For the first time in nearly two decades, Chris Harrison will not be hosting The Bachelorette.
Harrison first announced he would be stepping down in February following his controversial defense of Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, who was being called out for attending an Old-South sorority party. “By excusing historical racism, I defended it,” he said in his announcement.
Later that month, it was announced that the After the Final Rose special to be hosted by author and former NFL player Emmanuel Acho. However, aside from the live ceremony, Matt James’ full season of The Bachelor had already been filmed and many wondered how temporary Harrison’s absence would truly be—or who would be taking on his role in the future.
On March 12, Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment released a statement on the official Bachelorette Twitter account announcing that Bachelor Nation alums Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe will “support the new Bachelorette” next season.
“Chris Harrison will not be hosting the next season of The Bachelorette. We support Chris in the work that he is committed to doing,” the statement read. “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.”
Of course, after hosting The Bachelor franchise since the beginning, people had strong feelings about this announcement. While some were upset, others wondered what exactly made Harrison seem so fundamental in the first place. “Y’all acting like Chris Harrison is THEE backbone of the show when all he does is say, ‘this is the final rose’ and ‘take time to say your goodbyes,” one user tweeted.
Katie Thurston, a contestant from James’ season who is currently rumored to be the next Bachelorette, made a statement supporting Harrison taking “more time” away from the camera on March 11. “I stand with other alumni who have expressed that learning & growth require time,” she wrote on Twitter. “I hope that Chris Harrison continues to take more time to step away while sincerely educating himself & dedicating himself to the work. We can all grow and do better with time, and I hope he does.”
Ahead of the big announcement on March 12, TMZ reported that Harrison was not quarantining with the Bachelorette cast and crew at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa in New Mexico.