Why I'm Glad The Bachelorette Premiere Totally Proved Me Wrong

Photo: Paul Hebert/ABC.
If I said I wasn’t nervous about the new season of The Bachelorette, I’d be lying. By naming the series’ first Black lead, Rachel Lindsay, the franchise put themselves under some serious pressure to make diversity a priority for the show. Lindsay herself expressed a desire to see men from different backgrounds on her season. For weeks now, it appeared that the show would deliver.
As we started to meet the contestants over the last few weeks, there was a quite a bit of diversity among them, the most in the show’s history. It was a relief to see that producers took the conversations about inclusivity to heart. But I still wasn’t entirely convinced that The Bachelorette would get it right. Host Chris Harrison made comments about men of color and professionalism that were definitely worthy of side-eye and there is at least one contestant among the bunch who's articulated some problematic views. And too often, diversity doesn’t extend beyond visibility.
Luckily, different cultures were on full display during last night’s premiere. There was a Bollywood dancer and fluent Spanish speakers among Lindsay’s suitors. One of the Black contestants commented on how many other "brothers" there were in the room and how this had to be the most "diverse ever." It didn’t feel like a forced observation, encouraged by the producers to pat themselves on the back. It seemed like authentic surprise that the show had switched it up. He was impressed and so was I.
And for what it’s worth, finding yourself among other people of color in traditionally white spaces is often comforting. Remember that scene in Get Out where Chris intentionally seeks out Logan, formerly known as Andre, at that awkward party/auction? It made sense to see the Black men on the show chitchatting with each other and using casual and culturally specific dialect while doing it.
One contestant, Josiah, shared a personal story that also stood out. Following his older brother’s suicide, he turned to the streets and started getting into trouble. At 12, he was arrested; the judge, knowing that Josiah had good grades, made it a point to tell him he was headed in the wrong direction. It was then that Josiah felt inspired to become a lawyer, leading him to his not at all staged gig as a prosecutor. While the story was a bit overcooked for the intro, I saw the value it added to the show. It made room for more than Black faces. Black stories and experiences were brought into the fold as well.
Lindsay has made it clear that she doesn’t have a racial preference in her search for love. But The Bachelorette did its leading lady justice by giving her plenty of options to choose from.

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