Season 25 of “The Bachelor” was supposed to be the season that saw change. For years — decades even — ABC has fielded a barrage of criticism about the lack of diversity on the show. Much like the thorn of a rose, every season was seemingly pricked by a racism scandal, from Victoria Fuller’s white lives matter fiasco to Hannah Brown’s flippant use of the N-word. According to NPR, it took 12 entire years and a racial discrimination lawsuit for “The Bachelor” to finally cast their first “non-white” lead, a blonde Venezualan soccer player — Juan Pablo Galavis — who the New York Post described as “so white he could easily slip into a Mitt Romney family photo.” Somewhere along the line, Refinery29 even dubbed Bachelor Nation “the whitest of television’s offerings.”
With a diverse cast helmed by Matt James, the first Black bachelor, Season 25 was supposed to finally get it right. Instead, it devolved into a mess of racism allegations as photos surfaced of winner Rachael Kirkconnell at an Old South antebellum-themed party. This inadvertently led to the exit of longtime host Chris Harrison, who defended Kirkconnell in a disastrous “Extra” interview with Rachel Lindsay, the first Black bachelorette. The moment was so cringey that it sent shockwaves through Bachelor Nation, prompting former contestants to speak out.
Among them is Alexis Waters, who’s no stranger to scandal (she starred in that season of “Bachelor In Paradise”). Though she tells Nicki Swift that though she didn’t watch Season 25, she definitely has some thoughts about Harrison’s exit.
Alexis Waters to Chris Harrison: 'C'mon, bro!'
Chris Harrison has been with Bachelor Nation since Season 1, wiping the tears of rejected contestants and emotionally guiding the leads along what fans dutifully know as “the process.” As Waters points out, his role is to “make the lead look amazing.” He knows who’s going to win in advance and it best serves “The Bachelor” if that person is a fan favorite. “That’s what he was trying to do,” Waters admitted, “but he didn’t do that, obviously.”
The truth is, nobody wants an accidental villain to come out on top. (Think of the way Bachelor Nation would’ve probably burned down the whole rose bush if Queen Victoria made it to the end.) Unfortunately, that’s just what happened in Season 25, and it was exacerbated by Harrison’s defense.
“I just know Chris Harrison, and he is the sweetest guy, but when I did watch the interview, I was like, ‘Chris, come on, bro.’ I wanted to be like, ‘No, you’re going the wrong way,'” Waters tells Nicki Swift. “… He was trying to protect her, but you can’t protect somebody going to a f***king … Southern plantation [party], that is just not right in any sense.”
Harrison did issue a public apology (as did Rachael Kirkconnell), and Waters thinks there should be room for redemption. “I don’t like cancel culture,” she tells us earnestly. “So I just think we should have open conversations about things and just people learn from them instead of just being like, ‘Cut her off.'”
You can catch Alexis Waters on her podcast “Girls Night with Alexis Waters.”
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