What Does This Represent? Race, Gender, and “Diversity” on The Bachelorette (Eps 1-4)

           Hey, Free Agents! I hope you are having a great summer so far. Today, I must talk about episodes 1-4 of Season 13 of ABC’s The Bachelorette. This season features 31-year-old Dallas attorney, Rachel Lindsay. Lindsay is the first black lead in the history of the franchise. There have been 33 combined seasons of the show. Check out what Roxane Gay had to say about the show after Episode 1. About a month ago when the season began, I wrote about Lindsay’s upcoming season. Now, four episodes in, I am interested in the story the show is telling about black women’s romantic lives. For black women who date, our representative to white America has become, for better or for worse, Rachel Lindsay.

Rachel Lindsay and her suitors

               The Bachelorette is a campy show that stars a woman who previously appeared on The Bachelor as she tries to “find love” with 25-30 male suitors the show’s producers have picked especially for her. She goes on group and one-on-one dates trying to build connections and traveling the world with her group of glorified Ken dolls. The show screams white heteronormativity, nevertheless, is it delightfully mind-numbing entertainment. That said, as I develop my intersectional feminist epistemology, I become better attuned to the sometimes harmful narratives being promoted even in our favorite summer shows.

               So, this week instead of writing an extended blog post about the first four episodes of the show, I give you a video post. My comments focus primarily on the treatment of Rachel as a black woman, the narrative surrounding the black men on the show, whether this season has accomplished “diversity,” and why white supremacist, Lee Garrett, is receiving so much screen time. Watch the video below. 


               Although I do not say so in the video, this season thoroughly entertains me. Rachel is hands-down my favorite lead in the history of the show. I am thrilled that ABC is finally featuring black folks in the context of a reality television show because it represents who we are when unscripted. However, The Bachelorette is still a television show. The Bachelor franchise is still a business. The show maintains a narrative and agenda. That agenda favors certain people and groups. Even in this unscripted world, the producers control the narrative. Anyway, The Bachelorette is on tonight and tomorrow (June 26 and June 27) on ABC.