‘The Bachelor’ Fans Feels the Producers Are Full of It
After 18 years and 24 seasons, The Bachelor franchise has finally cast their first Black Bachelor. Matt James has been named the lead of the show’s 25th season, which is set to premiere in 2021. James, who was slated to compete on Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette, is also the best friend of almost Bachelor, Tyler Cameron. Many fans are excited to see him search for love next year.
But, as excited as fans are for the first Black Bachelor, many fans find the timing very suspicious. Amidst the consistent police brutality against Black people in the U.S., consumers have been demanding that brands and the media do better at supporting, valuing, and representing Black people. The Bachelor franchise certainly hasn’t been exempt from this. In fact, recently, there was a petition created that campaigned for anti-racism in the franchise.
‘The Bachelor’ producer says casting Matt James wasn’t in response to the diversity petition
One of the demands of the petition, which has been signed by over 93.000 people, was that The Bachelor executives and producers cast a Black lead for season 25 of the show. Though the producers have met that demand by casting James, the show’s executive producer, Rob Mills, claims that selecting James as the show’s next lead had nothing to do with the diversity petition.
“It wasn’t a response to that. We could have made this announcement earlier or later. Certainly, no one is blind to what is happening in the world, so hopefully, this announcement serves as a bit of optimism during a time that we can really use this. But I don’t want this to like we’re patting ourselves on the back or taking a victory lap,” Mills shared in an interview with Variety.
Rachel Lindsay Abasolo speaks out on Twitter
But, many people in Bachelor Nation are not buying that James being cast wasn’t in response to the petition. In fact, many people feel that James was only cast in order to quell the recent outrage of the series’ consistent lack of diversity. Furthermore, many people feel like casting the first Black lead now is only pandering to fans given the larger movement currently taking place.
Even people within the franchise itself aren’t buying Mills’ claim that James wasn’t cast in reaction to the petition. “I would be remiss to not point out that based on the current climate, it feels like a knee-jerk reaction and a result of societal pressure. This announcement, without any further commitments regarding diversity, sweepingly brushes deeper issues under the rug,” Rachel Lindsay Abasolo (the show’s first and only Black Bachelorette) wrote on her Twitter page.
Former casting producer, Jazzy Collins, pens an open letter
Jazzy Collins, who spent five seasons serving as a casting producer for both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette also isn’t buying that James wasn’t cast as a response to the current political climate. “Many called for a Black Bachelor for years – but you ignored it. I’m happy that you’ve chosen Matt James as your first Black Bachelor in 25 seasons. It took a pandemic and a Black Lives Matter Movement to take a moment and reassess the movement at hand, which I’ve called on for years,” Collins wrote in an open letter to the franchise.
‘The Bachelor’ fans feel the producers are pandering to viewers
Many fans are also convinced that casting James as the first Black Bachelor is nothing more than good marketing. Fans have noted that the timing of it all feels incredibly disingenuous. “This does not feel like a genuine moment like when @therachlindsay was announced as the first Black Bachelorette. This feels like great marketing and a lack of acknowledgment about decades of seasons having no diversity in male Bachelors. Why now ABC? Be transparent and have a conversation w/ viewers and the world,” one fan shared.
ABC and the Bachelor producers may have finally take a long-overdue step in the right direction. But, it’s very apparent that a lot more work has to be done before their actions look genuine. We can only hope that James isn’t the only thing that’s diverse about his season.