After 19 years and 25 seasons of hosting The Bachelor and all of its spinoffs, Chris Harrison made his exit from the franchise following the backlash from his interview with Rachel Lindsay. Though at first it seemed rather temporary, replacements are being brought in amidst the growing debate about whether Harrison should be completely “cancelled” for his mistakes. It has divided fans of Bachelor Nation, but one of the franchise’s alums has thrown his support behind the former host.

Like many contestants of Bachelor Nation, Eric Bigger has competed multiple times over the years for the chance at love. He hasn’t found it yet but knows Bachelor Nation better than most after playing on The Bachelorette (Season 13), Bachelor Winter Games and Bachelor in Paradise (Season 5). According to him, Chris Harrison deserves more compassion, telling US Weekly:

I love Chris Harrison. … I know him personally, he’s a great individual. We all fall short at times; we all make mistakes. No one’s perfect. I think, in that moment, he made a big mistake, he messed up. You know, if I saw him today, and I had the conversation, [I’d say], like, ‘You made a mistake, buddy, it’s OK.’

Chris Harrison’s “mistake” has been discussed relentlessly following the racism scandal at the heart of The Bachelor’s Season 25. After his interview with Rachel Lindsay, wherein he urged her and others to be forgiving of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell and her past, Harrison was accused of being “racially insensitive” in that moment. He went on to admit it was a mistake and apologized, but ultimately, stepped down from hosting Bachelor Nation, saying in his announcement that it was for "a period of time."

However, there has still been a level of discontent with Chris Harrison returning to Bachelor Nation at all. A former Bachelor producer spoke out directly against Harrison, as well as several current Bachelor producers condemning the treatment of Rachel Lindsay online but not of Harrison. In response, Harrison has reportedly lawyered up. But Eric Bigger believes that Harrison shouldn’t be totally iced out in this way. He said:

There’s consequences and there’s a cause and effect for everything and I believe Chris Harrison should be suspended and he should have some time off. And he should kind of, like, rethink and maybe educate himself in some ways and do some work and, you know, build some time with thyself. But I don’t think he should be canceled. Come on, like, we’re not even being real, right? So, you’re telling me no one can show up and be a person and make mistakes?

Like Eric Bigger, there are other Bachelor Nation alums who are supportive of Chris Harrison during this contentious time. Chris Bukowski, the contestant with the most appearances on the entire franchise, also urged that Harrison should not be fired and that the issues being discussed were systemic and not limited to just Harrison.

Many fans have also come to Chris Harrison’s defense, frequently stating that he is “the face of the franchise.” On the reverse side, however, the new replacements Tayshia Adams, Kaitlyn Bristowe and Emmanuel Acho bring in some much-needed fresh air to a franchise that has been accused of never changing. For Eric Bigger, though, this kind of black-and-white divide doesn’t exactly spell progress. He continued:

I think Chris Harrison is a decent human being. I think if he’s open and he’s willing, and Rachel and whoever else wants to get involved, I think he should have a discussion and talk about what was done. I’m all about solutions. I’m not into recreating narratives.

This year, there will be two back-to-back seasons of The Bachelorette and even, finally, a new Bachelor in Paradise. Chris Harrison will not be part of those productions, leaving the ultimate future of the former host up in the air. Check back in as we bring you further updates on the situation.

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