‘Bachelor’ Producers Admit ‘Mistakes’ Addressing Racial Issues

A man looking sideways at a woman

After years of outcry from viewers, the producers of The Bachelor admit to past mistakes in addressing racial issues within the franchise. Keep reading to see what they had to say about the franchise’s notorious lack of diversity.

Diversity In The Bachelor Franchise

ABC dating show The Bachelor has come under fire in recent years for its lack of diversity. The franchise began in 2002 with Alex Michel as the first Bachelor. Its sister spinoff, The Bachelorette, debuted a year later with Michel’s runner-up Trista Rehn hoping to find love.

It wasn’t until 2017 that a person of color was given the chance to be the lead. The show had featured a handful of Black contestants, but Rachel Lindsay was the first Black Bachelorette for Season 13 of the show.

It wasn’t for another three years that a Black man was given the leading role on the network’s flagship Bachelor show. Season 25 was supposed to be a historic one in the franchise. The network tapped Matt James to be the first Black Bachelor.

Unfortunately, his season was rife with in-house drama and an off-camera racism scandal involving his front-runner, Rachael Kirkconnell. She had attended an antebellum-themed party a few years before appearing on the show.

'Bachelor' star Rachel Lindsay/Credit: ABC YouTube
‘Bachelor’ star Rachel Lindsay/Credit: ABC YouTube

At the time the photos leaked online, the nation was in the middle of a racial reckoning after George Floyd’s death in the summer of 2020. Rachael was dubbed a racist by some viewers.

She did earn Matt James’ final rose, which was filmed before the photos came to light. They briefly split up after filming because of the public’s reaction. The two reconnected and have been together for several years now. Fans of the couple are hoping a proposal is coming soon.

Long-time host Chris Harrison left the show after catching heat in his attempts to defend Rachael Kirkconnell from the controversy.

Producers Admit ‘Mistakes’ Addressing Racial Issues

Many Bachelor Nation viewers feel that the show has taken a step back in the years since Matt James was the lead. Seasons 26, 27, and 28 have all featured white men as the leads, though the contestants have been diverse.

During the Television Critics Association’s winter 2024 press tour, producers of The Bachelor were confronted with their track record regarding diversity in the franchise and how they dealt with issues involving race.

NPR journalist Eric Deggans asked the producers why the show seems to “have such a hard time dealing with racial issues?” Furthermore, the reporter asked if the producers had learned any lessons following Chris Harrison’s shocking exit.

Producer Claire Freeland fielded the question. “Our goal is to represent the fabric of the country, not just in terms of diversity and ethnicity, but also ability and body types and representing where people are from in the country as well,” the producer said.

“I think, so far, we’ve been putting our money where our mouth is,” Claire Freeland added. Variety notes that Freeland has only been with the show since 2023.

Many outlets slammed the producers for dodging the question. However, producer Bennett Graebner had more to say to Decider after the panel was over.

Graebner admitted that the franchise made “mistakes along the way.” However, the Bachelor is “going to do everything in our power to correct this.”

Fans recently called out the show’s social media team for a huge blunder involving the women of color from Season 28.

Do you think there are racial issues in the Bachelor franchise? Sound off in the comments.

Jennifer Havener
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