Just a year shy of reaching the 20-year mark of his time as the face of The Bachelor, Chris Harrison has officially exited the popular dating franchise after a controversy (that he low-key fuelled) led to a greater discussion about the necessary and long overdue changes within the show’s culture. But what exactly does Harrison’s departure mean for the future of The Bachelor?
Deadline broke the news that Harrison has decided to remove himself from The Bachelor completely after a reportedly intense round of negotiations led to an agreement (and price point) that he could live with. Harrison later confirmed the update with a post on his social media.
“I’ve had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I’m excited to start a new chapter,” Harrison captioned a new photo on his Instagram. “I’m so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all of the memories we’ve made together. While my two-decade journey is wrapping up, the friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime.”
"Chris Harrison is stepping aside as host of The Bachelor franchise," added Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment in a joint statement about Harrison's sudden exit. "We are thankful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey.”
The host’s last days with the franchise wrapped up during Matt James’ chaotic season of the show, with his misinformed take on the scandal that followed season 25 winner Rachael Kirkconnell being the nail in the coffin of his career as the godfather of The Bachelor. After Kirkconnell’s problematic past was exposed to the public amidst the ongoing discourse about anti-Blackness and racism, Harrison famously defended the Bachelor contestant during an ExtraTV interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay; he berated the “woke police” and continuously spoke over Lindsay, ultimately minimizing her and others’ feelings about the disturbing revelation. The conversation quickly went viral, resulting in many fans calling for Harrison to be dismissed and replaced on future seasons of the show.
As a result, he “stepped away” from The Bachelor, and executives moved quickly to fill the vacancy — Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe are currently on double duty as the hosts of the current installment of The Bachelorette, and David Spade was bafflingly recruited to host the next season of Bachelor in Paradise. (We’re still not sure how that happened, but Deadline hints that the comedy actor has close ties to Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss.)
"I am an imperfect man,. I made a mistake and I own that," Harrison said during a March 4 appearance on Good Morning America. "I believe that mistake doesn't reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to progress, not just for myself, also for the franchise. And this is a franchise that has been a part of my life for the better part of 20 years and I love it."
"I plan to be back and I want to be back. And I think this franchise can be an important beacon of change," he continued. "I know that change is felt, not just by me, but by many others. And we are excited and willing to do the work to show that progress."
"This interview is not the finish line. There is much more work to be done. And I am excited to be a part of that change."
Clearly, that's not what Disney and ABC executives had in mind. With Harrison gone, The Bachelor will need to reassess its game plan going forward. Adams and Bristowe are doing a fine job hosting at the moment, but will they be permanent hosts going forward? And are we really going to let Spade be the new voice of reason in BIP? This franchise ruled the airwaves for almost 20 years before being destabilized by scandal after scandal (including one man’s problematic commentary), but ensuring that it lasts for 20 more will take more just replacing its figurehead. In reality, the problem with The Bachelor is actually much deeper than Harrison — finding a new host is just the first step of many improvements that need to be made down the line.