Minorities on The Bachelor: When do they get eliminated?

Update: April 27, 2016

We’ve updated this infographic with the most recent seasons: Ben’s and Kaitlyn’s. Both seasons had several minorities that went pretty far. The Bachelor has made a lot of progress from their early days, when there was only 1 or 2 token minorities on each season. There’s been a lot of speculation recently about whether Jojo’s season will be more diverse.

 Thanks to Emily Yang for the design.

Minorities on The Bachelor

Original Post (January 26, 2015)

Ever notice how on reality TV shows, there’s always a “token minority”?

A single person, usually African-American, is thrown into an otherwise entirely Caucasian show to make it seem more diverse.

Last week, the only minority on Chris Soule’s season of The Bachelor was eliminated.

Chris Soules Bachelor Season

Of course, there are many reasons why someone might be eliminated aside from racial preferences. But what if we zoomed out and looked at past seasons too? How far do the “token minority” contestants actually get?

Is The Bachelor making a genuine effort at racial inclusion, or are they just throwing in a token character?

We decided to find out:

Minorities on The Bachelor

I expected to see 1 or 2 minorities every season, quickly eliminated in the first week or two. And that’s the trend up until 2012 — just one minority per season, eliminated early on. And not a single minority in Brad’s season.

But to my pleasant surprise, all that changes in 2013. Sean Lowe’s season has a record 6 minorities. And one of them won — Catherine is half-Filipino. Juan Pablo’s season has a good showing too, with 3 minorities who made it pretty far.

Why the change?

I had always thought the producers ask The Bachelor or The Bachelorette what their preferences are, and base casting in part off that. Blonde or brunette? Career-minded or home-maker? Caucasian or not?

After all, Sean Lowe mentioned that he’d dated women of all different races before going on the show, and then his season had a record number of minorities.

But maybe that was naive. To see why, let’s look at The Bachelorette:

Minorities on The Bachelorette

Well that’s interesting. Again, the trend changes in 2013, and Desiree’s season also has 6 minorities. Coincidence?

I’m no producer on the show, so I couldn’t tell you why for sure, but here’s one hypothesis:

In 2012, a class action racial discrimination lawsuit was brought against The Bachelor for under-representing minorities. A judge later dismissed the case, citing it was the show’s First Amendment right to cast whomever they wanted.

That controversy might explain the spike in minorities in 2013.

Minorities On The Bachelor and The Bachelorette

You might notice an odd parallel in the number of minorities for each season on The Bachelor vs. The Bachelorette. Which makes me wonder if the producers set a quota each year that they must fill.

This year, Chris Soule’s season is back down to 1 minority. Now that the racial controversy has blown over, are we back to token minority status?

I hope not.

Like this article? Follow me on Facebook or Twitter to get notified of future ones.

Thanks to Larry Z. Li for visual design and to Orion Hombrebueno for research.

Media requests:


  • Maybe someone should be checking into Ms. Karen X. Cheng dating patterns….only Asians? What no Whites, Blacks or Lesbians? Better be proportional to US demographics or she’s a “racist homophobe” right?

    Stupid ass show, why would minorities want to be humiliated like blonde bimbos?

  • Watch BET TV if you want a majority of blacks. They should have several Bachelor and Bachelorette shows going on all the time with all AGES, shapes, sizes and colors!

  • I’m wondering what you think the show should do and why. You say that you hope the show does not go back to token minority mode. (I think you are likely correct in your explanation for the change over the years.) Do you think the show should go back to a quota approach? And then what would be the reason to do that? Would increasing the diversity of the cast be solely for the purpose of satisfying the audience? Would it be to appeal to a broader demographic? Is it just the right thing to do to get a cast that reflect society? None of these reasons would be motivated by a desire to find the star a match. How do you reconcile a social responsibility to have diversity with the goal of finding the star a match? That assumes the show does genuinely try to find a match. Perhaps you don’t think the producers are genuinely trying to do that or the star is really trying to find a match.

    I’m not trying to be antagonstic. Just wondering what your position is. Personally, I tend toward the view of casting in the way that is more likely to lead to a match, however that turns out. I think the star is usually earnest in their search, and that the producers ought to respect that (as best as they can balance that with their goal to entertain). Diversity isn’t necessarily in opposition to that, though.

    An interesting comparison is the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” which requires teams to interview minorities for coaching and front office jobs. The rule has led to greater minority hiring, through expanding the pool of qualified applicants. Could the same thing happen with the Bachelor/ette?

    Perhaps the best thing would be to have a diversity of stars. (One season an African-American, another Asian-American, etc.) Stars of color would presumably have a more diverse cast by preference. That way the show would be more diverse overall, while still respecting the star’s desire to find a match.

  • @RichD You raise some good points, and there’s no easy answer.

    The producers have several jobs. The most important job, first and foremost, is to entertain the American audience. Without ratings, they have no advertisers and no show. Diversity of the stars (as opposed to the contestants) would probably be very difficult to swing ratings-wise. Most of The Bachelor’s viewing audience is Caucasian, and it’s their job to cater to that demographic.

    A secondary job is to find The Bachelor or The Bachelorette a good match in the end. They’ve certainly had high-ratings seasons before with couples who broke up very shortly after. Not everyone they cast is meant to be a great fit for The Bachelor, some of the characters are most likely there to bring drama or create entertaining plot lines.

    Sean’s season showed that it’s possible to bring in more minorities as contestants and still have a successful season. Many of the minorities in his season went far, and he even married one. He and Catherine are seen as one of The Bachelor’s biggest recent success stories.

    Personally, I found the race discussions and the different cultures on Sean’s season to be interesting. But the job of the producers is not to make me happy – it’s to make America happy. Hopefully Sean’s season demonstrates that it’s possible to have a successful season, even with and perhaps because of more minorities in the cast. For whatever reason, the producers chose to go back to just one minority this season. Maybe they have good reasons for doing so – I just don’t know them.

  • The entertainment industry exists to make money, and if a more diverse cast would increase profits, that would happen. The marketplace determines what you see on TV and in the broader popular culture. People want to see an almost exclusively White cast on this show, and until the audience changes, they are going to get what they want. Life is not fair; get over it.

    As a Southern Italian immigrant to the United States; I used to get viscerally upset with how Italians were portrayed in the popular culture in the United States. Then I grew up, and discovered it was nothing personal; it was simply business.

    Once I realized that, I stopped worrying about silly things like my own personal ethnic identity, and worried more about things that I can control — like what kind of person I am and will eventually become. Racial, ethnic, and gender identity politics is so yesterday. It’s time for all of us to move on to more important things.

  • I am Juelia Kinney’s uncle. She was on the “Prince Farming” season last year. That was the only reason I tuned in to the show. Obviously it’s all about business and ratings. If there was a successful black guy with multiple white women chasing after him all that would do would be to reinforce the stereotypes. i.e. “It’s all about his ****”. The current demographic of predominantly white viewers would never go for that and it would insult minorites as well. ABC’S mindset is and always will be, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *