Last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the newest bachelorette for next season of ABC’s popular dating show, The Bachelorette, was announced. The decision to cast Rachel Lindsay, a 31 year old African-American lawyer from Texas as the bachelorette, was particularly newsworthy because she is the first non-white bachelor or bachelorette the show has ever featured after 21 seasons on the air. The model of the show is that every season, alternating between one eligible male or female, there are 25 singles that vie for the opportunity to either propose to or be propose to by the bachelor or bachelorette. The show has faced criticism from many viewers and public figures because of the lack of diversity in both the title character, who has always been white, and also the contestants chosen to be on the show. Every season there are a few non-white competitors, but never very many, which makes it an even bigger deal that Rachel is black. Many people wonder if this is going to impact the selection of men that she will be choosing from, and if more black men are going to be brought in as competitors, or if the pool of contestants will remain overwhelmingly white.
To be considered to be the Bachelorette, a contestant has to make it to the final few on the prior season of The Bachelor. Rachel placed in the final four on the current season, which surprised many viewers. Her and Nick, the bachelor right now , clearly had a lot of chemistry, and he even awarded her the first impression rose on night one of the show, meaning out of all the contestants he saw the most initial potential with her. I think people are pleasantly surprised that she has made it this far, because in previous seasons the last black competitor was only kept on until the final 8 or so, and seemingly because of pressure from the producers because the connection never appeared super strong.
ABC’s move to select Rachel was very important because it allows for more representation of diversity in the media. I remember watching the show in middle school and seeing the bachelorette as a role model, and imagine that young girls today, especially those of a race that is less commonly portrayed in popular culture, are so excited to watch Rachel be the bachelorette.