Mike Fleiss, creator of the “Bachelor” franchise, broke the news Tuesday evening on his personal Twitter account. The news was also announced on the east coast airing of ABC’s “After Paradise” with Viall on as a guest.
Viall is a very familiar face to Bachelor Nation. He first appeared on Andi Dorfman’s season of “The Bachelorette” in 2014, and became the runner-up. Then, he made a surprise and unprecedented return to the show on Kaitlyn Bristowe’s “Bachelorette” season in 2015 when he placed in second, becoming the runner-up once again. Currently, Viall is on “Bachelor” summer series “Bachelor In Paradise,” which is in the midst of its third season.
“The Bachelor” stars are typically selected from the franchise’s pool of contestants from previous seasons, so Viall being selected is a shake-up of sorts. The reality star has a large following from being a two-time runner-up, and has been at the helm of plenty of juicy drama, which surely was a large factor in ABC’s decision to bring him on as the leading man for Season 21.
ABC has been largely criticized for “The Bachelor” and “Bachelorette’s” lack of diversity, and the network will undoubtedly receive backlash for Viall’s casting. Only one non-white lead has been featured in the totality of the franchise, with the Latino Juan Pablo Galavis on Season 18 of the flagship show — and he put the show at the center of controversy with anti-gay remarks.
Earlier this summer at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey was asked by reporters about “The Bachelor’s” diversity issue. She said, “I would very much like to see some changes there.”
Dungey continued, “I think one of the biggest changes that we need to do is we need to increase the pool of diverse candidates in the beginning because part of what ends up happening as we go along is that there just aren’t as many candidates to ultimately end up in the role of the next Bachelor or Bachelorette so that is something we really want to put some effort and energy towards.”
Last season, ABC received backlash for choosing the JoJo Fletcher as the next “Bachelorette.” Though Fletcher is half-Persian, viewers and critics felt as if the network should have chosen a more diverse candidate — especially after former ABC boss Paul Lee (who’s spot was filled by Dungey) teased that the next “Bachelorette” would be diverse, at the time saying, “We’re doing a whole lot of tweaks…I’d be very surprised if ‘The Bachelorette’ in the summer isn’t diverse. I think that’s likely.”
“The Bachelor” premiered in 2002 and has become the longest-running reality dating series, spinning off the female-led series “The Bachelorette,” plus “Bachelor Pad” and “Bachelor in Paradise.” Collectively, “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” have run for 32 seasons. “The Bachelorette” wrapped its 12th season earlier this summer with leading lady Fletcher choosing Jordan Rodgers. Prior, the most recent season of “The Bachelor” starred Ben Higgins who selected Lauren Bushnell as the winner. Up next, the engaged pair, Higgins and Bushnell, will have their own reality show on ABC’s little sister network Freeform.