Finally! Someone is asking the same question that I have been asking (see past blog here: Dear ABC, Are You Equal Opportunity?).
According to Scott Harris:
The 14th season of ABC’s popular reality dating show ‘The Bachelor’ airs tonight, and fans will be seeing some familiar faces — white faces, that is.
According to me: No kidding.
Jake Pavelka, who previously appeared as a rejected suitor on the show’s sister series ‘The Bachelorette,’ will be starring as the man in command this year, vying for the affection of 25 attractive women. But while the network’s strategy of bringing back popular contestants form one series to star in the next has proven successful in the past — the first season finale of ‘The Bachelorette’ snagged over 30 million viewers — it has also helped contribute to the impression that the series is uninterested in courting minority viewers.
That’s because, just as the 19 lead bachelors and bachelorettes have all been white, the candidate pool as a whole has also been startlingly homogeneous. This year’s group of women, for instance, is devoid of African-American contestants, as was last season’s, which has led some in the media, including The LA Times, to question ABC’s casting policy.
Don’t forget me. I am questioning their casting policy too. I actually wonder how does the casting auditions go.
ENTERS PERFECT BLACK LADY
PERFECT BLACK LADY: Hi, I am here to audition as a contestant for The Bachelor.
CASTING PRODUCER: Okay hi, and your name is?
PERFECT BLACK LADY: My name is Perfect Black Lady and I love long walks on the beach, making love, and children. I also…
CASTING PRODUCER: Thanks for coming, don’t call us, we will call you.
BLACK LADY EXITS, STILL HOPEFUL. NOT REALIZING THAT SHE DOESN’T HAVE A SHOT IN HELL.
ENTERS DREAMWOMAN TOASTED COMPLEXION LATINA
TOASTED COMPLEXION LATINA: Hello, my name is DreamWoman Toasted Complexion Latina and…
CASTING PRODUCER: Sorry, all of our spots have been filled! Thanks for coming.
By those standards, then, it’s clear that ‘The Bachelor’ is coming up short. The question is, why? The simple answer would be to lay the blame at the foot of network television in general, which continues to underserve America’s ever-growing minority population, as highlighted in this 2008 report from the NAACP.
Yet considering the success other reality shows have had featuring minorities, it’s possible other factors may be at play here. Does the network feel that some viewers are still not ready to support a high profile interracial romance? Are sponsors less interested in buying advertisements for a season that they may feel will appeal to fewer viewers? Or are the bachelors themselves to blame? After all, the few minority contestants who have appeared on the show have frequently been among the first rejected, which may suggest that the men and women who star on ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette’ are forcing the producers to cast hopefuls who are potentially more suitable to their tastes.
“There may be two things at play here,” said Angela Bronner Helm, Senior Editor at BlackVoices.com. “One, the country is still in its heart conservative and feels most comfortable dating intraracially. White Americans, statistically, when dating online, do prefer dating one another. Another issue may be that ABC/Disney, like many movie studios, fears a backlash from ‘middle America’ and frankly thinks that people will not watch a Black guy dating either black women or white women or vice versa.”
Seriously, what the hell ABC? Do you not recall a few of VH1’s highest rated matchmaker reality shows? Flava of Love, I Love New York, Real Chance at Love, For the Love of Ray J? Or is it only okay if it’s a black person is in an interracial relationship? This is 2010. We have a black president, and black is the new black. Get with the program before I consider you racist.
If ABC were real smart, they would attempt to ruffle feathers and lure in more viewers at the same time by insisting on an interracial relationship, even if it wouldn’t survive past the reunion show. I like to call it the Train Wreck Phenomenon. You don’t want to look, but you can’t turn away. Start off with a white Bachelor, encourage him to choose a black woman, then kill the romance before the reunion show, then bring back the black woman as a bachelorette, and have her choose between a black man and a white man in the finale, let her choose the white man. Let them pretend to pursue marriage, if we can’t invoke some real feelings. But really it would be awesomer, so we can follow them all the way to children and produce a whole other reality show out of following around the interracial couple. Finally, the black man that lost out would be the next bachelor. Get it?
That would be a cycle that would pick me up as a viewer. Take my advice ABC. You won’t regret it. You would come off as much more equal opportunistic, rake in money from advertisers who are all about diversity, and capture more than a few audience members…especially those you lost when they realized that every Bachelor/Bacherlorette was the same old, same old.