(CN) - Television network ABC intentionally keeps minorities from starring as the next Bachelor or Bachelorette, endorsing a perception "that only all-white relationships are desirable and worthy of national attention," a federal class claims.
"Never, [in] over 10 years and a combined total of 23 seasons of 'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette,' has either show ever featured a single person of color - whether African American, Latino, Asian, or any other minority race or ethnicity - in the central role of the Bachelor or Bachelorette," according to the complaint filed in the Middle District of Tennessee.
Lead plaintiffs Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson say they applied for the lead role in "The Bachelor" but were never really considered because they are black.
They filed the suit against American Broadcasting Co., "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" creator Michael Fleiss, and the shows' production companies, Warner Horizon Television Inc., Next Entertainment Inc. and NZK Productions Inc.
Though the show's creators allegedly attribute the lack of diversity to a lack of diverse applicants," Claybrooks and Johnson call that "patently untrue, and a pretext for racial discrimination."
"The Bachelor," which first aired in 2002, is a reality television show where, women "compete for the affections of a single man - the 'Bachelor,'" according to the
24-page complaint. "The Bachelorette" is a spin-off that reverses the gender roles of the original format but is otherwise identical.
"Upon information and belief, the person selected to be the Bachelor or Bachelorette is paid a stipend for agreeing to be a part of the show," the complaint states. "Their housing, food, and travel expenses are fully paid for by Defendants. Upon information and belief, the show's producers exercise significant control over the Bachelor's and Bachelorette's conduct and words during filming."
"According to ABC's website for The Bachelor, 'there has been an eclectic mix of bachelors over the years. We've seen a doctor, football star, prince, millionaire, [and a] single dad.'
"Despite this 'eclectic mix,' defendants' selections for the Bachelor and the Bachelorette have led to an inexorable zero," the complaint continues. "Over the course of 23 seasons, not one time has the show's eclectic mix ever included a Bachelor or Bachelorette who is a person of color. Each of the 23 people who have filled the role of the Bachelor and Bachelorette-despite their apparent professional diversity-have all been white. Not surprisingly, Emily Maynard, the Bachelorette selected for the show's upcoming eighth season, is white as well.
"Not only has every Bachelor and Bachelorette in the shows' 23-season history been white, but nearly all of the 'suitors' are white as well. Females of color are few and far between on The Bachelor and, to the extent the show ever does contain non-white female contestants, they tend to be eliminated early on in the show. The same is true of males of color on The Bachelorette. The result is an almost all or entirely all white group of contestants featured on the shows every week that they air.