Earlier this year, longtime host of The Bachelor franchise Chris Harrison announced he was stepping aside “for a period of time” in response to the backlash to his defense of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racist behavior. With Bachelor in Paradise set to air this summer, Variety reports Harrison will be replaced by a rotating roster of celebrity comedians, led off by a seemingly unlikely candidate: Saturday Night Live and Just Shoot Me alumnus David Spade.
As Page Six points out, however, Spade has built a following among Bachelor fans with his Instagram commentary about the reality dating show. He also spoke about it on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, showing off his fandom for the franchise.
Spade actually has some experience with TV hosting. In 2019-2020, he hosted a late night show called Lights Out with David Spade following The Daily Show. He also guest hosted Jimmy Kimmel Live! while Kimmel was on vacation.
While it’s unclear whether Harrison will return to host the show, Page Six claims Spade’s hiring is part of an effort by producers to “put some fun in the show. They think it’s become too serious.”
Controversy swirled around Kirkconnell in February when photos surfaced of her attending an antebellum-themed fraternity party in 2018. She was also accused of liking photos containing the Confederate flag. Despite the backlash, Kirkconnell somehow ended up winning the season with Matt James, the first-ever Black lead of the dating series.
During an interview on Extra with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, Harrison took a strong stance against cancel culture in defense of Kirkconnell. “Is it [not] a good look in 2018? Or, is it not a good look in 2021?” he said. “Because there’s a big difference.”
After being criticized for his comments, Harrison posted a statement on Instagram in which he admitted to “wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism” and apologized to Lindsay for “not listening to her better on a topic she has a first-hand understanding of.”