Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Says ‘The Bachelor’ Is Killing Romance in America

He’s not accepting a rose anytime soon. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has slammed The Bachelor as setting the bar for love too low and for placing too much emphasis on physical appearance in a scathing essay for The Hollywood Reporter, published on Tuesday, January 3.

In his piece, the guest columnist and former NBA star, 69, warned readers that the hit ABC dating competition series — which just premiered its 21st season starring Nick Viall on Monday, January 2 — has “an insidious darkness beneath the fairytale pabulum they are serving up.” 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar attends the 2016 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on December 12, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar attends the 2016 'Sports Illustrated' Sportsperson of the Year awards at Barclays Center on Dec. 12, 2016, in Brooklyn. D Dipasupil/FilmMagic

“These shows promote the scorched-earth effects of raising females to be continually judged physically above all other attributes and then measured against impossible physical standards that has marginalized a majority of girls and women — and made billions for the beauty products, clothing, and cosmetic surgery industries,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote. “Even youthful [season 20 contestant] Amanda Stanton, 26, admits to using Botox.”

Aside from the unnecessary importance Abdul-Jabbar believes The Bachelor places on physical appearances, he feels as though the show has created a dismal blueprint for modern romance.

“The rest — intimate outings, group dates, visiting hometowns — is window dressing to disguise the establishment of a laundry list for love so paltry and insubstantial that nearly anyone with a hipster beard or pert breasts can make the cut. Just as some experts blame the porn industry for establishing sexual shenanigans that make millennials feel too inadequate to pursue sex, so this network romance porn may set the bar for falling in love so low that only divorce attorneys and Ashley Madison subscribers can endorse it,” he quipped. “Oh, the humanity if this becomes the template for true love.”

The cast of The Bachelor.
The cast of 'The Bachelor.' ABC/Craig Sjodin

Despite the fact that Viall’s group of potential fiancées includes more women of color than ever before, the retired athlete went on to point out the show’s lack of diversity in seasons past.

“The real crime is the lack of intellectual and appearance diversity, which leaves the contestants as interchangeable as the Mr. Potato Head parts,” he continued. “The lack of racial diversity has already been commented on. If you’re black on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, you’re usually kept around as a courtesy for a few weeks before being ejected.”

He added: “Those outside the ideal body fat percentage index need not apply. With all eyes firmly fixed on firm buttocks, the criteria for finding love becomes how high a quarter will bounce off rock-hard abs.”

Though Abdul-Jabbar suggested that the short-term effects of watching the reality TV program are harmless, he feels as though the long-term effects can “have serious consequences,” just like with “smoking” or “listening to Kenny G.”

“The real danger is when we try to apply that fantasy thinking to our own lives,” he concluded. “And when we think about where our children learn about the realities of romance, it becomes even more important to question what may influence their behavior in choosing a partner.”

Read Abdul-Jabbar’s entire essay here. The Bachelor airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.

 

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