|Posted by Jennifer L Pozner|
May 3rd, 2012
I’m working on story for The Daily Beast about a racial discrimination lawsuit filed late in April against ABC and the various production teams behind “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette.” I’ve interviewed reality TV producers, high-level media executives, former and aspiring future Bachelor cast members, entertainment lawyers and TV reporters for this piece, which I’ll post here when it goes live.
The crux of the matter? Over ten years and twenty-three seasons, not one of the sixteen Bachelors or seven Bachelorettes was a person of color. There have also been remarkably few African America, Latino, Asian American, Native American or Arab American contestants among the contestant pools.
As I described in my Oct. 2010 book, Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV, one of the major de facto assumptions in TV’s longest running reality romance franchise is that Mr. Right must be white (or, Mr. Wright B. White, as I nicknamed the interchangable white-boy suitors handing out the long-stems). Long-time WIMN’s Voices readers know that I’ve been critiquing the race and gender biases intrinsic to this franchise since the series debuted in 2002, noting in media literacy lectures that “The Bachelor” (and its ladies-choice spinoff, “The Bachelorette”) set an early template for how people of color would be tokenized, typecast and quickly eliminated on a decade’s worth of network dating shows.
More recently, corporate media outlets such as Entertainment Weekly and the Los Angeles Times to independent media including Racialicious and Colorlines have also addressed the race problems at the center of network television’s longest-running dating series. Yet the shows’ producers and the network that airs them have chosen to ignore the criticism and the calls for more inclusive casting.
Result? A lawsuit being filed under a civil rights statute from the post-Civil War reconstructionist period. Until my Daily Beast piece is published, you can read the full legal complaint at The Hollywood Reporter.