Bachelor Nation, You Are The Problem

One of America’s most guilty pleasures, The Bachelor, has been hitting the headlines, but it is not expected pieces diving into details of who will get Matt’s final rose. The latest controversy has fans and former contestants calling for the long-time host, Chris Harrison, to be fired. It’s also brought a long-time issue brought to light within the fandom: its racism. 

The current contestant, Rachael Kirkconnell, is at the center of the controversy. Old photos from her social media attending a plantation-themed ball were uploaded to a Reddit forum populated with over 100k fans of the Bachelor franchise. Members of Bachelor Nation began questioning why producers allowed Kirkconnell on the show in the first place, especially the season with the first-ever Black bachelor as the lead.

In an interview with the first Black bachelorette of the franchise, Rachel Lindsey, Harrison stated that Kirkconnell deserved compassion from the internet for these photos. He stated that parties like that were okay in 2018, but not in 2021.

“It’s not a good look ever,” Lindsey stated.

Clare Crawley Photo by ABC / Craig Sjodin

Some fans of Bachelor Nation swarmed Lindsey’s social media platforms with insults and microaggressions after the interview aired. “Thank you for ruining the bachelor this season.”

“Loved you on the bachelorette but you are too much now. It’s all about racism now.”

“#CancelRachelLindsey.”

“You’re always so aggressive.”

Lindsey has been a long-time activist within Bachelor Nation. She has criticized the show for its lack of diversity and worked with producers to improve the show’s casting. Some fans of the show have noticed these problems too, beginning a Bachelor Diversity Campaign calling for a better representation in the show’s casting and crew.  “The franchise, and all those who represent it, should reflect and honor the racial diversity of our country--both in front of and behind the camera.”

More often than not, it is Rachel Lindsey sticking her neck out to be crushed by the franchise’s fans. White contestants give indirect statements about the incident with Chris Harrison or extending “grace” to him as former Bachelor Sean Lowe did. They state that they are against his actions in Instagram stories that disappear after 24 hours; too afraid to ruin their carefully curated feeds. 

The actions of these contestants enable the actions of their fans. The majority of the fanbase is refusing to acknowledge the racism that exists within Bachelor Nation. A spin-off subreddit had to be created solely for intersectional discussion of Bachelor Nation because Black users were being criticized for explaining why certain things were racist in the original forum.

ABC/Craig Sjodin

Kirkconnell’s Instagram consistently gained followers since the interview aired about her photos. Her Instagram has been flooded with supportive comments and calls for others to “move on and get over it.” 

It is a narrative within Bachelor Nation that just repeats itself; the show works to protect the white contestants and leaves the contestants of color to fend for themselves.

Tammy Ly, the contestant on season 24 of The Bachelor, tweeted: “It’s crazy how hard this franchise will protect its cookie-cutter contestants but wouldn’t give half that energy to their contestants of color.”

Pieper James, a contestant on the current season, tweeted: “Black women in this franchise must always be hyper-aware of our “grace” because no one is extending it to us.”

A look into the Instagram followings of the current season of contestants shows that the white contestants have more followers than the contestants of color. A contestant that got eliminated in 10th place has more followers than three women who made it into the top four contestants. At this stage in the show, viewers know more about Bri Springs, Michelle Young, and Serena Pitt, three women of color, and yet they still have fewer followers than a woman who placed 10th.

These fans do not want to see the issues that their go-to drink wine and relax show actually has. How can any change be made without seeing the issues at hand? 

Chris Harrison has currently “stepped away” from his role within the franchise; whatever that means. Even if he gets permanently removed from his role as the host of the show, the problems within Bachelor Nation will not go away. When the fans of the show itself are the problem, where do we go from there?