One of the big bosses of Network Ten, Beverley McGarvey, has complained that it’s not easy to cast a diverse season of The Bachelor, admitting the series is not “as representative” as shows like MasterChef.
The Chief Content Officer and Executive Vice President of ViacomCBS Australia & New Zealand, Ten’s parent company, told TV Tonight today the series is “certainly not the easiest show to cast”.
“It’s a particular type of show, and there are certain cultural groups that don’t want to be part of that,” she said.
“That is absolutely fine and it is disrespectful of us to try and encourage particular groups to be part of something they don’t want to be part of.
“This year’s cast are a great mix of young ladies from a range of backgrounds. It’s obviously not as representative as a show like MasterChef or perhaps even Survivor or Amazing Race. But we have worked very hard to cast the right show, and also ensure that the cast is representative of the audience that will be watching it.”
A similar-ish sentiment has been shared by someone we trust a little more than Bev, Bachelor In Paradise‘s Niranga Amarasinghe.
“The sad truth is I’m one of the few people of colour that got on the show and my parents didn’t care. They were really supportive of it,” Niranga told PEDESTRIAN.TV
He noted that cultural values and beliefs can be a barrier for people of colour to apply for dating shows like Bachie. “The quantity [for casting] isn’t there for people of colour in Australia.”
He suggested that producers could ask people of colour to apply.
“So someone could see that and think, ‘Oh, maybe I do have a chance,’ instead of thinking, ‘Oh, I’m never going to get on this show,’” Niranga said.
“They could definitely do that and they would get so much respect for it. Australia’s screaming out for it.”
Pilot Jimmy Nicholson was revealed as the new Bachelor last week, becoming only the second person of colour to lead the franchise in Australia, after Blake Garvey in season two.
There are, of course, many issues around casting for reality dating shows. At the same time as it’s worth agitating for producers to cast women from diverse cultural backgrounds, it’s also necessary to make sure those women aren’t typecast to fit specific ‘character’ types, like last year’s so-called ‘villain’ Areeba Emmanuel.
It’s all well and good to cast diverse women, but there’s more issues to address when the only woman of colour to make it to the final four over eight seasons of The Bachelor in Australia was Brooke Blurton in 2018.
There have been only two Black leads on the US Bachie franchise since it debuted in 2002: Rachel Lindsay and this year’s Bachelor Matt James.
Rachel spoke out about issues of diversity on the franchise in a blog post in June 2020.
“Yes, more diverse contestants do appear on the show now, but is the lead truly interested and open to dating outside of their race? I think that is evident by how far their ‘journey’ takes them during each season,” she wrote.
“It is a naive expectation to believe that leads will authentically start an interracial relationship for the first time on national television. The sad reality is that people of color become placeholders as the token person of color to add some flavor to the second half of the season.”
We need to cast people of colour on Bachie in Australia. And we need to make sure that once they are cast they’re not treated in a tokenistic way. It sucks we struggle so much with that.