Ellen Pompeo just waded into the Bachelor drama brewing among ABC’s heavy hitters.
Earlier this week, Live! star Kelly Ripa said during an on-air discussion with co-host Ryan Seacrest that the reality dating show “disgusts” her and pits women against one another. Series creator Mike Fleiss then took aim at Ripa on Twitter, writing, “Easy, @KellyRipa … #TheBachelor franchise pays your salary!”
On Thursday, Grey’s Anatomy star Pompeo jumped to Ripa’s defense.
“Okay @fleissmeister… that’s some handle bro!” she tweeted. “Your show does NOT pay @KellyRipa salary. Also we don’t attack successful women on our network and men certainly cannot take credit for their success. Don’t get me started on your show cuz I’m a savage…. #bachelorsoooowhite.”
“Took a break [from Twitter] but had to jump back in the ring for my girl @KellyRipa,” she added.
The ABC franchise has long weathered criticism over its lack of diversity. There has never been a Bachelor of color in 23 seasons, and in 15 seasons, there has only been one black Bachelorette: Rachel Lindsay in 2017. The majority of the contestants have also historically been white.
Pompeo, 49, has starred as Dr. Meredith Grey on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy since 2005. Last year, Pompeo revealed that she had negotiated for an annual paycheck of $20 million — making her one of the highest-paid actresses on TV. Speaking to PEOPLE in October, Pompeo said the backlash she faced from publicly discussing how much she makes — some of it from other women themselves — has only empowered her to discuss it more.
“Women are so institutionalized by the patriarchy, they don’t even realize it,” she said. “If we can’t stick together and support each other, then you’re 20 steps behind where you need to be.”
“We can’t compete against each other and compare ourselves to one another,” she continued. “it’s not productive, and it’s not healthy. It’s not good for our mental health. We need to take care of each other and support each other and love each other, and that, I think, feels better. And supports a healthier state of mind.”
Hannah Brown‘s season of The Bachelorette premiered Monday. After accidentally mixing up Brown with former Bachelor Colton Underwood‘s girlfriend Cassie Randolph, Ripa voiced her opinion on Tuesday’s episode of her morning talk show, calling it “gross.”
“You guys, you know how I feel about the show, it disgusts me,” she said. “I was disgusted because I couldn’t stand the idea of 25 exceptional women fighting over one ordinary fella, in my opinion. You know how I feel, ladies, we are too special to be arguing over a guy.”
Franchise host Chris Harrison also took aim at Ripa for her comments.
“Look out #BachelorNation,” he tweeted. “@KellyRipa is coming after you and your ‘disgusting’ Monday night habit.”
Of the drama, a source told PEOPLE on Thursday that Ripa has never shied away from critiquing the show.
“Kelly has always slammed The Bachelor/Bachelorette in the past with way worse comments, so why engage her now?” the source said. “Because they must be getting desperate.”
“They can’t handle lighthearted criticism from a successful woman who has been on TV longer than their contestants have been alive,” the source added. “Kelly’s time at Live predates these shows by years, so if anything, her success in syndication and promotion of these shows pays their salaries.”
Ripa poked fun at the whole situation on Thursday when she welcomed Brown, 24, on her show.
“Hannah, I’m not sure what they told you backstage … if you blink twice, I will get you out of here,” she joked before Brown laughed and said she was happy to be there.
The Bachelorette airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC and Live! With Kelly and Ryan airs weekdays (check local listings).
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