‘Bachelorette’ catches up with times


By Sara Amil, Arts & Culture Editor

Whether they watch it or not, the majority of West Essex students have heard of the television series “The Bachelor” and its spinoff “The Bachelorette.” The original show first aired in 2002, but in a combined 33 seasons since then, many viewers have criticized the show for a perceived lack of diversity. Since their inception, the two shows have only ever featured one non-white Bachelor, Juan Pablo Galavis, who was Hispanic.

It’s hard to believe that such a popular show has never featured a black lead. That is why many viewers were shocked when the producers announced Rachel Lindsay, an African-American woman, as the 2017 Bachelorette.

“I think it’s great that they picked her because I loved her in the last season and they needed to make a change about the diversity on the show,” freshman Tara Smith said.

In January 2016, ABC Entertainment Group’s president Paul Lee said he “would be very surprised if the Bachelorette in the summer wasn’t diverse.” Lee must have been in for a shock that year, because the 2016 Bachelorette was Joelle Fletcher, a Caucasian brunette from the prior season.

Seeing as the shows have been airing for a long time with a single non-white lead, the public has not been shy in voicing their thoughts on the situation. An extreme case of this criticism was seen in 2012, when the show was sued for alleged racial discrimination, though the case was eventually dismissed by the judge.

Despite an obvious dilemma regarding the lack of diversity, show representatives dodge taking responsibility for the clear imbalance. In a USA Today article written in response to the announcement of Rachel Lindsay as the next Bachelorette, ABC Entertainment chief Channing Dungey claimed the problem stemmed from the lack of diverse candidates in the show overall. Because the next Bachelor or Bachelorette tends to be a runner-up or fan favorite, the article implies that this is what is to blame.
With the announcement of Lindsay as the newest Bachelorette, she feels as if the pressure is on to now maintain this balance.

The newly named Bachelorette finds herself feeling an additional weight on her shoulders. An interview with “Hollywood Reporter” shows that Lindsay “faces the potential of breaking yet another franchise barrier if she were to pick a black man as her winner,” according to reporter Christina Schoellkopf, and is feeling pressured to do so.

This season is also supposed to be the “most diverse group of contestants seen since the franchise’s 2002 launch,” Lindsay said in her “Women Tell All” interview on March 6, 2017. Lindsay also made it known that she has been given an overwhelming amount of support from the public.

The lack of diversity has not gone unnoticed, and people from all over support the show’s decision to be more inclusive.

According to US Magazine, “there has been a huge spike in casting” since the announcement of the newest Bachelorette. Once the show airs, it will be more obvious as to whether or not producers really did try and make casting more diverse or not.

Tune in to see ABC’s “The Bachelorette” making (very delayed) steps toward diversyfing throughout the majority of this summer’s Mondays.