On Feb. 9, 2021, longtime Bachelor host Chris Harrison participated in an Extra interview with former contestant and Bachelorette lead Rachel Lindsay. In it, they discussed Season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell's alleged history with racism and the photo that surfaced of her attending a southern antebellum-themed sorority party from when she was in college a few years before competing on The Bachelor.
After the interview came out, Harrison faced tons of backlash from fans who accused him of defending Kirkconnell's actions and failing to listen to Lindsay as she explained how problematic the party itself was. He was also accused of not properly addressing the other allegations against Kirkconnell, which included bullying of former classmates for dating Black men and liking images of the confederate flag on social media.
The interview between Lindsay and Harrison sparked controversy and discussion among fans and other Bachelor Nation stars. Now, Harrison has decided to take a step back from the franchise to reflect on his choice of words and his actions during the interview. But if that's the case, many are wondering how long he will be away from The Bachelor and what it means for his future on the show, with which he has become synonymous.
Who will replace Chris Harrison on 'The Bachelor'?
Following the release of the interview and the subsequent backlash, Harrison shared a statement on Instagram in which he announced he would be "stepping aside" from Season 25 of The Bachelor, on which he currently serves as host. Because much of the season was already recorded, however, it means Harrison won't be part of the After the Final Rose special, which typically airs live or is filmed toward the end of the season.
"I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before," Harrison wrote in his statement. "By excusing historical racism, I defended it. I invoked the term 'woke police,' which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong."
It would make sense for Lindsay to step in and take over for Harrison in the wake of their interview and Harrison's poor choice of words.
However, because that doesn't seem likely given her own statements regarding the franchise, someone else from Bachelor Nation could take over for After the Final Rose. Other Bachelor mainstays like Ben Higgins, Wells Adams, or even Nick Viall could take Harrison's place on the special, but nothing has been announced just yet.
Rachel Lindsay may be done with 'The Bachelor' franchise altogether.
After her Extra interview with Harrison, Lindsay took to her podcast, Higher Learning with Van Lathan and Rachel Lindsay, to weigh in on how she felt.
"I'm f--king tired. I'm exhausted," she shared in the Feb. 12, 2021 episode. "I have truly had enough."
She explained that she had originally agreed to go on The Bachelorette so she could represent the Black audience and help usher in a new, more inclusive, era in the franchise.
Lindsay added that she has a "love-hate relationship" with The Bachelor and that she feels her time is coming up to cut ties.
"How much more do I want to be affiliated with this? How much more can I take of things like this?" Lindsay said. "I said I was gonna leave if they didn't have leads of color. Okay, they did that, and they made some other changes. They hired a diversity consultant — who didn't attend the class? Did Chris Harrison not sit through that?"
During his interview with Lindsay, Harrison had been adamant that Kirkconnell be treated less harshly than the reaction the public had doled out, amid the rumors of racism in her past. And in doing so, Harrison failed to give Lindsay a chance to speak about how she, as the first Black Bachelorette, felt regarding Kirkconnell's actions.
Depending on how things progress from here, Lindsay could be finished with Bachelor appearances completely. She appears to be totally fed up with the lack of true change that she had expected since she led her own Bachelorette season in 2017.
Since then, the series has improved in terms of inclusivity, but it still has miles to go.