As production on season 17 of The Bachelorette prepares to wrap up, Us Weekly’s “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast is diving deeper into Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe’s roles in light of Chris Harrison’s absence from Katie Thurston’s journey to find love.
“Their role is more experienced girlfriends to Katie and experienced contestants to the guys,” a source exclusively told Us, noting that the former Bachelorettes were “brought in at the last moment” after ABC opted not to have Harrison, 49, host.
While a second source told Us that the switch-up was among “a lot of very last-minute changes” ahead of Thurston’s season — adding that Adams, 30, and Bristowe, 35, aren’t “replacing” Harrison — the first insider praised their abilities.
“They act professional, they’re on time,” the insider said. “They are helping the franchise as much as they can in this funky situation.”
The network announced in March that the longtime host wasn’t going to be in New Mexico for Thurston’s season after Harrison came under fire for how he addressed Bachelor season 25 winner Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racially insensitive actions.
“We support Chris in the work that he is committed to doing. In his absence, former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe will support the new Bachelorette through next season,” ABC said in a statement to Us after Harrison sat out of Matt James’ After the Final Rose last month. “As we continue the dialogue around achieving greater equity and inclusion within The Bachelor franchise, we are dedicated to improving the BIPOC representation of our crew, including among the executive producer ranks. These are important steps in effecting fundamental change so that our franchise is a celebration of love that is reflective of our world.”
According to Adams, Harrison offered support for the ladies on their new gig. “What a wild announcement to be made within the last 24 hours,” she said via Instagram Stories. “I’m just so, so, so happy and I’m so happy that you guys are happy. … The fact that I talked to Chris the other day and he was so kind and congratulated me for being a part of the next season meant the absolute world.”
Harrison, for his part, hired high-power attorney Bryan J. Freedman — the same lawyer Gabrielle Union called on after she was let go from America’s Got Talent — in March. According to the sources, the crew expects and hopes Harrison will be back in the future, but they don’t know anything for sure.
Season 17 of The Bachelorette premieres on ABC Monday, June 7, at 8 p.m. ET.
With reporting by Diana Cooper