Hannah Brown's season of The Bachelorette introduced fans to a number of wild new personalities, but no one can forget about Mike Johnson, the Air Force veteran whose maturity and endearing charm won over the hearts of Bachelor Nation in one fell swoop. When he was eliminated in Week 8, fans were devastated. However, Mike's final send-off and "Men Tell All" appearance marked him as the perfect candidate for the next Bachelor of the 2020 season. But given the glaring diversity issues within the franchise, fans have been wondering if there has ever been a black Bachelor.
Although The Bachelorette cast Rachel Lindsay as the first black lead in the ABC reality franchise, after 23 seasons of The Bachelor, there has yet to be a black leading man and only one person of color — Season 18's Juan Pablo Galavis. That said, Mike seems to have a good shot at becoming the first black Bachelor in the show's history.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter following the taping of the "Men Tell All" special, host Chris Harrison revealed that Mike was definitely "in the mix" to be cast as the Bachelor for Season 24. Meanwhile, Mike opened up about the possibility, explaining that it was "100 percent time to have a black Bachelor." He also teased that the franchise has never had a veteran Bachelor, either.
"I think that it’s time to have a veteran that served the country as well," he said.
Although I'm packed and ready to see Mike as our new leading man in the fall, is Bachelor Nation ready for a black Bachelor? That's for you to decide, but it looks like the very idea of Mike becoming the next Bachelor has prompted fans to come face-to-face with their own implicit biases.
On Reddit, many fans are calling out racism and double standards within the Bachelor fandom when it comes to Mike and other people of color on the show. In a discussion thread, user Starspaces wrote, "I wish people would examine their arguments against Mike and why their knee-jerk reaction is to not want a [man of color] bachelor." They then added that despite a great edit on Hannah's season and fan-favorite status, "anything Mike does is misconstrued and used against him."
The fan pointed out that many viewers have argued Mike was too "involved in drama," but so was Colton during Becca's season of The Bachelorette and his time on Bachelor in Paradise. Starspaces also noted that Tyler has been involved in Luke P. drama both on and off the screen, and yet, "no one has a problem with that because it's so 'sweet' of him to defend Hannah."
Meanwhile, in a separate thread, fan oliviaaivilo06 detailed their journey with confronting their own bias. After Ali F.'s Bachelorette recap in which she stated she was skeptical of Mike being a good lead, the Redditor noticed comments that criticized Ali's statements for raising the bar for contestants of color, but not for their white counterparts. The fan then admitted that this discussion pushed them to "realize that I also engage in the unrealistic expectation that POC have to go above and beyond to be seen as good enough to be the lead."
The Bachelor franchise may not have had a black Bachelor in 23 seasons, but it could happen sometime soon. With the ABC reality series highlighting Demi's same-sex relationship on Bachelor in Paradise and fans open to discussion and change, it seems that the reality series is headed towards a more inclusive narrative — or is that just wishful thinking?