While contestants have come and gone over the years, Chris Harrison had long been the factor keeping continuity between seasons of ABC’s The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. In fact, he’d actually kicked off the series as its host back in 2002. But after a comment was made during an interview with contestant Rachel Lindsay that “perpetuated racism”, as he noted in an apology, the longtime host, in consultation with the network and studio, has decided to also take a step back from The Bachelor franchise for an undisclosed period of time.
In a lengthy Instagram post, Chris Harrison himself announced the news that he will be “stepping aside for a period of time” on the long-running reality competition series. He touched on being “uninformed” and also noted he was “ashamed” for having “invoked the term ‘woke police,’” before launching into his explanation for why he is taking a step back from the franchise that his name is somewhat synonymous with.
This historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions. To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the ‘After the Final Rose’ special. I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before. I want to ensure our cast and crew members, to my friends colleagues and our fans: this is not just a moment, but a commitment to much greater understanding that I will actively make every day.
The news comes a few days after Chris Harrison and Bachelorette contestant Rachel Lindsay did an interview together on Extra in which another contestant’s actions became a topic of conversation. That contestant, Rachael Kirkconnell, had attended an Antebellum party while in school, which Rachel Lindsay expressed her own thoughts on. At the time, Harrison had then asked for “grace” for Kirkconnell, leading to backlash online and from Lindsay herself.
The controversy led Rachel Lindsay to say she’ll also be stepping back from her prominent role in The Bachelor franchise. The former contestant first appeared on a season of The Bachelor before landing her own season of The Bachelorette. She is also a part of a popular podcast about the long-running series which she co-hosts with Becca Kufrin called Bachelor Happy Hour.
In an interview, she noted she’s “contractually bound” in some ways, but will be quitting the franchise when she can. She also said she’s “exhausted” by the franchise, but that had been a theme prior to the more recent interview with Harrison, as she previously also said "it's embarrassing" to be affiliated with the franchise.
The Bachelor is currently airing its 25th season on ABC featuring Matt James, the show’s first Black Bachelor. He’s spoken out about the pressures of being cast with that distinction, with some people “assuming” he’ll pick a white woman and how race and not personality have factored into a lot of the conversations. Rachael Kirkconnell is a participant in Season 25.
The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, but keep your eyes keyed onto CinemaBlend as we’re often sniffing out spoilers.