After 19 years leading The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise, and all those other Bach spinoffs (remember Bachelor Pad?), Chris Harrison is leaving the franchise. "I’m excited to start a new chapter," Harrison wrote on Instagram. "While my two-decade journey is wrapping up, the friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime."
The host's departure comes after he announced that he'd be "stepping aside for a period of time" back in February. At the time, Harrison was receiving backlash for an interview with Extra correspondent Rachel Lindsay—who was also the franchise's first BIPOC lead—in which Harrison asked for "grace," "understanding," and "compassion" for Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, who has been called out for old posts on social media that feature her dressed in Native American attire and attending a plantation-themed event.
"During that conversation, his privilege was on display. He never gave me room to talk, and he never gave me room to share my perspective. He wasn't trying to hear it, he was just trying to be heard," Lindsay said of the conversation with Harrison.
At the time, Harrison shared an apology via Instagram. "Now just as I taught my children to stand up, and to own their actions, I will do the same," he wrote. "By excusing historical racism, I defended it. I invoked the term 'woke police,' which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong."
Reports Deadline's Dominic Patten: "Harrison will receive a rose of his own in the form of mid-range eight-figure payoff and promise to keep his mouth shut, I hear." Neither ABC nor Harrison have commented on Patten's report.
The current season of The Bachelorette is hosted by former leads Kaitlyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams, and this summer's Bachelor in Paradise season will be hosted by a revolving door of guest comedians. So, the big question: Who will step in as the permanent host of The Bachelor going forward? Possibilities include...
Yes, a lot of former Bachelorettes aside from Fletcher have guest hosted at this point, but hear me out. When Harrison stepped aside from Matt James's season to take his son to college, ABC first turned to Fletcher—a fan favorite who has had enormous TV success from the franchise, and remains engaged to her final rose pick, Jordan Rodgers. Fletcher has always been one of the franchise's most beloved members, and her fiancé (who is Aaron Rodgers' brother—I'm just throwing that out there) also has hosting experience, so the couple could potentially co-host dates together and reminisce on their own Bachelor meet-cute.
An unlikely pick, considering Acho was clear that he would only step in to host After the Final Rose at the end of Matt James's season, but I'd be surprised if ABC didn't want him in the gig. Acho is a devout Christian and former football player—both of which are like catnip to The Bachelor producers, at least when to comes to contestants—and did a tremendous job hosting a difficult After the Final Rose. He also has a wealth of broadcasting experience, both in sports and with his webcast, Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man.
Yes, you read that right. David Spade is a Bachelor superfan, having made that abundantly clear via Instagram, and he was the first celebrity to agree to help host Bachelor in Paradise this season. Clearly, Spade has an emotional connection to the show—but he's currently working on Hotel Transylvania: Transformania and, after that, an 18-episode series called The Netflix Afterparty, so he may have a scheduling conflict (or, you know, not want to!).
Perhaps the number-one pick for ABC—but also someone who may not want the long-term gig—Lindsay is a former Bachelorette who, like Fletcher and Acho, has seen a successful second career in broadcasting. She's been refreshingly open about the racism that underpins The Bachelor franchise—but she's also faced an onslaught racist cyberbullying from fans of the franchise, and she's noted that her relationship with the franchise is fraught.
"How much more do I want to be affiliated with this? How much more can I take of things like this?...I can’t take it anymore. I’m contractually bound in some ways. But when it’s up, I am too. I can’t do it anymore," she said in February. Still, if the franchise was able and willing to make lasting structural change, and Lindsay was willing to be on board, she'd be undeniably brilliant in the role.
Other Contenders Include...
- Wells Adams, the unofficial co-host of Bachelor in Paradise—potentially along with his wife-to-be, Modern Family's Sarah Hyland
- Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe, current hosts of Katie Thurston's season of The Bachelorette
- Michael Strahan, reportedly thought to be the right combination of "news and show business" for the role
- Nick Viall, who has appeared on more Bachelor spin-offs than pretty much anybody aside from Chris Harrison