The Bachelor — Too little too late?
I am the last person who would’ve ever thought that I would be writing this.
I used to be deep set in my ways. I used to have very strict beliefs that “The Bachelor” franchise was just a bunch of scripted garbage that only appealed to lonely housewives who hated their husbands. And for a while, it was.
The first 23 seasons of “The Bachelor” didn’t interest me. I didn’t see why you would want to watch yet another white man treat 20-something different women like they were all at his disposal. Then, I learned that there was a spinoff, “The Bachelorette”, in which the same rules applied, although this time, the roles were switched, not that it makes the premise any better.
This show was now (yet another white) woman choosing between 20-something men.
Again, this didn’t interest me. It honestly stressed me out to think about being the only woman in a room of 20-something men who are all looking at you like you’re the last piece of brisket at a neighborhood barbeque.
But in the summer of 2019, I started to think.
If “The Bachelor” franchise has been on television for 23 seasons, there must be somebody who is watching. And it has to be more than just lonely housewives.
Turns out, I was right.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the 15th season of “The Bachelorette” which premiered in the spring of 2019, garnered more than seven and a half million viewers.
“The show’s season premiere drew a 1.9 rating in the 18–49 demo and about 6.1 million viewers for its first airing, improving to 2.4 and 7.52 million after three days of delayed viewing.”
The season in question was Hannah Brown’s season of “The Bachelorette”. As you can probably tell, I ended up abandoning all of my content morals and beliefs and used my student subscription for Hulu to religiously watch every single second of every single episode, that entire summer. And I learned a few things.
You get very attached to the contestants.
Hannah Brown is a feisty, bubbly, and hilarious young woman from Alabama. Complete with long dirty blonde hair and a southern accent, she is someone I want to grab brunch with on a crisp autumn morning and desperately want to hug every time a man does her wrong. Hannah Brown was originally a contestant on the 23rd season of “The Bachelor”, A.K.A, Colton Underwood’s season. A.A.K.A, the infamous ‘fence-jumper’ season. Brown was such an audience favorite, that she was offered the position to be the next Bachelorette when she did not end up with Underwood at the end of the show.
I won’t spoil her season for you, but Hannah went through a lot. So much so, that it is the second most-watched season of “The Bachelorette”.
This is also partly because many of the men on her season were great for TV. There was the toxic, misogynistic bad boy Luke Parker, the dreamy country singer (who ended up being not so dreamy), Jed Wyatt, and the sweet golden retriever-esque pilot, Peter Weber.
Unsurprisingly, Peter ended up being cast as the next Bachelor when he came in third during Hannah Brown’s season. This meant that once again, for the 24th season in a row, the Bachelor was a young white man.
This came as a hard hit for many Bachelor super-fans, as many were hoping to see fan-favorite Mike Johnson become the first-ever black bachelor. Obviously, this didn’t happen.
Controversy galore, people were not happy. But millions still tuned in.
According to Variety, the last episode of Weber’s season garnered over eight and a half million viewers. Though there were still people who were fighting for diversity in ‘Bachelor Nation’, it didn’t seem to be working. Along with the lack of cultural diversity, there also seemed to be a problem with ageism within the community.
Before the upcoming season, there hadn’t been a single Bachelorette over 32 years old, while the Bachelor men were often in their 30’s and 40’s. It was not until this year, the 15th season, was 39-year old Clare Crawley, a Bachelor alum, given the opportunity to attempt to find love on the show.
This year, Bachelor Nation has done a lot of the growth they’ve been claiming is ‘in the works’ for years. Not only did they cast the oldest Bachelorette in history, but they also achieved another milestone for their community.
So far we have learned that Clare Crawley’s Bachelorette journey has ended way earlier than expected, meaning she has decided to leave the show before the final rose ceremony. Because of this, ABC was able to cast the first black Bachelor, Matt James, who was originally supposed to be a contestant on Crawley’s season.
“I think a lot of people are in that situation where they’re uncomfortable dating outside their race,” said James in an interview with Good Morning America.
“It’s a conversation starter for a lot of people. And hopefully again it paves the way for a lot of diverse love stories because those are beautiful stories.”
Because Crawley’s season ended so abruptly, that also meant that they needed to find a replacement to carry out the rest of the season. This resulted in them hiring the second-ever black Bachelorette, Tayshia Adams.
Adams, who was originally a contestant on Colton Underwood’s season of The Bachelor, and appeared on season 6 of “Bachelor in Paradise”, has been a fan favorite for many years generating lots of excitement for her to appear on the show.
It’s easy to give “The Bachelor” franchise credit for the progress they’ve made this year, but it’s important that we don’t forget how long it took to add any sort of diversity into one of television’s most highly-rated shows. Hiring a black Bachelor is the bare minimum and is something that should’ve happened ages ago. The fact there have been only two black bachelorettes and only one bachelorette over 32 is sickening and makes me feel guilty that I watched the show even a year before they included any sort of diversity in their leading roles.
I’m happy to see progress, and I’m excited to see Matt James and Tayshia Adams hopefully find the partnerships they are looking for.
But I’m looking at you Bachelor Nation, to continue to do better going forward.