After promises from The Bachelor franchise to do more to embrace diversity in its casting of leads and suitors, fans say they are back peddling. The complaints come amid the latest Bachelor lead being announced.
Clayton Echard, a white 28-year-old former NFL football player from Missouri has viewers upset. His casting comes after Matt James of Season 25 was cast as the first Black lead. James chose a white suitor, Rachel Kirkconnell, whose racist photos resurfaced online. The Bachelorette Season 18 lead Michelle Young made history as only the third Black lead on her franchise, and the first to choose a suitor of color.
Fans complain about the new ‘Bachelor’ lead
An online petition has surfaced following Echard’s casting. Some are also speaking to media outlets about their outrage. “It’s a tired choice for a tired audience that is craving and demanding more,” members of the Bachelor Diversity Campaign, a collective of fans who want to see the show step up its commitment to diversity, told Yahoo Entertainment. “We have seen this show before, quite literally over 20 times. This is not a knock to Clayton, who seems like a nice guy from our very limited introduction to him, but frustration that producers ignored more visible, impactful and diverse contenders from this season and last in order to show us the same tired formula.”
The group spearheaded calls to ABC to make changes to the show’s format in casting. in 2020 they initiated a Change.org petition in favor of racial diversity “both in front of and behind the camera.” In it, petitioners stated that the lack of a BIPOC lead was “unacceptable” and called for a number of changes to “combat racism” in the show’s future, including “Cast a Black Bachelor as Season 25 lead.”
Echard’s season premieres on Jan. 3.