In news that should surprise few members of Bachelor Nation, Good Morning America revealed ABC’s new lead for the upcoming season of The Bachelorette: Clare Crawley. In other words, another white blonde lead AKA more of the same.
The only significant change with this casting is Clare’s age. Having first appeared on Juan Pablo’s season of The Bachelor in 2014, Clare also had two stints on Bachelor in Paradise as well as an appearance and an engagement on Winter Games. Given her long history on The Bachelor franchise, it’s understandable why the 38-year-old is significantly older than most leads in recent years (for reference, the current Bachelor Peter Weber is 28 years old).
As psyched as many of us are about a more mature lead, the casting also highlights the continuous racial diversity problem of the franchise, specifically when it comes to who gets cast as The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
In 24 seasons of The Bachelor and 15 seasons of The Bachelorette, we’ve only had two people of color cast in the lead role: Juan Pablo in 2014 and Rachel Lindsay in 2017
Rachel Lindsay was the first black Bachelorette and it almost seemed like a calculated test for the franchise to gauge reactions since the female-led show historically gets significantly fewer viewers than its counterpart. Turns out, fans didn’t react well, resulting in the show’s lowest ratings of any season.
Rachel’s poor viewer count was disappointing as a die-hard fan who also wants to see more diversity within the often white-dominated cast. But isn’t it time ABC gave it another shot? Is one experiment really enough?
They had the opportunity to cast fan-favorite Mike Johnson as this year’s Bachelor. He made it to Hannah B’s top four — a rare accomplishment for any black contestant. But they opted for Peter instead, which resulted in zero women of color in his top four.
This speaks to the franchise’s larger problem of creating a negative feedback loop. They never cast a Bachelor of color, so they rarely have racially diverse female contestants make it to the top three or four, which is typically a requirement to be considered for the next season’s lead.
Despite Fleiss’s claims that Trump is to blame for Rachel’s low ratings, it seems the creator of the franchise and those in control think casting a black man as the lead in their namesake show is too risky and/or not what the fans want.
While age diversity is great, there’s never been a better time for the Bachelor franchise to prioritize racial diversity as well.
In Clare’s debut Good Morning America interview, she claimed,
“I don’t care (about) the outside. If you lined up the guys I’ve dated in the past, there’s no one thing I look for physically. It’s more if they go out of their way for me, if they make me feel special.”
Fingers crossed producers take her dismissal of the show’s pretty-white-boy-type seriously and cast a more diverse group of men for Crawley. At this point, that’s our only hope of ever getting the first black Bachelor.
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Shannon Vize is a freelance writer and content strategist living in Brooklyn, NY. Her writing has been published by Elite Daily, Taylor Magazine, CIO, and Forbes. When she’s not hate-binging the latest episode of The Bachelor franchise, she’s busy trying to dismantle the patriarchy by dissecting the latest anti-feminist theme in pop culture to anyone who will listen.