The following contains spoilers about the season finale of “The Bachelorette.”
Between declarations of love, engagement, lush soundtrack, and the final rose, “The Bachelorette” made history.
in a At the season finale of the hit reality show on ABC, Michelle Young became involved in sales management at Texas Knight Olukoya. A Minnesota Elementary School teacher chose Olukoya over grief Brandon Jones, who made an emotional plea last week to Young not to send him home.
Young and Ulukoya The love story was also a breakthrough in the “Bachelor” franchise, which has been repeatedly rocked by accusations of racism and cultural insensitivity. The finale marked the first time in its 19-year history that a black leader chose a black contestant as their soulmate.
Former black stars — Rachel Lindsay, Taisha Adams, and Matt James — chose white companions from culturally diverse groups of suitors.
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This season has already been a milestone for the “Bachelor” franchise. For the first time, a season featured black lead, black co-host – Adams – and black executive producer, Judy Baskerville. Another defining moment came later in the season when the four contestants vying for Young’s feelings were all black.
Such developments may have sparked optimism that producers have moved past the racially-charged scandal that overshadowed the final season of “The Bachelor,” which starred James as the tournament’s first black captain and ended with the departure of host Chris Harrison.
Instead of a happy ending, loyal members of Bachelor Nation are disappointed enough to threaten to boycott the franchise.
The subject of contention is the casting of former soccer player Clayton Echard as the star of the 20th-anniversary season of “The Bachelor,” which premieres January 3. Fans claim that Young’s all-black season finalist squad was bypassed by producers in favor of Missouri-based Echard, a medical salesperson who was disqualified by Young in Episode 6, ahead of seven other suitors.
Warner Bros. indicated. , which produces the series, points out that several potential clients – including James; Young’s predecessor, Katie Thurston; and Juan Pablo Galavis, the first Latin Bachelor – came from outside the group of finalists. But many fans told The Times they interpreted Echard’s choice as a clear break from tradition.
“There were these moments of relief and surprise that made it seem like things were really going to change for the better,” said Mia Jinong, who has been watching the ‘Bachelor’ franchise since she was a teenager. “But this was immediately followed by disappointment and a reversal of the status quo, as there are clear indications that they prefer white men.”
Jinong added, “There were these cool black guys at the end for Michelle, but it’s clear as today that the producers don’t want this to be known as the ‘Black Show’.” For nothing. Michelle’s season was great to watch, but I definitely won’t watch Clayton’s season.”
“After what happened with Matt’s season, the Black Lives Matter movement and pledges to change, to return to the old formula is very disappointing,” said Diane Castro, executive director of corporate communications who has also been monitoring The Bachelor from the start. “It still looks like a Barbie beach house circa 1975.”
The Young season premiere drew 3 million viewers — the series’ least-watched premiere ever, according to the Hollywood Reporter. And while there are many potential reasons for the decline, including ABC’s decision to air back-to-back seasons of “The Bachelorette,” fans have predicted that the franchise’s increased focus on diversity, with three out of four black teams, has alienated a certain subset of viewers.
“There are two audiences to this show – those who want to see diverse love stories and those who don’t want to see a story that doesn’t look like them, not resonate with them,” said longtime fan Ashley Tabron. “We’ve seen what’s possible when you have black people in the center. To take that away suddenly hurts. I don’t see them go back to the black heroine like Michelle or Matt for very long.”
Other black fans who have been in favor of a black romance say casting Echard was the right move – in order to prevent a repeat of James’ disastrous season.
“They tried it out with Matt James, and it was a disaster,” said Justin Kay, presenter of the podcast “2 Black Girls, 1 Rose” with her friend Natasha Scott. The story of the black man. If they’re going to do what they did to Matt, it’s best not to. That was bad for everyone involved.”
James’ season was turned upside down when photos surfaced of eventual winner Rachel Kirkonnell at an antebellum Southern gala. Harrison was swept into the firestorm when he defended Kirkconnell in a controversial “Extra” interview with Lindsay, the first black champ in franchise history. James also spoke during the season, saying that the controversy was a reflection of a larger issue “that the franchise had failed to address adequately for years.”
Kay said she and Scott were looking forward to getting back to their original approach of being a little lighter about discussing shows: “We’re going to have more fun.”
News leaked about Echard being the new Bachelor even before Young’s season premiered. “It was painful,” Jinong said. “But then it was like, ‘Wow, this guy must have a great story. He should stand out among the rest of the men. So we waited to justify why the producers chose him. But that breakthrough moment never came. It literally looks like any other BS. “
In Episode VI, Echard is positioned as having a hit with some of Young’s fifth graders, who choose him to go on a date with Young. Although Young told him that he had many wonderful qualities, she didn’t feel like it was a good match and sent him home.
“My heart is telling me that Clayton is a really amazing person,” she said in the voiceover. “It’s not just personal. But I know there is someone out there who would be absolutely amazing to him.”
Ethnicity was prevalent throughout the season, with Young repeatedly identifying herself as a strong black woman who has endured a number of agonizing moments, including being called an N word by a woman at the grocery store.
During a spoken word session, she received a poem in which she said: “Early, society molded me as the iconic black girl. I was their mark on diversity, all thanks to nappy curls. … I was never invited the girl to sweet dates in the apple orchard in the fall.” I was the girl who was chosen in the past for prom, but the first for basketball.”
A tense moment erupted when a contestant circulated a rumor that Young was seen before the show dining with a “light-skinned ballerina”. Annoyed by the speculation, Young told suitors, “If I were having a romantic dinner with a white man in a restaurant, no one would say, ‘They’re a couple.'” “But because it’s another black man, we’re supposed to be together. And that’s frustrating, because I’m open to all of you.”
“There’s been a lot more substantive conversations about race than I’ve ever heard about the franchise,” Castro said of Young’s season, which is why she’s not ready to leave The Bachelor just yet. She hopes the franchise will expand the people it offers as romance, including not only black people but Latinos and other participants of color as well.
“Not doing that is a missed opportunity,” she said.