Court Dismisses Bachelor Discrimination Suit

ABC’s The Bachelor and The Bachelorette may be guilty of many things… but discrimination isn’t one of them.

A U.S. District Court in Tennessee Monday dismissed a suit that alleged that the reality dating shows were discriminating against people of color by casting only whites.

Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, both African-American men who claim they were quickly ushered out of a Bachelor casting call in Nashville, filed against ABC and Warner Horizon Television (which produces the shows) this summer. The men used their experience and the overall lack of color among Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants as evidence of a corporate policy against casting minorities.

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The court threw out the suit, agreeing with ABC/Warner Horizon that casting decisions are “part and parcel of the creative process behind a television program – including the shows at issue here,” and are therefore protected by the First Amendment.

“Ultimately, whatever messages The Bachelor and The Bachelorette communicate or are intended to communicate – whether explicitly, implicitly, intentionally or otherwise – the First Amendment protects the right of the producers of these shows to craft and control those messages, based on whatever considerations the producers wish to take into account,” the court’s memorandum reads.

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Warner Horizons issued a statement regarding the dismissal: “We felt from the onset that this case was completely without merit, and we are pleased the Court has found in our favor,”

Do you agree with the court’s decision to dismiss the case? Has the suit changed the way you think about reality show casting? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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23 Comments
  1. I’m not white and not put on The Bachelorette. Give me money.

  2. Bmo says:

    Only thing you can do is not watch. Shows can cast who they want to as long as they are getting good ratings for their network. It’s the Hitch paradox. RomComs and dating shows only work one way, minority sidekicks and first ones out w/ the eliminations. It sucks but i don’t watch.

  3. Tara says:

    OK. Here’s my take. First they choose someone to be The Bachelor/Bachelorette. Then some deference has to be paid to that person’s broad wish list of possible partners [not taller than him, not obese whatever]. if that person specifies a racial preference, it should be heeded. Of course they could do a season with people of color, but the ratings would reflect that.

    • Meg says:

      Honestly just curious why you think less people would watch The Bachelor if they chose a black man. I think that would be terrific, it’s pretty ridiculous that they’ve all been white.

      • madhatter360 says:

        It’s not necessarily that the rating would be lower, but more that the ratings would be unknown. Maybe the ratings would be higher. The producers have no way of knowing. That being said, they know (generally) what the ratings will be if they continue running the show they way they currently do. They don’t want to turn a sure thing into a risk.

      • madhatter360 says:

        It might be worthwhile to look at Survivor, which changes it’s format every few seasons. There are definitely twists in survivor that have gone over badly and resulted in lower ratings. Now, to CBS’s credit, they still take risks with the show, but if, after the first time they changed things up to poor result, they decided to stick with what worked no one could blame them.

        Similarly, it they didn’t want to take the risk at all, there’s something to be said for that. (I’m using survivor because they have done things like making tribes based on race, though I can’t remember what the ratings were for that season comparatively.

  4. jim says:

    What a joke. So they arent interested in having a black bachelor….what a shock. Honestly even if it did hurt the ratings, do you think it would be by much? I didnt think the ratings were that great really anyways. They could at least try it, it would create a huge amount of press for the show. I think its a joke how they throw in a token black lerson every other season to make it seem like they are so diverse

    • Templar says:

      I guess that they’d need to find out what % of Neilsen families [archaic system] are non white. And how many families of color actually watch The Bachelor. I’ve never watched it, but have seen lots of promos and blips on ET etc. One thing I spotted was that several of the prospective suitors on the Bachelorette are bit actors whom I’ve seen in commercials.

    • reidjr says:

      What if they do and ratings take a big dive then what?

  5. David says:

    I wonder what would happen if someone tried to sue BET for not airing a white sitcom? The same thing that happened here! The suit would be thrown out, as it should be. This was nothing more than two losers trying to cash in on the color of their skin. And that makes them racist.

    • Mike says:

      It does not make it right, seriously throughout 15+ seasons of bachelor/bachelorette they could have a single bachelor of color. It may be legal but that does not make it right.

      • David says:

        It does not make it wrong either. There shouldn’t be any rules that all races must be represented on a TV show. What is wrong is when someone tries to use their race to shake money out of a network.

        • mo says:

          Wow…that just makes me sad. And, for the record, I am a black woman who is married to a white man. There’s a difference between two people feeling as though the color of their skin is preventing them from getting onto a show, and two idiots trying to “shake money out of a network” because “the man” has kept them down. Segregation was (supposedly, though, apparently not) done away with years ago. The fact that this needs to be a conversation at all is the exact reason such lawsuits are filed. If the person they pick only wants to date within their own race, that’s fine. However, why always pick a runner up? Just for kicks and giggles and to prove they’re NOT racist, why not find some people who don’t all look alike or are willing to date outside their own race? Not all people of color are…how to put this…exactly like everyone on BET (I have a feeling that will get taken waaaaaay out of context). There is enough diversity within diversity to make it so that there is a show where not every female is a blonde who cries whenever someone sneezes and still have a really crappy ratings gold show.

          • David says:

            The Bachelor is one of the highest rated ABC shows (God help us all). Any major change in the formula and the ratings go down. When the ratings go down on a highly rated show, it costs the network millions of ad revenue dollars which they do not recoup for several seasons. No network is going to do that. It’s bad business. That is why you won’t see a Black bachelor, or an Asian bachelor, or a Middle Eastern bachelor, or a Gay bachelor. The audience for this show is primarily white women (proven through audience research).

            Why does it ALWAYS have to be about RACE? You don’t see a Black person on a TV show and everyone is racist! Those accusations tend to only drive even more of a wedge between the races.

          • reidjr says:

            My issue is people will say a show etc should not be all white but its fine if a show etc is all non white.

          • Kasper F. Nielsen says:

            Wait just one moment. So you’re telling me not every black person acts like their last name is Wayans?!?!?!?!?! PREPOSTEROUS!

  6. Tony says:

    It’s a sad reality, but they’ve done studies and focus groups and whatnot where they’ve described hypothetical (read: fake) movies to people, complete with fictitious IMDb pages, and invariably the film with the whitest cast is the one folks are most interested in seeing, even with all other factors being equal. So I have no doubt the ratings on the show would take a hit if they had an entirely (or even predominantly) non-white cast. There’s also a double standard where black man/white woman pairings are concerned – in other words, a white man can sleep with a black woman on TV, but not the other way around. So that rules out having a black bachelor or white bachelorette with black contestants right there. Part of me feels they shouldn’t pander to this nonsense, but I guess the financial realities are what they are.

    • Tansy says:

      That’s not surprising since the U S population is less than 13% African/American and very few of them in the 18-49 demographic would be interested in that show. As a person of color, I can tell you that none of my crowd would watch it.

  7. Ugh says:

    I just want to say- Who Cares! Next I could go up and try to sue them for not casting Asians! Dammit. Stop watching reality tv and start supporting scripted shows more!

  8. SJ says:

    This was a frivolous suit to begin with. Whites make up 66-70% of the population. OF COURSE the ratings would drop immensely if they cast minorities. If the suit had merit, it would have opened the door to a whole bunch of other lawsuits, like, for example, why have all the Bachelors/Bachelorettes been straight? Isn’t that discrimination as well? Most of the country is straight and white and there is nothing wrong with casting only straight, white people on the show. And I say that as a gay, white, thankfully non-American guy…

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