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Thoughts on ABC Casting Its First Black Bachelor

June 13, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
The Bachelor

Do you feel it? Feel things shifting? We’ll look back on all this and see that the waves started in the time we’re living in now and grew to be some serious change. While big things are happening outside our windows, pop culture is starting to sprout the signs that we’re progressing. Even if it’s a little bit at a time. 

Take The Bachelor. A popular show, no doubt, that has finally decided that it’s embracing a new reality along with Matt James, who is making history as ABC’s first Black Bachelor. 

Look, I know social change reflected in pop culture is a little thing but this still warrants mention. James, a real estate broker, entrepreneur, and community organization founder has been chosen to head season 25. Of note, he was originally a contestant on Clare Crawley’s forthcoming season of The Bachelorette before production was shutdown in March and postponed indefinitely amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

James is the best friend, roommate,and business partner to Tyler Cameron, a runner up from Hannah Brown’s season.
 
I’ll make a full confession right now…I’m not a big reality TV fan but I keep up with the comings and goings of the Bachelor. It’s an easy show to have on in the background and provides some much needed distraction.

Plus, I did tryout to be on the show many, many, many years ago.

Getting back to Matt. “Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season. When filming couldn’t move forward as planned, we were given the benefit of time to get to know Matt and all agreed he would make a perfect Bachelor,” ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said in a statement announcing the casting. “We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories we’re seeing onscreen are representative of the world we live in and we are proudly in service to our audience. This is just the beginning and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise. We feel so privileged to have Matt as our first Black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him.”

Also of note, James is the first Bachelor since 2008’s Matt Grant to be cast as the lead without having appeared as a contestant on The Bachelorette.

The Bachelor’s executive producers put out a joint statement, saying, “We are excited to move forward with both Matt James as the new Bachelor and Clare Crawley as our next Bachelorette. We acknowledge our responsibility for the lack of representation of people of color on our franchise and pledge to make significant changes to address this issue moving forward. We are taking positive steps to expand diversity in our cast, in our staff, and most importantly, in the relationships that we show on television. We can and will do better to reflect the world around us and show all of its beautiful love stories.”

This comes after Rachel Lindsay, who until was the franchise’s lone black lead since the dating competition series first debuted in 2002, spoke up about the lack of equal representation on the show.

“Yes, more diverse contestants do appear on the show now, but is the lead truly interested and open to dating outside of their race? I think that is evident by how far their ‘journey’ takes them during each season,” Lindsay wrote. She is now married to Bryan Abasolo, whom she met during her 2017 run as star of The Bachelorette. “It is a naive expectation to believe that leads will authentically start an interracial relationship for the first time on national television. The sad reality is that people of color become placeholders as the token person of color to add some flavor to the second half of the season.”

As we adjust, a return date for the series has not been determined as the franchise faces a number of logistical and safety questions when it comes to how production can resume amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. When things settle in, expect a new way of doing things and that…is something to look forward to. 

article topics :

ABC, The Bachelor, Steve Gustafson