ABC might finally tackle their "Bachelor" diversity issue — *might*
It’s something we’ve wanted for ages: More people of color on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. The lack of diversity in the franchise has been evident for years; and yet, it’s still a problem.
According to People, Channing Dungey — who happens to be the first African American President of ABC Entertainment — has expressed her personal desires in regard to diversity in the franchise. “I would very much like to see some changes there,” she explained during ABC’s presentation for the Television Critic’s Association on Thursday.
There have been 20 seasons (!!) of The Bachelor and 12 seasons (!!!) of The Bachelorette, but only one non-white lead: Juan Pablo Galavis, an American-born Venezuelan.
For a while, it seemed like Caila (whose mother is Filipino and whose heritage was talked about on the show) would be cast as the most recent Bachelorette we thought that we might finally get a second lead of color. However, Jojo (who is half-Persian, but her ethnicity wasn’t really mentioned on the show) became The Bachelorette, the lack of diversity in regard to the show’s leads continued to be an issue.
In regard to how ABC might combat the overwhelming whiteness of the franchise, Dungey explained,
“I think one of the biggest changes that we need to do is we need to increase the pool of diverse candidates in the beginning because part of what ends up happening as we go along is that there just aren’t as many candidates to ultimately end up in the role of the next Bachelor or Bachelorette so that is something we really want to put some effort and energy towards.”
And, we have seen that to an extent: the most recent seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette had slightly more diverse contestants than previous seasons. Slightly.
When a reporter asked Dungey if ABC could just pick a more diverse candidate as The Bachelor or Bachelorette, she relented: “We could.” She went on to say, however, “The show has been very much in a cycle where the first runner-up in one cycle becomes the person who leads the next cycle. It’s worked very well for us because the audience feels really engaged in helping to choose that candidate.”
“So I think what we would like to try to do is just widen the pool choices,” Dungey concluded.
Unfortunately, that means it looks like the next Bachelor will probably be a white guy — at least, the two most likely candidates from the most recent season of The Bachelorette are. However, there is some comfort in knowing that that the network’s President is a woman of color, and that she’s got this issue on her radar. It may not be enough, but it’s a start.