ABC Fires Back in Bachelor Discrimination Case

The parties behind The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have filed a motion to dismiss a class-action lawsuit that claims the dating shows discriminate against people of color.

The Hollywood Reporter has a deep-diving update on the case, but because we at TVLine know you legal eagles like to stay abreast of the action but don’t want to spend a lot of time doing it, here’s a summary of what’s happened so far:

BACKGROUND | Defendants ABC and Warner Horizon Television (which produces the shows) want to stop a suit brought by Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, two African-American men who say they were given the bum’s rush at a Bachelor casting call in Nashville. The plaintiffs cite their experience — as well as the fact that almost no people of color have appeared on the shows in question — as evidence that ABC and Warner Horizon have a corporate policy against casting minorities.

DEFENSE No. 1: THE GOOD OL’ FIRST AMENDMENT | ABC/Warner Horizon say that TV programming (including casting) is protected speech under the First Amendment, and the suit seeks to change the message the shows want to send. (That the “message” is that some people will debase themselves in the pursuit of alleged true love and/or screen time apparently is beside the point.) The defendants liken the suit to someone forcing Logo to offer heterosexual programming or BET to plan series aimed at Caucasians.

DEFENSE No. 2: IF THERE AREN’T RULES, HOW CAN WE BREAK THEM? | The Supreme Court recently decided that Fox and ABC didn’t deserve certain FCC nudity/profanity penalties because there’d been no advance notice regarding indecency policies. ABC/Warner Horizon say they’re in a similar situation: Because there aren’t concrete rules about what does and doesn’t constitute discriminatory casting, they can’t be held accountable for allegedly violating someone’s civil rights in the audition process.

DEFENSE No. 3: THERE’S NO THERE THERE | Finally, ABC/Warner Horizon state that the plaintiffs’ belief that they were Bachelor material, their account of their too-quick casting session and their assertion that there’s never been a Bachelor/Bachelorette who’s not white don’t add up to a viable case. In other words: Just because you didn’t get cast doesn’t mean we discriminated against you based on your skin tone.

ALSO… |  The defendants also made it clear that some of their best friends other series feature interracial relationships, citing Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty, Modern Family and Desperate Housewives as examples.

What do you think of ABC’s arguments? Hit the comments and sound off!

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  1. Jodie says:

    ABC has a valid point. There’s no equal opportunity in reality tv casting. Moral outrage does not qualify as illegal discrimination.

    • Ms. K says:

      I think that ABC getting off with that defense is a joke. It’s obvious that there is one type of person they are finding love for, a white male or female. Other types of people want love but aren’t cast as the lead. If it weren’t up to Blacks exposing the discrimination and standing up opportunities would not be open for any minority. Someone has to take the bullet, and well in this country it is Black people. High-five for standing up, and the powerhouse got away with this one. Perhaps ABC should show that there are all types of leading man and woman. A mixed person perhaps to show how wonderfully different and similar people truly are.

  2. Keena says:

    Perhaps casting was / is done based on physical traits the Bachelor or Bachelorette find desirable. It’s the best way to make a match. It’s the best way to ensure a match will happen.

    • huntter says:

      So basically in a nutshell what you’re saying is that it’s okay for them to basically say “We, nor anyone else on this show find any minorities or minority traits desirable” Awesome!

      • Jackson says:

        lol i’ve seen THE BACHELORETTE and yea, its really unlikely that any of these girls would actually “fall”/”connect”/”develop feelings”/”any generic catchphrase thats a total lie because you can’t start to love someone over the course of 30 days” a black guy (mostly because its genetically impossible for black people to be cheesy enough to win) so why even waste their time (honestly everytime i see the one black guy who makes the show its like watching a horror flick from the 80’s im just counting down the minutes till he’s kicked off the show).

        • zikrat says:

          U d most nastiest I ever head from how can say a thing lyk dat color is nothing wot mattered most is ur character I’m disappointed in u shhhhhhhh

          • tripoli says:

            Please go away and learn proper English and spelling, then you may be allowed to comment.

        • This comment made me laugh out loud. As a black person, I don’t necessarily want to see a black Bachelor. If one were selected, would the producers only choose black/non-white women for the show? And if white women were selected, what would happen if the Bachelor voted the black/non-white women off the show early (a reversal of what usually happens in the current iteration)?

          Perhaps the producers have thought of this, and aren’t ready to take on this potential clusterslush of a show.

      • jabaman says:

        Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You can’t force someone to like someone else, no matter the criteria. It’s not only about skin color, it’s the same for overweight people etc. If they don’t like you, they won’t cast you. You can’t force them to like you and you surely can’t force them to cast you no matter how good-looking you believe yourself to be.

      • AJ says:

        Not exactly that, but why would you cast an African American woman on the bachelor if the bachelor doesn’t date African American women? There is nothing wrong with having preferences in who you date and trying to force yourself on someone that isn’t interested is silly. I guess you could cast them only to get cut right off the bat if you felt like it. The premise of the show, no matter how fake it actually comes across, is for this person to marry the one they pick. So how fair is it to cast a person that has no chance other than for them to get their 15 minutes on tv.

      • Keena says:

        I did not say NO ONE finds any minority’s traits desirable. I said they cast based on which physical and other characteristics the particular bachelor or bachelorette find desirable. They could cast half African American contestants and half white. If a bachelor or bachelorette is ust not physically attracted to the African Americans they will be among the first to be gone. There has to be a physical chemistry. It would be the same if they cast one third overweight people, one third super skinny, one third in between. If the bachelor or bachelorette is physically attracted to heavier people, that is who will stay, etc. We do not choose who we are physically attracted to – it’s chemistry. Nothing discriminatory about that.

        • pylgrym says:

          Add to that if the contestant did not choose the minority candidate, there would be another lawsuit because no one is allowed free choice any more

  3. melosm says:

    Go ABC!!!

  4. Erin says:

    I too think ABC has a valid point. However, I also think in a time where people in television are obviously making an effort to show more diversity on TV evidenced by the many commercials with black or mixed race family members, that they should not be surprised by this accusation.
    I think it makes sense to cast the show based the traits the Bachelor or Bachelorette find attractive but then maybe this means ABC should start looking for someone who has more diverse interests in terms of ethnicities. Personally, I don’t watch the show because I feel like the people are always basically the same.

  5. AJ says:

    I look at it from a couple of different ways. For one, it’s possible the “bachelor” or “bachelorette” may not desire to be involved in interracial dating. So ABC either has to find a person open to dating any person of any race/ethnicity or they cast people that this person is more likely to be interested in. If they find a person open to any race then that would mean finding a diverse cast of contestants of every race. Could be done, but would people watch? I don’t know. And whether it is right or wrong, it’s fair to say that if they gave into this lawsuit, then a homosexual person could come along and say it’s unfair that they are not cast, even if the bachelor/bachelorette is not homosexual themselves. In the end the network should be free to pick a contestant of their choosing and fill the other spots with as many people as they can that are desirable to this person.

  6. pylgrym says:

    There are often cultural as well as ethnic differences involved. I married outside my faith and there were problems. These shows are fairly light weight. I don’t think the contestants are looking for a relationship with built in difficulties. I understand there was a woman cast with children. I know lots of people myself included who do not date people with children. And if ABC had cast the two bringing suit and they were cut, would they then sue ABC and the woman for discrimination?

  7. Mary says:

    As much as it pains me to defned the network that canceled my soaps, ABC isn’t in the wrong. It’s a “dating” show that is mostly made up of people who just want to be on tv. ABC can cast whoever they want as the Bachelor/Bachelorette, but it has to be someone who people are going to root for. Then the contestants have to be a combo of good tv and people the bachelor/bachelorette may develop feelings for.

  8. Tom says:

    I also think it’s necessary to define interracial dating. Looking back on bachelor/bachelorette history, Ali did pick Roberto who was not “caucasion” so it is about preference. I don’t think that there are any grounds for this suit in general. However, I do believe that it is an important conversation to have in our society because there is definitely a lack of appropriate proportional portrayals of our society.

  9. Jonathan says:

    Obviously, the only thing ABC cares about is ratings. Given the fact that the majority of viewers are caucasian and that this demographic is what advertisers prefer, ABC is not going to cast a black person that their typical viewers cannot relate to. It is not discrimination, it is business. It is the same reason they do not have a homosexual version of the Bachelor. Not enough people would watch it.

    • AJ says:

      If they made the lipstick lesbian version of the bachelorette ratings would go through the roof lol

    • Brandis says:

      The ratings last season and this season have slipped quite considerably anyway and I would think casting a person of color as the bachelor would be a game changer and a huge ratings grabber with people tuning in out of curiosity. They could re-energize the franchise and bring in a whole new audience. But this will never happen in this country.

  10. Allen says:

    Who would want a show about Faygo-drinking ghetto people stealing stuff from the bachelor mansion & pulling each others weaves? Me!!!!!

  11. Templar says:

    I’m waiting for reality shows that pair up morbidly obese people, meth heads, homeless people and amputees because all of these demos are tragically underrepresented.

  12. M3rc Nate says:

    I dont know if if it is this way for other people, but i know if i was the Bachelor and got to give ABC casting a list of things i want all of the contestants to be interested in, they would probably be hard set to find a black girl into them. It would probably be 35% white, 40% asian, 5% black, 20% other (latina, etc). My interests being gaming, technology, TV/movies, guns (target shooting), sports (playing not really watching), hiking, rock climbing, free running, etc.

    • AJ says:

      I am going to venture that a gamer/technology enthusiast will never be “The Bachelor.” Ever. Looks like you dodged a bullet.

  13. Geo says:

    If the problem is Bachelors and Bachelorettes who don’t like dating outside their race, then the solution seems simple– get some different Bachelors and Bachelorettes. What, only racial purists get to be the center of these shows? Who’s producing this, Bull Connor?

    BTW, 10 to 1 the next seasons of these shows have more racial diversity regardless of whether or not the case is dismissed, ’cause these accusations are not ones ABC will want to get any bigger.

    • Templar says:

      Why not have an african/american version on BET?

      • jackson says:

        lol they did and it became Flava of Love

        • Elena says:

          Because all black people are represented in Flavor of Love. They actually have white girls on that show which is hilarious and the ethnic and personality mixing make for better television anyway. Much better than the most dramatic rose ceremony ever followed by the least dramatic break up ever.

    • AJ says:

      It’s simple, you cater to the majority of the audience, not one small segment. People need to stop playing the race card every time they don’t get something they want in life. It’s sad.

      • jackson says:

        Well, no offense, but this is pretty obviously a race thing (however, i just think its one of the instances where it doesn’t matter), i’ve seen both versions of the show and they have have 25 bachelors but theres literally only one black guy, one hispanic guy and one “other minority guy” (seriously you mean to tell me there is only one nice looking, aspiring black actor who tried out for the show). The show doesn’t want to even have to deal with interracial dating (which in America, and probably elsewhere, generally comes down to people not wanting to see black men and white women) so the show dodges any chance of controversy, while at the same time trying to appear like they aren’t discriminatory.

        • Suzie says:

          This is a bit off point, but why do we see so many white women with black men, but rarely see white men with black women. Is that significant? I live in a large metro area with great ethnic diversity, and seeing white men with women of color is very rare.

          • Mo says:

            I guess that depends on where you live. Incedentally, you just described myself and my husband.

            Furthermore, I think the reason some black men and women would want to do ABC and not BET is for the connotation. I know many that would avoid BET because it would seemingly come with a stigma – not to mention the fact that not every black watches BET.

            At the very least, the Bachelor/Bachelorette, however cheesy, seems to cater to a minimum success base. This isn’t to say BET doesn’t or wouldn’t but I think the point is that successful people have a right to compete with other successful people without having to be segregated to do so.

        • Rina says:

          I’m curious as to how many black people even apply. If they get 1000 caucasians and 10 minorities, should they pick all 10 minorities just to mix up the applicants? Law of Averages is going to say that they end up with 99.9% white guys.

      • Arriba says:

        The same goes for white people when they complain about things like affirmative action. They need to stop always playing their race cards and accept that minorities will get everything in this wonderful country.

        • AJ says:

          I have no issue with a minority having the same opportunity as the majority. That’s America. Getting based on skin color alone is still wrong. White or black or anything else.

  14. NP says:

    While I thought from the start the suit was ridiculous, why is everyone not focusing on the fact that THE bachelor/bachelorette is always white? I get that the contestant may say they don’t date x-type of person, but why not have the contestant be African American or something other than caucasian.

  15. Jake says:

    I’m kinda surprised that abc still did not include anyone of color in bachelor pad. I’m starting to dislike abc, first they steal and copycat big brother from CBS with the glass house and now this? Guess they don’t want to lose a lawsuit but they should be more conscious about the casting

  16. Not a fan of edited fake reality TV says:

    Garbage in (defendant) garbage out (victim). I’ve never watched this but have been exposed to hundreds of promos over the years from watching ABC. What person in their right mind would want to find true love with a camera in their face? Reality TV at it’s worse but I guess it makes the network money as it’s been on for years. Do any of the people on this show want something other than their 15 minutes of fame? For those of you who feel it’s too white; the best course of action is to stop watching and stop talking/tweeting/Facebooking about it. It is truly all about the ratings. It will get cancelled because of the ratings faster than any court action whether justified or not. Back away from the enter button! This franchise should be closed. It’s sad and pathetic.

  17. Rod says:

    If ABC wanted this to all go away, they should just do a season with a black bachelorette or bachelor and have an all black cast. If the ratings are bad, then they can say the public has no interest, but if the ratings are good, it’s a win-win. Of course, they’ll never do that because they think it will turn out like Flavor of Love, which was an embarrassment, despite the ratings.

  18. Bobby says:

    The next bachelor should be that smarmy newly divorced white host Chris Harrison……Problem Solved

  19. Whitney says:

    Only in America can a black person become the President of the United States but not the Bachelor

  20. Alicia says:

    Just bring Brad back with his brother Chad for a special “Double Your Pleasure” season!! I wanna see Deanna and Jenni and Marshana back also

  21. Xanadu says:

    The Real World on MTV has never cast an Asian male but that does not make them or ABC racist just selective and catering to their respective audiences. Maybe black guys and girls just do not apply because they have brain cells. Asians are too busy going to school and running the country.

  22. Cerian says:

    Ben was the best bachelor ever. He was interesting funny smart and gorgeous. His whiteness was especially appealing.

  23. Barry White says:

    If they ever cast a bachelor or bachelorette with even a hint of color besides Jersey Shore Orange I will never watch the show again.

  24. mo says:

    Legally ABC does have a point, even if it is morally ambiguous. However, I will say that I think you would be hard pressed to find very many people who are being completly honest when they say they are ” just not attracted” to people of a different race. Also I wonder if more people would find a problem with this (not necessarily legally but definitely morally) if donald trump said that the reason there a no LGBT persons on the apprentice is because he just doesnt like them, which is basically what ABC is saying.

    • Suzie says:

      I don’t get the point of your Trump/LGBT statement. Clay Aiken and Arsenio Hall are both gay. Did I misunderstand something?

  25. sonya says:

    It’s simple,boycotte this crap. Besides it’s abc you know everything they show onesided 1950’s brained crap to begin with. And for all of you who don’t think its’s racisim because oh my god it’s the race card. If it walks and quacks like a duck. IT IS A DUCK !

    • Tansy says:

      This is not meant to be offensive. Racism exists, but people of color are harming their cause by perpetuating the ghettoese they insist on speaking. Most people know how to speak uninflected english because they watch TV from birth, but many people of color reject that in favor of the mush mouth accents of the street. Wise up and notice that blacks who are more successful [apart from athletes] speak uninflected english. it is not color, but diction that many object to. And, yes, am a person of color.

  26. Whyohwhy says:

    I’m with a few of the posters here. Best way to express your distaste for something on television is to not watch it. There are a lot of shows on TV that offend my sensibilities and so I just don’t watch them. Some of them thankfully go away, and some of them don’t, but at least I don’t waste my time on them. I’ve seen one episode of this show and I’ve never watched again. Interestingly enough, it was an episode where an intelligent and attractive African American man was sent home and I could not understand sending him and keeping some of the other fools.

    (While the show isn’t on my radar, I read the article because I was curious about the legal merit of the case. Our country is overly litigious, but some suits are valid, so I wanted to see if this one was.)

  27. Bob says:

    A long time ago, the Supreme Court said that anything involving casting of characters (TV shows, plays, musicals, theme parks, etc.) are exempt from most discrimination laws. Even Disney World gets away with it by calling their entire park a “stage” and all employees on it “actors”.

  28. Cyndi says:

    I think ABC has a viable case. If they don’t get picked,they don’t get picked. Has nothing to do with color.
    PLUS, Greys Anatomy,Ugly Betty, Modern Family and Desperate Housewives are different kind of programs,has nothing to do with a dating program. Common sense here.

  29. Raven Jae says:

    the thing that gets me about this kind of stuff .. is the hypocritical nature of it all. for instance .. take the beauty pageants. we have Miss USA, Miss America. African-American women are contestants in these. but what about Miss Black America? no white women are allowed in that pageant. why?

    i’m tired of hearing racism brought into everything. i’m sure somewhere in the decision making is the opinion and desires of the “bachelor” or the “bachelorette.” i’m sure they let them know up front whether they are or are not interested in interracial dating. and what is wrong with that? that doesn’t make them a racist – when the end result of this program is supposed to be long term relationship / marriage. it’s their preference. and we all are entitled to that.

  30. Avangi DeFoe says:

    OK, I’ll boycott and not watch the show…….like I have ever watched it.. however I don’t understand why they have never had a Black- Bachelor/bachelorette,or Asian finding x-number males or females interested in dating outside of race can’t be that hard? I’m white married to Hispanic, I also find white and black men attractive, esp. Rick Fox (LA Lakers), and actor Morgan Freeman. However I do not find any man attractive who’s wardrobe is sports-jerseys (unless playing) and baggy-pants, or has a thug attitude no matter the race.