Reality television doesn’t always present reality as it is. More often than not, it portrays a version of reality that is the “norm” or one that doesn’t create too many waves outside its purview. Bachelor Nation has featured the pursuit of mainly straight romantic love and relationships in its near 20-year history and has never had an LGBTQ leading man or woman on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. But with controversial contestant Colton Underwood coming out as gay recently, it is clear to me that Bachelor Nation needs an LGBTQ season one of these days.
Colton Underwood was a popular and recurring figure on Bachelor Nation, but came under heavy backlash concerning allegations of stalking later on. On Thursday, he came out as gay for the first time. TMZ has since reported that Underwood is currently filming a show for Netflix on his life as a gay man. Even though he’s a controversial reality TV personality, it is good that he’s accepting himself for who he truly is. Still, shouldn’t that be an eye opener for the franchise that brought him notoriety?
In other words, ABC should take a similar step forward in terms of queer representation and have a leading LGBTQ person on one of their flagship shows. It’s been long overdue. Fans have vocalized this conundrum since news broke of Colton Underwood’s upcoming show. Having an LGBTQ-focused season would help move the proverbial dial for Bachelor Nation and reality television as a whole.
Diversity of contestants has been an area of concern for some time now on Bachelor Nation, not just in sexual orientation but in race as well. This past season of The Bachelor saw its first ever Black lead in Matt James. Though some difficult conversations about racism materialized, it also forced some necessary and historical change. We are now looking at two women and a Black man replacing Chris Harrison in hosting duties for the long-running franchise. ABC should consider seizing this incredible moment of sweeping change and use it as momentum for an LGBTQ season of Bachelor Nation.
There is only one precedent of the LGBTQ community being featured in Bachelor Nation in the past and that was when Demi Burnett came out as bisexual while on Season 6 of Bachelor in Paradise. This was back in 2019 and, technically, they broke the “rules” for her to do that, with (now-ousted) host Chris Harrison saying to THR at the time:
We could have easily said that because Demi is in somewhat of a relationship back home that she won't find love here and we should send her home and go on our way. Instead, we all made the decision to break or bend the rules a little bit. And the good news is, there is no rulebook. I always say that to contestants and producers. We have no rules and can essentially do what we want with the show as long as we’re treating everybody fairly and with respect. It was a pretty easy but big decision to go down that path with Demi, especially since it’s with someone who is outside of our franchise and our family.
So if the rules and paradigms are made to be broken, then ABC should really break the wheel that governs most reality television. Break it and make it queer.