Not a “peaceful parting” after all! The Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss, 58, officially announced he was departing from the hit ABC series after 21 years on Mar. 28, only to release an additional statement about how he could’ve “done more” two days later. The second statement, obtained by Variety, was in regard to the reported “racial discrimination” investigation brought against him. “Since its premiere 21 years ago, times have certainly changed and I’d have to say we didn’t keep up with the pace of those changes,” he wrote in an email to the outlet on Mar. 30. “I am proud of the work we’ve done over the past five years to make the show substantially more diverse, but I do believe I could have done more.”
Further in the email, the 58-year-old TV creator added that he believes he has “more friends than foe” and hopes the franchise will continue to improve in terms of diversity. “Hopefully, the franchise will continue to move in the right direction,” Mike added. “Judging by the number of staff weddings we’ve hosted at our home and the number of teary messages that blew up my phone when I announced I had turned in my final rose, I’m pretty sure I had more good days than bad, lifted more spirits than hurt feelings and leave the franchise in good hands, with more friends than foe.”
At the start of Mike’s email, he also claimed newer reality TV shows about dating have “ripped” him off. “I had no idea back in 2002 that we were building a pop culture juggernaut,” he penned. “It was a crazy idea then and sure as hell continues to roll — just look at every network and streamer that has ripped us off!” As previously mentioned, The Bachelorette creator announced he was officially saying goodbye to the reality show on Tuesday, one day after the Season 27 finale.
“First and foremost, congratulations are in order for Zach [Shallcross] and Kaity [Biggar]. I wish them a long and happy life together,” his departure statement shared with Variety began. “I want to thank WBTV and ABC for 21 extraordinary years. They’ve found the perfect creative team for me to entrust The Bachelor franchise and keep this lightening in a bottle bold and moving forward. Let the journey continue.” Not only did ABC and Warner Bros. TV decline to comment to the outlet about Mike’s exit, but they also declined to comment on the investigation. Mike is being replaced by new showrunners Claire Freeland, Jason Ehrlich, and Bennett Graebner, per Variety.
Despite the fact that Mike “will have zero involvement with the show going forward,” it has been confirmed that he will continue to be credited as the creator of the cult classic franchise. Notably, the first-ever Black lead on the franchise was when Rachel Lindsay was named The Bachelorette in 2017. Prior to this incident, Mike made headlines in 2019 regarding his separation from his wife, Laura Kaeppeler, 35. Although The Bachelor‘s 27th season concluded earlier this week, fans can expect Season 20 of The Bachelorette to premiere on June 26.