Tensions were high at the ABC panel at the Television Critics Association's winter 2024 press tour, where the show's three hosts were asked about racial issues that often come up in unscripted TV shows.
“The Bachelor” executive producers Jason Ehrlich, Clare Vreeland and Bennett Graebner seemed surprised when NPR journalist Eric Deggans brought up several controversies surrounding the treatment of black cast members, saying, “During Matt James’ season, you had controversy about that.” It led to Chris Harrison leaving the show. Matt was a little critical of the way she presented his father. Rachel Lindsay, the first black Bachelorette, has criticized the way the show talks about race.
“Why do ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette’ seem to have so much difficulty dealing with racial issues?” – asked Degans. “Have you learned anything from these past scandals that led to Chris Harrison's departure?”
“I can talk about where we are now,” Freeland said after a long pause. “Our goal is to represent the fabric of the country, not just in terms of diversity and ethnicity, but also in terms of ability and body types and to represent where people are from in the country as well.”
“I can talk about the seasons I've been in,” continued Vreeland, who joined the American versions of the series in 2023 after previously working on the Canadian “Bachelor” series. “I think, so far, we're putting our money where our mouth is. That's something we're always working on, and we'll continue to do that moving forward.”
Deggans responded to Vreeland's focus on the present: “That doesn't really answer the question. Why does 'The Bachelor' struggle to deal with race, especially when black people are the stars of the show?”
Freeland did not answer. Neither did Ehrlich and Graebner, who have worked on the Bachelor franchise since 2004 and 2008, respectively.
After another long pause, Degance spoke again: “I think we have our answer.”
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