"The Bachelor" Responds to Complaints, Diversifies Cast

A while back I wrote an op-ed at the Federalist about why I don’t believe ABC’s “The Bachelor” (and it’s endless spin-offs) will ever truly be racially diverse. This was in response to complaints from activist groups that “The Bachelor” leads are always white and only have a majority white cast of potential mates to choose from.

My article wasn’t about shaming ABC or their strategy, but rather pointed out the realities of television ratings and human matings, and how that reality couldn’t be engineered by a broadcasting station.

Chemistry Is Key, and Culture Matters

Dungey (the ABC rep) is smart enough to understand that you can make all the conditions favorable, but you can’t create chemistry. There’s a reason why Bachelor/ettes never have any chemistry with their minority contestants. It’s actually not that common for people to mate outside their culture or ethnicity. According to a 2013 Pew Research poll, only 12 percent of newlyweds in that year married outside of their race. This is a record high.

Please save your outrage for another post. I’m a result of a biracial relationship and I know plenty of biracial couples. I’m just saying the statistics don’t support the demands for TV trends and people need to understand that before getting personally offended.

Last night “The Bachelor” premiered on ABC and it was astoundingly obvious that the show was making a more concerted effort to diversify the cast. The Bachelor himself is still white, of course. Let’s not get too crazy! But at least half the cast were made up of women of color.

Unfortunately, the one thing that did not get diversified was the wardrobe. Of 30 women about a dozen were in red dresses. And one girl inexplicably came dressed in a giant shark outfit, which she insisted was a dolphin. She got a rose, and frankly I think it was the right thing to do. She committed to that ridiculous outfit for the entire night. I have to give her props for that.

I don’t have much to add about the show itself. I hate it, but I watch it the same way people couldn’t turn away from Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve train wreck. It was as cringey as it always is. However, as someone who has given the show a hard time in the past for their lack of diversity, I thought it was good to give credit where credit is due.

So, good for ABC for listening to their viewers and at least making an effort. I think they’ll find as the show goes along that the viewers don’t really care about race and aren’t discouraged by the specter of interracial dating. This still doesn’t change the realities of human nature I talked about in my Federalist piece, but if ABC is brave enough to give their viewers more credit they might well discover that diversity doesn’t need to be programmed or fixed…it can just…be.