ABC’s “The Bachelor” dating franchise has a relationship with race and diversity that can be summed up in a Facebook update: It’s complicated.
In 2012, two Nashville men filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the show of racial discrimination after 2011’s “Bachelorette” season starring Ashley Hebert included no minorities out of 25 contestants.
The suit was dismissed after the network and the producers argued their casting decisions are protected by the First Amendment.
Since then, the “Bachelor” franchise has included more minorities.
Ben Higgins, the most recent Bachelor, had four non-white women (five, if you count Fletcher) on the show, one of whom, Caila Quinn, made it to the top three.
That continues a troubling pattern for a show that has all too often failed to feature non-white contestants.
Though 2014 “Bachelor” Juan Pablo Galavis was Venezuelan-American, there still hasn’t been an African American or Asian “Bachelor” or “Bachelorette” in 32 seasons of the franchise.And even when non-white contestants are cast, they seldom go very far. Cheng, a blogger who also makes commercials for brands like Beats By Dre, 24 Hour Fitness and Apple, people of color fare about as well in “The Bachelor” franchise as they do in horror movies — a genre depressingly famous for killing off non-white characters early on.TV’s most successful dating series has been criticized for years for its lack of non-whites among both the leads and the 25 contestants who vie for their affections.But critics say Fletcher’s season so far underscores the scope of the problem. Census defines people of Middle Eastern background as white.Although the show has highlighted the fact that Fletcher’s mother is Iranian, her ethnicity is debatable — like everything involving race in America. But many with Middle Eastern roots say that designation essentially erases them from America’s headcount.“My organization and other organizations did make a big push to include Iranian Americans on the census and ultimately, we fell short, it’s not included, but they are doing this provisional category which is Middle Eastern,” said Jamal Abdi, Policy Director of the National Iranian American Council.