For better or for worse, Arie Luyendyk Jr. is the leading man on this upcoming season of The Bachelor, and there are some people who are very unhappy about this upcoming season.
And there’s more to that frustration than wishing that someone else were starring on the show.
Is Arie Luyendyk Jr. too old? Is the cast of contestants too young? Are they all (or most of them) too white?
Before you say it, this isn’t just about why Peter Kraus isn’t the Bachelor.
Peter’s a fan favorite and, unlike precious puppy Dean Unglert, didn’t soil his reputation on Bachelor in Paradise.
Peter was an easy pick to win.
But, you know, fans think they know who’ll win The Bachelor based upon names and math, so … sometimes a fan theory is really just a guess.
(Hint: if you follow The Bachelor Spoilers, you have a pretty good idea of how all of this is going to end)
But showrunners felt that Peter wasn’t up for it, or maybe they just wanted to surprise fans by defying their expectations. And picking Arie certainly does that.
That said, the concerns that fans have over this upcoming season (The Bachelor will be upon us so soon, you guys!) are a little less personal and a lot more important.
First of all, we have to talk about race.
Rachel Lindsay’s season of The Bachelorette was historic, and not just because Rachel was the franchise’s first black female lead.
Though that, in and of itself, was a huge deal — and many are disappointed that The Bachelor did not follow in its sister series’ footsteps.
Eric Bigger isn’t quite Peter Kraus …
(Even Rachel Lindsay knows that, even though she’s thrown Peter under the bus at every opportunity since her season ended)
… But some fans feel that he would have made a stronger, handsomer Bachelor.
(Especially with that revenge beard!)
And, quite frankly, even with Arie at the helm of the show, they could have made the contestants a little more racially diverse.
Rachel Lindsay’s season of The Bachelorette was historically diverse.
Yes, she is black, and that was an amazing and embarrassingly long overdue bit of the bare minimum amount of inclusion for the franchise.
But if you look at her suitors, you notice that they were a much more diverse crowd than we’re used to seeing — on The Bachelorette or The Bachelor.
Nearly half of Rachel Lindsay’s suitors were men of color.
Then we look at the women competing for Arie Luyendyk Jr.’s “rose” (or “heart” or whichever euphemism you prefer), and see that the series has taken a step backwards.
Finally, we need to talk about age.
Nobody likes this topic, because time is cruel and unfeeling and robs us of all capacity for pride or joy with time, but we need to address it.
Arie Luyendyk Jr. is 36.
His absolute oldest contestant this season is 33. A 3-year age difference barely matters in college and is a blink of an eye when both people are in their thirties.
Most of the women are in their mid-to-late 20s.
There are a couple of women who are 23. And scuttlebutt is that Rebekah, whose age was conspicuously absent from early reports, may be as young as 22.
Of course, people have whined about recent Bachelors being “too young,” allegedly wanting to increase their social media visibility instead of genuinely looking for love.
(As if anyone believes that Arie’s here for love)
All of these criticisms make sense. Diversity matters. Reasonable age ranges matter.
But we have to wonder if The Bachelor is preparing to pivot.
Perhaps their next leading man will be a 26-year-old man of color, and Arie is just the dull build-up to a groundbreaking 2019 season.
In the mean time, take a look at Arie’s prospective mates, and decide for yourself if, beautiful though they all are as individuals, the make-up of the overall cast leans a little too young and white.