Why JoJo Fletcher wasn't my choice for The Bachelorette
Let’s just get this out of the way right up front: For me, as a long-suffering The Bachelor franchise fan, Jubilee Sharpe was hands down my No. 1 choice for next season’s The Bachelorette.
First off, I was promised diversity. Paul Lee, former ABC Entertainment chief spoke at a TCA panel and promised us all diversity on The Bachelorette. He made two important statements.
First he said, “It's our job to reflect America.”
Then he told the audience, “I’d be very surprised if [The Bachelorette] in the summer isn’t diverse,” confirming, “I think that’s likely to happen.”
But it didn’t. Oh sure, JoJo’s mom is Persian with an amazing emotional story about how she fled Iran during the revolution, but JoJo’s mom is not The Bachelorette, JoJo is — a self-described “Southern sweetheart” who identifies as white.
Just for fun, let's put aside the fact that Jubilee Sharpe's a war veteran who reportedly fought in Afghanistan and is one of the most beautiful contestants the show's ever had. It was the heartbreaking, genuine and painful confession she made on national TV, uttering, “I feel like the most unlovable person in the world,” after being dumped that got me.
That raw, relatable moment left Bachelor Nation stunned and caused us to relive our own romantic past, and it was the moment I started praying to the TV gods that Jubilee would be the next Bachelorette.
I pictured it in my mind: her journey to find true love. She’d make an instant connect with one dude, find another who wasn’t “there for the right reasons,” then leave another brokenhearted, just as she had been. Like many women watching that night, Jubilee represented us. Her fairy tale had ended with Ben, but we knew her story was just getting started. Surely, ABC would see what a smart role model they had in Jubilee and would cast her to remedy the wrongs.
So naturally, when Paul Lee promised “diversity” on The Bachelorette, I thought, ‘Who else could he possibly be talking about? It must be Jubilee.’ But I was very wrong.
During The Bachelor: After the Final Rose, we all watched JoJo pretend to be surprised by the announcement that she would be the next Bachelorette, despite the fact that she telegraphed the decision a few minutes earlier. She was incredibly mature, telling Ben, “Watching the season back and seeing your connection with Lauren… it really did help me understand why you chose her in the end." C’mon, those are the words of a woman who just signed a deal with ABC to be the next Bachelorette, not the words of a woman who was “blindsided” on television. We all know your game, ABC.
Look, in theory, any show that has lasted 15 years and 20 seasons obviously knows what they’re doing. But the ratings have been on a steady decline. Season 2 had over 25 million viewers, while last week’s finale had only 9.5 million watching Ben break JoJo’s heart.
However, an attempt at diversity was afoot with the promise of half-Filipina Caila Quinn. Yet it was majority rules as Bachelor Nation forced ABC to make what they called a “last minute switch.” Caila was dumped once again for JoJo.
For me, Caila doesn't have the gravitas Jubilee does, but she was a great second choice. She was sweet, kind and non-confrontational, which America loves but TV execs do not. Her grace was exemplified by her affable tweet congratulating both JoJo and Lauren on their continuing journey.
In the end, we didn’t get the diversity we were promised, and with the exception of Juan Pablo, The Bachelor continues to negate the face of America and who we are culturally. As a fan, I will watch The Bachelorette and enjoy JoJo — who was my third runner-up.