Everything You Need To Know About The Drama In Bachelor Nation

Season after season, The Bachelor has been entertaining reality television fans with its A-plus drama, its wild cast of contestants, and its dynamic leading man. Additionally, The Bachelorette and the subsequent franchise spin-offs have given fans some amazing love stories to root for, but the rose-colored glasses are slipping off.

The 25th season of The Bachelor has documented Matt James' search for love. As the franchise's first Black bachelor, Matt's season was historic before it began. But as the season started and Bachelor Nation began to meet the women who would compete for Matt's heart, realities about past racist behavior came out of the woodwork, mostly about the season's frontrunner, Rachael Kirkconnell. 

Since the revelations about Rachael's past actions came into the open air, the franchise has seen a whirlwind of drama. Chris Harrison, the show's storied host, came under fire for his remarks supporting Rachael, ultimately leading to his temporary removal. Past contestants, former leads, and buried stories about racism within the franchise came to light. To put it in the words of the host, it's the most dramatic season of The Bachelor yet. So here's everything you need to know about the drama in Bachelor Nation.

Chris Harrison defended this contestant on Matt James' season of The Bachelor

The drama within Bachelor Nation started when information about Matt James' frontrunner, Rachael Kirkconnell, came into the spotlight. As noted by E! News, pictures of Rachael attending an Old South/Antebellum plantation-themed party while in college started circulating on social media, and were followed by allegations of racist social media activity and accusations of bullying on Rachel's part. 

The rumors about Rachael were circulating from the start of Matt's season, but gained traction over time. And when Chris Harrison sat down with Rachel Lindsay — the first Black bachelorette — his efforts to defend Rachael didn't sit well. Chris argued that Rachael was most likely an innocent 18-year-old college student who naively went to a party; Rachel responded, saying that no matter the circumstances, it wasn't excusable. "Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018? Or, is it not a good look in 2021?" Chris responded. "Because there's a big difference." There is?

Things went downhill from there, as Chris used phrases like "the woke police," and "this poor girl Rachael" to defend the contestant's past actions. Hang tight, things get worse.

The Bachelor's Rachael Kirkconnell apologized for her past racist actions

Rachael Kirkconnell finally broke her silence and addressed the rumors and allegations against her on social media. Despite the fact that the rumors about her past behavior had been circulating for some time, Rachael had yet to address them. In the wake of Chris Harrison's interview, however, she took to Instagram to share her thoughts. "At one point, I didn't recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn't excuse them," she wrote. "My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not ok or acceptable in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist." 

People quickly took to Rachael's comment section to express both their support and their concern about her past behavior, with many fans issuing words of forgiveness. But the response prompted Rachael to amend the caption, writing "my statement and apology is for the people of color that I have offended, if you do not identify as BIPOC then it is not your apology to accept." 

This was the first time Rachael addressed the accusations, but it would not be the last. 

Contestants on The Bachelor released a joint statement about racism within the franchise

In the wake of Chris Harrison's controversial remarks and Rachael Kirkconnell's post on social media, the women who competed on Matt James' historic season of The Bachelor took to their own social media pages with a shared statement. As noted by Vulture, 36 out of the 27 women who competed on the show posted the message on their Instagram accounts, the exception being Amber Andrews, who was eliminated during the first week of competition. "We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism," the statement read. "Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited and tokenized." 

The statement was shared on Instagram stories and permanent pages, and concluded with a message for Rachel Lindsay, who spearheaded many of the difficult conversations about race both in the past and during Matt's season. "Just because [Rachel Lindsay] is speaking the loudest, doesn't mean she is alone," the post read.

Past racial issues within The Bachelor franchise reemerged

Rachael Kirkconnell's past behavior, Chris Harrison's interview, and The Bachelor franchise's historical lack of diversity brought stories about racist sentiments and actions on the part of Bachelor figures to the forefront. For example, former Bachelorette Hannah Brown came back into conversation due to her past racist behavior; she said a racial slur during an Instagram Live back in 2020. According to Variety, Hannah stayed silent for about two weeks before making an official apology, telling her followers that she vowed to "be better." 

But the racist past of The Bachelor franchise goes way back. According to NPR, two Black men who would have been contestants on the show filed a discrimination lawsuit against the franchise, though their efforts were largely unsuccessful. Rachel Lindsay became the first Black bachelorette five years after the lawsuit, but according to Professor Brandy Monk-Payton, a lot of the damage had already been done. "[The show] goes to great lengths to promote itself as being more inclusive and equitable," Monk-Payton, who wrote an in-depth analysis of the franchise, told NPR. "But it does not fundamentally commit to a kind of long-standing change in front of and behind the camera."

Chris Harrison apologized for his remarks, and temporarily resigned from The Bachelor

The fallout from Chris Harrison's interview with Rachel Lindsay wasn't cute. After a lot of criticism, Chris announced that he'd be "stepping aside" from the franchise "for a period of time." In a lengthy post on Instagram, Chris wrote that he didn't want Matt James' barrier-breaking season of The Bachelor to be "overshadowed" by what he'd said while being interviewed by Rachel. "By excusing historical racism, I defended it," he wrote. "I invoked the term 'woke police,' which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uniformed I was." 

As of publication, it remains unclear as to how long Chris will be away from the show, or who's in any kind of running to permanently replace him. While a host for After the Final Rose has been announced, time will tell if Chris returns to the franchise. "From here I can only try to evolve," his statement concluded. "I hope I will again live up to the expectations you all rightfully have for me and the expectations I have for myself."

Rachel Lindsay, the first Black bachelorette, shared her thoughts on The Bachelor drama

The person who was on the front lines of Chris Harrison's interview was Rachel Lindsay, The Bachelor franchise's first Black bachelorette. And during the awkward exchange, Rachel could barely get a word in. 

Then, after the interview and Chris's temporary departure from the show, Rachel expanded on what the situation was like during her podcast, Higher Learning. As noted by Us Weekly, Rachel said that Chris originally came to the interview to talk about the most recent episode (at the time) of The Bachelor, but things quickly changed course. "I asked a question [because] something he said made me poke a little harder. So, I phrased the question, 'What are your thoughts about the allegations against Rachael?'" And then he went off," Rachel explained. 

Additionally, Rachel addressed some of the criticism she received for not pushing back on Chris hard enough during the interview. "He talked over me and at me, during that conversation," she continued. "He never gave me room to talk. And he never gave me room to share my perspective. He wasn't trying to hear it. He was just trying to be heard."

Past Bachelor contestants have been called out for their racist behavior, including this fan favorite

After Chris Harrison's interview, Rachel Kirkconnell's statement, and renewed reports of past racist behavior on the part of Bachelor contestants, more and more information began to come to light. Still, it came as a pretty big shock when Demi Burnett, a former contestant on The Bachelor and a Bachelor in Paradise favorite, was called out for wearing a jacket with the Confederate flag on it. 

According to People, a photo of Demi in the jacket — a Yeezy creation — resurfaced. Demi took to social media to address the photo. "The jacket was given to me by my ex — his dad, actually, gave it to me — and I had no idea like the weight that the Confederate flag held whenever I was wearing it," she said in a Twitter video. "And I just wore it for that one night, it was a Yeezy jacket... I didn't even like pay attention to that. That's ignorance. That's ignorant of me not to pay attention to the Confederate flag." 

Demi concluded by saying that she hoped people wouldn't "look up" to her, but do better than her.

Matt James broke his silence about racism within The Bachelor franchise

The perspective that was notably absent in the immediate aftermath of Rachael Kirkconnell's statement and Chris Harrison's interview was that of Matt James, the first Black bachelor. So much of the racially-charged drama was circulating during his season, so it didn't come as a surprise that he took his time before making a statement. 

Matt took to Instagram on February 22, 2021, saying that the previous weeks had been "some of the most challenging" in his life. "The reality is that I'm learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking," Matt wrote. He added that "Chris's failure" to understand the troubling past of the Antebellum South as well as Rachael's presence in the "incredibly disappointing photos" at the 2018 party, were "troubling and painful." 

Matt concluded by highlighting the "emotional labor" that Rachel Lindsay performed by explaining the racist history to Chris (and Bachelor Nation). In return, she came to Matt's side in support. "I think a lot of people wanted to hear from Matt, and they did," she said, according to People. "I think he hit every single point within his statement."

Former contestants, including two men of color, opened up about The Bachelor drama

As the aftermath of Chris Harrison's interview got more complicated, former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants of color came forward with their thoughts on his words, the franchise, and the future of the show. Mike Johnson, a fan favorite from Hannah Brown's season, told Rachel Lindsay in an interview for Extra that he thought it was time for Chris to leave. "I don't want to cancel the individual, I want the individual to speak up, speak to their audience, and curb their mindset," Mike shared. "Should the individual be removed from The Bachelor franchise? I think it's time for that. Should that individual be removed completely? No, because I think that individual has such a beautiful platform, it's such a beautiful privilege that we have to use it for good."  

Former contestant Ivan Hall from Tayshia Adam's season said that he wouldn't feel comfortable returning to the franchise if Chris was there as host. "[I'm] not saying he can't make a recovery, can't learn from all of this," Ivan explained, as noted by People. "But, you know... it would just be too soon, really."

The second bachelorette of color, Tayshia Adams, broke her silence about the drama

In the entire history of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, there's only been one Black bachelor and two Black bachelorettes. Before Rachel Lindsay, no Black person had ever been the lead on either show, and Tayshia Adams followed in her footsteps three years after her season aired. 

In the aftermath of Chris Harrison's departure from the show and Rachael Kirkconnell's statement, Tayshia shared her thoughts on the drama and the ongoings within the franchise. During an episode of the podcast Click Bait with Bachelor Nation, Tayshia said that she thought Chris's decision to step away from the show was "a really good thing." "His words affected a lot of people, you know, myself included," she said, as noted by People. "I think that by him taking ownership, and just not just saying issue an apology and then just going back to work the next day like nothing happened speaks volumes on his behalf." 

While Tayshia shared that Chris's departure from the show was "absolutely" what needed to happen, she did share that she appreciated him "own[ing] up" to his shortcomings.

The Bachelor's Rachael Kirkconnell addressed fans who were defending her

Rachael Kirkconnell posted her first statement addressing her past racist behavior on February 11, 2021; she returned to Instagram five days later to address the people who'd been defending her. In a video, Rachael said that she'd received a number of messages, some asking her what she's done to address and amend her behavior. "There's also people messaging me saying 'You know, you've done nothing wrong, don't listen to people,'" she said during the video. "I think that the first big step in all of this is white people stepping up and taking accountability. Things will never change if we don't all work together in working towards this racial progress and this unity that we want." 

Rachael included in her video statement that she'd be sharing resources, both that she's used and that have been recommended to her, to her followers so they too could educate themselves on the issues that she was ignorant to. As of publication, the video has been viewed over 1.5 million times.

Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay deleted her Instagram due to harassment

So much of the drama and the chaos within Bachelor Nation has, unfortunately, involved Rachel Lindsay. The first Black bachelorette and the person who often calls out the franchise for its lack of diversity, Rachel was and (as of publication) is still in the center of (often mean-spirited) backlash. 

According to Variety, Rachel faced a chorus of criticism after her interview with Chris Harrison went viral, so much so that she deactivated her Instagram. Rachel hosts the podcast Higher Learning alongside Van Lathan, who took to her defense after she left her social media platform. "My co-host on Higher Learning, Rachel Lindsay, disabled her Instagram earlier today," Van revealed. "She did it because that's how much hate she's getting from Bachelor fans, who are spamming her with all kinds of rude, hateful things to say." 

Van carried on, saying that Rachel is "not responsible for Chris Harrison" or what he said to her during their interview. "It's not her job to make excuses or provide cover for somebody who doesn't understand what...triggers people in today's world," he continued. As of publication, Rachel's Instagram is still deactivated.

Emmanuel Acho was named the host of After The Final Rose, replacing Chris Harrison

One of the most anticipated episodes of any season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette is After The Final Rose, the season recap episode and the first sit-down with the lead (and the season's winner, if the couple is still together) since filming. Chris Harrison announced that he wouldn't be returning to the screen for the 2021 episode, leaving a question hanging over Bachelor Nation: who would ABC turn to host? 

On February 27, 2021, Emmanuel Acho announced on Instagram that he'd be hosting the sit-down with Matt James and his top three contestants: Bri Springs, Michelle Young, and the woman at the center of a lot of this drama, Rachael Kirkconnell. Emmanuel Acho is a former professional football player, but he's also known due to his book Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man and his subsequent YouTube channel. As noted by People, Emmanuel and Matt are set to talk about "[the] season, his final decision and where he is now, as well as cover the current events about the franchise," according to a press release.

Former Bachelor contestant Taylor Nolan was also accused of racist behavior

The Bachelor's current and past contestants keep adding fuel to the fire. According to People, former contestant Taylor Nolan's past tweets re-surfaced on February 28, 2021, and the they weren't ok. Many of them were racist against Asian Americans, the Jewish community, and the Indian community, as well as people with body image issues. 

Taylor took to Instagram address the tweets, writing that what she said in the past doesn't "take away from the work" that she does today. "I never deleted those tweets for a reason because they've been a part of my journey," she wrote. She also said that she hoped people would give her the "grace" that was afforded to white Bachelor contestants.  

But her response wasn't met well, and Taylor issued another statement on March 1, 2021, saying that the videos were a "reaction and not an apology." She went on to apologize to the LGBTQIA+ community, survivors of sexual assault, people with mental illness, the Asian community, the Jewish community, the BIPOC community, and those struggling with body shame.

Time will tell how The Bachelor franchise recovers from this dramatic and problematic time in its history.