"I don't know if I want to play into the whole line of thinking that people think I did this to get Chris Harrison's job."
Rachel Lindsay may have found herself in the middle of the current Bachelor Nation fervor about the show's poor handling of race issues over the years, and even still today, but she certainly didn't do it on purpose -- or to score Chris Harrison's job.
Harrison recently announced he would be stepping away from the franchise for an undetermined amount of time following his controversial statements defending, or at least downplaying, the past racism of current front-runner Rachael Kirkconnell.
That he did it during an interview appearance with Rachel Lindsay -- the franchise's first Black lead and a long outspoken critic of its poor relationship with representation and any issue related to color -- was just an unfortunate coincidence for both of them.
In the aftermath of that interview, as well as the revelations about Kirkconnell's attendance at an antebellum South themed formal (among other things), but Harrison and Kirkconnell have apologized and Lindsay has joined a long list of Bachelor Nation alums (and current participants) in condemning their words, actions, and the show's problematic history all at once.
But that doesn't mean the whole thing was some kind of "gotcha" plot by Lindsay to try and replace Harrison as host of the show. "I don't know if I want to play into the whole line of thinking that people think I did this to get Chris Harrison's job," she said in an upcoming episode of the podcast, "Black Girls Texting," as covered by People.
"Yeah, I went to go have an interview with a person to recap last night's episode and I thought, 'You know what? Today's the day I'm going to try to take your job.' How would I even think like that?" asked Lindsay.
"But that's the kind of stuff that people say about me. So for me, I really don't know -- I don't know if that's something that's for me."
On top of that, "It's hard for me to even think about being the host, because in a lot of ways, Bachelor Nation has changed my life in the best way possible," said Lindsay. "But at the same time, it's really toxic. ... And I don't know if I want to subject myself to that."
She also acknowledges the truths that Harrison has by no means stepped down permanently and that Lindsay is a rather polarizing figure for the franchise, as evidenced by her above statement that people think this was all a plot to steal Harrison's job.
"I don't even really think they would offer it," she said of the show's producers.
At the same time, Lindsay isn't even altogether sure the show really needs a host. Sure, Harrison has his moments where he talks to the lead to see where their head is at, but interview segments can accomplish much the same.
Beyond that, he drops in on the contestants to leave envelopes (sometimes), lets the contestants know when things are shifting or what's coming up next and waltzes in to let the lead and the contestants know what's patently obvious at every Rose Ceremony ... "This is the final rose."
Yeah, Chris. We can see that!
"Honestly, I could see them not having [a host] at all," Linsday argued. "Should Chris decide to say, 'I don't want to do this at all,' or, 'I'm going to leave, my time is up,' I could see them not [replacing him]. I mean, pre-quarantine, he was barely in the show, anyway. I think that they could [do] narration, bring in a past contestant."
The latter is exactly what they did during the most recent season of "The Bachelorette" when Harrison stepped away to take his son to college, and then had to re-quarantine for two weeks before rejoining the production. In his absence, Season 12's Bachelorette, JoJo Fletcher, took over his minimal duties.
Another consideration for Lindsay is the freedom that she has right now by not serving as a figurehead and official mouthpiece for the franchise.
"Could I talk like this?" she wondered. "I don't want to be muzzled. That freedom to say how I feel and to demand change and speak out, I couldn't do that the same way if I was the host."
At the same time, she acknowledges that she might not need to as much because she'd be a voice at the table and could demand change. In fact, that's where she says the show really needs to make real changes, not necessarily at the face of the franchise.
"More than having a host replacement, you've got to have somebody in power who is a person of color who gets it, who understands it," she said. "Because as we're seeing time and time again, even with the lead [being Black], you're still not getting it, because we're seeing things happen that shouldn't."
For now, Harrison will not be on hand to host the season finale "After the Final Rose" special. It has not yet been revealed who (if anyone) will replace him in that capacity, or if he will be on hand to emcee the upcoming season of "The Bachelorette."