Updated: Hours after Rachel Lindsay's story was published by New York Magazine's Vulture, Lindsay posted a statement on Instagram taking issue with the cover line that was used for the print edition, “Oops, I Blew Up the Bachelor," calling it "disappointing and disrespectful." New York Magazine issued an apology in response.
Rachel Lindsay has noted the distinction between Bachelor Nation -- the diehard fans of ABC's long-running "Bachelor" franchise and its spinoff series "The Bachelorette" and "Bachelor in Paradise" -- and what she calls "Bachelor Klan." The latter group, according to Lindsay, is a "hateful, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic" division of the larger Bachelor Nation that Lindsay lived in during her time as a contestant on "The Bachelor" and as the first-ever Black lead on "The Bachelorette."
“There is a Bachelor Nation, and there is a Bachelor Klan. Bachelor Klan is afraid of change. They are afraid to be uncomfortable. They are afraid when they get called out," Lindsay said in a New York Magazine cover story op-ed, as told to writer Allison P. Davis, which was published online Monday by New York Magazine's Vulture.
The piece revealed multiple key moments that led Lindsay to decide to cut ties with the franchise. Lindsay said the "Bachelor" fandom "always had a complicated relationship" with her, but that it "really started to turn against me" after her February interview with now-ousted Chris Harrison, who served as "Bachelor" host for almost two decades. The conversation focused on Matt James’ then-airing season of “The Bachelor," with Harrison appearing to defend contestant Rachael Kirkconnell while Lindsay inquired about photos showing Kirkconnell's past participation in an Antebellum plantation-themed costume party.
"The franchise has spent 19 years cultivating a toxic audience. They have constantly given it a product it wants: a midwestern/southern white, blonde, light-eyed Christian. Not all viewers are like that," Lindsay told Vulture. "My 'Higher Learning' co-host and I have divided it — there is a Bachelor Nation, and there is a Bachelor Klan. 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.”
Representatives for ABC and “Bachelor” studio Warner Horizon Television declined TheWrap's request for comment on Lindsay's story Monday.
After first "stepping aside" from his hosting duties in February, Harrison permanently exited “The Bachelor” franchise earlier this month, following a controversy over his handling of racial issues that began during his aforementioned interview with Lindsay.
"He wasn’t defending Rachael, he repeated over and over during the 15-minute segment in which he essentially did just that. If I had gone to that party, I asked him, what would I represent? He told me that 50 million people had attended a party like this," Lindsay told Vulture. "I maintained that attending such a party was not a good look, to which he responded, 'Is it not a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021?' As if things couldn’t have been considered racist in 2018. He called for sympathy for 'this poor girl, Rachael.' He said all this with a passion I had never seen him assert. And neither, I think, had America. We had only seen Chris Harrison perform as a host; this was like catching him with a hot mic."
Among the revelations in Lindsay's Vulture story (which you can read here) about her time as part of the ABC reality dating franchise were moments that she believes were cut from Nick Viall's season of "The Bachelor," her debut in Bachelor Nation, in order to shape her into the first Black "Bachelorette." One was a "staged" scene that producers set up where Vanessa Grimaldi, who would go on to become Nick's winner, came to Lindsay and accused her of bullying her and excluding her inside the mansion.
"Immediately, I felt my Blackness was on display. I knew the audience was going to look at me as an angry Black female," Lindsay told Vulture. "In true lawyer fashion, I said, 'That’s an extreme word. I’m going to need specific examples of how I bullied you.' She cited things like how I didn’t look her in the eye during a conversation. I laughed. 'That’s not bullying,' I said. 'That just means I’m probably not f---ing with you.' She kept going. 'You’ve ostracized me in the house.' (I thought, No, you did that to yourself.) I never raised my voice because I was aware of what was going on. When she started getting emotional, I knew, This is going to be bad. She’s crying; I’m not. I’m going to look cold. We did not come to any type of agreement. (I am happy to say that, in real life, we put our differences aside and have a great and supportive relationship.)"
Lindsay continued: "When it was over, I stormed out — and of course the producers said, 'Let’s talk about that. Why would you not show emotion?' I lost it in the interview. I was bawling. I tried to explain, 'You do not understand what it is to be a Black woman in this house full of white folks and for a white woman to cry in your face and call you a bully.' Did she call any of the other women a bully? No, she picked me. One, because she knew I was a threat — Nick liked me the second most. Two, I felt she was projecting an unconscious bias onto me. I said, 'I hope y’all show this in its entirety.' An executive producer pulled me to the side and said, 'This will never air.'"
Lindsay said there were other moments when the producers "protected" her, including a time where she "had two mixed drinks" and was "out-of-my-mind wasted."
"Astrid was holding my hair back in the bathroom. (I drunkenly told her, 'You are my only real friend.') They could have brought cameras in there. They didn’t," Linsday said. "I sat in the ceremony that day as Nick gave out roses, my head resting on Astrid’s shoulder. My hair was disheveled. I wasn’t always like that, but all it takes is one mess-up. They could have taken those clips and depicted me as a wild Jezebel. They didn’t because I would never come out on top."
Lindsay concluded her Vulture story by saying she is "no longer making myself available to 'The Bachelor' universe (though any contestant, past, future, or present, who needs my advice can call me)."
"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," she said. "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. 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. 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 …"
Lindsay's "if they paid me eight figures" is a reference to the reported settlement that Harrison received for leaving "The Bachelor" franchise, with the stipulation that he would not discuss his time on the shows.