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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