Matt James Is the First Black Bachelor—And People Have Thoughts

The Bachelor franchise just announced that Matt James will be the star of its next season, the first Black man to do so in 24 previous seasons of the show airing on ABC.

The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have long been criticized for their lack of diversity. Rachel Lindsay has been the only Black lead on either of the shows and has been outspoken about the need for change. That pressure heated up this week with a diversity campaign backed by fans and many of the shows’ former stars.

James is no stranger to Bachelor Nation, either. He’s BFFs with Tyler Cameron and was initially cast as one of the suitors for Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette. Filming of that season was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that didn’t mean the drama stopped. There was a bit of a messy dust-up back in April when Crawley tweeted, “If you are doing interviews and creating Cameo accounts before you are even on my season… you are in it for the wrong reasons… #dontwasteyourtime,” she wrote. “Respect the opportunity you’ve been given. Respect the rules. Respect me. @BacheloretteABC ❤️.” Fans thought she was talking about James, who was doing promotion and Cameos for his charity ABC Food Tours, and called her out.

And reportedly, producers claim they’ve been looking to James as their next star for a while. “Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season. When filming couldn’t move forward as planned, we were given the benefit of time to get to know Matt and all agreed he would make a perfect Bachelor,” Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, said in a press release. “We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories we’re seeing onscreen are representative of the world we live in, and we are proudly in service to our audience. This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise. We feel so privileged to have Matt as our first Black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him.”

The passionate fanbase of the show quickly took to social media to express their thoughts on the decision. Some were happy, some felt like it was too little too late, and others simply still can’t believe it took this long to cast a Black lead. See their reactions, below:

The next season of The Bachelor with Matt James is scheduled to premiere sometime in 2021.

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