Column: A black ‘Bachelorette’ is long overdue

Megan Ivey, Staff Reporter

I spent my Valentine’s day in a true fashion of romance — eating pizza and making my boyfriend watch the latest episode of “The Bachelor.” Because what is more romantic than watching twenty women fight for the attention of one man?

I am aware of the show’s downfalls. Even so, it is fun to watch the drama unfold. It’s a guilty pleasure that helps me escape reality, despite it being called reality television.

I can get past the fake, over-the-top romantic gestures. I can see through the questionable, sometimes scripted plot. But there is one element of the franchise (“The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette,” and its spin-offs) that makes me uneasy.

“The Bachelor” is a predominantly white show. Forbes reported in 15 years, with 21 seasons of “The Bachelor” and 12 seasons of “The Bachelorette,” all but one lead, who was Latin-American, were white.

It does not take much time for the average viewer to notice the lack of diversity, and it extends beyond who is cast as lead. Out of twenty contestants, only a handful are black. The show typically promotes within, meaning one of the contestants on “The Bachelor” is likely to become the Bachelorette and vice versa.

The contestant who is promoted usually has to be on the show for a long period of time, so he/she can face heartbreak and the audience can get attached.

The odds for black constants are dismal. reported 59 percent of black contestants are sent home within the first two weeks. So not only does the show cast fewer African-Americans, but they are also more likely to be eliminated early on.

I noticed this pitfall when I started watching the show four years ago, hoping and waiting for some kind of change.

The franchise announced Monday it will be casting its first black lead, Rachel Lindsay, as the next Bachelorette. Lindsay posted a photo on Instagram with her excitement, using the hashtags #thankful #blackhistorymonth and #historic.

At first, I was super excited. Lindsay was one of my favorites this season, and I called her having a major role, if not being the next Bachelorette.

Then, I was angry. This might be making history in the confines of the show, but is it really historic?

The entire country voted for a black president twice before some producers of a popular reality television show decided to cast a black lead. I am happy to see progress, but it’s hard to congratulate a franchise that just now, after hearing criticisms, decided to give an African-American the spotlight.

Instead of applauding the franchise, I found myself wondering why I have watched something for so long that didn’t reflect my values.

Forbes reported less than 10 percent of the franchises viewers are black, according to the television rating company, Nielsen.

This is not a valid reason for why there are fewer black contestants. Being a white viewer does not mean I only want to see white people on a show. It’s a misguided, dated way of thinking.

Despite my frustration, I will watch Lindsay’s season. The franchise needs to see that views or ratings will not drop when a black lead is cast. I am also interested to see if the contestants will be more diverse.

Lindsay has not yet been eliminated on “The Bachelor.” The latest episode showed her and the Bachelor, who is white, discussing meeting each other’s’ families. He asked, “Have you ever brought home a white guy before?”

Shows like “The Bachelor” make me realize how much society still needs to overcome. Conversations such as these need to be shown in entertainment. We don’t have to pretend that interracial dating issues don’t exist, but we should have an accurate representation of diversity in relationships.


Megan Ivey is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].