Longtime host of “The Bachelor” franchise Chris Harrison will not be returning to the next season of the show. Instead, “The Bachelorette” will be hosted by former contestants Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe, ABC and Warner Horizon said in a statement Friday night.
The move comes amid growing criticism surrounding the show and calls for increased diversity.
“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,” the statement reads. “These are important steps in effecting fundamental change so that our franchise is a celebration of love that is reflective of our world.”
Last month, Harrison announced that he would be “stepping aside” for “a period of time” amid controversy over his defense of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racist behavior. Emmanuel Acho was named as Harrison's replacement for the “After the Final Rose” reunion.
“We support Chris in the work that he is committed to doing,” ABC and Warner Horizon said in their statement Friday.
Harrison was widely criticized after he appeared to defend Kirkconnell, who was photographed in 2018 at an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal. She also allegedly liked photos on social media containing the Confederate flag.
Harrison, in an interview on “Extra” with former “Bachelorette,” Rachel Lindsay, who was the first Black woman to lead the show, argued Kirkconnell was being unfairly attacked online because the photos were several years old. He later apologized for his comments.
When Lindsay said it was not a good look that Kirkconnell had attended a party celebrating the antebellum South, Harrison said, “Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018? Or is it not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference.”
"It's not a good look ever," Lindsay said in response. "If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?"
"By excusing historical racism, I defended it," Harrison later said. "I invoked the term 'woke police,' which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong."
Kirkconnell, who has made it to the final two of the current season of “The Bachelor,” has apologized, and told "Bachelor" fans that she was ashamed of her lack of education and understanding of issues of race.
"At one point, I didn't recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn't excuse them," she said. "My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist."
The season finale of "The Bachelor" will air on Monday at 8 p.m. ET.