Bachelor Nation is reeling following the news that Chris Harrison is permanently cutting ties with The Bachelor after almost 20 years of serving as its host. Even with all of the drama centered around the reality TV personality, no one saw his swift exit coming.
On Tuesday, June 8, Harrison revealed that he would be officially leaving The Bachelor for good in a brief but concise Instagram post.
“I’ve had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I’m excited to start a new chapter,” Harrison announced on his Instagram page. “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.”
Leaving the dating franchise wasn’t necessarily of his own accord, however. Harrison was outed after being a major part of last season’s scandal, in which he defended contestant Rachael Kirkconnell after she was exposed for participating in a racist tradition as a college student. A combative interview with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay sealed his fate; the intense conversation led to fans and many members of Bachelor Nation alike voicing their discomfort with Harrison continuing on as the host of The Bachelor.
Harrison took a step back from the show with every intention of returning at some point, but an executive decision from Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment led to a massive payout and promise of silence from the former host. The move to push Harrison out surprised everyone, especially Lindsay — though she believes that the discomfort of Bachelor Nation may have played a key role in the major HR development.
"I think several past contestants coming forward and saying they didn't want him to be part of Paradise,” she continued. “I think Katie Thurston, her very last tweet before she went to film her season was that Chris needed to step away. I think that, coupled with the interview that happened on this very stage, maybe led to him not coming back."
A subset of the Bachelor Nation fandom — including Lindsay herself — has been critiquing the ABC franchise for years, asking for more intentional and inclusive casting, but it looks like a more focused outcry against Harrison following his controversial interview was the push that executives needed to make any sort of structural change on the show. In addition to a union-like statement released by contestants from both Tayshia Adams’ and Matt James’ seasons, some contestants also spoke out about their concerns around being part of a season that might be hosted by Harrison.
“Going forward, I honestly don't know how this will all shake out," said Ivan Hall of possibly participating in Bachelor in Paradise, "But for myself for example, if they have future shows and if they were to ask me to be on like Bachelor in Paradise or something like that — and I'm sure a lot of other contestants feel this way as well — I wouldn't feel comfortable if Chris is there, to be quite frank."
While The Bachelor tries to figure out its next steps, it has recruited Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe to host the current season of The Bachelorette and David Spade to guide the singles on the upcoming season of Bachelor in Paradise. Finding a permanent and sustainable replacement for Harrison going forward could be a difficult process because it’s not just the fans watching at home that executives have to please at this point — they also have to keep the contestants happy. You really can’t have The Bachelor without Bachelor Nation.