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“The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” Accused of Racial Discrimination

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Website for "The Bachelor"

Website for "The Bachelor"

“The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” are in legal hot water over claims of racial discrimination in the production of the reality television dating shows.

Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, both African American men, have sued ABC television, Michael Fleiss (the shows’ creator), and others associated with the shows, alleging that there has been a pattern of racial discrimination in the shows’ casting; according to the lawsuit, between the two shows’ 23 seasons over the course of 10 years, a person of color has never been the main contestant, i.e., “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette.”

The complaint (PDF), which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, seeks class action status, and is available through Deadline Hollywood, calls this “the intentional exclusions of people of color from the lead role” and seeks injunctive relief “to stop this exclusion of class members from the leading roles in these shows.” The suit also seeks punitive damages.

The complaint specifically calls attention to the website of “The Bachelor,” which refers to “an eclectic mix of bachelors over the years. We’ve seen a doctor, football star, prince, millionaire, [and a] single dad.” The selection of contestants for the shows, however, has “led to an inexorable zero” regarding people of color, which the plaintiffs assert has been intentional:

The shows’ complete lack of color is no accident. . . . These applicants were denied the same opportunity to become the next Bachelor or Bachelorette as white contestants not because they were unsuitable for the role or could not contribute to the shows’ ‘eclectic mix,’ but solely because of the perceived risk that casting a Bachelor or Bachelorette who is a person of color would alienate the show’s majority-white viewership.

Others named in the suit include Warner Horizon Television, Next Entertainment, and NZK Productions; Warner Horizon, which produces the shows, calls the complaint “baseless and without merit.” It appears the remaining defendants have not commented.

What do you think of this lawsuit? Do aspiring Bachelors and Bachelorettes of color have a valid claim of racial discrimination?


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April 23rd, 2012 at 12:33 pm