While entertaining, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette can pretty easily be criticized for many issues surrounding their "plotlines." One of the most easily scrutinized critiques, however, is the total lack of diversity among the cast members and the inconsistencies in having anywhere close to a true representation of the United States' population. However, while most definitely still not perfect, Season 21 of The Bachelor's cast member announcement might be turning a corner for the show.
This season will return on January 2 and will feature a much more diverse cast with several women of color, which is a pretty big deal if you take into consideration that 2012 brought a lawsuit to the show from a group of Nashville residents, who claimed racial discrimination. (The lawsuit was later dismissed.) It's not clear whether the change came exclusively from the casting team of the show, or whether new Bachelor Nick Viall had any input into the women cast.
This is a spoiler-free zone, so we can't say how well any of the contestants do on the show, but just scrolling through the bios, it's definitely noticeable that it's far more diverse than any The Bachelor or The Bachelorette season prior.
While there have been people of color on the show, albeit very few of them, the producers have long been chastised for voting off any of these contestants early. An infographic created by Karen X. Cheng took a larger look at the minority participants on both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and when they were eliminated in the duration of the seasons.
Cheng found that from 2009 from 2012, either one or no minority contestants appeared on The Bachelor, and maybe even more problematic, each of them was removed from the seasons within the first few episodes. (Talk about a token contestant.)
Following the lawsuit in 2012, it's definitely worth noting that 2013 brought six minority contestants to The Bachelor, and Catherine Gludici (now Catherine Lowe), who comes from a Filipino, Scottish and Italian background, accepted that year's final rose. She and hubby Sean Lowe are one of the show's most famous (and successful) couples to date! However, the next season, things went back to including one person of color.
So while improvements have been made, there is still a long way to go.
The issue has been enough for Saturday Night Live to even call extra attention to it in a sketch, and while the bit itself was hilarious, this issue that's at hand in media as a whole, is not.
All in all, while the show still has an overwhelming number of white female contestants (and don't even get us started on the diversity in terms of LGBT community), this is definitely a step in the right direction for The Bachelor. It's absolutely causing us to hold out a little extra hope for future seasons or, for goodness sake, a person of color as the lead.