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"Bachelor" Wellness Check: 3 Potential Host Replacements for Chris Harrison
An Etsy candle, the case of the hidden Tayshia, and three pretty good ideas
Two years ago I gave my Catholic friend a gift not only tainted by sacrilege, but also now by cancellation. It was one of those religious-type votive candles with the image of Chris Harrison with prayer hands emblazoned on the front — the patron saint of Bachelor Nation.
When Chris was first excused after that terrible, no-good interview with queen Rachel Lindsey early this year, I joked we couldn't burn the candle in effigy thus paying homage to Chris himself! The candle would have to be thrown out or left to collect waxy dust like a sad dollar store candle sitting atop a half-bath toilet.
It’s not like I saw Chris Harrison’s departure from The Bachelor franchise as a surprise. It was just a matter of time before he was excused or he excused himself for any number of reasons. And in recent years, it seems like the franchise knew that too and was testing out other sorts of arrangements and hosting possibilities.
There was Wells as the bartender in Paradise and JoJo when Chris dropped his kid off at Baylor. Emmanuel Acho was brought in for that strange After the Final Rose post Matt’s season and did a great job filling in because of his experience talking to white people about race, and it seemed like Matt could be more open with him. Plus he carried on the Bachelor long tradition of too-tight suits. God bless Acho for taking it on, for there has been no darker time in Bachelor history.
While it seems like the last season of The Bachelor and its aftermath will ultimately bring about some change in Bachelor Nation, it also demonstrated how The Bachelor was not designed to be a cog in the wheel of a systemic racial reckoning, although it could and should be a reflection of change.
It is The Bachelor. It is a very dumb show about finding love maybe, but finding a very specific type of fame definitely.
This season of The Bachelorette currently airing with Katie as its lead is weird. Katie is kind of a weirdo, and sure I love a weirdo, but they can hardly flash to Kaitlyn and Tayshia because for one, the show doesn’t know exactly what to do with them. And two, Tayshia is IMO the hottest Bachelorette by any standard and it’s not fair for anyone to have to stand next to her on camera. Instead, they’re making her truly hide behind curtains and alcoves like some Scooby-Doo caper.
I do like the friend/confidante/We’ve Been There vibe of Tayshia and Kaitlyn. I also like women being the host–mentors for Katie. I was not there for the Daddy Chris thing. Chris was a true pro in terms of actual hosting ability, but he also seemed to have been feeling himself the last few seasons as his role shifted toward more of a therapist and relationship guru. The host title was also getting stretched pretty thin — do we need someone to announce, “this is the final rose tonight?”
I get the impression that Chris began to think that hewasThe Bachelor. And in many ways, he’s the only through tie throughout the franchise’s 20-year history. But Chris Harrison does not The Bachelor make, and having new, fresh faces step in over the last several months has shown that. Although Kaitlyn and Tayshia may not be exactly who we’re looking for, I also haven’t missed Chris Harrison the person, host, and 49-year-old white guy.
So here’s a few suggestions for Chris Harrison’s replacement as the host of The Bachelor.
1. Michael Strahan
My number one choice for Bachelor host is Michael Strahan. A former NFL player and current ABC on-camera persona, he could be an easy replacement for Chris Harrison. He’s already a part of the ABC family and has all the credentials — tons of hosting experience on Good Morning America and a stint with Kelly Ripa on Live!, plus a few other game show gigs. Strahan also happens to be a Black man, a perspective the show could desperately use.
What draws me to Strahan as a potential Chris replacement is that he really brings the cheese factor. This guy is goofy as hell. Hardly an ounce of satire, that earnestness is an important quality for the Bachelor universe and its continued survival. Everyone from the host on down has to sell “it” — it being (I guess??) that people really can find love on this godforsaken show.
2. JoJo Fletcher
JoJo is a former Bachelorette lead from 2016 where she ended up with Jordan Rodgers and they’re still together. JoJo and Jordan like being famous, and I love that for them. Plus, they’re really good at it. Least importantly, but also most importantly, JoJo is also, like, really easy to look at.
JoJo and Jordan are starting to grow their on-camera hosting resumes as a package deal, but I could take or leave Jordan Rodgers. Unless every time he comes on air he drops Easter eggs about what’s going on with his estranged brother Aaron Rodgers and fiance Shailene Woodley.
JoJo stepped in for Chris for a couple episodes during last year’s Clare/Tayshia season of The Bachelorette and she was completely serviceable in the role—and the job itself doesn’t ask for much more than that. Most importantly, JoJo can speak to her experience on the show in the same rose-colored glasses we all put on when we tune in on Monday nights.
3. Rotating Hosts with Former Contestants and Leads
This Covid season of Top Chef has brought in several former contestants and winners to act as rotating mentors and judges throughout the entire season. I’ve loved it because not only are they qualified, but they also know what the competing chefs are going through. And in our world of scrollable carousels of photos, I’ve grown accustomed to variety.
The Bachelor could do something similar by bringing in four or five former leads or notable contestants like Ashley Iaconetti to act in that mentor role that was getting a little sweaty to watch between Chris and the leads.
So many former leads and contestants have grown in their ability to talk on the fly on their many, many respective podcasts, not to mention TikToks and influencer Instagram accounts. There, they’ve mastered Hosting 101: the art of the transition: “I’m so tired from ignoring Covid protocols the last 16 months, my eyes need a rest . . . in my Quay sunglasses. Wearing these, I can look hot and fall asleep mid-conversation without anyone noticing.”
Adding an additional exit strategy for contestants could be yet another wrinkle in the eternal “here for the right reasons” conversation. Are they there for love, influencer fame, to be the next Bachelor, or to be the next Bachelor mentor–host? Selfie-facing cameras may not be the same as reality TV cameras and a boom mic, but the enormous ecosystem of Bachelor-adjacents could serve the show (and its hosting budget) well.
This brings us to the obvious questions: Does the show even need a host at all? Twenty years in with a rotating cast in more of a mentorship role, we might very well find that it doesn’t. But we should hire Michael anyway.