TV Reviews

Mid Season Bachelor Check In – We’ve got a LOT to talk about

I feel like The Bachelor franchise is at a cross roads. There are two things happening here.

One hand, The Bachelor is more diverse and better than ever. The women on this season are amazing and Matt James is a solid lead. There are so many people I’m rooting for to ‘win’ the show and end up with Matt and there are multiple women I’m excited about their Bachelorette potential.

On the other hand, The Bachelor Brand is imploding online because of Chris Harrison’s idiocy and his – and the overall brand’s – explicit lack of respect for BIPOC members of the franchise and audience.

The question is where are we going? If the show wants to lean into the diverse and better than ever show, the behaviour exhibited this week by Chris Harrison completely undermines that. If the show doesn’t care about racism – then the show might be done. I’d expect advertisers to pull their support and the network to cancel the show.

So let’s break it down.

The 25th season of The Bachelor stars Matt James. Matt is the first-ever Black Bachelor. He is the 3rd Black lead after Rachel Lindsay starred in the 13th season of the Bachelorette and Taiysha Adams took this part Bachelorette Season. This is a big deal.

People had been pushing for a more diverse show for years in terms of the contestants but people really wanted more diversity in the leads. I agree. It’s ridiculous.

I personally feel like they were grooming Matt James to be the Bachelor for a while.

Hannah Brown and Tyler Cameron are beloved in Bachelor Nation and as Tyler’s best friend and Hannah’s friend – that glow was extended to Matt before he ever came on the show. He was cast to be apart of the Clare/Taiysha season and take the ‘traditional’ route into Bachelor Nation but when the show got delayed, it offered the perfect opportunity for the producers to take him off the show and elevated him from contestant to Bachelor after the Bachelor Diversity campaign in June 2020.

I’m glad they picked him. I love that they have a Black lead, but I also really like Matt.

He’s been doing a great job. He’s not particularly special, but he’s a great listener. He’s good at validating what the girls are saying to him and at 29 he’s age-appropriate to get engaged. I’m into it. I don’t know how he would pick anyone but Michelle at this point (have you seen how he looks at her!?) but he’s doing a great job at making all the women feel special. Plus after the chaos of the last Bachelorette season, I’m into a bit of a boring and steady guy. He’s a good fit. 10/10 very happy with him and want him to be happy.

The women cast on this season are also great. You’ve got your drama queens to create problems and good TV (hello Queen Victoria and the mean girls) but the majority of the girls are genuinely wonderful. This cast is not your typical ‘blonde bimbos’ of the past. These women are all interesting and compelling and have stories that are worthy of screen time. This year we’re getting diversity in the representation of BIPOC women, but we’ve also got Abigail – a deaf woman. It so refreshing. I love it. I want more of it because it’s making good TV. I’m VERY here for it.

But I’m shocked that while we’ve got one of the strongest pool of women in a long time – someone like Rachael Kirkconnell slipped through.

Well… shocked is relative. There are always conservative people on this show, but I thought this year things would be different. I’m shocked that she’s here when we consider the caliber of the women.

Rachael K is from Cumming, Georgia – a very conservative southern city. As Bachelor Nation does, folks looked into her past social media behavior and her past posts and found damming images and likes. For example, photos of her at an Old South/antebellum/plantation-themed frat party, photos of her in outfits that would fit into cultural appropriation, liking photos of friends in front of a confederate flag, and the list goes on. It is a pattern of behaviour that folks are rightly upset about it.

Ever since this information was unearthed, people have been talking about this – and have been wondering when Rachael would address it. It has been a BIG question and topic of discussion.

So of course Rachel Lindsay would ask Chris Harrison about his thoughts on this. Chris Harrison is so much more than just a host of the show – he is a producer and often the official spokesperson for the Bachelor brand. Which makes his response that much worse.

If you haven’t watched the interview – you have to. It’s a train wreck. It’s infuriating. It’s “what not to do” if you are a white man talking to a Black woman. It is awful.

You can see Rachel’s legal training come out here. She acts like a professional and keeps her cool when she had every right to yell at Chris. I was beyond impressed with her as an interviewer – but more so as a person.

There is a moment in this interview that Chris offhandedly suggests that if this interview is edited it might change people’s perceptions of him. I think he thought that they could edit it to make him look bad. But I don’t think he thought they’d air the whole thing unedited and that the full clip would be way worse than any edited version.

When this dropped on the 9th – it immediately caused waves.

Emma Gray – a writer with The Huffington Post – was one of the first to call out Chris Harrison’s atrocious comments.

She wrote a great article with Claire Fallon about this whole situation and again – highly recommend reading it. A lot of journalists who cover pop culture, TV, and The Bachelor specifically all started covering it. This interview became a BIG story.

My go-to Bachelor podcast is The Ringer’s Bachelor Party. Host Juliet Litman has been calling out Rachael Kirkconnell’s problematic past for weeks and I wanted to know what she had to say about the Extra interview. I also was curious what her perspective would be because Rachel Lindsay is also a Ringer podcaster (she hosts a pod called Higher Learning about Black culture) and I wondered what inside info they might have.

Anyways – I thought I was going to have to wait until Thursday (the day BP comes out) but on Wednesday Rachel dived into all of it on Higher Learning. Again – if you are into this – watch it in full. It is a fantastic conversation and again a must listen.

The key take away if you don’t have time to listen to the whole thing is that Rachel is rightly done.

As she should be. We do not deserve her and she should walk away.

So then this is when things started to really happen. The Women from S25 released a collective statement saying they stand with Rachel. The men from S16 of the Bachelorette came out saying they also stand with Rachel. Matt James then came out and said he stands with Rachel.

As everyone started lining up behind Rachel Lindsay – Chris Harrison realized he had a problem.

Then it was announced that he would not be hosting After The Final Rose and would taking a step back.

Good.

I’ll get into Chris’s future in a minute but he should face major consequences.

Before we move on we need to circle back to Rachael Kirkconnell – the woman who is at the centre of the storm. She released a better apology than Chis.

It’s unconfirmed but the buzz is that Rachael wins the show. It’s the reason why Chris was defending her. Why she wasn’t at Women Tell All. Why she didn’t say anything until this point.

So let’s go with “she wins” theory. What does Matt do? It feels like a Becca Kufrin & Garrett Yrigoyen situation. They’ll try to work through it but ultimately I don’t know if they will last.

I’m very curious to see what happens on After the Final Rose. Which brings us back to CH.

Chris Harrison has formally announced that he will not be hosting After the Final Rose and that he would be taking time to “step back”.

Good. He should.

It’s time for a major change at the franchise and for the leadership to reflect the type of show they want to build. The Bachelor is an extremely popular show with women – which is why it’s bullshit that a bunch of middle-aged white guys run the show.

Robert Mills, Chris Harrison, and Mike Fleiss hold the majority of the power on this show. It’s time to change that and Chris the obvious choice to replace.

As someone who works in the TV industry, I’ve seen how having diverse leadership can positively shape a show and influence the crew and cast. Three of the shows I’m most proud to have worked on have BIPOC leadership. It is not tokenism – it makes better TV. It’s a smart business move. It’s the right thing to do.

It is 2021 – The Bachelor is years late to the game.

The show is bigger than Chris Harrison. They’ve had six Tonight Show hosts over the years – you can do the same here. The National replaced Peter Mansbridge – you can replace Chris Harrison.

The question becomes who are we replacing him with?

There is a lot of chatter about Wells Adams and Ben Higgins and as much as I love those two – no. We’re not doing another white man. A lot of people want Rachel Lindsay to do it – but she is not here to solve all our problems. If she wants to be the host all the power to her, but do not force her into this role. I wouldn’t personally want someone from Bachelor Nation – I think an outsider is the way to go.

If I was in charge I’d pull from three categories. Sports reporters, traditional media hosts (think Good Morning America), and established Romance-Related Celebrities.

I think a sports reporter would do a great job. It’s a competition – stakes are high, who will win and lose, going in for the steal. A person from the sports world could have a lot of fun with this. We also know there is a large football-bachelor crossover and you could strengthen that relationship. I hate to say this, but a sports reporter could bring more men into the franchise – but on the flip, it could also encourage more women to watch sports. ABC and ESPN are both owned by Disney – it is an easy internal hire.

You could also go with a traditional media host. In Canada, it would be a Ben Mulroney type (but NOT Ben). Someone with gravitas who can help narrate the story. I wish Gayle King worked for ABC rather than CBS because she would be a dream candidate. Realistically at ABC they are going to look at Robin Roberts and Michael Strahan. You could also pull from The View – perhaps Sunny Hostin. There are a lot of options here as well from the News side of ABC.

But my out of the box answer would be to pull someone from what I’m calling established Romance-Related Celebrities. I’m looking for actors and actresses who have stared in Rom-Coms or built their musical career singing love songs. Someone who “knows something” about Love. Someone like Michael Ealy, Henry Golding, or Justin Baldoni. Or maybe someone like Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys, or Reba McEntire. If you win they’ll sing you a song. These people would be hard to book. But it’s an area worth exploring.

Anyways – this is obviously a developing story and I’ll be paying attention.

In the meantime, I’m pushing for Abigail to become Bachelorette. Having a deaf bachelorette would be incredible and that girl deserves love. Huge fan. I liked Katie, but she’d do great on Paradise.

I’m also crossing fingers that all these RK rumours are false because I want Michelle to get the final rose. Have you seen the way he looks at her?! I don’t see how he could pick anyone else. She is 100% my winner.

🌹

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