Two black men who auditioned to be The Bachelor will file a lawsuit in federal court tomorrow and seek class action status, alleging that the show is guilty of racial discrimination. In 23 seasons and 10 years, it has never had a non-white person as its star, and the majority of its cast members have been white.
The lawsuit is against the show’s network and producers, including ABC, Warner Horizon Television, Next Entertainment, NZK Productions, and creator Mike Fleiss, according to a news release cited by The Hollywood Reporter. When the two plaintiffs, Christopher Johnson (who is not the Tennessee Titans player but played football at Tennessee State) and Nathaniel Claybrooks (a Nashville Storm linebacker), went to a Nashville open call audition, they were excluded from the process by a producer, according to TMZ.
A lot of reality shows have conspicuously white casts, and for sure, that’s partly due to self-selection–people don’t see other people like themselves on TV, so they don’t apply. That’s the excuse Mike Fleiss gave a year ago: “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,” he said.
That’s just bullshit laziness, and The Bachelor‘s track record is utterly ridiculous. Say what you will about Survivor‘s recruiting of cast members, and what they did in terms of tribe organization for Cook Islands, but producers’ decision to actively seek more non-white players had a positive impact on the show, both by bringing strong characters and leading other non-white people to apply.
ABC and Mike Fleiss could easily do that. But they don’t.