By Ed Diokno
The choice of the next Bachelorette may have been more of a surprise than bachelor Ben Higgins’ final choice. Apparently, at the last minute last night (March 14), the producers changed their mind and went with Jojo Fletcher as the next Bachelorette instead of Filipina American Caila Quinn. If she was picked to be the star of the Bachelorette, she would have been the first non-white to be in the title role in that popular television franchise.
That’s too bad. It would have been a more interesting show if the producers had a bit more creativity and chose the road less taken. Caila’s selection could have opened the doors to new diversity possibilities in casting. Now we’re stuck with another ho-hum show.
Quinn was all set to be The Bachelorette. Filming had already started in her hometown. When articles began to appear that Caila was supposed to be the next Bachelorette, runner-up JoJo Fletcher’s fans started a Twitter campaign that seems to have affected the producer’s choice.
Reality Steve, the blogger who broke the story that Caila was the next Bachelorette a couple weeks back, said the hometown filming was a “red herring” to mislead fans. It’s a strategy the show employed in previous Bachelor/ette picks. His “scoop” was picked up by Us magazine and other tabloids.
“They led her to believe it was her, she was convinced it was her, they shot her intro package that day in Ohio, then they told her at pretty much the last minute, ‘We decided to go with JoJo,’” said the blogger.
Perhaps the producers think they can get away with passing Jojo Fletcher off as a person of color. “My mom is Persian, and my Dad was born and raised in Tennessee. I’m proud of my mother’s background despite what social opinions are. It’s important for me to stand up to people stereotyping Iranians.” I hate to break it to her and to the producers, but Iranians Persians are biologically Caucasian.
When it was thought that Caila was to be the next Bachelorette, one of the most interesting articles about her possible selection was by NPR’s Akemi Johnson, titled, What It Would Mean to Have ‘Hapa’ Bachelorette. I encourage readers to read it anyway to get an idea why we’re spending this much ink on this show. It’s a deep dive into the representation of people of color in our culture, on television, and The Bachelor/ette specifically.
Johnson’s article makes a clear case as to why diversity is more than just casting a person of color. It’s about how that person is portrayed to the audience and what stereotypes the editors and producers choose to reinforce or dismantle.
Oh, in case you were wondering, Higgins’ final pick was Lauren Bushnell (yawn!).
(Ed Diokno writes a blog :Views From The Edge: news and analysis from an Asian American perspective.)
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