Entertainment

New ‘Bachelor’ has fans crying foul over ‘underdog’ narrative

BSC The franchise faced a reckoning during 2020 and early 2021 as the Black Lives Matter movement highlighted a lack of diverse cast on the show, which was followed by a controversy-laden season starring first black champ Matt James. But with the recent announcement of the new Bachelor, Clayton Echard, fans are disappointed and believe the network hasn’t made strides in its efforts to diversify the hit reality series.

While viewers of Bachelor Nation were anticipating the announcement of next season’s progress, Echard – a 28-year-old white former NFL player from Missouri – not only confused the show’s fan base but also caused an uproar about the direction of the reality series after That seemed promising to be better.

Bachelor Nation shares her disappointment about choosing Clayton Echard as the next Bachelorette. (Photo: Getty Images)

“It’s a stressful choice for a tired audience that is eager and demanding more,” members of the Diversity Campaign The Bachelor, a group of fans who want to watch the show redouble their commitment to diversity, told Yahoo Entertainment. “We’ve seen this show before, literally over 20 times. This isn’t a blow to Clayton, who seems like a nice guy from our very limited introduction to him, but frustration that the producers ignored the most visible, influential, and diverse contenders from this and last season in order to show us the same tired formula.”

The group has been at the forefront of calls for ABC to make changes to the show’s format, which includes acting, in 2020 through its Change.org petition in favor of racial diversity “both front and behind the camera.” In it, petitioners stated that the lack of BIPOC leadership was “unacceptable” and called for a number of “anti-racism” changes in the show’s future, including “Cast a Black Bachelor as the season 25 lead.”

While James made history as the first black Bachelor in the history of the show, many see Echard as deaf. And criticism is mounting from Echard, who competed for the affection of Michelle Young on the eighteenth season of The Bachelorette, is a disappointing choice after BIPOC’s first four historic finals for the franchise.

“Criticism of choosing Clayton to be the next Bachelor has nothing to do with Clayton himself. It can’t actually be personal, because viewers don’t know him. He wasn’t the primary contender on the show and we weren’t given a chance to know his story,” said members of The Bachelor’s diversity campaign. “So the fact that he was chosen for his BA over BIPOC contestants who went above and beyond in the process and thus had more screen time and audience exposure again highlights that ABC is making the show you want. And the question really is, Why does ABC keep wanting to do a show with white lead when there are so many black contestants who have to pass for it?”

Members of The Bachelor’s diversity campaign argued that the network went so far as to ignore its own formula when casting Echard, who didn’t make it to the final episodes of Michelle Young.

“We don’t think ABC has a responsibility to have only BIPOC clients going forward, although we might argue that doing so would be entirely fair and commendable. We believe ABC should continue to follow its set pattern for selecting the next Bachelor or The Bachelor from the finalists. “. Instead, what they’ve done twice in the past year is pick a white applicant for the next BA and BA, Katie. [Thurston] And Clayton – a white champ who did not make it to the final episodes of his season, and left much earlier than the remaining BIPOC contestants. Breaking their own loosely created rules to make exceptions for white contestants except for BIPOC contestants just highlights how far we haven’t come.”

Yahoo Entertainment has reached out to Warner Bros. , which produces the show, and ABC for comment but did not immediately receive responses. However, Bachelor Nation hasn’t held back when it comes to sharing their thoughts.

This choice of intro, which audiences barely knew over the course of the season, continues to perpetuate the idea that to be a white lead on a show you simply have to be likeable and stereotypical of what is supposed to be ‘attractive’ to audience demographics; Whereas, to be a BIPOC leader, you must be full of qualifications and highly regarded, someone who doesn’t make mistakes,” said The Bachelor Diversity Campaign.

Instead, ABC has come under fire for seemingly borrowing the story of one of Young’s season favorites, Rodney Matthews – a 29-year-old former black athlete who was dropped from the show on the same night that Echard was announced as the next Bachelor. Throughout Young’s season, Matthews referred to himself as an underdog, and this was a talking point as Young sent him home. Immediately, fans noticed the slogan that appears on Echard’s promotional photo: “Everyone loves the underdog.”

“But Rodney is the underdog?? When did we talk about Clayton being the underdog?” One person commented on the post.

Another wrote: “Explain how underdog he is? He’s a tall, white soccer player.”

Fans were not only surprised to see the repurposed narration, but they also felt compelled to point out that it was problematic.

The Bachelor’s Diversity campaign said, “ABC clearly doesn’t understand what an underdog is. There is in no way in America a straight white athlete, a cis, a white athlete.” “

And while the group has admitted that ABC has responded to “increasing fan pressure” to diversify with some choice over the past year and a half and hire its first black executive producer, the latest move proves that those small steps aren’t enough for some viewers.

“This selection decision shows how much room we have left to grow,” the Bachelor’s Variety group said. “If this show is truly irreparable, listening to its audience, and demonstrating a continued commitment to change, it will become a relic of reality. It will cease to attract new viewers, will continue to lose viewers in the long run, and will instead become a television artifact of the groundbreaking show that was in its beginning.”

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