Like we couldn't see this coming from a romantic sightseeing helicopter ride a mile away. The Bachelor/ette, that cringeworthy franchise where boring people in rented formalwear get drunk on white wine and use the phrases "this journey" and "that connection" irritatingly often, has cycled through 23 seasons of love. During those nearly two dozen magical journeys, not a one of the featured Bachelors or 'ettes chosen wield the roses has been a nonwhite person. And now, a group of Nashville residents is suing the show for racial discrimination. Get ready for the most dramatic race discrimination lawsuit against The Bachelor... ever.
The complaint will be filed tomorrow morning in federal court, and tomorrow afternoon there will be a press conference, which will hopefully feature less crying than a typical episode of The Bachelor. Leading the group of plaintiffs are two Nashville residents/football players named Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, both of whom say they were thwarted in their attempt to find love on the show, which utilizes a matchmaking method that combines the most awkward aspects of dating with the scariest aspects of arranged marriage.
The plaintiffs do have a point — the only contestants of color who have survived to later stages of The Bachelor during seasons that I actually watched have been Roberto, that cute Latino ex-baseball player chosen by the hopelessly beige yet peacock-mean Ali Fedowsky, and Gia, the beautiful, fun, sort of nutty woman that sociopathic pilot Jake didn't end up picking, although I'm pretty sure Gia, being Italian, was only "non-white" by turn-of-the 20th century standards. And in retrospect, there were probably at least a couple of Armenians or people of dark haired European ancestry. Brunettes count as non-white, right? Oh, they don't? Bummer.
This isn't the first time The Bachelor has been singled out for its white rainbow of a crayon box. According to The Hollywood Reporter, producer Mike Fleiss was asked if the show would ever feature a non-white Bachelor/ette, he responded,
I think Ashley is 1/16th Cherokee Indian, but I cannot confirm. But that is my suspicion! We really tried, but sometimes we feel guilty of tokenism. Oh, we have to wedge African-American chicks in there! We always want to cast for ethnic diversity, it's just that for whatever reason, they don't come forward. I wish they would.
One sixteenth Cherokee, you say? Well, break out the ceremonial headdresses and assemble the tribal elders; it's practically a Summer Solstice Powwow over here.
Even if they don't win their suit, maybe the plaintiffs can take their snubbing as a compliment. Contestants on The Bachelor are remarkable only in their perfect averageness, their complete lack of offense. And when producers accidentally let their guards down and open up to the possibility of America finding a mildly quirky person lovable, the cool contestant is eliminated within the first few episodes, or kicked off for puking in a fountain or something. Maybe producers just couldn't find a non-white person bland enough to serve as a projection screen for viewers' hopes and insecurities.