It's Diversity Season on The Bachelor!
Welcome to season 17 (now wrapped) of The Bachelor, where blond-hair, blue-eyed, white boy, Sean Lowe, is the prize sought after by nearly thirty contestants who, notably, range in race, ethnicity, ability (this season features one contestant, Sarah, who was born missing one arm) and skin color. The casting for this season is undoubtedly a direct response to the racial discrimination lawsuit filed against ABC by Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson. And Sean Lowe is the pretty face the network's executives chose to present as their defensive, post-racial-prosleytizing mouthpiece.
Robyn says, "I was watching how it became more diverse. With people. With ethnicity." Sean interrupts her and says, "I love this question, by the way. I already know where it's going." She continues, "I was nervous because...I was like, what does Sean find attractive--like where...where is your mindset?" Sean, ever-gallant, and talking through the cheesiest grin you've ever seen, says, "Let me tell you!"
"People look at me, blond hair, blue eyes, and they assume, 'he probably goes for white girls who are blond.'* Honestly, physically, I don't have a type. And they [ABC] came to me and they asked me, 'What kind of girl are you looking for?' And I said, I want someone who's really sweet, want someone who's intelligent, and I want someone who's funny and likes to have a good time. They said, 'Okay, well, what physically, are you looking for?' And I promise you, I said, 'You know, it don't matter. It doesn't matter.' I've dated everybody. And when I say 'everybody,' I mean, Hispanic, Persian, my last girlfriend? Black. I don't really have criteria. It's the mind and it's the woman behind the physical appearance.
Cut to Robyn in confessional summing up his response, "I love that it was so, like, nothing for him. I don't think he cares. About color. He's just like, if you have a great personaility and I like to hang out with you, he's happy. So, like, I really like him now. Even more."
If you think you can bear it, watch for yourself here.
Robyn, again, cuts to the heart of the matter during the episode in which she is eliminated. There is conflict during the episode between some of the women and fellow contestant (villain of the season), Tierra. Robyn makes it clear that she's done trying to reason with Tierra and has hit her limit of foolishness when she says during confessional that she "will go all Bad Girls' Club up in here." I am not saying that Sean sent Robyn home during this episode because she said that or for any reason related to Tierra or in-house conflict. I am saying that through that one statement, Robyn articulates how her behavior is coded and read through her racial identity as produced by the show, and that she actively conforms to the respectability politics that strictly define the The Bachelor's foray into racial diversity.
The Bachelor has gone from silently assuming a white supremacist position to vocally promoting a post-racial agenda. The racial (and abled) diversity on Sean's season is ultimately, and transparently, a total failure of a PR strategy.
Endnote: It took me months to finish this post. I watched the entire season with the kind of indulgent delight that doesn't sit well in the stomach. I have more to say about how the season went and Sean's engagement to (too hip for him) Catherine Giudici, but it's anyone's guess how long the marinating and turnaround time on those thoughts might be before they wind up here. Meanwhile, I did an interview with Professor Rachel Dubrofsky--author of The Surveillance of Women on Reality Television: Watching The Bachelor and The Bachelorette--for Fembot's monthly BAD (Books Aren't Dead) feature. Watch this space for it to go live in the next month or two.