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When it comes to its Bachelor franchise, ABC doesn’t have much of a sense of humor.
On May 1, the network sent a cease-and-desist letter to the producers of Bachelor the Musical: An Unauthorized Parody, a spoof that’s been running in various venues across Los Angeles since September.
“They just wanted the language across all our marketing to be even clearer that this project was not affiliated with The Bachelor,” says Richelle Meiss, the actress-writer behind the parody. “So, we changed the color of the logo to not include black or red — it’s now a non-Bachelor gold — and removed the rose petals falling from the poster. [The network’s] legal team appreciated our efforts to be flexible.”
Now that that’s all straightened out, Meiss is hoping to mount an off-Broadway production based on the long-running reality show. “All my friends are smart women,” she says, “and all my smart friends watch it.”
Bachelor the Musical takes on the ABC franchise through song with a one-hour performance, most recently at L.A.’s Dynasty Typewriter on May 22. Fake job titles, fame-seeking contestants, gratuitous shower scenes and the consistent lack of racial diversity are just a handful of the show’s signature components skewered during the show.
Meiss has been writing the musical over the last year and stars as one of the rose-hungry women competing for the Bachelor’s heart. Earlier this year, the show did a sold-out six-month run at UCB, where all of the performers met.
She says she was inspired to do the show after seeing a Game of Thrones musical parody. “I was like, ‘What is the one thing I love?’ And it’s The Bachelor, and after you’ve seen what? 20 seasons? You’re like, ‘I kinda think I know the formula here.’ Plus, people love it.”
Despite the push-back from ABC, the musical has been embraced by Bachelor Nation, with former Bachelor Nick Viall attending the May performance and Bachelor alums Ashley Iaconetti, Jared Haibon and Bekah Martinez as former guests.
As for addressing the show’s track record of a single black Bachelorette and all white Bachelors, Meiss says, “as an actor we’re talking about that all the time, being inclusive and representative, so it’s just funny to call things out. I mean, [the show] knows, and they could be doing better.”
The Bachelor isn’t the only show getting the musical parody treatment, as a spoof of Friends is also doing a two-week run in L.A. this summer at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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