The Bachelor franchise, which includes The Bachelorette, does not have a good track record when it comes to diversity. After 12 years on the air, many Reporters Who Cover Television have written about the franchise’s dismal casting record of just one non-white person in its combined title roles – and that after facing a class-action lawsuit for racial discrimination. It’s all the more notable because ABC has gotten high marks for minority casting elsewhere on its primetime schedule. (For instance, ABC also was repped at TCA today by the cast and creators of Uncle Buck, a new take on John Candy’s hit 1989 movie, now starring Mike Epps, Nia Long and James Lesure.)
Anyway, a judge dismissed the 2012 class-action lawsuit, saying the shows had a First Amendment right to cast as they saw fit. Even so, the number of minority contestants increased noticeably in 2013 and 2014 (before falling off more recently, and even though minority competitors tend to get eliminated very quickly). The entire situation drew the attention of Saturday Night Live, resulting in this sketch from a year ago:
Karen X. Cheng even took the trouble to make a chart on the subject.
So here we are, one year later, and Lee got asked the same questions during the scrum that followed his TCA Q&A session (a scrum that was itself pretty non-diverse, if not quite Bachelor-level white). One reporter noted that Lifetime’s scripted series about reality TV, UnReal, includes a black bachelor, and asked Lee when his franchise was finally going to make it happen. Guess we’ll see this summer.