The Bachelor, and its sister show The Bachelorette, has long been criticized for the lack of diversity apparent in its casts - there's even been a lawsuit filed over racial discrimination on producers' behalf (though the suit was later dismissed).
With the exception of much-maligned bad boy Bachelor Juan Pablo Galavis, there has never been a minority lead; Britt Nilsson, who "competed" against Kaitlyn Bristowe for the Bachelorette title in the season 11 premiere (and lost) is of partial Cherokee ancestry. Meanwhile, 30 white people have landed the honor and the rose bouquet - one of them, Brad Womack, twice over. Only two women of half-Asian descent (Tessa Horst, The Bachelor season 10; Catherine Giudici, The Bachelor season 17) have won the show, as well as one Latino man (Roberto Martinez, The Bachelorette season six).
Following a number of seasons in which Fusion notes that no minority contestants were cast at all, the show has begun presenting a slightly more diverse lineup of limo arrivals on night one. But these non-white contestants rarely last long enough to "make an impact" or become a fan fave (Jubilee Sharpe of Ben Higgins's season being a slight exception to this rule, with a well-developed storyline across the four episodes she lasted). And particularly thanks to the way in which Bachelors and Bachelorettes are now cast from the pool of previous contestants - usually a late-game player from the previous season - there's a system in place that only furthers the Caucasian hegemony apparent. Via Fusion again, literally the furthest an African-American contestant has made it on the show is the final six.
At least until now! Prolific Bachelor spoiler Reality Steve reports that new Bachelor Nick Viall's final three features a black woman. (Both of Nick's final two are white women, however.)
Thirty-one-year-old lawyer Rachel Lindsay, pictured above making her entrance in a teaser promo released earlier this month, landed Nick's first impressions rose in the first episode, Steve adds. While it's a big deal in its own right for a non-white contestant to make the finals (Lindsay lasted all the way to the show's ever-dramatic overnight dates) the third-place spot is also considered one of the "best" when it comes to Bachelorette consideration. You've made it far enough on the show to have a well-developed storyline, and you've had time to process your heartbreak and move on, etc. As Reality Steve puts it:
[Lindsay is] obviously a serious candidate, that’s a given. For a franchise that’s taken so much sh** for their lack of diversity, to finally have a black girl make it to the final 3, if Rachel ISN’T the next “Bachelorette,” you gotta start thinking if it’ll ever happen. And I’m just looking at this purely from the standpoint of them actually having a viable black candidate for the lead. Maybe Rachel doesn’t want to do it, I don’t know. But based on how far she lasts, the likability factor, coupled with being 31 and a career woman, seems like she’d be a perfect candidate, no? She’s going to be the girl everyone probably expects will get it, but after what they’ve pulled the last two seasons, I will believe it when I see it.
Of course, when Steve refers to "what [the producers] pulled the last two seasons," he's meaning the switcheroo that was pulled on third-placer Caila Quinn, who was allegedly replaced as the most recent Bachelorette by second-placer JoJo Fletcher at the last minute. If things play out as Steve gingerly predicts, ABC will (finally) feature a non-white Bachelorette (Caila, it's worth noting, would have been the first non-white Bachelorette herself) but, as far as the show's playbook goes, it's clear that anything is possible as long as it, you know, "looks good" on TV.
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