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The History of The Bachelor Franchise’s Controversy: From One Bachelor Lover to Another

If you’re anything like me, you use reality TV as a means of escape from the hardships of your own life. Sure enough, every Monday night, my friends and I grab our snacks and sweatpants to watch another episode of ABC’s The Bachelor. Yes, reality TV should be purely drama and enjoyment, but, from one Bachelor lover to another, we cannot continue to pretend the show lacks diversity and representation almost entirely. 

The show was created in 2002 by Mike Fleiss , and built around the premise that, “women wanted to be married so badly that they were willing to go on TV to compete for the affections of a man they had never met and knew nothing about”(Vox). While The Bachelor was followed immediately after by the first season of The Bachelorette in 2003, applying the absurd stereotype to not just women, the entirety of the franchise was built upon a sexist foundation and continues to embrace sexist stereotypes to this day. 

Furthermore, the Bachelor Franchise has been under fire for its lack of racial and ethnic diversity (especially in recent seasons). Though the show first aired in 2002, it did not cast its first non-white Bachelor until 2014, Juan Pablo Galavis (NPR). In 2017, the show finally saw its first black Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, and in 2021 the first black Bachelor, Matt James (Hollywood Reporter). Even as the show’s casting became more racially diverse, producers used contestants’ race to create controversy amongst participants, ultimately using it as dramatic content for the show. In Rachel Lindsay’s season of The Bachelorette, contestant Lee Garrett was cast, despite a history of racist Tweets. These Tweets were exposed and Garrett was confronted in the season’s “Men Tell All” as a means of entertainment for viewers. While we have seen major advancements in the show’s casting of people of color, there is still much room for improvement (NPR).

Amidst sexist and racist controversies, other unaddressed issues include lack of representation of people with disabilities and varying body types. Despite all the controversies and complaints, the “Bachelor Nation” fanbase still continues on as strong as ever. If you are a Bachelor/Bachelorette lover (again, like myself) I ask that you of course, soak up and enjoy the faux, petty drama, but raise your awareness of the show’s extreme faults. We cannot merely accept things the way they are, we must realize that there is always room for improvement.

Brooke Woodrum

Aspiring sport psychologist studying as a freshman at the University of Michigan. Avid dog-lover, foodie, Spotify playlist creator, and UMich/Detroit sports fan. Fun Fact: I run the Her Campus UMich TikTok Page! Check it out @hercampusumich
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