The end of Michelle Young’s season of “The Bachelorette” is still fresh in everyone’s minds, but fans have already moved on to discussing the next season of the “Bachelor” franchise, which will debut in January. Some viewers, however, are not thrilled that producers chose Clayton Echard as the leading man.
Young’s season was unique for a few reasons. The most recent installment of “The Bachelorette” was the first season without Chris Harrison as host. The long-time “Bachelor” mainstay got booted from the ABC show after defending contestant Rachael Kirkconnell for having attended an Antebellum-themed party in college. Despite a gushing apology, Harrison was replaced by former contestants Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe for Young’s season.
And in the end, Young, who is black, got engaged to Texas sales executive Nayte Olukoya, who is also black. There have been black leads in the past (Rachel Lindsay, Tayisha Adams, and Matt James), but ultimately they always selected white contestants for the final rose.
The franchise has been stepping up their efforts for diversity after a lot of external pressure. But some fans are saying their efforts are not enough. Because Young’s top finalists were all black, they’re claiming the next Bachelor should be black, too. Echard was eliminated from the competition back in episode 6.
“There have been these moments of relief and surprise that made it seem like things were really going to change for the better,” Bachelor Nation fan Myah Genung told the LA Times. “But that has been immediately followed by disappointment and a reversal to the status quo, where there are glaring signs that they’re privileging white men.”
“There were these fantastic Black men at the end for Michelle, but it’s as clear as day that producers don’t want this to be known as ‘the Black show,’” Genung continued. “All of the energy that we as a Black fan base have put in wanting this show to change and be better has been for naught. Michelle’s season has been wonderful to watch, but I’m definitely not going to watch Clayton’s season.”
The publication also spoke with Diane Castro, a corporate communications executive who had similar sentiments. She said, “After what happened with Matt’s season, the Black Lives Matter movement and the pledges for change, to revert to the old formula is very disappointing. It’s infuriating that the ‘Bachelor’ house still looks like Barbie’s beach house circa 1975.”
And fans pointed to “The Bachelorette” having its lowest premiere ever with 3 million viewers during Young’s season as being a likely culprit for not casting another black lead. One fan said not all Bachelor Nation fans are interested in “diverse love stories.” That lack of viewership is seen as a reason to stop focusing on diversity. “I don’t see them returning to a Black lead like Michelle or Matt for a very long time,” longtime fan Ashley Tabron told the Times.
Beyond just having a black lead and contestants, Young’s season of “The Bachelorette” had a heavy focus on issues relating to racial equality.
Season 26 of “The Bachelor” with Clayton Echard premieres on ABC January 3.