- Mike Fleiss, the creator of “The Bachelor”, has announced that he is leaving the mega-popular franchise.
- His departure follows an investigation into accusations of racial discrimination, Variety reported.
- “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” have long been criticized for their lack of diversity.
The creator of ‘The Bachelor’ is quitting the popular TV franchise amid racial discrimination allegations.
In late March, Mike Fleiss, who created the hit dating show 21 years ago, announced he was leaving the franchise. His departure follows an investigation into allegations of racial discrimination, Variety reported.
People familiar with the situation told Variety that a number of employees had complained to Fleiss Human Resources, leading to a months-long investigation by Warner Bros. TV. Warner Bros. TV and ABC, which have aired and produced “The Bachelor” since 2002, both declined to comment on the investigation.
During the investigation, producers complained about Fleiss’ ‘bullying’ behavior and said he would ‘lash out’ at members of the production staff who suggested casting reality stars more various, sources told Variety.
“People said he would retaliate against people for having minorities and black people on the show. He favored some people over others,” a person familiar with the investigation told Variety. . “He was like, ‘Minorities don’t get graded. “”
A long-standing problem with diversity
“The Bachelor” has long been criticized for its lack of racial diversity.
The vast majority of contestants and leads on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” throughout its 21-year history have been white. In 2014, Venezuelan athlete Juan Pablo Galavis was promoted as the first “non-Caucasian” leader, but some critics called Galavis a “white pass”, and the National Hispanic Media Coalition said the majority of Latinos in America had darker skin and deserved more representation. (The New York post wrote that he “looks so white he could easily slip into a Mitt Romney family photo.”)
It wasn’t until 2017 that the franchise cast its first-ever black lead, Rachel Lindsay. A few years later, in 2021, the series had its first black male lead, Matt James. There’s never been an Asian lead, though some ‘Bachelor’ fans, including Simu Liu, are calling on Ethan Kang, who appeared on the 19th season of ‘The Bachelorette’ last year, to become the next Bachelor.
Competitors of color, especially black ones, are often eliminated at the start of each season, studies show. A 2016 study by Splinter found that 59% of black contestants leave within the first two weeks, and another 2016 study by Salon found that only four winners from all 31 seasons of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette “at that time could at least partially claim non-white ancestry.
The show has made increased efforts to expand its diversity in recent years. The next star of “The Bachelorette,” airing this summer, is Charity Lawson, a black contestant from the final season of “The Bachelor.” Lawson will become the fourth female lead of color on “The Bachelorette” in 20 seasons.
“Does change ever come fast enough for those who want and need it? No, it doesn’t,” Chris Harrison, the show’s former longtime host, told Insider in 2020. has been going in a certain direction for a long time, it takes a while to turn around with a big boat – and ‘The Bachelor’ is a big boat.”
Harrison left the franchise in 2021 after being condemned by fans and contestants for defending a white contestant for attending an official Antebellum South-themed event.
The future without Fleiss of ‘The Bachelor’
In a statement to Variety, Fleiss acknowledged he could have done more to diversify the series and hopes the franchise continues to move in the right direction as it continues without him.
“I had no idea back in 2002 that we were building a pop culture juggernaut. It was a crazy idea at the time and of course the hell keeps rolling – just look at every network and streamer who ripped us off! Since its premiere 21 years ago, times have certainly changed and I have to say, we haven’t kept pace with those changes,” Fleiss said in his statement.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done over the past five years to make the series much more diverse, but I think I could have done more. I hope the franchise continues to move in the right direction.” , said Fleiss. .
Fleiss will have no involvement with the series going forward, although he will continue to be credited on the franchise as a creator.