Matt James’ season of The Bachelor was meant to signify a turning point for the franchise, however, it’s ended up making headlines for all the reasons ABC wouldn’t have wanted.
Indeed, season 25 finally delivered the first Black male lead while it also featured the most diverse cast in the reality dating show’s history – Of the 37 total cast members for Matt’s season, 25 of those women identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other people of color).
Yet, the season finale arrives after finalist Rachael Kirkconnell had to apologize for racially insensitive actions, the show’s host Chris Harrison remains on hiatus after making comments ‘perpetuating racism’ and fans questioning why the program has once again failed to deal with the racism cloud that has been hanging over the head of its production.
Former contestants, production staff, and fans alike have been left watching with keen interest to see if the latest wave of backlash will finally lead to meaningful action.
For Bachelor Nation alum Mike Johnson – who appeared on Hannah Brown’s season of The Bachelorette in 2019 – it’s been ‘sad’ to see Matt’s season play out in this way.
Speaking exclusively to Metro.co.uk, he stated: ‘They had lots of opportunities to do great things and it hasn’t amounted to the greatness we thought it would. I still have faith it might, but I would be remiss if I said I wasn’t disappointed.’
The reality star acknowledged how some improvements had been made for Matt’s season but claimed the season fell short because producers continue to ‘gravitate’ to what they are ‘most comfortable with.’
He explained: ‘I think that’s what this show has done subconsciously over the years. It’s why it is so important that they have a diverse crew in order to change that. There should be people of different sexual identities. There should be people of different races, different classes that are working together behind the scenes so that we get a beautiful array that comes across on the TV screen.’
The Talking It Out host added that part of the problem is that the show has ‘fallen victim to their original audience’ after years and years of showing the same type of contestants.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, she applauded the increase of contestants from the BIPOC community as she stated: ‘They did a good job of starting to incorporate more BIPOC casting and also a contestant with a hearing disability.
‘But it is also expected for the cast to diversify when you have a Black lead. They did the same thing with Rachel Linsday’s season of the Bachelorette. What I’m interested in seeing is moving forward is whether they going to continue this and having more people of color on the show when it is a white lead.’
The casting producer insists things must change within the production team in order to avoid issues; such as having more of a focus on white contestants, as well as fans unearthing Rachael’s racist past during the season.
She said: ‘I wasn’t surprised by the drama that took place this season because I know what kind of environment producers create on the set. I could see that they were hoping that having more BIPOC casting would fix all the issues and it didn’t.
‘It was a band-aid, just like making Matt James the lead was a band-aid. They need to address is the deep-rooted racism within their actual production staff. The heads of the show, executive producers like Chris Harrison, are constantly just putting surface fixed on problems that have been just instilled in them for decades now.’
Jazzy continued: ‘When these claims are coming out about the cast members, they don’t know what to do. They’re at a loss because they also struggling within themselves to try to figure out what to do in themselves.
‘They really need to have executive producers of color. They need to have more people of color at the head of departments because that’s where change starts. If they can’t fix what’s internally wrong then they’re not going to be able to produce television that people are looking to see.’
She added: ‘The bachelor community wants to see them move forward, we want them to come to terms with the times. But for some reason, they’re just so hesitant.’
A week later, the executive producers – which includes host Harrison – released a statement in response after announcing Matt would become the first Black lead.
They promised change as they stated: ‘We acknowledge our responsibility for the lack of representation of people of color on our franchise and pledge to make significant changes to address this issue moving forward. We are taking positive steps to expand diversity in our cast, in our staff, and most importantly, in the relationships that we show on television. We can and will do better to reflect the world around us and show all of its beautiful love stories.’
For Ayanna Maddox-Semper, who launched the Bachelor Diversity Campaign alongside fellow fans, it felt like a sign change was on the way. However, she was left bitterly disappointed as Matt’s season progressed.
She told Metro.co.uk: ‘Personally, being a black woman, it was hard to watch because we’ve worked so hard for almost a year striving to see them accomplish more. We made an impact, we know that we were seen, and we provided certain guidelines on how to go forward.
‘We basically broke it down for them and outlined so many more things they needed to do on top of just casting a black lead. But after watching the show focus on the drama between white contestants, seeing Rachael’s past come up, and then Chris Harrison’s interview with Rachel Linsday… it is all extremely disappointing.’
Ayanna stated: ‘The fact the season centered around the drama between white women in this season, rather than amplifying our BIPOC women was very discouraging.
‘It’s also really disheartening to see because they’re not putting any effort into vetting their contestants. It feels like they still prioritize picking women who will do what the producer says rather than bring something real to the table. And if they do notice any troublesome behaviors from their past, it feels like don’t care enough to try and find someone else.
‘I don’t want to say all the producers are racist, because I know that’s not true. But what’s being portrayed to me is that they don’t care about the contestants are potentially racist.’
The university student continued: ‘We didn’t need Chris Harrison’s interview to know that the franchise has issues with racism. Chris decided to say what he wanted to say and it’s not the first time he said something that is questionable.’
Explaining how the show’s continued failure to improve would soon completely alienate BIPOC viewers, Ayanna added: ‘It feels like their white viewers are more important to them. Currently, the majority demographic is white women because why would the rest of us want to tune in when the TV doesn’t even look like us?’
She continued: ‘For countless seasons, it’s been a white guy or a white woman with lots of other white people. From time to time, there may be one black woman, or a Hispanic woman, and sometimes an Asian woman.
‘Then when they do finally have more BIPOC casting this season, the airtime for those women went down’.
So what now? Mike suggests the show need to go back to the basics and remember the true aim is to help people find love.
He stated: ‘We’re losing the essence of the show which is love. Yes, people love drama but we want to see love as well. That’s seems that’s hard for them to do for some reason.’
Ayanna agrees as she added: ‘They need to stop picking people that would make drama and bring in contestants who truly want to find love. That’s what this show is about. I think we’ve lost the concept of helping people find love at this point.’
One thing Mike, Jazzy, and Ayanna all suggest is for the series to take a break in order to reassess and implement changes that would address its deep-rooted issues.
Indeed, Chris will not be returning to his hosting duties just yet – as former Bachelorette’s Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe fill his role for the next season of the series.
But with talk of two seasons of The Bachelorette and a season of Bachelor in Paradise all set to air this year, it seems pausing to reflect is not on the cards for the long-running franchise.
Mike warns that failure to change soon could lead a large number of fans to give their views to rival shows instead.
He stated: ‘The franchise does need to become more progressive, quite honestly, or other shows will take reign. Something like Love Is Blind on Netflix saw success because of the interracial couple, Lauren Speed and Cameron Hamilton.
‘While one of the contestants was open about his sexuality and having an honest discussion about that. These are the stories people like to see, not just the same thing every single year.’
The Bachelor finale airs Monday night on ABC, while the series is available to stream on hayu in the UK.
Got A Showbiz Story?
If you’ve got a celebrity story, video or pictures get in touch with the Metro.co.uk entertainment team by emailing us firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit Stuff page – we’d love to hear from you.
MORE : The Bachelorette’s Chris Harrison replaced by Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe after backlash
MORE : Bachelor host Chris Harrison apologizes to ‘Black community’ in first interview amid racism scandal and confirms plans to return
Thanks for reading the whole article. If you wish to get an daily update about The Bachelor: How to fix 25 seasons of disappointing its BIPOC fans , click on the bell button to subscribe for the notifications.