What's Behind The Last-Minute Bachelorette Casting Switch-Up?

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
The biggest surprise on Monday nights' Bachelor finale wasn't Ben's final rose recipient — we all knew he had a soft spot for Lauren. Rather, it was the casting announcement of the new Bachelorette that sent out shock waves. After the final rose ceremony, Chris Harrison revealed that runner-up Joelle "JoJo" Fletcher — the woman Ben had just turned down — would take on the role.
Why the surprise? It was widely believed that Caila Quinn, the third runner-up, would be the next Bachelorette. In fact, every piece of evidence supported that. In January, ABC head honcho Paul Lee told Entertainment Weekly, "I’d be very surprised if The Bachelorette in the summer wasn’t diverse. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said that, but I think that’s likely to happen." (Fletcher's mother is Persian and her father was born and raised in Texas; Quinn is "half Filipino and half German/Irish/Swiss.")
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Sources confirmed the decision to UsWeekly. Earlier this month, cameras were spotted filming in Quinn's hometown. And Quinn herself seemed to hint at it. Days after being sent home, she told E! News that she would consider becoming the next Bachelorette, because she was "ready for love... ready for the one and for my best friend and I'm still looking for that." And we got super-excited about it, as only one nonwhite person — Juan Pablo — has ever been cast as the Bachelor or Bachelorette in the shows' collective history.
So if last night's bombshell has you thinking, What the hell happened? — you're not alone. (After the news dropped, Quinn, for her part, graciously reacted with a nice tweet congratulating both Lauren and JoJo.)
Here's our best theory: The people spoke, and ABC listened. You don't have to dive too deep into the Twittersphere to figure out that people did not like Quinn, and were not happy with her rumored casting. When RealitySteve tweeted photos of film crews in Quinn's hometown, the responses were negative, to put it mildly. A TMZ reporter wrote, "if this is true... then @BachelorABC FUCKED UP big time. BAAAAAAAAAD choice. bad bad bad. SMH." BachelorNationBetch said, "bachelor nation has joined together and VOTE NO against caila #TheBachelor @chrisbharrison.." Boring, immature, fake, and annoying seem to be the adjectives of choice used by Caila's haters.

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.

There's always a clash of opinions, that's the nature of reality shows like this. And controversy can boost a show's ratings — sometimes. In this case, though, longtime viewers who aren't fans of Caila started threatening that they wouldn't watch the show next season if she were cast.

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And that's the simplest, most logical reason why ABC would nix its earlier decision and decide to go in another direction. Why were viewers so vehemently opposed to Quinn? Apparently, lots of her detractors thought she was disingenuous in her intentions on the show. Many accused her of angling to be the Bachelorette all along, since coming in third has landed women the title for six of the last seven seasons. A successful reality show cannot become predictable — or appear to reward a scheming or inauthentic contestant— if it wants to keep its ratings up. In that case, well done ABC.

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