The Problem with The Bachelor Franchise

The Bachelor Franchise began nearly 20 years ago in 2002, and since then, it has grown astronomically and gained a loyal following. However, in the past couple of years, it seems like the shows have been overshadowed by real-life scandals, rather than reality-tv drama. Not only that, but it seems like the show has become less about guilty-pleasure viewing, and has had extensive repercussions on participants’ personal lives.

First of all, The Bachelor Franchise has a diversity problem. Most contestants are Caucasian men and women. There are rarely people of color or people with diverse backgrounds, and if there are any, they often don’t make it far into the season, as I have observed in watching over the years. Viewers have asked ABC for years to include a more diverse cast, but there was little effort to make a change. After racial equality was brought further into discussion this past summer, viewers again begged ABC producers to bring more diversity to the show and represent other backgrounds. While it seemed like they finally obliged with Matt’s season, they botched it by focusing entirely on the catty drama with the women. That season wasn’t really about Matt finding love at all, and I’m admittedly disappointed that the producers threw away an opportunity to take the franchise back in the right direction.

Matt and Victoria on The Bachelor ABC/Craig Sjodin Secondly, it has become increasingly clear that the producers manipulate the outcomes of dates, rose ceremonies, and cocktail parties. While I understand that they must pass along information for the drama necessary in reality television, they have taken it way too far. They should know better than to allow a woman to be bullied and ostracized over a rumor about allegedly being an escort and then allowing that to air. While I’m sure that there are statements in their contracts that prevent contestants from suing ABC over the way that they are portrayed by production, it seems like she would otherwise have a strong case for a slander lawsuit against them. Contestants have spoken out about the death threats and harsh comments they receive in comments and direct messages, and no one should have to experience that, no matter what their behavior or actions were.

Finally, there is the way that ABC and the producers handled the situation with Rachael Kirkconnell, her social media posts, and host Chris Harrison’s interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay. As Kirkconnell’s racially insensitive old social media posts resurfaced, not only were producers silent, but Harrison seemed to be defending her actions, especially in the interview with Lindsay. Some fans theorized that Harrison was defending Kirkconnell because she ended up being Matt’s pick, but others believed that his statements were truly his feelings or the producers were using him as a pawn. No matter the truth of that situation, both Harrison and Kirkconnell have issued apologies and Harrsion stepped down as host. However, the underlying issues in the franchise are still prevalent. While some viewers appreciate the public apologies, many suggest that it is not enough and that they want to see actions showing active change in behavior.

Clare Crawley Photo by ABC / Craig Sjodin

My conclusion to the situation is that the producers have enabled the destruction of the franchise’s image and failed to prevent or fix the issues. It seems that in an attempt to boost ratings and gain more viewers, they have caused more problems. In my opinion, to save the franchise, they need a complete rebranding. But will it happen, and would it be successful? I guess only time will tell.

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