Fans are already excited for Michelle Young’s season of The Bachelorette (tentatively set for later this year).
We hope that it’s a good one … because one member of Bachelor Nation claims that it will be the last.
Blake Horstmann was a fan favorite, and he’s pulling for Michelle to find love, don’t get it twisted.
But according to him, the entire franchise is about to collapse and its decline can’t be reversed.
This week, Horstmann took to his Instagram Stories to prognosticate about the popular franchise’s future.
“Nothing lasts forever," he acknowledged.
"But also … I think there won’t be another Bachelor season,” Blake, who turns 32 this week, added.
“I think it’ll end after Michelle," Blake speculated, and was the first to admit that this was very much a "hot take."
But he also wanted to take the time to explain his reasoning, and in doing so, said a lot of things we’re all thinking.
Let’s be honest, 2020-21 has not been good to the franchise.
“Whether you think it’s right, wrong, whatever your stance is on the [Chris Harrison scandal]," Blake explained.
He opined: "I think it drove away a lot of loyal fans and viewers."
That seems to be less hot take and more fact. As we will explain momentarily, this was a two-pronged blow.
“They’re really not going to watch the show," Blake suggested.
He predicted that when it returns this summer and fall:
"Ratings are going to plummet.”
There is a lot to be said about that, of course.
Blake is right in that Chris’ scandal – and the scandal that led to it, before he got tangled up in it – was extremely divisive among the fans.
Many people have soured on the franchise as a result.
But it’s a little less cut-and-dried than some might assume. Peel back the layers a bit and you’ll find a complicated situation.
Some fans are so disgusted by the vitriol and racism from other fans that they don’t enjoy the show anymore.
Racism was visible during Rachel Lindsay’s season, in which she was the first Black Bachelorette, but relatively quiet.
Recently, white supremacist elements of the fandom have become emboldened and much more outspoken.
Never was this more apparent than in Season 25 earlier this year, during which Matt James became the first Black Bachelor.
Early on, it was clear that Rachael Kirkconnell was a frontrunner for the franchise’s long-overdue first Black leading man.
Naturally, fans wanted to know more about her … and recoiled at what they found.
As we reported extensively at the time, Rachael’s social media history had enough red flags to open a red flag store.
Some of it was posts that she "liked" featuring notorious hate symbols.
Fans were also concerned about Matt James’ potential future in-laws when their abhorrent politics were revealed.
There was no "smoking gun" of Rachael herself displaying explicit hatred.
Even so, fans had a hard time imagining adding up all of what they saw and heard and not finding a racist.
Concerns rose after her disgusting antebellum party photos were shared alongside reports that she bullied girls in high school for liking Black guys.
Rachael was not immediately able to respond to all of this.
Perhaps that contractual reality was what drove Chris Harrison to defend her.
Though Rachael herself would later ask fans to not defend her indefensible choices, Chris did so in an interview.
That in and of itself was not malicious, of course.
But then, conscious malice is not required for something to be racist.
In fact, the majority of racism that we see comes from people who will insist that they’re "not racist at all."
Chris did more than just ask for "grace" for Rachael, however.
During that same interview, he repeatedly spoke over Rachel Lindsay — rude, but also tone deaf.
He also disparagingly dismissed backlash as a "woke mob," a term that no good person uses unironically.
The backlash was intense, and included statements from people who had appeared on the franchise.
Some contestants of color shared how they had seen this side of Chris themselves, off camera.
As a host, Chris’ job should never involve creating problems for the franchise, but that is what he had done.
Chris announced that he was taking time off for the remainder of the season.
He later shared that he was expanding this time off for an indefinite amount of time.
ABC shared their support for Chris doing the work that he needs to do to not repeat these mistakes.
But yes, some people’s disgust with racist fans and with Chris means that some of them will never tune in again.
At the very least, it may take a few seasons before the show can lure them back.
Disgustingly, there are others who will not watch … but for the opposite reason.
We are all painfully aware of the racists coordinating to voice their unwavering support for Chris Harrison.
These groups are obviously not focused upon Chris. He is, to them, a symbol.
Why, if Chris can be held accountable, then anyone could. That is a racist’s worst nightmare.
So these racists will be taking time off from watching the show as well, in "protest" of Chris’ absence.
If the Bachelor franchise dies, it will have been killed by racism – both within and without.
But that doesn’t mean that Blake is right.