Bachelor Nation has very strong feelings about who ABC did cast for the show's upcoming 24th season, and who they didn't!
Fans waiting for a person of color to take on the role of "The Bachelor" will just have to keep waiting, as fan-favorite "Pilot Pete" Weber has beaten out "Big Mike" Johnson for the role in the upcoming Season 24.
Johnson, who is African-America, has long been a favorite of fans to take on the role as he carried himself well during his run with Hannah Brown on the recent season of "The Bachelorette," showing empathy and an emotional maturity that would serve the franchise well as its next romantic lead.
While we'll never know for sure, it's certainly possible that Johnson's "flirt-mance" -- which has reportedly escalated into dates -- with Demi Lovato may have something to do with it. Considering how much outside relationships impacted the most recent season of "The Bachelorette," it would be understandable if they were a little nervous to cast someone who seems to be exploring feelings with a very high-profile pop star.
That said, Weber was one of two contestants embroiled in a scandal during Brown's "Bachelorette" run -- the other unfortunately being Jed Wyatt, the guy she chose in the end before finding out his truth and dumping him. But Peter always insisted his story wasn't the same as he'd severed ties with his ex-girlfriend months before casting began for "The Bachelorette."
Now, he'll be the one trying to figure out the truth and motivations behind a bevy of beauties when "The Bachelor" premieres in January 2020.
A 27-year-old commercial pilot, Peter became instantly famous when Brown revealed that she had had sex with him "in a windmill" not once, or twice or even thrice, but four times during their fantasy suite experience together. It should be interesting to see how that particular detail resonates throughout the new season, because you just know it's going to come up ... a lot!
Weber came in third behind Wyatt and runner-up Tyler Cameron. Another possible front-runner, Cameron went on a date with Brown after the live finale of "The Bachelorette" but has been seen more recently becoming romantically involved with model Gigi Hadid.
Many fans backed Brown not just for his individual charms and qualities, but because his casting would have broken new ground for the franchise as the first black "Bachelor." The franchise has been criticized for its almost unanimous casting of white leads. To date Rachel Lindsay, who was "The Bachelorette" in Season 13, has been the only lead of color.
"I think Peter seems like a very nice guy. He seems lovely. This is absolutely nothing against him, but how many Peters have we seen before?" Lindsay told ET of the latest casting. "What season are we on? 24. So, we've seen 24 Peters. I'm bored. And it's nothing personal against him."
A part of her frustration, shared with many fans, is that it truly felt like "The Bachelor" was on the cusp of casting its first black lead in Johnson. "I want to be hopeful, but when you have a contestant like Mike Johnson, who seems to check all the boxes, how is he not the Bachelor? I don't understand," she said.
"I'm sure they have some reason for not picking him, and I'm going to trust in that, but at the same time, the system isn't working in giving us a 'Bachelor' who is a person of color," Lindsay continued. "So we need to change the system. Something has to be done. Break the rules, step outside the box, give the people what they want!"
While ABC is not in the habit of justifying its casting decisions, or explaining why someone might not have been picked, if there is a reason beyond Lovato, it might behoove them, or Johnson himself, to alleviate some of the fan frustration by explaining what it is.
There needs to be a genuine effort to increase diversity in the casting process. When you pick "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" leads from participants in previous seasons, it's important to note how white you cast those seasons. You're not going to find your first black "Bachelor" if you're casting very few black contestants on "The Bachelorette," and the same for representation of other races.
As expected, reactions tot he casting of "Pilot Pete" -- or in many cases the not-casting of "Big Mike" -- were mixed on social media. Check out some of the best, funniest and most passionate responses below: