Misplaced anger at white ‘Bachelor’ contestants

Bailey Kirkeby, News Editor, Managing Editor, Entertainment Columnist

Up until this very column, my highbrow, news-obsessed facade has hidden my love for such a trashy television show. However, I must come clean — I am one of the nauseating fans of ABC’s “The Bachelor.” Every Monday, I hustle through my homework so I am able to lie down in bed, remote in hand, and watch the likely-produced-but-still-interesting drama unfold on my screen.

Although my credibility is now crushed after admitting this shameful guilty pleasure, it is my civic duty to point out the obvious and — as I often do — make a hot take. If you took one look at the cast of any “Bachelor” season, the stereotypical woman the producers cast is immediately clear: white, blonde and skinny.

A predominantly white cast has been a standard for “The Bachelor” franchise since the series began in 2002. The one noticeable aberration from this trend was the 13th season of “The Bachelorette” in 2017, which featured the first black lead — a charming lawyer named Rachel Lindsay — in the history of “The Bachelor” franchise. According to “Rolling Stone,” of Lindsay’s 31 suitors, nearly half were non-white.

Understandably, viewers and entertainment columnists for popular newspapers have been crying out their desires for a more diverse cast for years — and I agree! Not only is there a clear lack of diversity in “The Bachelor” casting, but when the show does cast minorities, they are often sent home early. According to the “Los Angeles Times,” a recent investigation found that, as of 2016, 59 percent of black contestants are eliminated from the show within the first two (out of 10) weeks.

While its undeniable that “The Bachelor” must take strides towards improving its casting choices, viewers often attack the white, blonde contestants themselves for being on the show and excelling, such as Twitter user @chelaoofka, who expressed her outrage when a blonde, white woman named Cassie — arguably this season’s current frontrunner — received a rose from the Bachelor, Colton: “THE BACHELOR??? hello Cassie did NOT deserve that rose [Colton] just likes white bitches.”

Similarly, news headlines often point out the show’s indiscernible white contestants, such as a “Newsweek” article titled “Meet the 2018 Near-Identical ‘Bachelor’ Cast: Which Blonde-Haired Woman is Which?”

There is undoubtedly work that needs to be done to improve the inclusivity of “The Bachelor” casting. However, categorizing women as nearly identical simply because they share the same hair color and skin tone is dehumanizing; instead of being Chelsea, a 29-year-old real estate executive assistant from Maine, you are now merely “one of the blonde-haired women; we don’t know which one!”

Viewers are allowed to be upset about the lack of diversity on “The Bachelor.” But instead of attacking the white contestants for their mere existence, we should question the casting directors that put a disproportionate number of them on the show. Leave the white people alone.