Ever notice how on reality TV shows, there’s always a “token minority”?
A single person, usually African-American, is thrown into an otherwise entirely Caucasian show to make it seem more diverse.
Last week, the only minority on Chris Soule’s season of The Bachelor was eliminated (see photo above).
Of course, there are many reasons why someone might be eliminated aside from racial preferences. But what if we zoomed out and looked at past seasons too? How far do the “token minority” contestants actually get?
Is The Bachelor making a genuine effort at racial inclusion, or are they just throwing in a token character?
We decided to find out:
I expected to see one or two minorities every season, quickly eliminated in the first week or two. And that’s the trend up until 2012 — just one minority per season, eliminated early on. And not a single minority in Brad’s season.
But to my pleasant surprise, all that changes in 2013. Sean Lowe’s season has a record six minorities. And one of them won — Catherine is half-Filipino. Juan Pablo’s season has a good showing too, with three minorities who made it pretty far.
Why the change?
I had always thought the producers ask The Bachelor or The Bachelorette what their preferences are, and base casting in part off that. Blonde or brunette? Career-minded or home-maker? Caucasian or not?
After all, Sean Lowe mentioned that he’d dated women of all different races before going on the show, and then his season had a record number of minorities.
But maybe that was naive. To see why, let’s look at The Bachelorette:
Well that’s interesting. Again, the trend changes in 2013, and Desiree’s season also has six minorities. Coincidence?
I’m no producer on the show, so I couldn’t tell you why for sure, but here’s one hypothesis:
In 2012, a class action racial discrimination lawsuit was brought against The Bachelor for under-representing minorities. A judge later dismissed the case, citing it was the show’s First Amendment right to cast whomever they wanted.
That controversy might explain the spike in minorities in 2013.
You might notice an odd parallel in the number of minorities for each season on The Bachelor vs. The Bachelorette. Which makes me wonder if the producers set a quota each year that they must fill.
This year, Chris Soule’s season is back down to one minority. Now that the racial controversy has blown over, are we back to token minority status?
I hope not.