Longtime “The Bachelor” host Chris Harrison announced on Saturday that he would “be retiring for a while” from the flagship reality show, which he helped develop into a national obsession. , after being criticized for realizing the comments he admitted rejecting racism.
In an Instagram post, Mr Harrison said he made the decision after consulting with ABC and Warner Bros. and that he would not participate in the “After the Final Rose Special” either.
Media representatives from ABC, which airs the show, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It was not clear what exactly would entail “setting aside” Mr. Harrison.
Mr. Harrison’s decision and the controversy surrounding his remarks are likely to send shockwaves through “Bachelor” Nation and dampen a groundbreaking season starring first black bachelor, Matt James.
Before Mr. James, there had been only one other black lead role on “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette,” Rachel L. Lindsay. (Additionally, Tayshia Adams, who is black and biracial, was recently replaced mid-season.) In an “Extra” interview with Ms Lindsay this week, Mr Harrison had sought to defend a “bachelor’s” candidate. current. The candidate has since apologized for what she called racist “actions”.
“I used the term ‘police awake’ which is unacceptable,” Mr Harrison wrote on Instagram, adding, using an abbreviation for Blacks and Natives and people of color: “I am ashamed of how misinformed I was. I was so wrong. To the black community, to the BIPOC community: I am really sorry. My words were hurtful. “
“This historic season of ‘The Bachelor’ should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions,” he continued, before announcing that he would be stepping down.
The tangled situation that culminated in Mr Harrison’s statement on Saturday was ignited by his interview with Ms Lindsay and involves Rachael Kirkconnell, a current candidate for the show who many believe to be one of the first.
Over the past few weeks, Ms Kirkconnell has come under scrutiny on social media platforms by users who have produced offensive photos and other material, including a post in which she ‘liked’ one. photo with Confederate flag and photo of her attending an “Old Southern Plantation Bal.”
Ms Lindsay questioned Mr Harrison about the controversy surrounding Ms Kirkconnell, and Mr Harrison presented a convincing defense.
He called for “mercy” and assailed critics of Ms. Kirkconnell as “judge, jury, executioner”.
“People are tearing this girl’s life apart,” he says. “It’s incredibly alarming to watch this.”
At one point in the interview, Mr Harrison appeared to downplay the importance of a photo that purported to show Ms Kirkconnell at the pre-war ‘Old South’ themed party, arousing reluctance from Ms Lindsay, who at 31 was chosen as the first black star of “The Bachelorette” in a season that aired in 2017.
Mr Harrison made his first Instagram apology on Thursday, saying he had caused harm “by speaking wrongly in a way that perpetuates racism”.
Then on Friday in a podcast she co-hosts, Ms. Lindsay opened up about the interview with Mr. Harrison. She said Mr. Harrison apologized to her, but said she “was having a really, really hard time” accepting his apology.
“I can’t take it anymore,” she said, speaking widely of her frustration with the franchise’s handling of the race. “I’m contractually bound in some ways, but when it’s in place – I am – I can’t, I can’t do it anymore.
Ms Kirkconnell also posted an apology on Instagram. Although she did not directly confirm the veracity of the photos and other content posted online, she said her actions were racist.
“I’m here to say I was wrong,” she wrote in her post. “I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.”
Mr Harrison then offered his fuller apologies on Saturday in the post in which he announced he was walking away from the show indefinitely.
As the franchise became a bit more diverse, “The Bachelor” also struggled more awkwardly with the breed.
In 2017, when Ms. Lindsay’s season as the first black bachelorette party aired, a competitor’s racist tweets were extracted; another called her a “neighborhood girl”. She is from Dallas, where her father is a federal judge.
In 2020, a contestant lost the prize for a Cosmopolitan magazine cover when it was discovered that she had modeled the White Lives Matter merchandise.
Franchising creates and circulates the value of a pantheon of former applicants, creating dozens of brands each year that may become useful to the franchise or be rejected.
Sometimes former contestants re-enter the group of “Bachelor” shows (which includes “Bachelor in Paradise,” a hookup-focused bacchanal that brings together fan favorites and villains), but these careers often continue to exist purely on social networks, where people do sponsored content for toilet paper and start gyms.
But in this case, in a rare show of solidarity, the former candidates came together to speak out. For example, the men from season 16 of “The Bachelorette” have come together to make a statement.
Vocal fans online have included those on Reddit’s Thebachelor channel, where die-hard followers of the show criticized Mr. Harrison – and at least one popular post this week suggested boycotting the show entirely as viewers.
Evan nicole brown and Choire Sicha contribution to reports.