History has officially been made. The Bachelor cast its first Black male lead as the Season 25 Bachelor. The twist? He hasn't event been on TV yet. These tweets about Matt James being the Bachelor make it clear many fans are happy to see Matt take the spotlight, but the choice is not without is criticism.
If Matt looks familiar, that might be because he's a longtime pal of Tyler Cameron, the runner-up of Hannah Brown's Bachelorette season. Tyler received widespread national attention after the show, which propelled him to internet stardom, with Matt often sharing the spotlight. Matt further piqued Bachelor Nation's interest as a member of the Quarantine Crew, a group of people (which included Hannah and Tyler) who lived together and posted TikToks during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement of Matt as the next Bachelor comes in the wake of vocal calls from fans and franchise stars alike for Bachelor shows to feature more BIPOC. Bachelor Nation's lack of diversity has been a common criticism of the franchise for years, and the increased visibility of the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks has only made that criticism more apparent, and more widespread. On June 8, The Bachelor Diversity Campaign was started by a group of fans, and reached over 85,000 signatures on its petition calling for a Black lead for The Bachelor Season 25, as well as other demands for change within the franchise.
For the most part, fans are thrilled for this history-making casting choice.
While many are excited about the news of the first Black bachelor, the news has also received critical response from fans who see the decision as a performative move from ABC.
On top of the Bachelor Diversity Campaign petition, Rachel Lindsay — the only Black lead the Bachelor franchise has ever had up until this point — recently announced she would cut ties with the series if it did not improve its diversity practices. Still, ABC maintains the decision was not in response to recent criticism.
“It wasn’t a response to that. We could have made this announcement earlier or later,” ABC exec Rob Mills told Variety. He also alluded to Matt having been shortlisted as a candidate to be the next Bachelor a long time ago. “Matt was somebody who was on our radar and we were thinking about him. We were thinking, 'Do we announce him early, or do we put him on Clare’s season and then announce him later, if it doesn’t work out with Clare?' We didn’t make a final decision until recently, but this has been talked about for quite some time.”
Still, many fans are saying this move in diversify the franchise took too long to happen, with some saying having one Black Bachelor is not enough of a change.
Other fans still are just a bit bummed that the first Black Bachelor is not Mike Johnson. Mike was on Hannah B.'s season of The Bachelorette and seemed like a Bachelor lead hopeful in Season 24 — until Peter Weber was given that spot. At the time, an outpouring of outrage over Mike's snub proved fans really wanted him as the lead, and it's clear there's still a good amount of people out there who wanted to see him have his time to shine.
At the end of the day, the news of a Black Bachelor is a historic one for the franchise.
“Certainly no one is blind to what is happening in the world, so hopefully this announcement serves as a bit of optimism during a time that we can really use this," Mills told Variety. How diverse Matt's cast will be remains to be seen, but here's to hoping ABC continues to move in the right direction toward better representation in the franchise.