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Stuff White People Like? Lawsuit Claims TV's "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" Don't Feature People of Color
When the limo-loads of ladies and lads pull up to the mansion in the hills to meet the mate they're going to compete for on TV's "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," it seems that it's always a white person they're fighting over. A racial discrimination lawsuit expected to be filed today against the show's network, ABC, points out "that over 10 years of the show and 23 seasons, the programs have not featured a single person of color as the featured Bachelor or Bachelorette," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
While some of the prospective brides and beaus who subject themselves to the rigorous faux-reality of the show in the hopes of catching the attention of the singular single the show is aiming to couple (Andrew Firestone, Jake Pavelka, Jennifer Schefft, DeAnna Pappas and so on) have been non-white, the group of Nashville residents behind the class-action suit are going to have to prove that minorities were deliberately excluded.
Leading the suit are African-American football players Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson. It is not clear if they had ever hoped to be the featured "bachelor" on the popular dating show.
The TV biz apparently had been hoping to correct the racial disparities as represented by actors on scripted shows with the glut of "reality" programming that flooded the broadcast and cable networks in the past decade. How successful has the TV industry been? This suit seems to say not so much, at least when it comes to high profile "romance."
In the past, "Bachelor" executive producer Mike Fleiss has admitted he and his colleagues at the show have shied from placing a person of color in the spotlight for fear of "tokenism," even though they have tried to "cast for ethnic diversity," according to a 2011 interview cited by THR.
Calling out the show and the network for lack of diversity, as it turns out, isn't actually new: A 2010 article posits that ABC "continues to underserve America's ever-growing minority population," as evidenced by the mostly "lily-white" contestants and "stars" of the "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" franchises. So is it that advertisers and American audiences need the "homogeneous" candidate pool and star singleton because they can't handle the idea of interracial dating in the 21st century? Maybe so:
"There may be two things at play here," said Angela Bronner Helm, Senior Editor at BlackVoices.com. "One, the country is still in its heart conservative and feels most comfortable dating intraracially. White Americans, statistically, when dating online, do prefer dating one another. Another issue may be that ABC/Disney, like many movie studios, fears a backlash from 'middle America' and frankly thinks that people will not watch a Black guy dating either black women or white women or vice versa."
ABC has not commented about the pending suit.