Credit: Paul Hebert/ABC
4. Season 5 (Jesse Palmer)

Just after casting the franchise's first-ever black male lead, the producers of The Bachelor are vowing to take steps to finally increase racial diversity on the series.

"We acknowledge our responsibility for the lack of representation of people of color on our franchise and pledge to make significant changes to address this issue moving forward," the producers said in a statement host Chris Harrison posted on social media. "We are taking positive steps to expand diversity in our cast, in our staff, and most importantly, in the relationships that we show on television. We can and will do better to reflect the world around us and show all of its beautiful love stories."

For the time being, it's unclear exactly what these changes will look like.

The Bachelor has drawn criticism in the past for the lack of racial diversity among its contestants and especially its leads. This new announcement comes after former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, the franchise's first (and until Friday, only) black lead, argued for "a diversity makeover." She called for the producers to "Stop making excuses for the lack of diversity and take action to rectify the problem" and "Diversify the producers on the show to make your contestants of color feel more comfortable," among other changes, saying she would dissociate from the franchise if action was not taken on the issue. She has yet to publicly respond to the producers' new statement.

On Friday, Matt James was announced as the first black Bachelor, with his season planned to air sometime in 2021.

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