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First Asian American ‘Bachelorette,’ Jenn Tran, cast by ABC

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  • NICOLE CRAINE/THE NEW YORK TIMES
                                The artists and curators Janie Korn and Artie Niederhoffer’s “Bachelorette” rose installation, on display at SleepCenter in New York, in August 2017. After 28 seasons of “The Bachelor” and 20 seasons of its spinoff “The Bachelorette,” ABC’s dating show franchise has cast its first Asian American lead.

    NICOLE CRAINE/THE NEW YORK TIMES

    The artists and curators Janie Korn and Artie Niederhoffer’s “Bachelorette” rose installation, on display at SleepCenter in New York, in August 2017. After 28 seasons of “The Bachelor” and 20 seasons of its spinoff “The Bachelorette,” ABC’s dating show franchise has cast its first Asian American lead.

After 28 seasons of “The Bachelor” and 20 seasons of its spinoff “The Bachelorette,” ABC’s dating show franchise has cast its first Asian American lead.

Jenn Tran, a 26-year-old studying to become a physician assistant in Miami, will date a group of suitors on a season that will air this summer, according to ABC. Her casting was announced Monday during the season finale of “The Bachelor,” on which she was a contestant.

“I feel so, so grateful and so honored to be the first Asian ‘Bachelorette’ in this franchise,” Tran, who is Vietnamese American, said during the episode. She hopes to find a partner and to provide viewers the kind of visibility she had found painfully lacking on TV when she was growing up, she added.

“Anytime Asians were in the media, it was to fill a supporting character role, to fulfill some sort of stereotype,” Tran said. “I always felt boxed in by that, because I was like, I don’t see myself on screen. I don’t see myself as a main character.”

The franchise has received persistent criticism for its overwhelmingly white participants since it began in 2002. It cast its first Black lead, Rachel Lindsay, in 2017, and its first Black “Bachelor,” Matt James, in 2020. James’ casting came after an online petition chastised ABC for casting just one Black lead in 40 combined seasons.

“The Bachelor” has also been accused of perpetuating racist stereotypes, especially in its episodes filmed abroad: A 2019 episode set in Singapore’s food markets was criticized for the way it portrayed Asian street food.

Chris Harrison, the show’s longtime host, attracted outrage for defending a white contestant on James’ season who appeared to have attended an “Old South” plantation-themed party. Harrison apologized, then left the franchise in 2021.

The show’s representation of Asian contestants has also been lacking, journalist Li Zhou wrote in an article for Vox this week. “Those who are cast are often eliminated early, sidelined as supporting characters, or reduced to meek stereotypes,” she wrote.

Zhou added that it was refreshing to see women of Asian descent have prominent arcs on the most recent season, pointing to Tran; Lea Cayanan, an account manager of Filipino descent; and Rachel Nance, a nurse who is Black and Filipino.

Nance told the show’s host that she had received hundreds of “hateful” messages on social media during the season, some of which included racial slurs.

ABC has made few changes to the “Bachelor” formula in the franchise’s two decades on air but has experimented with spinoffs like “The Golden Bachelor,” which featured contestants 60 and older and aired for the first time last year.

Its lead was Gerry Turner, a septuagenarian retiree from Indiana who married his final pick, Theresa Nist, in January. The season earned some of the franchise’s highest ratings in years.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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