Alyse Kaminski | staff writer
Ah, Bachelor Mondays. Sitting down for two hours of my day, watching TV producers manipulate people for the whole world to see and becoming emotionally invested in all of it.
I began watching all of the shows in The Bachelor franchise during Jojo Fletcher’s run as the Bachelorette. Since then, I have not seen a single person of color be the Bachelor or Bachelorette and I began watching years ago. Rachel Lindsay was the first and only Bachelorette of color, but I hadn’t ever seen the show at that point. I love watching the shows in The Bachelor universe, but why are they so bad when it comes to representation?
There have been 25 seasons of The Bachelor, and Matt James is the first Black Bachelor we have seen. It’s pretty ridiculous honestly. And let me be frank – the producers only chose to do so now in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests this summer. As much as I love sitting down and investing two hours of my week into the stories unraveling on the show, shame on ABC. They are tokenizing Matt and I am confident they tokenized Tayshia last season.
In an article on Medium, writer Helen Kim Ho writes that tokenism happens in the workplace often. She reveals, “Tokenism achieves the same while giving those in power the appearance of being non-racist and even champions of diversity because they recruit and use POC as racialized props.”
Notice how this season of The Bachelor just might be the most diverse we have seen yet in terms of the contestants. It only took 25 seasons. Had this summer not unfolded the way it did, I am skeptical as to whether or not the franchise would have had a Black Bachelorette and Bachelor this time around.
Also note that there have been more conversations surrounding race since Tayshia and Matt become the leads. Now, this is an aspect I am happy to see. I feel like there is a group of people who watch The Bachelor franchise and are likely oblivious to conversations around race. I am glad that Tayshia, Matt and the contestants on the seasons are willing to have raw conversations about this. It brings awareness to the topic and just feels more real, rather than the usual conversations that go something like, “How do you feel about us?” “I feel great.” And then they kiss.
Of course, it is great to see more representation in the franchise. I am just saying that it took way too long to happen and that it is most likely only happening because the fanbase started getting antsy about it a few years ago and it all came to a head this summer during the protests.
And let me just say on a lighter note that Matt is a great Bachelor. He is caring and conscious of the girls’ feelings. There are rarely times in other seasons of The Bachelor when the man asks a girl struggling, “What can I do for you to make it easier?”
He is so genuinely concerned with the wellbeing of every girl there, even Queen Victoria who is obviously there for ratings. It is quite literally impossible that Matt wants her there still, but he does a great job of making her feel comfortable.
One area in which the franchise is lacking is religious representation. Have you ever noticed how every contestant and lead is a devout Christian? Why are stories not being told of practicing Jewish people or Muslims finding love? Or even people who are impartial to religion!
The Bachelor series has a long way to go in becoming more inclusive. I hope that the franchise does better in the future. It seems that this season is getting great reception, and since we know the producers love to capitalize on profit, there will be a much more diverse range of contestants and leads in the future.