Some legitimately shocking news come out of Bachelor Nation tonight, as THR reports that Chris Harrison—who’s hosted every incarnation of the series across its 19 years on American TV—will not be returning to the franchise for its next major installment. Harrison “stepped away” from The Bachelor last month, after coming under heavy criticism for his responses to critiques of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell (including an assertion that no one could have known, way back in the distant mists of 2018, that attending a party themed around the slave-owning South might not be a great thing to do). But that departure was always framed as a temporary measure—to the point that we speculated that it might not even extend past the final ceremony of the show’s most recent season. But no: Harrison is gone, apparently—at least, as far as the next regular season of The Bachelorette is concerned.
Instead, his duties—which range from Master Of Ceremonies, to interviewer, to awkward confidante—will be taken up by former Bachelorettes Kaitlyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams, who’ll be advising whoever the show’s next star will be. Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment announced the news tonight, adding that, “We support Chris in the work that he is committed to doing. 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. These are important steps in effecting fundamental change so that our franchise is a celebration of love that is reflective of our world.”
As alluded to, Harrison’s departure was the most public-facing moment of a long-coming reckoning for the franchise, which has been criticized frequently over the last two decades for its treatment of race. (Consider this your regular reminder that Rachel Lindsay, the show’s first Black Bachelorette, didn’t show up until season 13.) Harrison issued a lengthy apology last month, highlighting and admitting to his apparent unwillingness to listen to Lindsay’s critiques of the show, Kirkconnell, and Harrison’s own attitudes during a high-profile Extra interview. (Among other things, said interview provoked a statement from the various BIPOC on the last season of The Bachelor, condemning any defense of racism, i.e., Harrison’s.)
All the being said, there’s still no indication that Harrison is gone from the franchise permanently. (Indeed, it’s not hard, in reality show cadences, to see the above statement as the first step toward some kind of redemption narrative.) For now, though, we get this unceremonious late-on-a-Friday news dump: The next season of The Bachelorette will be Harrison-less, for the first time ever.