The popular television shows 'The Bachelor' and companion show 'The Bachelorette' is being sued for racial discrimination. The lawsuit is set to be filed in federal court this week and is seeking class action status "on behalf of all persons of color who have applied for the role of the bachelor or bachelorette but been denied the equal opportunity for selection on the basis of race."
Casting decisions are essentially employment decisions, although most cast members are not paid for competition shows. Still, they do work long hours under difficult conditions in hopes of some type of compensation, whether it is prize money or a chance at fame. In 10 years and 23 seasons, neither 'The Bachelor' nor 'The Bachelorette' has featured a person of color in a central role.
It is not believable that the show has never had applicants of color that measure up to the standards of the white contestants. The program is not known for its rigorous casting standards. The show is premised as a romance opportunity for the contestants and is often associated with lucrative contracts for finalists after the show.
Reality television is a well recognized as a platform for aspiring entertainers to become recognized and has lead to many successful careers for individuals featured on the shows. There is no reason why applicants of color should be excluded from the opportunity to find a mate and be featured on a prime time television show, as well as from the potential financial benefits of being a part of the show's cast.
This case may have implications for other sectors of the entertainment industry that may think they are exempt from anti-discrimination laws.
Source: CNN, "Bachelor hopefuls accuse show of race bias," Alan Duke, April 17, 2012.