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Next Bachelorette won’t be white, probably, but more needs to change

ABC has had success with diverse casts in its dramas and comedies, but its oldest reality franchise has stubbornly resisted diversity. But today comes word that The Bachelorette 12‘s star will be a person of color—probably, maybe, let’s hope. Yes, in 31 combined seasons, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have only ever had one non-white star, Juan Pablo, and The Bachelorette has never had a non-white star.

ABC Paul Lee winter TCA 2016

ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee talking to reporters at the TCA’s 2016 winter press tour. (Photo by Image Group LA/ABC)

“I’d be very surprised if [the bachelorette] in the summer isn’t diverse. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that, but I think that’s likely to happen,” The Wrap reports ABC’s entertainment president Paul Lee said in a scrum after his session at the Television Critics Association’s press tour.

TV Line reports that he also said “tweaks” to the show will “get us where we want to go.”

That seems like a pretty clear indication that the network wants the producers to cast someone of color as The Bachelorette 12’s star.

The Bachelor and Bachelorette need more diverse casting

That’s a good step, yes, but one Bachelorette isn’t enough, just like one Latino The Bachelor star wasn’t enough.

Because the show now—smartly—draws its stars from the previous season’s pool of contestants, what really needs to change is casting.

Look how overwhelmingly white the pool of contestants is this season. There are not that many options for a non-white The Bachelorette, and the odds alone suggest that one of them won’t be a break-out, fan-favorite woman who can carry her own show this summer.

It’s a circle: A more diverse cast on The Bachelor means a greater likelihood of a diverse Bachelorette, and a more diverse cast on The Bachelorette increases the chances of a more diverse Bachelor.

This is 100 percent in the producers’ hands: they can cast whoever they want, both as bachelor/bachelorette contestants, and then as the star for the following season. They already cast for drama and crazy, and casting to make the pool of contestants look a little more like the actual country isn’t asking much at all.

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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