Bachelor producers stunned when questioned about diversity issues in the franchise

    During a Television Critics Association panel on Saturday, executive producers Jason Ehrlich, Claire Freeland, and Bennett Graebner chose not to respond when pressed about their approach to addressing racial issues.

    The Bachelor (Source: ABC)

    The Bachelor (Source: ABC)

    At a Television Critics Association panel featuring showrunners from Jeopardy, Dancing With the Stars, and Shark Tank, NPR's Eric Deggans asked Bachelor producing trio Jason Ehrlich, Claire Freeland (both newcomers), and franchise veteran Bennett Graebner about former star Rachel Lindsay and Matt James' criticisms regarding how the franchise addresses race.

    Bachelor Producers Grapple with Tough Questions

    The Bachelor producers were taken aback when questioned at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour about the franchise's perceived difficulties in addressing racial issues. Freeland, who joined the Bachelor franchise in January 2023, attempted to respond by stating that the show aims to "represent the country" before quickly redirecting the conversation away from the question.

    Deggans then restated the question more directly. At this juncture, all three producers remained silent for approximately 10 seconds, resulting in one of the more uncomfortable moments of the press tour. "It's impossible for me to comment on the seasons before I joined them here," Freeland told The Hollywood Reporter after the panel. "I can only speak to the seasons I have been a part of."

    Disappointment and Surprise Over Bachelor Producers' Response

    Reporters in attendance at the panel were abuzz afterward about the producers' failure to adequately address a question that has haunted the franchise for at least a decade, if not longer. Some journalists took to social media to express their astonishment. 

    The panel was part of Disney's second day at TCA and occurred just hours after Disney Television Group president Craig Erwich officially announced The Golden Bachelorette, capitalizing on the tremendous success of The Golden Bachelor.

    Following the panel, the producers spoke with Decider about the events on stage. Graebner stated, "I was there for Matt James’ season. I was there for Rachel Lindsay’s season. I was also there for Michelle Young’s season, Tayshia Adams’ season, and Charity Lawson’s season."

     He emphasized the responsibility of being stewards of a franchise deeply ingrained in the cultural zeitgeist for over two decades. Graebner acknowledged the importance of addressing challenging topics on camera, including race, class, and gender, though admitting mistakes have been made in the past. He expressed a commitment to rectifying these shortcomings moving forward.