'The Bachelor': Least of TV's Race Worries

Celebrity News/The New York Post
Celebrity News/The New York Post

Yesterday, in news that exists only to give our day comedic relief, the Hollywood Reporter reported on a class-action lawsuit filed against ABC's dating-competition series, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, on the grounds of racial discrimination. Here are the two biggest claims:

The plaintiffs — Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, both African American — claim that they were left out of the normal audition process because of their race, after they were taken to a side room and neither was called back, according to Entertainment Weekly.


Claybrooks and Johnson call out ABC; The Bachelor production companies Warner Horizon Television, Next Entertainment and NZK Productions; and Executive Producer Mike Fleiss for not casting a single person of color as the featured Bachelor or Bachelorette during the show's 10-year, 23-season history.

Let us take a moment to think about the significance of this lawsuit, understanding that an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. Good. Now, with that out of the way, let us all laugh at what has to be one of the most frivolous race-based lawsuits in the history of law.

I hope that Claybrooks or Johnson don't think they're about to get a march started in their favor over this. Everyone knows that the reason The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have been on so long is that they stick to the same formula, right down to the color of people they cast. Everyone also knows that as popular as those series are, they are the definition of junk TV.

If these guys really want to stir up some fervor over injustices on television, they should be watching more television. I see injustices everywhere on my screen, and if I had the time, the resources and the space in my heart to care enough, here are the five television-related wrongs against which I would sue on the basis of race.

HBO and the Creators of Girls
Claim: For being so white, it's practically insulting.

How does a show about four white girls living in New York City in the year 2012 actually get green-lit without someone saying, "Hey, guys, this is a really great show, but does anyone think it's odd that there are no non-white girls?" The show is hipster-white, which means manufactured whiteness.


People keep saying that Sex and the City and Entourage were the same amount of white, which is true, but those were shows about upwardly mobile, rich white people, a class in which blacks are a rare breed. Girls is a show about white women fresh out of college trying to make ends meet in the big city, something to which every woman of color who moves to New York City can relate.

Claim: For not being smart enough to do whatever it takes to compete against HBO's Girls by turning The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl into a television series.


The brainchild of Issa Rae became one of last year's most notable Web series. Reportedly, Rae has received plenty of offers to take her show to the idiot box; maybe Showtime was one of those networks. As soon as news broke that HBO was giving creative control to Girls creator Lena Dunham, Showtime should have let Rae do what she wants to compete against its premium cable big brother.

Showtime's House of Lies, starring Don Cheadle, is one of the best examples of how modern-day television should portray black characters. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is another, and if Showtime is smart, it will give the Web series the treatment it deserves.


Claim: For letting Shonda Rhimes be the sole black voice on your network and allowing Scandal to happen.

The season premiere of Rhimes' show Scandal was billed as this shining moment for black folks on television. Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope, a fictitious portrayal of real-life Washington fixer Judy Smith, who is also black. Columbus Short, one of Hollywood's underrated black actors, also plays a major supporting role. So of course Scandal would be something special, right?


Claim: For bringing back Reed Between the Lines for a second season.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner is no Bill Cosby, Tracee Ellis Ross is no Phylicia Rashad and Reed Between the Lines is no The Cosby Show. Quit trying to tell us different, BET.


Claim: For allowing Basketball Wives to exist.

This is why you don't see any black people cast as the Bachelor or Bachelorette. Most people make time for only one junk-TV show a week. The kind of people who would watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette if the main person were a person of color are already watching Basketball Wives. If you need proof, go on Twitter at the same time Basketball Wives is airing, then go on when The Bachelor or The Bachelorette is airing. Notice the difference?


People can have only so much foolery on their screens in a week, so if Claybrooks and Johnson really want to be cast on The Bachelor, they should know that the enemy is not ABC; it's the viewers who watch Basketball Wives and refuse to watch The Bachelor.

Jozen Cummings is a writer living in Harlem, N.Y. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog, UntilIgetmarried.com.


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Jozen Cummings is the author and creator of the popular relationship blog Until I Get Married, which is currently in development for a television series with Warner Bros. He also hosts a weekly podcast with WNYC about Empire called Empire Afterparty, is a contributor at VerySmartBrothas.com and works at Twitter as an editorial curator. Follow him on Twitter.