Is Chris Harrison in or out? The former Bachelorette host was ousted from his role in February after his controversial comments defending racism. Chris was the host of the series, and all its iterations, throughout the history of the franchise. But it seems the former host could be gone for good.
The historic season of The Bachelor, which ended in March, is being followed up by two seasons of The Bachelorette, the first one lead by series alum Katie Thurston. The dual season will pin a group of gentlemen in a competition, all vying for the same heart. In the series premiere of The Bachelorette tonight, fans will meet Katie once again, as well as the men competing for her final rose.
Despite its consistent premise, this season is one of change for the franchise. The most notable is that Chris Harrison is not pulling the strings or hosting the reality show anymore. Katie Thurston spoke on the strangeness of this season in an interview with USA Today.
“For me, it’s tough, because as the lead, I’ve never gone through it with Chris,” Katie explained. “So I can’t really speak to how it’s different, because when I was on that season, I didn’t really interact with him too much.”
Katie is referring to her The Bachelor Season 25 appearance. She was among many women, which made it difficult to interact one-on-one with the series host. Chris Harrison is always around but mostly focuses on the lead. But Katie isn’t worried.
“It was just great having Kaitlyn and Tayshia there because I really don’t think I could have done it without them,” Thurston said, speaking on Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe, both franchise alums. The two hosts can be seen sitting alongside Katie as they clink their glasses in The Bachelorette trailer.
They were like “sisters” there to help “navigate my journey,” said Katie Thurston in her interview. She also claimed that the season is a mixture of “playful” and “serious,” with conversations about sex, marriage, and grief. Katie claimed it’s an “unexpected” season featuring a “diverse cast” with “amazing stories to share.”
“I can only hope that as this goes forward and is airing that you guys get to see that, and I think that’s what’s important,” Thurston said regarding the new direction the franchise is heading. “I know that that’s something that is a continuous progress moving forward. Change doesn’t happen overnight.”
Chris Harrison stepped down amid his racism scandal earlier this year. Harrison notoriously defended a resurfaced photo of Rachael Kirkconnell at a plantation-themed party in 2018. Though she apologized for her “offensive and racist” act, Harrison’s defense of her actions pinned a target on his back.
The former host was then asked to take a leave of absence as host, in which he lead the franchise through dozens of seasons and multiple spinoffs. Though he apologized for his actions, Chris was quickly replaced for the next two seasons, and if things go well for The Bachelorette, it could be permanent.
In his apology posted on Instagram, Chris said that “the historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions. To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special.”
He continued, saying that “I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful… 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.”
Among those who criticized Chris was his girlfriend, Lauren Zima, who wrote in an Instagram post that “what Chris said was wrong and disappointing. Defending racism can never happen. Accountability comes first, what’s next is learning and growth.”
With the future of The Bachelor riding on the next two seasons, Warner Bros. and ABC will have to assess what’s best for ratings – and the future of the franchise.