Chris Harrison, who has hosted the Bachelor franchise for almost two decades, ever since the show’s 2002 debut, will be ‘stepping aside’ for this upcoming season of ‘The Bachelorette.’ His replacements: two female former contestants, Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe, according to the New York Times.
This decision comes after Harrison was criticized for defending a current Bachelor contestant’s past racially insensitive behavior. This incident is the latest in a long line of controversy surrounding the show, which, in recent years has been criticized for its lack of diversity, its portrayal of women, and its insensitivity to race.
Both ‘The Bachelorette’ and its flagship show, ‘The Bachelor,’ have become America’s guilty pleasure throughout the years. The ‘Bachelor Nation’ has produced many spinoff shows including ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ and ‘Bachelor Pad,’ and has become a staple of American reality TV. However, in recent years the shows have come under fire, particularly for their lack of representation. ‘The Bachelor’ attempted to address this criticism by making Matt James the star of the 25th season— the first black lead in the show’s history.
However, even with Matt James being cast as the lead, the show was still unable to ward off scandal. It was during James’ season that Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell came under fire for racially insensitive photographs, including a photo of her posing with a confederate flag. Chris Harrison then added fuel to the fire by coming to Kirkconnell’s defense, calling her outspoken critics the ‘woke police,’ according to US magazine. These remarks ultimately led to Harrison being sidelined for the latest season.
With Harrison stepping aside, the show is now attempting to address other allegations of sexism, through purposefully casting two women as his replacements. In recent years, the show has been criticized for portraying women as “petty and unstable,” and “being totally fixated on marriage,” according to the New York Times. The show is now hoping that the presence of female hosts will help address these ongoing allegations.
Both Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe are former leads on the show, and are therefore, familiar faces for fans of the ‘Bachelor Nation.’ Tayshia Adams is a particularly important pick for the spot, for she will now become the first woman of color to host a season of the show, according to the New York Times. When asked about the opportunity, Adams expressed enthusiasm, but also seemed acutely aware of her importance this season. “I am so incredibly excited,” she told CNN, “I feel so extremely honored to have even been given the opportunity. If I can provide any sense of comfortability for anybody that’s watching this show, knowing that I’m there, my presence matters, that means the most to me.”