Freeform's new "Love Trip: Paris" does what many other reality dating shows don't.
Reality TV has been criticized for its lack of diversity in race, gender expression, sexuality and body type. "Love Trip: Paris," by contrast, offers contestants a chance to find love in a structure that embraces the spectrum of gender and sexuality, featuring an inclusive cast of potential suitors, its showrunners and contestants say.
In this series, four American singles -- Josielyn Aguilera, Caroline Renner, Rose Zilla-Ba and Lacy Hartselle -- head to France to find the Parisian partner of their dreams.
The four contestants meet and date potential suitors of all genders and sexualities, choosing just a lucky few to take on dates.
"We're so used to seeing shows that are so whitewashed and heteronormative … but let's see the way the world has changed and has progressed," Hartselle, a pansexual woman -- which means she's open to being attracted to all gender identities -- told ABC News.
Each episode, there's an elimination, where some suitors may be sent packing and new suitors come in to make a connection with the show's stars.
Hartselle said she grew up in a traditional Christian household in the South and found it hard to embrace her truest self growing up as a queer woman and eventual divorcee.
Seeing queer representation and romance on television in an authentic way is something she said she wishes she could have seen on screen as a young woman.
"There was so much I did not know and so much ignorance -- and ignorance is what leads to division," she said. "I just am beaming at the thought of what we have done by just being ourselves, by bringing our very human fullness, our strengths, our weaknesses, everything to the screen. You see us all, in all of our beautiful vulnerable glory."
Aguilera, a transgender and bisexual Latina woman told ABC News she similarly grew up in a misogynistic culture. She said she hopes the stories on "Love Trip: Paris" can inspire the next generation of viewers looking for guidance on love, romance, and friendships.
"I hope that this really breaks that glass ceiling, of letting other shows like this exist," Aguilera said. "I hope this really breaks that and we get to start seeing more like LGBT people fall in love and more people of color fall in love -- more people in general just fall in love."
Renner, a nonbinary lesbian, told ABC News that showrunners reached out to her initially to explain the show's diversity goals, with which she was immediately on board. "I was like, 'Yes!' Like, I have been waiting for this moment to see something like this on television," she said.
Renner, who goes by she/they pronouns, continued, "It is so important to see every shape, size, color, sexuality, gender on television. Art reflects the world that we live in, and so, the world that we live in can't be reflected unless it shows every ounce of diversity possible and I am so proud of how diverse this show is."
Zilla-Ba, a straight woman who is Black, told ABC News that the inclusivity made her feel comfortable throughout her dating journey on the show. She said not having to worry about her safety allowed her to "let myself shine."
"As a woman of color, dating people off of apps, you don't really know if it is a safe experience for you, and as for the other girls, all being queer, it's really scary dating in the real world in that way," Zilla-Ba said.
Reality TV has also been critiqued for failing to create space for people of marginalized groups to thrive. "Love Trip: Paris" executive producer Susan House said that this was one of the showrunners' main priorities.
"We want to help these girls, we want them to find love," House said in an interview. "But we also want them to have the most true experience possible. We wanted to give them room to express themselves, talk about things in interviews, talk to each other, like we wanted to just give them a safe space to really live these journeys."
The cast members say they have already received praise about the show's diversity and its impact on viewers. They hope the world can learn that queer love is normal, and that "this is just who we are," Hartselle said.
Added Renner, "Love is love no matter what shape, size, color, gender, anything you are. We all have beating hearts. We all want to find love. Love is what makes the world go round. And we all deserve to find it."
Zilla-Ba agreed. "Not just that love is love," she said, "but you can have that fairytale type of love, no matter what kind of love it is."
Though the cast's final love matches have yet to be revealed, it's clear they were able to find loving friendships with each other.
"We really became a sisterhood and we really truly bonded so much, and it just means so much to have you girls in my life," Aguilera said, speaking to her castmates.
The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of both Freeform and ABC News.