Before we get to Monday night’s new episode of “The Bachelorette,” there are some updates breaking when it comes to a pair of lawsuits related to the ABC franchise and some key points of controversy related to it.
Don’t worry — the following does not contain any spoilers.
Reality Steve has been known over the past several years as the go-to guy if you want to find out who gets the final rose long before it airs on TV. In many ways, his site is the poster child for the long-sensitive subject of whether or not spoiling a show is either ethical or kind to many viewers. Does Reality Steve hurt ratings for the franchise? We actually don’t think so — although we have prefer to keep our website spoiler-free, there are contingents of viewers who actually do enjoy knowing what happens here in advance. The only real frustrating thing that has come out of it thus far is that his site ruins the surprise for people who are trying to remain unspoiled — including those whose friends decide to spill the beans or they see that “X person” wins on a YouTube video or a random message board.
Earlier this year, the news broke that Steve (whose real name is Steve Carbone) was being sued by ABC amidst allegations that he attempted to solicit information about the show from current cast members for cash — a move that they tried to claim was coercion in that all contestants sign extensive contracts to keep all information secret. Steve denied any wrongdoing vehemently, and now has posted a message saying that the lawsuit is over:
“A great start to the week. The lawsuit is over. We have finally settled. I will explain more this week. Long story short: RealitySteve.com isn’t going anywhere, I don’t owe the other side a penny, and they had no case.”
All the lawsuit did signify was the long-held belief that ABC is far from pleased with what Steve chooses to do with their website, and feel that it is detrimental to the show in some way. While the ratings have been down in recent seasons, there’s no evidence to blame Carbone for this — it’s expected for most long-running shows to lose 10% of their audience year-to-year, and sometimes more.
Another suit that has been particularly interesting is the one filed by Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson against the show, in which they claim that they were discriminated against at a casting call simply due to the color of their skin. This is hardly a new criticism to the franchise, and executive producer Mike Fleiss’ long-standing defense over the lack of diversity on the show is that there are not enough interesting candidates of color that come forward. (For the record, Emily Maynard’s current season has one African-American and two contestants of Latin American descent on it — though Alejandro is the only one still in contention.)
According to The Hollywood Reporter, lawyers for the show are already taking steps with their defense. First, they are hoping to move the case to California — where most of they witnesses live and where the production house is located. In addition to that, they are also planning to use the First Amendment to say that they are not obligated by law to cast people of color.
Really, there are a few questions that should be determining factors in this case:
1. Can Claybrooks and Johnson potentially have a case for employment discrimination on a show where the reward is not exactly financial?
2. Are the claims true that ABC is afraid of casting too many minorities out of fear of alienating a mostly-white “Bachelor” viewing audience?
3. What are producers to do if one of their lead contestants says that they are not interested in dating minority contestants? From this standpoint, it could be construed as tokenism to include them just so they could be eliminated immediately. (Then again, you could make the case that ABC should not be hiring people as leads with this closed-minded mindset.)
It is obvious that Fleiss and company needs to do something to fix the diversity problem — but whether or not this issue should be dealt with in a court of law is another story. In this particular case, what needs to still be illuminated is the nature of whether these men were not cast based on their race, or based on whether or not they would make entertaining television.
Come back later Monday, as we will have a full review of Monday night’s episode.