‘The Bachelor’ Producers Are “Talking About” a Queer Season of the Show

After more than two decades of appropriating U-Haul culture, the Bachelor could get its very first queer season.

“We’d love to get the opportunity to do [a season with an LGBTQ+ lead],” Jason Ehrlich, one of the reality dating franchise’s executive producers, told Variety in an interview earlier this week. “The most wonderful thing is that love is so universal and so is the frustration of not finding love. We’d love the opportunity to tell all kinds of people’s stories.”

Fellow Bachelor producer Bennett Graebner added that, during his tenure on the franchise, “a gay Bachelor” was one of the most frequently pitched spin-off ideas, alongside “a Bachelor for older people,” which became last year’s The Golden Bachelor. “We checked one of [those] boxes,” Graebner added. “We’re talking about checking out the other box.”

LGBTQ+ representation on The Bachelor and its assorted spinoffs has a complicated history, to say the least. A promo for Kaitlyn Bristowe’s 2015 Bachelorette season mocked two male contestants’ friendship, referring to their relationship as “Brokeback Bachelor.” Meanwhile, only one contestant in the franchise’s entire history — Jaimi King — has openly identified as LGBTQ+ while competing on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, the two main entries in the overwhelmingly white, heterosexual franchise.

When King appeared on the 2017 season Bachelor in Paradise, the show faced criticism for tokenizing her bisexuality. Two years later, Paradise contestants Demi Burnett and Kristian Haggerty made history when they became the Bachelor franchise’s first same-sex couple to get engaged. But even then, there were so few openly queer members of Bachelor Nation that Burnett had to invite a newcomer, who had never been on a Bachelor show before (Haggerty), even though contestants on Paradise are generally pulled from a pool of previous seasons’ contestants.

In recent years, however, several high-profile franchise alums have come out after appearing on a franchise show, including former Bachelor Colton Underwood, former Bachelorette Gabby Windey, and former Bachelor contestant Becca Tilley.

It’s worth noting that the Bachelor franchise has done a queer season before — just not in the United States. In 2021, Bachelorette Australia’s Brooke Blurton became the first openly bisexual Bachelorette in history and dated both male and female contestants over the course of her season.

Trying new things has had net positive results for the franchise. The Golden Bachelor, for instance, achieved a ratings high, with its finale netting the highest Bachelor ratings in three years. However, only time will tell if the viewers of a franchise that’s a poster child for heteronormative, white, Christian marriage will accept queerness in the same fashion — and whether The Bachelor will be able to responsibly handle an LGBTQ+ season in the first place.

But in my mind, a queer season has the potential for some truly unmissable reality TV drama. Imagine the fallout of contestants falling for each other instead of the lead! Or the lead and his two finalists embracing polyamory! The possibilities are endless.

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