In the reality TV show “The Bachelorette” the lead gives out roses each week during a rose ceremony to the men she would like to continue her relationship with. (Courtesy of Adobe Spark )
In the reality TV show “The Bachelorette” the lead gives out roses each week during a rose ceremony to the men she would like to continue her relationship with.

Courtesy of Adobe Spark

America, do you accept this rose?: “The Bachelorette” diversifies its casting following controversy

October 29, 2021

“The Bachelorette,” along with many other American reality TV programs, has begun to diversify its casting following social unrest in 2020 pertaining to race. 

“I think that the diversity of the cast is forced,” Kyndall Griffin, ‘23, said. “Due to everything with the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, producers felt forced to bring more people of color to their casts.”

“The Bachelorette” is one of two spinoffs of “The Bachelor,” along with “Bachelor In Paradise”. The three shows are dating competitions in which single men and women compete for the hearts of one another. 

“The Bachelor” and its spinoffs have been on air since 2002, and in that time the shows have only produced an engagement between two people of color once. Maurissa Gunn and Riley Christian from season seven of “Bachelor In Paradise” became the first Black engagement of franchise history, 19 years after its start.

“I think it’s interesting, minorities are always second, we’re always voted out first, we’re never the first choice, I see it everyday as a minority, and it is hard,” SENIOR Melanie Mitchell said. “It’s symbolic of the struggles minorities face in the dating realm.”

Historically, the casting for these shows has been predominantly white. Bachelors and bachelorettes are typically selected from the cast of a previous season. 

Rachel Lindsay became the first Black Bachelorette in 2017 after competing on season 21 of “The Bachelor.”  Similarly, Matt James was given the title of the first Black bachelor in 2020 after never having competed on “The Bachelorette.”

“I think they’re putting minorities in high positions to appease the audience,” Mitchell said.

Following the filming of James’ historic season, Lindsay, an American media personality, interviewed Chris Harrison, the franchise’s long standing host, regarding controversy from the season. Rachael Kirkconnell was the winner of the season, but was called out for some racially insensitive comments and actions from her past while the show was airing. 

“We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion. Because I have seen some stuff online — this judge, jury, executioner thing where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents, her parents’ voting record,” Harrison told Lindsay during the interview. “I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet. Until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say any of this?”

His disregard of Kirkconell’s actions placed him under fire for being insensitive. He then stepped down as the franchise’s host.

“I think it’s because they responded to the backlash they were receiving from [the lack of diversity],” Megan Scudder, ‘23, said. “To begin with there should have been more Black people on the show years ago. I feel like they did it out of pressure from the audience rather than really wanting diversity and inclusion.”

However, the leads were not the only sphere lacking diversity. On Hannah Brown’s season in 2019, only six of 29 contestants were people of color. However, on the current season of “The Bachelorette,” only 11 of 28 contestants are white, which is a historical first. 

Michelle Young was a late arrival contestant on James’ season of “The Bachelor.” She made it to the finale, but was ultimately sent home. Young is now the third Black bachelorette, with Tayshia Adams and Lindsay preceding her. Some fans view Young as a diversity plea, while others resonated with her story from “The Bachelor.” 

“I think Michelle was chosen because she was a fan favorite and because she brings diversity [to the show],” Griffin said. 

On night one, Young presented her first impression rose to Nayte Olukoya, who was only the third person of color to receive the notorious rose. In addition, she presented Pardeep Singh with the first rose ever given to an Indian-American in franchise history. 

As the show looks forward to its third week of the season, only six people of color have been sent home. In episode two, Young had an emotional conversation with her men pertaining to interracial relationships, explaining to them that she was open to each of them no matter their race. 

All in all, “The Bachelor” franchise is making strides towards becoming more inclusive, but the question of their intention still remains, if they are truly aware of the issue or if they are trying to maintain their fan base.

About the Contributor
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Kylie Bridgeman, Sports Writer

In her second year as a Chatterbox staff member, Kylie Bridgeman is excited to work as a sports writer. Bridgeman’s goal is to tell the stories of athletes...

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