ABC boss Paul Lee teases diverse 'Bachelorette' for next season

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"The Bachelor" is a huge hit, but the franchise also has a huge problem: the reality dating show has been slammed for years for its lack of diversity.

With over a decade of "The Bachelor" (which just entered its 20th season with white leading man Ben Higgins) and 11 seasons of the female-led "Bachelorette," only one non-white lead has been featured in Season 18 of the flagship series with the Latino Juan Pablo Galavis — and he put the show at the center of controversy with anti-gay remarks.

Critics and fans have been highly vocal of the lack of diverse leads, namely a black "Bachelor," but on Saturday at the Television Critics Association, ABC boss Paul Lee teased a change may come in the franchise's next season.

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ABC boss Paul Lee teases diverse 'Bachelorette' for next season

THE BACHELOR - Ben Higgins, the handsome software salesman who was sent home by Kaitlyn Bristowe last season on "The Bachelorette," confessed to Kaitlyn that he thought he was "unlovable." Even so, he saw a "great life" with her, only to have his hopes dashed and his heart broken when he was left without a rose. Now, Ben is ready to open himself up again to love, but he still has the lingering fear of being unlovable. He will attempt to put his heartbreak behind him and overcome that fear as he searches for his one true love and, maybe more importantly, a woman who loves him back. (ABC/Craig Sjodin)

BACK ROW: AMANDA K, JACQUELINE, LAUREN R., TIARA, OLIVIA, LAUREN H., LAUREN B.; 
MIDDLE ROW: SAMANTHA, LACE, LEAH, ISABEL, BECCA, AMBER, JESSICA, RACHEL, JENNIFER; 
FRONT ROW: MEGAN, CAILA, JOELLE, JUBILEE, LAURA, LAUREN BARR, BEN HIGGINS, SHUSHIK, AMANDA S., EMILY, HALEY, JAMI, BREANNE

(Photo via ABC)

Ben Higgins

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Becca

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Tiara

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Jennifer

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Lauren Barr

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Amber

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Jessica

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Haley

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Emily

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Megan

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Jubilee

(Photo via ABC)

Joelle

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Shushik

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Lace

(Photo via ABC)

Amanda S.

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Lauren R.

(Photo via ABC)

Breanne

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Amanda K.

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Caila

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Jami

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Olivia

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Laura

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Isabel

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Lauren B.

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Lauren H.

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Rachel

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Jacqueline

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Samantha

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Leah

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The "farm team" Lee referred to is the crop of more than 25 contestants per season, which has always featured diverse casting — but for the current season, only three women of color are in the cast. Typically, the next "Bachelor" or "Bachelorette" is chosen from the previous season's "farm team."

Earlier this week at TCA, Lifetime's scripted dramedy "UnReal" — which famously pokes fun at reality dating shows, like "The Bachelor" — presented a panel in anticipation of the series' second season. At the panel, it was revealed that the star of Season 2 will be a black "Bachelor"-type, and casting is currently underway.

"There are few things more pressing than this conversation," "UnReal's" exec producer Sarah Gertrude Shapiro said at TCA. "I've heard appalling things about race all the time."

The announcement for the next "Bachelorette" likely will not come until after "The Bachelor" wraps its current season in March.


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