claimed that people of color “don’t come forward” to try out for the shows. Apparently, Mr. Fleiss wants us to believe that minority contestants only show up en masse for casting calls for shows on VH1 and Bravo.
The question is whether the whiteness of the cast is deliberate to avoid controversy and damage the ratings of such a successful ABC series.
It’s not just the race of the suitors and those sought after that are a throwback to a past era, both shows are also heteronormative. There is little room in the ABC formula for contestants who don’t fit the mold of “traditional” couples, a white man and a white woman. If in 16 seasons ABC has not chosen a bachelor who is note white and heterosexual, how long before a black or Hispanic bachelor? Do we have to wait until season 32 for a gay bachelor?
It’s curious that ABC who has frequently chosen diverse casts for their other hit reality television series cannot break out of the same old routine when it comes to The Bachelor. It’s not that they are afraid of “controversy.”
It’s clear that they are willing to think outside of the proverbial box, with the selection of Chaz Bono for the new season of Dancing with the Stars, a choice that has caused a lot of bigoted criticism to be hurled at ABC. ABC should be commended for this casting choice and one hopes they can make the same progressive choice in casting their romantic leads.
Why not allow interracial relationships, which are no longer taboo, to be shown on your signature dating competition? America has voted for multiple black American Idols, male and female Dancing With the Stars champions of all races, and even elected a president who is the product of an interracial relationship.
Come on ABC we are ready for a Bachelor or Bachelorette who isn’t white.