Following the intense backlash for his interview with Rachel Lindsay, Chris Harrison stepped down from his hosting duties within Bachelor Nation. There has been a lot of speculation that the change might only be a temporary one. Yet it was recently confirmed that Harrison would not be returning even for the much-anticipated next season of Bachelor in Paradise, which was postponed last year due to COVID-19, and one Bachelor alum thinks that was Harrison’s choice.
Bachelor Nation fans might remember the name Ali Fedotowsky from pilot Jake Pavelka’s Bachelor season in 2010. She was forced to quit after her employer, Facebook, issued an ultimatum for her return. However, Fedotowsky doesn’t believe Chris Harrison was forced out of his hosting duties for Bachelor in Paradise. She said to US Weekly:
I think that Chris needs what Chris needs, you know? I think, if anything, Chris has a lot of say in whether or not he comes back or not. I know his relationship with the producers and the executive producers, and it’s a very close relationship. This isn’t like, ‘You’re not coming back, even though you want to.’ At least I don’t think so.
After 20 years as both host and executive producer himself, Chris Harrison certainly has a relationship with the crews that work on Bachelor Nation. It was reportedly rather awkward and difficult on set of Katie Thurston’s Bachelorette season, which was taken over by replacement hosts Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe.
In the initial controversial interview, many believed that Chris Harrison was defending contestant Rachel Kirkconnell’s unearthed racially insensitive behavior and that he was simultaneously tampinig down Rachel Lindsay’s perspective as a Black woman. Harrison would later apologize. But Ali Fedotowsky thinks that the situation actually caused Harrison (who was once hopeful last year about the return to the Mexico beaches) to purposefully not want to return as host for Bachelor in Paradise. She said:
I think Chris is probably saying, like, ‘I need to work on me, and I need to educate myself. I need to grow. I need to take a step back [for] my own mental health. I think for Chris’ mental health, he probably needs to take a step back because of what happened. I guarantee that’s a collaborative decision. A lot of people are out there saying, you know, ‘Don’t watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette because they’re not having Chris on.’ I don’t think it’s that simple. I think that Chris doesn’t want to come back yet. That’s my opinion.
Several other former Bachelor Nation contestants have come forward in defense of Chris Harrison. Bachelor in Paradise alum Tanner Tolbert believes the ratings will go down without Harrison. Another BiP alum, Eric Bigger, said that Harrison shouldn’t be “cancelled” because of one mistake. As for Ali Fedotowsky, she affirms that Harrison made “a big mistake” but feels he’s truly “committed to that growth to come back.”
Chris Harrison hasn’t made it public knowledge how he potentially is learning and growing from the controversy, but Bachelor in Paradise is continuing on without him, regardless. It was recently revealed that celebrity hosts will rotate for Season 7, much like Jeopardy!, with David Spade confirmed as a host for a two-week stint. We’ll see how all fare in their new roles in the coming weeks.
Katie Thurston’s Bachelorette season premieres Monday, June 7, at 8 p.m. on ABC, while Bachelor in Paradise is set to premiere on Aug. 16.