“Guess we have our answer,” responds the reporter after a solid 10 seconds of silence from three producers of ‘The Bachelor’ when asked about the show’s diversity issues.
Producers on The Bachelor were put on the spot about racial issues during a joint panel with producers from other top reality shows, and they literally froze under the pressure.
Members of the media and everyone in attendance got to sit through about 10 solid seconds of awkward silence as three different producers from the show not only declined to comment, they didn’t say a word.
It started when NPR reporter Eric Deggans asked producers Jason Ehrlich, Claire Freeland, and Bennett Graebner why former franchise leads Rachel Lindsay and Matt James expressed criticism with how the show has talked about race.
In particular, he cited Chris Harrison’s defense of one contestant’s antebellum south photo that ultimately led to his departure from the show during James’s season, as well as Lindsay’s long-standing criticism of the show.
Freeland is newest to the franchise, after joining the show in January 2023. She said that she could “speak to where we are now,” noting the goal of the show is to “represent the country, not just in terms of diversity and ethnicity, but also ability and body types and representing where people are from in the country as well,” per Variety.
Deggans, though, wasn’t satisfied with that response and restated his question with a more direct focus on the show’s struggles with Black contestants, per The Hollywood Reporter. It was at this moment that all three of the producers sat in literal silence for about 10 seconds. It was Deggans himself who broke the silence, saying, “Guess we have our answer.”
After the panel, Freeland said more about the topic, telling THR, “It is impossible for me to comment on the seasons before I joined them here. I can only speak to the seasons I have made as part of the U.S. franchise as well as our plans as we go forward. And that is to get better at some of the areas that have not necessarily been as strong, perhaps, before in the past on the franchise.”
She touted The Golden Bachelor (and the just-greenlit Golden Bachelorette), as well as Charity Lawson’s season of The Bachelorette, as signs of representation and growth within the franchise. “I think you’re seeing much more representation,” she argued, saying that this remains their goal moving forward.
Several reporters were willing to concede that Freeland was not part of the show during Lindsay and James’s season, but Graebner was. While he sat in silence with his colleagues on the dais, Graebner did open up later.
“I was there for Matt James’ season. I was there for Rachel Lindsay’s season. I was also there for Michelle Young’s season, Tayshia Adams’ season, Charity Lawson’s season,” said Graebner, mentioning the three most recent Black Bachelorettes.
He acknowledged that he feels there is a “tremendous responsibility to have conversations on camera that are difficult and challenging — conversations about race, conversations about class, conversations about gender.”
“We have done that,” he argued. “Have we always done it perfectly? No. We’ve certainly made some mistakes along the way. But moving forward we’re going to do everything in our power to correct this.”
There have been more on-camera conversations about diversity and race issues on the show in recent season, as well as more racially diverse casts among the men and women vying for the respective Bachelorette and Bachelor.
In fact, before Lawson took the lead in her own season of The Bachelorette, where there were several conversations about race, she and Bachelor Zach Shallcross spoke about the unique challenges they could face as a mixed-race couple.
The franchise continues with the next season of The Bachelorette slated for this summer, followed by The Golden Bachelorette in the fall. Meanwhile, new episodes of The Bachelor, starring Joey Graziadei, are airing every Monday at 8pm ET on ABC.