‘The Bachelor’ Still Super White, But ABC Has Plans to Add Diversity

“I would very much like to see some changes there,” network president Channing Dungey says

Photo: ABC

It's not easy getting that coveted rose if you're a contestant of color on "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette," but according to the network's top brass, diversity is coming.

"I would very much like to see some changes there, and I think one of the biggest changes that we need to do is we need to increase the pool of diverse candidates in the beginning," said ABC entertainment chief Channing Dungey at Thursday morning's TCA executive session. The reality series has long been criticized for having too many white men and women seeking love. The few nonwhite suitors that are cast on the show are often sent home early after not being selected by that season's "Bachelor" or "Bachelorette."

So would ABC ever just choose a person of color to be the show's star? According to Dungey, it might not be that simple.

"[…] the show has been very much in cycle, where the first runner-up becomes the lead in the next cycle and it has worked very well for us," Dungey told reporters, meaning in order for a person of color to become the next "Bachelor" or "Bachelorette," first they would need to come in second place. But since so few Black, Hispanic, or Asian contestants ever make it that far in the competition, the scenario seems unlikely.

Answering questions about "Bachelor" diversity (or lack thereof) is nothing new for ABC execs. Just this January, Dungey's predecessor Paul Lee said he would be "very surprised" if "The Bachelorette" didn't add more diverse contestants. To the network's credit, recent star JoJo Fletcher is of Persian heritage. On Monday's "Bachelorette" season finale, she accepted a marriage proposal from Jordan Rodgers, meaning runner-up Robby Hayes will most likely be asked to be the next "Bachelor" when the series returns.

Robby is white.