As The Bachelor franchise slowly reckons with its longstanding diversity problem amid Harrison's racism controversy, "it’s especially important that the franchise doesn’t give Harrison a mere slap on the wrist, then return to business as usual" after the host temporarily stepped away last week, says Rebecca Iannucci. "ABC and The Bachelor/ette‘s creative teams have hedged on questions about diversity for years, but they have an opportunity here to make a meaningful change: If the franchise is committed to doing better, Harrison’s time as host should come to an end altogether, instead of resuming after a few weeks of vague 'education,'" says Iannucci. "If we’re assessing the Bachelor shows honestly, they don’t really need a host at all. What would change, exactly, if a host weren’t around to announce, 'Hey, there’s only one rose left on that table!'? (Answer: Nothing.) Would any of us miss the meandering chats that Harrison has with contestants when they’re unable to sort through their emotions? (Answer: No.)' But assuming ABC wants someone running the show, there are ample options for Harrison’s replacement, many of them young and diverse Bachelor/ette alumni who can bring fresh perspectives and charisma to the series," such as Bachelorette alum Rachel Lindsay. Iannucci adds: "Harrison’s apologies, though eloquent, fit a recent mold of celebrity mea culpas that insist, 'I promise to do better,' with no substantial follow-up on how that change will occur. Many a well-written Notes App apology has floated off into the digital wind, ultimately fixing nothing and prompting little introspection. Harrison’s words may be sincere now — but his return to the Bachelor franchise would render it all meaningless."
ABC and Chris Harrison have only gotten slightly better at crisis management in response to race controversies: "The problem has been there for years, and it's painfully obvious showrunners just don't know how to fix it," says Alex Zaragoza of The Bachelor franchise's race issues. "ABC has long relied on (Rachel) Lindsay to be both their shield and educator in these difficult discussions, but they've lost that good will. This show is staying firmly three steps behind in the times. What ABC has done is gotten slightly wiser by using the 'right' language. Harrison's apology mentioned intention, that he was speaking without being informed, that he realizes now that he was perpetuating racism, and thanking Lindsay and other members of Bachelor Nation for holding him accountable. The network being willing to part with Harrison to save some face shows a level of evolution in their style of crisis management, not a meaningful commitment to fixing deep seated problems. Harrison's apology may seem like an effort, but given everything we know about how things have played out this season, it's performative at best. Where is the acknowledgement of the show's racist past? Of the ways in which he was a figurehead and someone with some level of power might have been perpetuating racism behind the scenes for years? Of the work that he needs to do beyond taking a sabbatical to understand the harm he has caused and where he needs to do more? Of the work the entire production needs to do to get their sh*t together? The rhetoric might have changed, but trust that the problems are the same, and they're likely not going anywhere."
The diversity issues minority Bachelor fans have been talking about for years are finally at their breaking point: "Fans of color have long understood that The Bachelor wasn’t quite made for them," says The Washington Post's Anying Guo. "The optics of the show are 'embarrassingly White,' as this paper has previously described, and others have criticized its slow, often nonexistent strides in representation. But these fans see through the tiresome tokenization in the franchise’s belated attempts at inclusivity and want visible, genuine change on a series they hate to love and love to hate. The franchise’s laundry list of issues — which include contestants of color rarely making it to the final rounds and a dismissed lawsuit alleging discrimination against people of color — culminated last week in a much-maligned interview between Harrison and Lindsay. After Harrison was called out for interrupting and talking over her, and he walked back comments in which he asked for 'grace' toward this season’s front-runner Rachael Kirkconnell’s racially insensitive actions, he announced a leave of absence from the franchise."