When The Bachelor and The Bachelorette first came out, I was a big fan of the shows – since this was in the early days of reality television and I am easily entertained. But like many things, I quickly got bored of the series. Last week, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette finished their 15th season. I have wondered if the shows would ever have any minority Bachelor’s or Bachelorette’s. I have always doubted it – especially an Asian American male lead Bachelor.
Apparently, in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, the shows’ creator Mike Fleiss said:
We always want to cast for ethnic diversity, it’s just that for whatever reason, they don’t come forward. I wish they would.
We’ve highlighted many Asian Americans in reality TV shows such as Survivor, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, The Biggest Loser and The Amazing Race, but I can’t recall if there has been an Asian American contestant on either The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. I doubt minorities have NOT come forward, especially if this age of Jersey Shore, where everyone seemingly wants to be a reality TV star. I know a friend of mine who has supposedly submitted me to be on The Bachelor – or at least she jokingly said she has.
And even though ABC executives maintained two years ago that the show was “exploring” the possibilities of casting a person of color in the pivotal role, insiders said producers had little interest in pursuing a more diverse cast, and were unwilling to vary the chemistry of a hugely popular series and wary of a potential controversy stemming from an interracial romance. Said Fleiss in the interview, “We tell better stories, we cast more relatable people and we’ve survived while others have fallen by the wayside.”
Am I not able to relate to The Bachelor or The Bachelorette because I am an Asian American and none of the contestants are not? I don’t think so. I’ve known love, wanting and heart ache and I am sure those are universal feelings that transcend race. If one hasn’t noticed, interracial dating and marriage has been on the rise (at least here in California, which I think is the most racially diverse state in the country). As America becomes more diverse, does that mean the shows will become less popular because minorities will not be able to relate to white bachelors and bachelorettes?
Television has always been about ratings and money, so I can see why Mike Fleiss might not want to tinker with their winning formula. But maybe actually casting an African American or Asian American as leads might INCREASE viewership – especially because of the controversy and a change in the format? (Remember the Survivor season that was initially grouped by race ?)
I think the creator of the show is badly misjudging the intelligence of the American people. You know, I had my doubts about Barack Obama being elected President of the United States, mostly due to his relative experience vis-a-vis other candidates but certainly also due to his race. If the American people can elect Obama to be president, certainly they can survive a season of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette with a non-white lead.
I recently came across this hilarious video on Break.com, and although the viral video stars a white actor, I totally could relate to the self described video – “This song goes out to all the guys who’ve loved and lost… their dignity, trying to get the hot chick.”
Like emotions, hotness transcends race – I’m attracted to Keira Knightley and Zoe Saldana, as well a Zhang Ziyi! When I posted the video to my Facebook wall, my male friends of all ethnicities could relate (and one commented, “[is this the] Bay Area theme song?”) I won’t hold my breath to wait to see an Asian American Bachelor or Bachelorette, but I think America can handle such “controversial” choice.