ABC names Sean Lowe star of 'The Bachelor,' continuing long streak excluding bachelors of color
Not even a lawsuit alleging the company has systematically excluded people of color from its biggest role could force ABC to name a non-white person to lead its next cycle of The Bachelor.
That much is apparent after today's announcement that Sean Rowe, runner-up in the last cycle of The Bachelorette and hunky ex-Kansas State football player, would be the next bachelor cast in the romance "reality TV" series, airing in January. (as a clue to his ethnicity, note that ABC's own press release calls him an "All American" type.)
Creator Mike Fleiss, ABC and the studio which makes The Bachelor and Bachelorette were sued earlier this year by two African American men in Nashville, who filed a federal lawsuit saying they tried out for the show in August 2011 and were not give the same consideration as white applicants
Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson filed the suit, sparking headlines worldwide. "I only wanted a fair shot at the part," said Claybrooks, 39, according to the Associated Press. "Looking back at how I was treated at the casting call last year, it was clear that that wasn't possible. I never even had a chance."
Since the show was established in 2002, there has never been a person of color in the power position; allowed to be the man or woman who picks a mate, either on The Bachelor or its female-centered spin-off, the Bachelorette.
There have been only two non-white people picked as "winners" on both shows; Mary Delgado, a native of Cuba living in Tampa, was selected by Bachelor Byron Velvick in 2004; Roberto Martinez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, won Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky’s heart in 2010. Both couples have since broken up. (Curiously, both Delgado and Martinez, who played for University of Tampa's baseball team, have ties to the Tampa Bay area)
Rumors flew earlier this year that producers were courting Martinez hard to join the show. Such casting would likely help insulate the show from discrimination charges while giving the series a soapy new storyline; Martinez trying to move on after splitting with a Bachelorette.
But some gossip sheets say Martinez is already in love with a model, turning down something like a $500,000 payday.
So today's announcement confirms more recent rumors that Lowe would be the new man, choosing a recent fan favorite over any risk taking newbie -- even if that risk might involve opening up the contest to a wider array of people.