Racial Struggles in “The Bachelor” Franchise

Pour yourself an extra glass of wine because this season of “The Bachelor” just keeps getting crazier. Let's be real, Monday nights are so much better with all that messy drama unfolding across our screens. Yet, it can be so easy to get wrapped up in the reality TV chaos that we ignore the biggest issue looming over the franchise. Ever since the show started, “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” have been criticized for its lack of racial diversity. This has slightly improved in the past few seasons, but now the franchise is facing another issue: a large portion of its core fanbase is struggling to accept women of color, and the production team might be listening.

The Bachelor Nation Fanbase

One of the running jokes on “The Bachelor” is how every single season, there’s always a random country artist performing during a one-on-one that literally no one’s ever heard of before. The singers are all incredibly talented, but it’s clear by their musical genre that “The Bachelor” producers know their fanbase, and they’ve been catering to them for years. They’re not bringing on hip hop artists or Latin pop musicians for a reason. All you have to do is scroll through #TheBachelor hashtag on Twitter and quickly realize that a lot of the viewers are both old and young white women. Granted, not every fan fits that category, but there’s just not a lot of diversity, and “The Bachelor” producers certainly aren’t trying too hard to market outside of that group. The main issue with the fanbase is their collective subtle racism. Honestly, America as a whole has been struggling with racial issues since before its conception. Ingrained racism exists all over of the country, and oftentimes, people don’t even realize it. This is referred to as unconscious racism, which can be embedded in the minds of Americans through societal molding. The point is, there’s likely a high number of “The Bachelor” fans who hold prejudice views and opinions, whether they fully realize it or not.

The Drama

Let’s talk about the drama on Colton’s season real quick. I’m sure we all remember the numerous warnings Colton’s been receiving: “Some girls here aren’t ready to be engaged — they aren’t here for the right reasons, etc.” This fiasco came to a boiling point when Colton started asking who the girls in question were. He even spent a portion of his date with Tayshia asking her to drop names. This man really wanted to know.

Things got really messy when Tayshia named Cassie and Caelynn as the suspects. Because honestly, one of the worst things a contestant can say about someone on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” is that they aren’t there for “the right reasons.” And not only were Cassie and Caelynn front runners at that point (until Caelynn got the boot), but they were also fan favorites. After week eight, they were both in the top three of Instagram followers out of Colton’s women. They are both more than halfway to a million right now. These girls are clearly loved, so what happened when not only Tayshia name dropped them, but Kirpa also got herself involved? Things went haywire on social media. Tayshia and Kirpa were demonized, harassed, and insulted on a gross level, causing other cast members to speak out. Whether those two were in the wrong or right is debatable, but what’s clear is how racially charged the ensuing witch hunt became.

Social Media Followings

At the time of the drama, Tayshia and Kirpa both had significantly less Instagram followers than their white counterparts. Tayshia hadn’t even reached 100k yet by that point. While it might be easy to think this is just because people don’t like them or their Instagram aesthetic as much, I’ll explain why this is a common and concerning theme with WOC (Women of Color) on “The Bachelor” franchise. Now I know everyone remembers  Rachel Lindsay, aka the greatest Bachelorette to ever grace our TV screens.

She was the first Black Bachelorette ever. Literally, the show has been running for decades and she was the first in 2017. This woman was so amazing on her season and is now living her best life with her man Bryan Abasolo. But tell me why the ratings were down for her season compared to the last Bachelorette’s? Tell me why she’s the only recent Bachelorette with less than one million followers? Even Raven Gates has more followers than her, who was on the exact same season of “The Bachelor” as Rachel but didn’t receive the star-studded role of Bachelorette. In fact, the only POC who’s in the top 15 of Bachelor Nation Instagram followings is Catherine Giudici Lowe. That’s it.

Racially Fueled Bullying

Now that it’s clear that WOC just aren’t liked as much on social media by “The Bachelor” fanbase, it’s time to go back to the drama: Tayshia and Kirpa vs Cassie and Caelynn. The only scene viewers got to see was Tayshia and Kirpa snitching. The producers didn’t show us the incident in question, where Cassie and Caelynn were supposedly having an incriminating conversation. All we saw were two women throwing the other two under the bus. Honestly, the editing definitely didn’t do Tayshia and Kirpa any favors. With that said, even if you think they were in the wrong, that’s certainly no excuse to harass them on Instagram, Twitter or anywhere else. There were so many comments making fun of their names and insulting them. And that’s not the first time a WOC has been bullied on Colton’s season. The beautiful Katie has also been harassed by commenters, with people insulting her nose because it doesn’t look like the typical caucasian nose. She’s absolutely stunning by the way and doesn’t need to fit society’s white standards of beauty.

In fact, it was Katie who gave Colton the first real warning about the other girls. She was the one who supposedly overheard Cassie and Caelynn in the first place. One thing to look out for tonight on the Women Tell All is how the editing portrays her, and if the producers allow her side of the story to get out. Regardless of what happens though, let’s hope she doesn’t get swarmed with hate after the episode like Tayshia and Kirpa did.

Fishy Editing

So far on Colton’s season, the editing hasn’t been great for WOC. They’ve either gotten little to no screen time at all or have been the center of the messy drama that’s gotten them a frenzy of hate. Don’t forget how Onyeka, Nicole and Courtney all got their unflattering moments of drama shown on television, but the likely biggest conversation of the season between Cassie and Caelynn didn’t even get shown. The producers know quite well who their fanbase is. With that said, it doesn’t really matter how “The Bachelor” edits their women to try and manipulate the audience. Even when they show Caelynn calling Tayshia a “stupid b***h,” or Cassie calling Kirpa an “idiot,” these two still receive an outpouring of support. And not that they shouldn’t receive any support, but let’s be completely honest with ourselves. If a WOC contestant said those words, they’d be vilified to the core. The double standards are real. Oh and a quick shout out to the producers for casting an actual racist on Rachel’s season, likely forcing her to keep him on the show until an orchestrated 2-on-1 with one of the black men he’d been antagonizing. I mean seriously, who told them that using racism to produce drama was somehow okay? It’s not.

The Future of Diversity On The Bachelor Franchise

It’s pretty clear that women of color just aren’t as appealing to a large portion of “The Bachelor” fanbase. They’re often overlooked, disliked and sometimes even hated. POC (people of color) in general are used to create drama and stoke racially charged tensions amongst the fanbase. The fact that they consistently get shafted in terms of social media following and support just goes to show how American audiences regard them. Many white Americans harbor racist sentiments and prejudice against POC, whether they realize it or not. As much as I personally love “The Bachelor” and watch it religiously, I’m often reminded every Monday night that I’m not their audience. In truth, I was hopeful things would change with Rachel. It was so amazing to watch a Black Bachelorette for the first time. I felt like we were finally being seen and represented in a space largely occupied by white people for so long. But unfortunately, others decided to turn off their televisions when Rachel Lindsay graced our screen. For that reason, The Bachelor franchise simply doesn’t care about pleasing me or any other POC. They want high ratings and will do anything to cater to their fans and, consciously or not, their core fanbase is racist. The drama, editing and reactions surrounding Colton’s season is just a further testament to that.

Maybe someday we’ll begin to see a change in how “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” tackles diversity. Maybe someday we’ll see a change in the hearts of white people all across America. Until that day, we’ll continuously be ostracized by the general American public and made to feel like we don’t belong. Not even a seemingly harmless and fun reality TV show like “The Bachelor” can offer us an escape from racism.