After nearly 20 years of hosting ABC’s Bachelor reality dating shows, Chris Harrison will sit out the 2021 season of “The Bachelorette.”
The announcement comes as the current season of “The Bachelor,” featuring Matt James, a 29-year-old real estate broker from New York, has been wrought with controversy. James is the first Black man to star on the show. Midway through the season, Internet sleuths found that a top contestant, Rachael Kirkconnell, had “liked” a post of friends posing in front of a Confederate flag; shared an Instagram post whose language echoed the QAnon extremist ideology; dressed in a Native American costume; and attended an “Old South” antebellum-themed party in college in 2018. She has since apologized and is among James’s two remaining contestants.
Harrison has received criticism within the Bachelor universe and beyond for how he has handled the revelations. In an interview on “Extra” last month with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, he excused Kirkconnell’s actions and said that, although Kirkconnell’s posts weren’t acceptable in 2021, they weren’t such a misstep just a few years ago. He later decided to step aside from hosting the “After the Final Rose” special, which airs Monday night; he has apologized to Lindsay and has said he’s doing introspection on how to move forward. On Monday, Emmanuel Acho, a former NFL player and host of the Web series “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man,” will fill Harrison’s host chair.
“Racism, oppression — these are big, dynamic problems. And they take serious work — and I am committed to that work,” Harrison said on “Good Morning America” last week in an interview with host Michael Strahan. At the time, it was unclear when or whether Harrison would return to the show. Now we know he’ll take at least one season off.
“As we continue the dialogue around achieving greater equity and inclusion within ‘The Bachelor’ franchise, we are dedicated to improving the BIPOC representation of our crew, including among the executive producer ranks,” Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment said in a statement Friday. “These are important steps in effecting fundamental change so that our franchise is a celebration of love that is reflective of our world.”
The next Bachelorette hasn’t been named. Katie Thurston, who was a contestant on the current season of “The Bachelor,” is a fan favorite. Thurston, a 30-year-old bank marketing manager from Renton, Wash., made a splash when she first introduced herself to James while holding a vibrator.
Meanwhile, Bristowe and Adams seem excited to serve as temporary hosts. On Friday night, Adams posted an Instagram video of herself dancing on the beach, and Bristowe shared a video of herself and Adams dancing. The caption: “Let’s go girls.”