New season marks new changes as Chris Harrison accepts his final rose

The Bachelorette (2021) and The Bachelor (2017) (Photo courtesy of Proven Blog and Marie Claire)

After 19 years and over 50 seasons, the iconic Chris Harrison has stepped down from The Bachelor franchise in the midst of recent controversy. 

The Bachelor franchise has long been scrutinized for having a predominantly white cast and for the lack of screen time given to people of color. Then, in February, photos of Bachelor Nation’s Rachael Kirkconnell resurfaced. Kirkconnell, a clear frontrunner on Matt James’ season, was photographed at an Antebellum-themed college party. In an interview with the first Black bachelorette Rachel Lindsey, on the matter, Harrison defended Kirkconnell’s past actions. Harrison went into the interview knowing he would be asked about Kirkconnell’s actions. His failure to reprimand her actions with such preparation is especially insensitive and unprofessional for someone in the public eye. 

The extreme backlash from Bachelor Nation led to Harrison’s public apology and temporary leave of absence from the show. Recently, Harrison announced that he is permanently leaving the franchise. However, Harrison did not leave in a quiet fashion. According to Cosmopolitan, he received a $25 million payoff. An ABC source said he “has nearly 20 years of dirt” on the franchise. His claims lead us to wonder what other issues are rooted in The Bachelor franchise. Their adherence to his requests all but certifies that these issues exist. 

Both prior to , and as a result of, the recent situation, the franchise has attempted to evolve. This past season, the announcement of James as the bachelor marked the first time the franchise chose a Black bachelor. Lindsay’s season aired in 2017. Although the progress is arguably a reaction to public criticisms, the change has undoubtedly led to a cast that more accurately represents society. 

As new bachelorette Katie Thurston begins her quest to find love, two fan-favorite past bachelorettes, Tayisha Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe, have filled the host role in Harrison’s absence. We have loved the dynamic between Adams, Bristowe and Thurston thus far, and think that having women who have been through the same process before will be both helpful for Thurstan and entertaining for viewers. 

  These new adjustments signify a bright future for The Bachelor franchise. Almost 20 years later, the fanbase is as strong as ever. We are hopeful that the changes will only continue to grow in future seasons. Tune in to watch Thurston’s season, Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.