breaking ‘bachelor’ status quo

By on February 22, 2017

Entertainment history has been made. ABC announced that Rachel Lindsay will be “The Bachelor” franchise’s first-ever black ‘Bachelorette,’ who will star on the show’s 13th season.

Although the former contestant on the latest season of “The Bachelor” might not have gotten the final rose, perhaps she got something better — her own show. There is now a higher chance than ever of her finding a soul mate, and this time, she’ll be the one calling the shots.

“The Bachelor” host Chris Harrison joined Jimmy Kimmel on his show, “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” to make the special announcement. In true “Bachelor” fashion, Lindsay walked out and Kimmel handed her a rose. While she admitted to being disappointed that “The Bachelor” did not work out for her, the 31-year-old attorney from Texas made it clear she is ready for love.

As each season of the wildly popular series has come and gone, news outlets, fans and public figures such as Whoopi Goldberg have criticized the show for its lack of diversity.

“The Bachelor” began in 2002, and its spin-off “The Bachelorette” followed a year later. Both shows feature contestants vying for the affections of the lead. Neither show has ever had a black lead. The show cast Juan Pablo Galavais as its first Hispanic ‘Bachelor’ in 2014. A woman of Filipino ancestry, Catherine Giudici, now Catherine Lowe, won the seventeenth season of “The Bachelor” when she received the final rose from the hunky Sean Lowe.

When asked on “Good Morning America” if she felt any pressure for the gig being the first black lead, Lindsay confidently replied that she does not feel any added pressure.

“I’m happy to represent myself as a black woman in front of America, and I’m happy for America to rally behind me and see what it’s like for me to be on this journey to find love,” Lindsay told People Magazine. “Honestly, it’s not going to be that different from any other season of ‘The Bachelorette.’”

While Lindsay may see it as any other season, this role does speak to those of the African-American community who feel they have been underrepresented in the world of pop culture and entertainment.

It might not be known that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dissuaded Nichelle Nichols of the television show “Star Trek” from resigning, according to the Washington Post. He believed her role as a black woman with power on a series based in the future spoke volumes about the potential of African-Americans. This meant that black people existed in the “imagined future,” and that they mattered. Decades later, this is starting to become more and more of a reality.

The topic of diversity in television seems to garner a lot of attention. The ABC show “Black-ish” certainly has as well. When asked by a reporter what the race demographic breakdown of the show is, show creator Kenya Barris responded, “I would be so happy when diversity is not a word.” He is one of many who yearn for the time when diversity is just accepted as nothing out of the ordinary.

It is time to focus less on what distinguishes someone on TV and more on the narrative that all former contestants, and all people for that matter, have in common — the hope of finding true love. It is a universal ideal, and the reason millions of Americans tune in to watch “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” each and every season.

The truth is that Lindsay is just like any other 31-year-old looking for a partner in this modern dating world. She wants someone she can imagine a future with, someone to start a family with.

When asked if she would sue the network in the chance she fails to find love on her show, Lindsay cheekily replied, “That’s to be determined.” If this tongue-in-cheek attitude of hers is anything to go by, next season of “The Bachelorette” is sure to be just as entertaining.

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About Kristina Mendoza-Cabrera