7:00pm PT by Jackie Strause
'Bachelor' Reunion: Chris Harrison Says "Line Has Been Crossed" With Social Media Hate Against Women
The Bachelor: Women Tell All ended on a serious note Monday night when host Chris Harrison invited former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay to the reunion show's set to discuss the social media hate that has been aimed at the female contestants of the ABC franchise in recent years.
Lindsay — who, in 2017, became the long-running reality series' first and only black lead of both the female and male cycles — joined Harrison in the hot seat in hopes of educating the franchise's viewers, who are collectively called Bachelor Nation, on the online harassment and hate that the current crop of women from Peter Weber's season of The Bachelor have received.
"It's so unfortunate because people have become so comfortable being mean, and meaner than ever, on social media," Lindsay explained after Harrison introduced the segment by saying that a line has been crossed. "If we're ever going to fix this problem, we have to acknowledge the problem."
She continued, "When I was asked to be the Bachelorette, I knew it would be hard. I knew I would get even more hate and criticism. But I wanted to pave a way for women who look like me who hadn't been represented in this role on this show. But sometimes I feel like my efforts are in vain because it seems to be getting so much worse. I feel like you guys see us talk about the hate we receive, but you have no idea what it actually is."
Lindsay then read several graphic and explicit messages that Weber's women have received on social media. She teared up while reading the hateful notes, which included "Kill yourself," "Of course you pull the black card ... Stop being a jealous bitch" and "No one cares about a half [expletive] half mexican bitches opinion" [sic].
"I'm shaking as I'm reading this because it's shocking, it's uncomfortable," said Lindsay. "I know how uncomfortable it is for you to see. Just imagine how uncomfortable it is to get this in your comments and your DMs every day, every week, every month. And that's just a tip of the iceberg."
Harrison addressed the growing social media problem by clarifying that these examples are not criticism — they are hate. When he polled the contestants, 100 percent of the women said they had experienced similar messages, including death threats. "When you're bullied for the way that you were born or the color of your skin, that's something that's not a choice and that's something that you can't change," said Lindsay, as several of the nonwhite contestants shared their personal horror stories.
After the reunion, contestant Sydney Hightower told The Hollywood Reporter that the segment came about after she reached out to Lindsay to talk about the racially charged hate she had received after appearing on the show.
"My producers knew that it had gotten extremely bad," Hightower told THR. "And it was mostly targeted toward my race and toward the color of my skin. I look up to Rachel, because she was the first African American Bachelorette. I can only imagine the things that she went through and the hate that she had to go through. So, it was easy for us to connect on that level, and for her to kind of be a rock for me to lean on and to get advice from."
Hightower also called the on-air discussion a pivotal moment for the franchise: "Until someone like me, who’s been through these things says something about it, you don't understand it. You can say, 'Don't bully, don't bully.' But when there are messages and you see the women up there and you see the color of our skin and why we're being attacked, that's when it becomes, 'OK, this is real.' What I want to get out of this is just for people to see that, and for people to see that there has to be some justice for the people that do go through this."
The very end of the reunion episode then teased one of the "most unexpected and complicated endings we have ever seen," said Harrison, who added that Weber's two-night live finale is "so unexpected, so unprecedented, there is not a single person who knows how Peter's journey will end. Not even Peter."
All season long, Weber has promised a spoiler-free and wild ending, which has led to speculation that the star's story has continued to play out after the cameras stopped rolling. On Monday and Tuesday, Weber will appear live to give viewers an update on his relationship status in the weeks since filming has wrapped.
During the teaser for the finale, Weber says his heart is split between his two final women, Hannah Ann Sluss and Madison Prewett. On the last episode, Prewett told Weber that she would have a difficult time pursuing their relationship if he had been intimate with his other finalists. After telling Prewett that he had, the contestant debated leaving but, as Monday's footage revealed, ended up staying. The footage for the finale, however, sees Weber crying during an apology to one woman and being blindsided with new information. His mother, in tears, begs him to not let "her" go and bring her home.
"I one hundred percent respect Madi’s decision," Weber had told THR of Prewett's sex ultimatum. "It’s a beautiful thing that someone wants to give that kind of gift, in my opinion, to someone else. Obviously, I have a different lifestyle and we’re different in that regard, and there’s no secret about that and that’s OK. And I think it has the opportunity to make for a beautiful story of two different people coming together and having different viewpoints. And they say opposites attract, or whatnot. But I think if you can find a compromise, it can be a great relationship."
Women Tell All also aired the same day that ABC announced that the star of the upcoming Bachelorette season will be franchise alum Clare Crawley. Though the franchise has been criticized for its majority white leads, Crawley does course-correct a recent criticism that the stars and contestants have been too young. At 38, Crawley will be the oldest Bachelorette star. "It's more years under my belt; more learning what I want, what I don't want and what I won't settle for," she said during her reveal Monday morning.
The Bachelor's two-night live finale airs Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Tiffany Taylor contributed to this story.