Having faced criticism for their lack of black representation on the Bachelor in the wake of the Black Lives Matter Movement, the franchise has responded by announcing Matt James as the lead for their 25th season. This marks the first black Bachelor in the history of the show and the second black lead in the history of the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise, which has spanned 18 years and 24 seasons thus far.
— The Bachelor (@BachelorABC) June 12, 2020
In the aftermath of this announcement, the executive producers have vowed to make up for their errors from the past two decades. In a statement posted to host Chris Harrison’s social media account, the executive producers acknowledged the lack of representation of people of color in their franchise. They pledged to “make significant changes to address this issue moving forward,” saying “We can and will do better to reflect the world around us and show all of its beautiful love stories.”
— Chris Harrison (@chrisbharrison) June 12, 2020
Many stars of the franchise responded to the announcement, but their responses varied. Bachelorette alum Tyler Cameron, who is also Matt James’ roommate and best friend, took to social media to say, “Congrats to my brother @mattjames919 on being named the Bachelor. This is all a testament of who you are as a person. Now the world gets to see the person you are and the heart you have.” He concluded, “You can change the world. Proud of you and so excited for you.”
Caila Quinn wrote “As a daughter of biracial parents, watching cross-cultural/ diverse love unfold feels deeply personal and inclusive. (Just like @therachlindsay & @thebryanabasolo’s season).” In her post, she shared photos from her time on the Bachelor, telling her followers, “If you flip through these photos from my season, you’ll see the representation ‘before’ and this fall I am looking forward to the representation ‘after.’ This is an incredible step forward for the Bachelor family and I hope everyone comes from a supportive and encouraging place hearing this news.”
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After 40 seasons of The Bachelor, today’s news is a momentus step forward, as @MattJames919 was just announced as the first Black Bachelor! … It makes me feel so proud to be a part of this Bachelor family that listens and stands up for representation. Literally just heard the news and want to shout it from the rooftops!! I want to applaud not only @bachelorabc for taking action, but also the hard work from @bachdiversity for getting 85,000 signatures that advocate for change. … As a daughter of biracial parents, watching cross-cultural/ diverse love unfold feels deeply personal and inclusive. (Just like @therachlindsay & @thebryanabasolo’s season) … I have heard wonderful things about this handsome man of faith who is generous & kind – can’t wait to cheer on his journey for love. … If you flip through these photos from my season, you’ll see the representation “before” and this fall I am looking forward to the representation “after.” This is an incredible step forward for the Bachelor family and I hope everyone comes from a supportive and encouraging place hearing this news.
However, not everyone agrees. Rachel Lindsey, the lead on season 13 of the bachelorette and the franchise’s first ever black lead shared her feelings on the matter through a series of tweets. “Congrats to Matt James. I am happy to see that a black man was cast after 18 years and 40 seasons. I believe it is a step in the right direction,” she tweeted, adding, “I would be remiss to not point out that based on the current climate, it feels like a knee-jerk reaction and a result of societal pressure. This announcement, without any further commitments regarding diversity, sweepingly brushes deeper issues under the rug.”
Lindsey went on to say “the casting news today is equivalent to the trend of posting a black box on your social media account without other steps taken to dismantle the systems of injustice.”
Some fans of the show criticized Lindsey for being overly critical.
I agree. I feel like they’re making an effort but she’s never happy. Yet she’s happy to capitalize off the notoriety the show gave her.
— Farah Bunch (@FarahBunch) June 13, 2020
Others however, agreed with her sentiments.
— Let’s not repeat that mistake 2020 (@petionville85) June 12, 2020
What do you think, is this a step in the right direction or just a response to the pressure the franchise has been facing recently? Sound off in the comments!