The ‘Bachelor‘ franchise looks and feels somewhat different these days.
In the last few years, the legendary franchise has begun to make a series of subtle changes in order to find its place in our modern-day cultural landscape.
Cultural events of the previous two years have radically altered how many of us perceive the world around us, including the popular culture we consume.
The ‘Bachelor’ franchise is no exception; the powers that be behind one of the biggest success stories within reality TV history have listened to conversations among fans and figures directly involved within Bachelor Nation past and present, and have attempted to reflect those requests for change.
What Do Those Adaptations Look Like?
Matt James, the now 30-year-old television personality who held the ‘Bachelor’ title for the show’s 25th season, became the first Black lead of “The Bachelor.”
In the two years since his season was filmed, James has been extremely candid about his experience, and the implications that his position held.
Conversations about race dominated the headlines at the time as a result of a number of unjust acts of police brutality directed at the BIPOC community. The murder of George Floyd in June of 2020, helped not only spearhead those conversations globally but also within Bachelor Nation.
ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke explained in the initial casting announcement for James, “This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise.”
At the time, the franchise had only featured one Black lead in its history; Rachel Lindsay held the title of the ‘Bachelorette’ in 2017. Lindsay has been publicly candid about the role she feels she has been forced to play- the go-to voice within the franchise to discuss racism.
“You have no idea what it feels like being the first person to represent Black people to your lilly-white audience,” Lindsay wrote in an essay for Vulture, per Buzzfeed, wherein she discussed her experience.
James, for his part, had also felt the weight of his role within the franchise.
In one of The Blast’s reports covering the release of his memoir earlier this spring, he opened up about his feelings about the role.
According to NBC News per Variety, James had said “I felt that pressure- I’m not going to lie- initially.”
The ‘Bachelor’ Franchise Tackles Mental Health
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As the cultural conversations have begun to change revolving around mental health have changed in response to an overall societal shift related to perceptions about mental health, multiple members of Bachelor Nation have done their part to normalize discussing their mental health and the experiences contributing to their outlook on the subject.
James’ predecessor on “The Bachelor,” Clayton Echard, has made an effort to turn his experience on the show into a mental health-related conversation.
Echard recently spoke to a panel of mental health professionals, where he used screenshots of hateful direct messages he received after the show to accompany his conversation about his post-show mental health.
“I was too afraid to walk out in public because I thought everyone who looked at me was one of those people” who had sent him a hateful DM.
Echard also gave insight into the struggle with depression he felt as a result.
More recently, Logan Palmer, a recently eliminated contestant from Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia’s joint season of “The Bachelorette,” made his own contribution to the ongoing normalization of publicly discussing mental health.
In time, Palmer may be best remembered for pulling a switcharoo regarding his loyalties to the ‘Bachelorettes’. He initially committed to pursuing Recchia before changing his mind and deciding to explore his relationship with Windey further. (via People)
Palmer took to Instagram and opened up about his mental health experience.
“I have struggled with my mental health since i was 12 years old,” Palmer begins in his post’s passage about mental health, “and this process was more difficult in that arena than I ever thought possible. Destructive thoughts and constant doubt are hurdles that I think everyone relates to at some point but not everyone talks about. I want to be transparent about that part of my journey too, and I hope I can be a safe place for others who struggle with it. Acknowledging my mental health and how it affects those around me will be a priority in my life moving forward,” he concluded.
According to People, Palmer had caught COVID-19 and was quietly eliminated from the show.