Earlier this week, former Bachelorette suitor Mike Johnson sat down for a chat with Rachel Lindsay on ExtraTV. Johnson, who has been a fan-favorite since stepping out of the limo to meet Hannah Brown, spoke to Lindsay about his feelings on what’s going on in Bachelor Nation. During his conversation, he said that he feels it’s time for Harrison to be “removed” from the franchise.
“Let me speak direct — 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,” Johnson said.
Chris Harrison came under fire after an interview with Lindsay in which he commented on the controversy surrounding photos of Kirkconnell at an “Old South” ball in 2018. He has since issued an apology, and he made the decision to step away from the Bachelor franchise for the time being, though it is unclear if or when he will return to his hosting duties.
Here’s what you need to know:
Mike Johnson Doesn’t Believe That Chris Harrison Should Be ‘Canceled’
“A lot has gone down in Bachelor Nation in the last week, and they did not address any of it at the top of the show. Are you surprised by that?” Lindsay asked Johnson during the interview, referring to the controversies surrounding Kirkconnell and Harrison.
Johnson said he thought the show wanted “to have the right words, and they just still haven’t come to what those words are just yet” but he added he thinks “it has to be addressed completely, fully. … We don’t just want an apology. We want to see action taken forth and we want to know that this will not continue to happen and/or ever happen again.”
Although Johnson said he does believe that “it’s time” for a new Bachelor franchise host to take the helm, he doesn’t think critics should “cancel” Harrison.
“I think that when we cancel people, it’s almost too easy. I feel that those individuals that have done something wrong need to say it with their chest, in other regards, as well, once they’ve been educated and learned in a public forum in comparison to riding the waves with millions of dollars and just never to be heard from again. … The beautiful thing about privilege is that you have people that will listen to you, and so that’s why I don’t want to cancel the individual, I want the individual to speak up, speak to their audience, and curb their mindset,” he told Lindsay.
Johnson also commended the ladies on Matt James’ season who came together to speak out against racism.
“I have to commend the ladies that are currently on this show still who spoke out. … But for them to do that shows that it’s more important than anything else. And then they did it in such a way that you’re not going to get mad at everybody, you know, and so I was really like, ‘Good move, ladies, good move, ladies.’ I was really, really happy for them,” Johnson said.
ABC Execs Haven’t Spoken Out on the Controversy Surrounding Harrison
Bachelor Nation and its fans have been outspoken about the need for change within the franchise. In June 2020, the Bachelor Diversity Campaign launched on social media as “a campaign for anti-racism in the Bachelor franchise,” highlighting that in 40 seasons over 18 years there has only been one Black lead. The same month, a former Bachelor casting producer wrote an open letter criticizing the franchise’s lack of casting diversity.
In early February, “Twenty-five BIPOC contestants from Matt James’ season of The Bachelor wrote an open letter condemning the past racist actions” of Kirkconnell, People wrote.
Despite calls to action aimed at those directly related to the ABC franchise, ABC executives have still not spoken out.
Reality Steve recently pointed out that executive Robert Mills hasn’t said anything about what’s going on within the franchise. He believes that may need to happen in order for the franchise to move forward.
“Mills is the only show mouthpiece left, and people want answers. He’s gonna have to be the guy to not only answer for what the plan is formatically [sic] going forward, but also what they are doing to basically turn the whole show around to where everyone doesn’t think it’s tone deaf, racist, and doesn’t minimize contestants that are BIPOC,” Reality Steve wrote.