Red Roses

The New Bachelor Isn’t Black Again, and It’s a Glaring Problem

For those who aren’t familiar with the reality TV show “The Bachelor,” it has been airing for 23 seasons, and in those 23 seasons, they've never featured a black bachelor. The franchise's avoidance of diversity has been an issue since its conception. Little has changed. In fact, it's become blatantly clear that they don't plan on changing a thing. “The Bachelor” franchise is perfectly content to continue catering to a white audience, even when the perfect black candidate is right there. 

The Newest Bachelor

Last week, Peter Weber was announced as the new Bachelor. He's a fine candidate, and he doesn't have many issues on the surface that would make him problematic. He’s cute too. But the real issue is that an even better candidate was not only available for the producers to pick, but he actually had a huge following and fanbase campaigning for him.

The Bachelor We Deserved: Mike Johnson

Mike Johnson is a 31-year-old man who was on the latest season of “The Bachelorette.” He exhibited every positive characteristic you could want in a Bachelor. He respected Hannah—the Bachelorette—and he was always thrilled to be in her presence. He was incredibly charismatic and mature, even in the midst of house drama. Mike was seemingly the perfect candidate.

In fact, it was Chris Harrison himself who said that a black bachelor would have to be a “great man who happens to be black”.  Aside from the perpetuation of colorblindness in his statement, which is often used to argue against diversity, the standard of a “great man” isn’t even reached by some of their previous leads. There have been many awful bachelors, boring ones and even problematic ones. So, finally, a “great man who happens to be black” comes along, but the producers blatantly ignored him in favor of someone bland, but conveniently white. Black men have to be perfect to even be considered a “great man,” in comparison to a white or white-passing man who does the bare minimum.

What’s even more problematic is “The Bachelor” producers’ excuse for not picking Mike. They knew they needed a reason for not picking Mike, so they used their popular spinoff show “Bachelor in Paradise”. BIP (“Bachelor in Paradise”) is a show where former contestants mingle on an island together. Mike was one of the individuals who participated in the show, and it wasn’t uncommon for a BIP contestant to become Bachelor, so fans had hope Mike could still be the lead. Supposedly, BIP was like an audition for Mike—a chance to show he could be a better bachelor than Peter. And conveniently, the producers said he didn’t do enough to prove his worth.

First of all, what else did he have to prove? How was his showing on “The Bachelorette” not enough for them, especially considering he was a fan favorite? And what exactly did Peter do that was so untouchable in comparison to Mike? For the record, Peter is a fine guy. There’s nothing inherently wrong with him but, at the end of the day, “The Bachelor” franchise dropped the ball on diversity once again. This time, it took them a concerted effort to do so, by conspiring an excuse through BIP.

The Future of Diversity on “The Bachelor”

Lastly, we can't talk about diversity on the Bachelor without mentioning the amazing Rachel Lindsey, our first black bachelorette, and the only black American to claim the lead role in the franchise's history. She gave many POC hope that the franchise would continue trending in the right direction. 

Instead, it's evident they viewed her selection as a checked off box on a list. They knew they had to do it, and once they did it, they didn't plan on continuing. It was as if they knew they had to quiet the critics and satisfy a small portion of their audience, and once that was achieved, they could go back to their white-centric standards.

So, let’s be real for a moment. If Mike Johnson was a white man, they would have picked him in a heartbeat. The defining difference between him and Peter is their skin color. Peter doesn’t have any sort of amazing story or attribute that makes him a better choice than Mike. In fact, Mike had an entire fanbase campaigning for him. A decent portion of Bachelor Nation wanted him but instead, “The Bachelor” producers refused to do the easy and right decision.

I can’t tell you whether you should keep watching the show or not. I know that for me, after religiously watching this show for years, I’m going to have to skip this season and likely many more until the franchise proves to me that it can commit to diversity. For now, I’ll just mourn what could have been. Mike Johnson was the bachelor we deserved, but not the one that was given to us. At the end of the day, the producers skipped over their perfect man, who happened to be black, for his whiter counterpart. Again.