‘Bachelor’ Vet on the Lack of Black Bachelors: ‘You Have to Be Pragmatic’

TCA 2016: “UnREAL” showrunner Sarah Gertrude Shapiro gets candid about her past in reality TV

Last Updated: January 6, 2016 @ 5:54 PM

Season 2 of Lifetime’s “UnREAL” will feature a black man starring in a “Bachelor”-style dating show — something the real “Bachelor” has not managed in 20 seasons.

“UnREAL”co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, who was previously a producer on “The Bachelor,” said the lack of diversity on her old show was no accident.

“Being in TV… I worked in reality TV, fashion and marketing and what you learn is, you have to be pragmatic,” she said in a Television Critics’ Association panel Wednesday. “I’ve heard really really appalling things about race all the time. But there was a lot of pragmatism, ‘You can’t do this, you’ll lose that demographic.’ What we really thought about [with this show] was that Cheerios commercial with a couple waking up and making breakfast and the KKK went nuts on Twitter because it was an interracial couple. In an era where driving while back is dangerous, we really want to talk about stuff we think is important.”

In 2012, a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by two black men who said “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” were discriminatory.

Shapiro and her fellow producers are also well aware of the irony of writing a show tackling the subject being all white themselves.

“The show also gives us this unique opportunity to make a statement about the media trying to make a statement about race,” said executive producer Carole Barbee.

“The writers room has been super-intense so far,” Shapiro revealed. “I’m thinking about race differently than I was a few weeks ago.”


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