The producers of The Bachelor have been saying all the right things over the past few months as the show’s racism controversy continues to rage on across social media.
But are the franchise’s leaders doing enough to promote actual change? Or are they just giving lip service to important ideas like diversity and equity, without actually acting on them to improve the show for contestants and crew members of color?
Those are the questions Jazzy Collins is asking right now.
A former producer for the reality TV franchise who got her start during Rachel Lindsay‘s season on The Bachelorette in 2017, Collins is coming forward with her feelings in a damning New York Post piece.
The casting producer, who is Black, is taking exception with how the show has handled the issue of race — beginning with casting Matt James as the leading man. James, a biracial man who had no prior connection to the Bachelor franchise, seemed like an odd choice to pick as the next leading man, according to Collins.
She offered (below):
“This whole season feels like a PR stunt to me.”
And it was James’ backstory, specifically, that became an issue.
According to Collins, the poor guy, whose estranged Black father has largely been absent from his life, exists on the show merely as a stereotyping device.
“I feel like it was completely unnecessary and it didn’t add anything [to know about Matt’s father]. They’re perpetuating black stereotypes.”
It isn’t just Matt James’ season that brings up concern, either.
When Collins began at the hit ABC show back in 2017, she was excited to make history following Lindsay’s iconic run as the first Black Bachelorette. As the casting producer recalled, she was optimistic about things at the time:
“I was under the assumption that they’re going to be pitching more diverse people on the show, [and I thought] this is great.”
But her experience quickly soured when it came time to cast the women for the next season of The Bachelor, which starred Arie Luyendyk Jr.
As Collins recalls, just one season after Lindsay’s historic run, things almost immediately went back to the status quo:
“The women needed to be thin. It was expressly told to us … [and] I would pitch a beautiful woman who had natural hair, she had [dread]locks, or she had braids … and they would say, ‘She’s not right for this show.’ But if it’s a black woman who came in with her hair straightened, or she’s wearing a weave, they would gravitate towards that.”
In a joint statement to The Post, Warner Horizon Media and ABC Entertainment denied Collins’ claim about casting guidelines and appearance directives, saying:
“While we recognize our efforts are ongoing, we are dedicated to continuing to foster a diverse and inclusive culture. We make every effort to vet potential cast members through extensive background checks and social media screenings. Those identified with hateful behavior are disqualified.”
Collins debates that last part, too!
In fact, she contends that on-screen vitriol and/or old controversial social media posts only added fuel to the fire as far as drumming up interest in the show.
She explained what she was told about negative media attention:
“I was told when I was there is any press, even if it’s negative, it’s still good press.”
Uh-oh! Not a great POV to have in the modern age. We know better now… Just saying!!!
Collins further alleges the race-related issues within the franchise weren’t limited to problems in front of the camera, either. She claims to have been left out of production meetings, to have been paid less than white colleagues, and to have been labeled as “aggressive” when she pointed out problems.
Another Black producer was even pushed to the bottom rung of the show’s ladder when applying for a new job there, too. Collins recalled the moment, which The Post claimed was corroborated by another former on-set producer:
“[A black] Emmy-nominated producer applied for the show. And they said, we would have to start you as an associate or on the bottom level.”
Should this show even have a future?!
Ultimately, Collins believes the Bachelor franchise to be “outdated” and in need of “a complete overhaul.”
But as she explained, that doesn’t just mean getting Emmanuel Acho to host this season’s Women Tell All special. It’s a nice touch, but more sustained work needs to be done.
“If you want it to move forward with the times to continue to be a success, you need to evolve. And if they’re not going to evolve, then the show is a joke. During the new season of a white Bachelorette, are you going to have a black host? Are you going to have a diverse cast? Are you still going to have these tough conversations? That’s when I’ll know for sure if they’re actually serious about it.”
What do U make of all this, Perezcious readers? Surprised by it, or not?
Sound off with your take on The Bachelor‘s serious racism issues and long-term cultural woes down in the comments (below)…
[Image via Rachel Lindsay/Chris Harrison/Rachael Kirkconnell/Instagram]