The Bachelor franchise has had more than a few controversial endings, and the diversity of the show has long been questioned. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, longtime Bachelor host Chris Harrison looked back on the some of the show’s questionable finale twists and he also weighed in on whether or not he thinks there will be another non-white lead anytime soon.
Harrison talked in detail about Rachel Lindsay’s season of The Bachelorette. Lindsay, who headlined the 13th season of the female-led version of the show, was the first-ever African American star of the ABC franchise. The Bachelor host explained that the show has always tried to “cast as much diversity” as possible, but added that Rachel was” a great first step” in making people of color feel represented on the show. Still, Harrison warned that The Bachelorette is an entertainment show, and the main job for producers is not a social one.
“It is an entertainment one, where we are trying to entertain as many people as possible and get as high of ratings as we possibly can,” The Bachelor host said.
“So there’s a delicate balance of, yes, you have a social responsibility…but at the same time, you also have a business responsibility, and it’s a very careful balance. Rachel wasn’t just a black Bachelorette; she was the right Bachelorette. She was the best choice for that season, and that’s how I love to have diversity.”
Harrison also addressed Rachel’s finale, in which her runner-up Peter Kraus, found himself unable to propose to her. Rachel passed Peter over for fiancé Bryan Abasolo, while fans wondered of the show puts too much pressure on contestants to pop the question with the network provided Neil Lane sparkler. Harrison revealed that while he feels there is self-imposed pressure from the cast members, there is none from producers.
So when the most recent Bachelor star, Arie Luyendyk Jr., changed his mind, dumped his franchise fiancée, Becca Kufrin, on camera and proposed to his runner-up, Lauren Burnham, producers didn’t care about that, either.
“People always go, ‘Oh, you guys made him do that. You wanted him to propose,'” The Bachelor host said. “No, it really doesn’t matter to us as far as ratings go. Our show is going to survive and actually thrive no matter what happens because that’s what’s so captivating about it.”
One of the biggest controversies in The Bachelor franchise was last summer’s Bachelor in Paradise sex scandal. Production of the summertime spin-off was shut down last June after a crew member filed a sex abuse complaint. After an investigation was conducted, the participants were cleared. Harrison stands by the fact that he is proud of how his Bachelor in Paradise producers handled the situation.
“I’ve had a lot of time to think and talk about last summer, and I really wouldn’t have done much different,” Harrison said. “I thought we handled everybody with dignity, grace, and respect, and everybody was taken care of. This summer, we’ll do the same.”
The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC. Bachelor in Paradise premieres later this summer.