The ABC network is facing a lawsuit over its reality dating shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. A group of Nashville residents - led by the football players Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson - are suing the network for racial discrimination, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The plaintiffs highlight that in over 10 years of the show (23 seasons), it has never featured a single "person of color" as the featured Bachelor or Bachelorette. Attorneys working for the Nashville group say they will file the complaint in court on Wednesday (April 18, 2012), and mention the Abc production companies Warner Horizon Television, Next Entertainment, NZK Productions as well as the Bachelor executive producer Mike Fleiss. The lack of minority faces on the show has been of curiosity to analysts for some time, and groups representing African Americans and Hispanics have long complained about the shortage of lead minority actors on U.S. shows. Attorney Glen Rothstein suggests the Nashville residents may have a case, but warned, "The plaintiffs will ultimately have to prove that a race based component relating to the selection process exists that was implemented in a discriminatory and unlawful manner".
Last year, Entertainment Weekly asked producer Fleiss whether The Bachelor would ever feature someone who wasn't white, to which he bizarrely replied, "I think Ashley is 1/16th Cherokee Indian, but I cannot confirm. But that is my suspicion! We really tried, but sometimes we feel guilty of tokenism. Oh, we have to wedge African-American chicks in there! We always want to cast for ethnic diversity, it's just that for whatever reason, they don't come forward. I wish they would".