Not here for it. Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, who worked as a producer on The Bachelor from 2002 to 2004, was appalled by the controversy surrounding Chris Harrison — and couldn’t be more thrilled that he’s taking a break from his hosting duties.
“I think it’s such a move in the right direction,” the UnReal creator, 43, told Us Weekly exclusively, calling out Harrison’s conversation with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay. “Watching Chris’ interview on Extra, I was like, ‘This is a master class in oppression, and it feels so dated.’ Like, it feels like such a dinosaur. Him cutting her off and talking over her, and saying, like, ‘Well I don’t know which group is right in this case,’ and it’s, like, well obviously the group that’s oppressed probably knows more about it than you do.”
She added, “He just seems so behind the times and I think that it’s such an appropriate decision to just update the franchise. Take a look at the executive producer ranks, take a look at the host, like, bring it into 2021.”
“I commend them for taking a big step in the right direction,” the writer told Us. “It just feels more exciting and more relevant.”
Harrison came under fire in February after defending contestant Rachael Kirkconnell‘s past racially charged Instagram posts. During an Extra interview, he explained the photos Kirkconnell, 24, posted in 2018 from a plantation-themed party.
“I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago, that’s it,” he said at the time. “My guess? These girls got dressed up and went to a party and had a great time, they were 18 years old. Now, does that make it OK? I don’t know, Rachel, you tell me. Where is this lens we’re holding up and was that lens available and were we all looking through it in 2018? I don’t know.”
When the former Bachelorette, 35, responded that it was “not a good look” no matter what, the Perfect Letter author responded, “Is it [not] a good look in 2018 or is it not a good look in 2021? … I’m not defending Rachael, I just know that 50 million people did that in 2018.”
Harrison later apologized for his comments and chose to step back from his role as host for Bachelor Nation. Emmanuel Acho stepped in to host the After the Final Rose special following Matt James‘ finale, during which James, 29, revealed he broke up with Kirkconnell following the scandal.
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“I felt like Chris sort of claiming that he didn’t know if a picture at a plantation would’ve been a good look in 2018 — he’s like, ‘How would she have known? The lens in 2020 didn’t exist yet.’ — really touched a nerve for me because UnREAL very much served this story line in 2016 and the genre was very much put on notice by that season within the entertainment community,” Shapiro told Us. “It was definitely talked about. Like, UnREAL had a Black male lead before the other show had [one] … and so I absolutely know he was aware of that and I just call complete and utter bulls–t on that being his defensive.”
With reporting by Diana Cooper