This season of ABC’s reality show The Bachelorette is coming to a close. I would like to thank you for the hours of entertainment you’ve provided over 13 seasons of The Bachelor plus five seasons of The Bachelorette: the overuse of the word “amazing,” the overly tearful women (and men) and the repeated stating of the obvious: “This is your final rose tonight.” As if we can’t see that there’s just one flower sitting on the tray.
The fact that I can count on a good love story with every episode (even though the couple inevitably breaks up before getting down the aisle) keeps me coming back for more. However, I must bring this matter to your attention: In the entire history of the show, there has never been a bachelor or bachelorette of color. Don’t you think it’s time for someone with brown skin to be calling the shots at your rose ceremonies?
Why is it that if an African American wants to humiliate him- or herself on national TV in search of a mate, the only options are I Love New York or For the Love of Ray J? Are we not suitable for major networks? Yes, you do occasionally allow one black contestant on the show at a time, only for that person to be eliminated by the second episode. But if we don’t have a shot at the ring, don’t bother inviting us. Really. It’s like starting a new NFL franchise and telling the team that it will never be eligible to play in the Super Bowl.
You may be wondering why the couples who get together on your show rarely work out in the long term. Well, you’re not exactly picking folks who are feeling tons of urgency to find a spouse. According to a study by the Washington Post, black women are the least likely group in American society to get married (45 percent of us have never been married, compared with 23 percent of white women). So wouldn’t it make sense to cast someone from the group who could most use the assistance? Instead, you picked Deanna, one of the most recent bachelorettes. At 26, she claimed that she couldn’t wait to settle down and raise a family. Seriously? She’s 26. You couldn’t have been that shocked when she chose the professional snowboarder—and then dumped him as soon as the show wrapped.
This season, we’ve watched Jillian keep around a contestant who was on the show to promote his country music album while in the meantime she let go of every guy who expressed an interest in marriage.
I’ll bet some of your concern is that you might lose viewers if you had a black star. But take a lesson from Bravo’s The Real Housewives series. When the show moved from Orange County to Atlanta, its ratings went through the roof. Diversifying your cast of characters would only increase your audience. The dialogue would be more substantive, the family visits more interesting and the stakes much higher. If you don’t start getting creative come season 19, your final rose might turn up sooner than you think.
Rachel Skerritt is a novelist and high school principal living in Boston.