Bachelor Franchise’s Latest Failure: Exploiting Race & Class to Save a Sinking Ship

ABC's Season 34 Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay

When it comes to the Bachelor Franchise, you probably fall into one of two categories:

1. You’ve never indulged in the original series The Bachelor or its numerous series spin-offs (i.e. The Bachelorette, Bachelor Pad, Bachelor In Paradise, etc). You’ve never watched (or care to watch) 25+ men/women compete for the affections of a lucky single, hoping to escape the weekly eliminations to find their happily ever after.

2. You had the terrible misfortune of watching just one episode and have been forever sucked into a train-wreck of hate-watching America’s most eligible man/woman embark on a cringe-worthy journey to find The One. (For the record I’m in this boat – don’t judge.)

Despite starting out strong and boastingsuccessful completion of 33 seasons, some of which resulted in seemingly happy marriages, pregnancies, and reinforcement in the idea of finding true love . . . this franchise is sinking.

With ratings fluctuating tremendously, every season has to have a hook. On this season of the Bachelorette said hook, was 31-year-old African American lawyer from Dallas, Texas: Rachel Lindsay.

giphy1Rachel was a beloved cast-off from the previous season, and was then selected as
the first ever black lead to be cast on this show. Yay for diversity, right? No. Here’s why:

1. Rather than advertising her just as any other individual in the pursuit of love, she was marketed as “The First Ever Black Bachelorette”. Why is this a ground-breaking development? It took you 33 seasons to have a woman of color as the main lead?
*Eye roll*

2. Rachel was constantly asked if she felt added pressure or responsibility for being the first black girl calling the shots. She originally remarked that she didn’t, as her journey should be no different than anyone else’s, especially not because of her race. But as the season progressed she was continuously put in positions where her character was scrutinized, and she was expected to act as a champion for all black women.

3. Countless times the marketing strategy of Rachel boiled down to, “She’s black and she’s a successful lawyer”. Do I even have to get into how degrading this is? Racism, and classism at its finest. As if her race and her job define her, or are the deciding factors for her appeal.

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4. Numerous episodes of Rachel’s season, included a central conflict with racial overtones. At first, it was because Rachel’s original group of suitors consisted of a higher than normal proportion of black men. Then it was because the black men were shown in a negative light, which resulted in them having to prove their decency for the duration of their time. Then, it was the realization that one of the white contestants was a closeted racist who continuously sought conflict with the other men. Nearly every episode, race or class was purposefully called into question, mainly for dramatic effect.

These are just a few examples of the catastrophe that was this season of The Bachelorette. Producers stooped to an all time low, using race as a cheap prop to boost ratings, taking advantage of the current political climate no less. They carefully edited, marketed, and manipulated Rachel’s genuine journey to find love, until it was fraught with racial tension, microaggressions, and a cloud of negativity.

In the end, Rachel claims to have found the man of her dreams, but for me and many others, this season was (almost) the nail in the coffin. The begrudgingly loyal followers of this show, myself included, are well aware that The Bachelor Franchise is ridiculous, unrealistic, and admittedly just our guilty pleasure. But speaking for myself, blatant exploitation of race and class, as was showcased on this season, is not what I’m here for. I’ll personally give it another season for redemption as my favorite love-to-hate-it show but otherwise, it’s time to let this ship sink.

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By Malki of Feminist JAMMS

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