Yesterday, two football players from Tennessee, Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, announced that they plan to sue ABC and the producers of The Bachelor for racial discrimination. You see, in 23 seasons there has never been a Bachelor or Bachelorette of color, and Claybrooks and Johnson, who presumably auditioned for the show at some point, are claiming that that's deliberate.
Entertainment Weekly has a good rundown of the legalese of the matter, basically explaining that the suit (which has not yet been filed) might have some standing in California based on various anti-discrimination laws, but that any determination will largely depend on behind-the-scenes emails, memos, etc. between staff at ABC and the various production companies that make the show. Obviously if there are explicit references to deliberately not casting non-white Bachelors or Bachelorettes then there might be a problem, legally speaking. And in a bigger, general way, it's unfortunate that so far the casts of those shows have been so conspicuously homogenous and if that's expressly on purpose that's very bad. But other than that, um, really guys?
Like, is that where we are right now, suing reality shows because they won't cast us? Sue a job that doesn't hire you because you're black, that's a real offense for sure. But a reality show isn't a job exactly, is it? Specifically, The Bachelor is not a job. Being The Bachelor is not employment from which one can be unfairly discriminated. Yes, you receive money and it may lead to future employment as, say, a cast member on Bachelor Pad, but it is not a livelihood that should be legally fair and inclusive. If ABC et .al. are deliberately not casting a black Bachelor or a Latina Bachelorette in favor of the blond(e) zombies they've had on so far, then that is bad and they are jerks. But sued? By two random people? For discrimination? That makes no sense!
Because why is anyone assigning enough weight to an awful, misogynistic show like The Bachelor that allows it to be some discriminatory body from which people have been unjustly barred? It's just The Bachelor! It's just that stupid thing, it's not institutional, this isn't part of any actual system of anything. Blame television! Blame society! Blame whoever else. Complain about it. But don't sue, because suing The Bachelor for discrimination diminishes actual discrimination. And don't sue The Bachelor for discrimination as a cheap ploy for attention after getting rejected by The Bachelor because good grief, guys.
Obviously this is not some actual, legitimate lawsuit and it's all just a circusy charade thing, but it's still frustrating, because it conflates a serious problem with one of the most frivolous, doltish things in America. The actually important talk about race that's going on in America right now (amid a bunch of hot air) is diluted by this kind of silliness. So please, we implore you, give it up, guys. You've been heard, you've been written about, the plan worked. But now drop it, OK? Not because The Bachelor shouldn't be more inclusive, of course that would be the right thing, but because the stunt act of being ridiculous about something serious has gotten old in these multimedia times. Just can it, guys. For the good of the nation. If you do, we'll send you some roses as a thank you and you can give them out to whomever you choose.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.