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‘Bachelor’ Shows the High Cost of Botching Anti-Racism Efforts

  • Ratings have slipped during off-screen racial controversy
  • In latest fallout, ABC replaces longtime host Chris Harrison
Matt James
Matt JamesPhotographer: Craig Sjodin/Getty Images

When the latest “Bachelor,” Matt James, gives out his final rose on Monday, it will likely stir more discussion than a usual episode of the reality-TV melodrama.

The nearly 20-year-old show, a steadfast hit for Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, is at the center of an off-screen racial melee. For the first time in its history, the show stars a Black “Bachelor.” In early February, fans discovered the White front-runner attended a party at a Southern plantation in 2018, dressed as a member of the slave-owning class. In a matter of weeks, the show’s ratings slid, its longtime host was removed and dozens of former contestants took to social media to decry that “The Bachelor” has failed to keep pace with the racial justice movement.