“The Bachelor,” since the airing of its first season in 2002, has gained immense popularity and a loyal fanbase. The franchise, over recent years, has gotten criticism from various directions, yet the recent season of “The Bachelor” raised more controversy than ever, potentially changing the future of the show forever.
Chris Harrison’s interview with past Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, where they discussed season 25 front runner, Rachael Kirkconnell, and the surfaced photos and social media activity that reflected her racist and ignorant past was a huge turning point for Bachelor nation. Harrison chose to defend Kirkconnell, referring to those who urged Kirkconnell to speak out the “woke police.”
The public’s negative reaction to Harrison’s offensive opinions caused him to take a step down from the franchise until further notice. Due to Harrison stepping down, this season’s “After the Final Rose” special was hosted by Emmanuel Acho. The special featured the very uncomfortable reunion of Matt James and Kirkconnel, where James was seen very hurt by the whole experience.
After the airing of the finale, a Facebook group in support of Kirkconnell was found (in which the finalist’s mother moderated), along with hateful comments against James.
On the “Higher Learning” podcast, Rachel Lindsay discussed this Facebook group with James’ brother John.
“Y’all are gonna be the reason this show doesn’t exist anymore,” Lindsay says. “Because you’re so damn toxic. You’re gonna be the demise of the show and the reason it’s taken down.”
James’ season was supposed to be a step in the right direction for “The Bachelor” franchise, featuring the first black Bachelor and the most inclusive cast to date, but it backfired and showed the deep rooted race issues there are within the franchise.
The show has often come off as moralistic with a focus on purity culture while highlighting the values of Christianity. Due to this, the tone of the show and its fan base can be right-leaning and exclusionary.
According to Nexttv.com, a 2019 study found that the majority of “The Bachelor” viewers are located in mostly Christian parts of the country, and is the reason behind who production is courting through their casting and expressed values.
As society and the leads of “The Bachelor” get more progressive than the show itself and its fanbase, race seems to be a massive tension that has an impact on constant’s experiences with the show and how the show is viewed as a whole.
It raises the question of what does the future of “Bachelor Nation” look like and how can the franchise move forward and do better?
While this is unclear, what is clear is that “The Bachelor” franchise needs to directly challenge racism and misogyny and start to embrace more viewpoints for the show to be successful in the future.