'The Bachelorette' alum Rachel Lindsay: There's a "Bachelor Klan" and I'm tired of the "toxic fandom," I'm done with the franchise
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 06/22/2021
The Bachelorette alum Rachel Lindsay believes there is a "Bachelor Klan" and says she is tired of defending herself from "toxic fandom" and will no longer associate herself with the franchise.
Rachel penned an intimate yet fiery op-ed for New York Magazine and opened up about feeling "exploited," harassed, and repeatedly disappointed ever since appearing on Nick Viall's season of The Bachelor and then starring as The Bachelorette's first-ever Black woman for Season 13.
"I knew my relationship with The Bachelor was over in February 2021, when Chris Harrison, the host and face of the franchise, showed his true self on national television," Rachel wrote in the piece published Monday.
When Rachel interview Chris at the time for Extra, Chris had defendedThe Bachelor star Matt James' girlfriend Rachael Kirkconnell as she faced backlash for her racially-ignorant and racially-insensitive social media posts in the last several years.
Chris called for "grace" and "compassion" for Rachael and had adopted a dismissive attitude towards photos of Rachael that resurfaced from an antebellum-plantation themed "Old South" fraternity party at Georgia College & State University in 2018.
Chris argued with Rachel about there being a different "lens" when looking at the situation in 2021 compared to 2018. He was accused of talking over Rachel and blasted for using terms such as "the woke police" to drive his point home.
Rachel, however, admitted she used to have a good relationship with Chris and considered him her "fairy godfather" when she starred on The Bachelorette in 2017.
"We'd had our highs and lows, but there had been mutual respect until this interview. I felt disrespected," Rachel explained.
"After my interview with Harrison, I thought, This is a charade at this point. If the person who has been representative of your show for nearly two decades thinks this way, what does it say about the rest of it? How does that trickle down into how the series is made? The fish rots at the head, and it was stank after that display."
Chris announced in February he'd be "stepping aside" from his hosting duties with The Bachelor franchise "for a period of time" to educate himself on racism in society in a "profound" and "productive" manner after he made the offensive remarks.
"I listened to an earlier episode of Bachelor Happy Hour, another podcast I co-hosted. I was surprised to hear myself having fun because now I sound as tired as I am. After 100 episodes, I announced my departure from that podcast. I'm exhausted from defending myself against a toxic fandom," Rachel explained.
Rachel recalled her relationship with "the fandom" of the show always being "complicated."
"But it really started to turn against me after that [Chris] interview. The franchise has spent 19 years cultivating a toxic audience," Rachel claimed.
"They have constantly given it a product it wants: a midwestern/southern white, blonde, light-eyed Christian. Not all viewers are like that. My Higher Learning co-host and I have divided it -- there is a Bachelor Nation, and there is a Bachelor Klan."
Rachel continued, "Bachelor Klan is hateful, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic. They are afraid of change. They are afraid to be uncomfortable. They are afraid when they get called out."
Rachel said some fans on social media attempted to "dig up dirt" on her.
"I received death threats and personal attacks. I had to hire people to protect me. I couldn't even pretend to want to be involved anymore. I didn't want to give people a reason to talk about me because everything I was saying was becoming a headline. And so I decided to remove myself from it all," Rachel wrote.
But that doesn't mean she wants anything to do with the franchise going forward, even after Matt starred as the first Black Bachelor earlier this year and some people applauded the show for heading in a direction of change.
"Watching Matt's season felt like reliving my own... They gave us his whiteness," Rachel wrote, explaining that the show did not focus on Matt's non-profit and played up the storyline regarding his absentee Black father.
"I'm no longer making myself available to The Bachelor universe (though any contestant, past, future, or present, who needs my advice can call me)," Rachel revealed.
"To the franchise, I am no longer a figurehead. I am no longer a spot-filler. I am no longer the face of what is diverse. The goal for me was always to be that person until I could step away because the change had happened, and I could sit back and enjoy it."
Rachel, however, apparently doesn't feel encouraged or satisfied.
"That hasn't come to pass, exactly, but I'll cautiously sit back and watch the upcoming season with Michelle Young -- the next Black Bachelorette -- to uplift and support her," Rachel explained.
"I used to always say, 'If you want me to shut up, bring in another Black lead.' Now, I wouldn't come back and talk about something if they paid me."
"Well, maybe if they paid me eight figures," she added, referring to how Deadline had originally reported was Chris' payout for leaving The Bachelor franchise was a mid-range, eight-figure settlement.
The Bachelorette is currently airing its seventeenth season starring Katie Thurston, who wrote on Twitter in March that she fully supported Rachel in her controversy with Chris.