CultureHead Magazine

Rachael Kirkconnell and Matt James. Courtesy of ABC Entertainment
Rachael Kirkconnell and Matt James. Courtesy of ABC Entertainment

We finally made it to the end of this season of The Bachelor! What’s our prize? Honestly, just the fact that it is over. I cannot think of anything else I am taking away from this season.

During the show’s final week, Matt introduces his family, his mother and brother, to the final two. Michelle goes first and just feels like the second choice from the get-go, which is not what this woman deserves at all. The way Matt talks about her and his feelings for her makes it obvious that either he feels obliged to entertain the idea of choosing her, or the man is just fooling himself. 

Throughout the final dinner with Michelle, Matt has the face of someone who is deeply uncomfortable with where this show and his choices led him. The man is straight up panicking while Michelle shows him the matching jerseys she made for them as a married couple. Bless her heart.

Matt finally lets his doubts come up to the surface as he breaks up with Michelle, leaving her crying, and then later decides not to see Rachael for their final date, leaving her distraught. 

Now, I have only the previous season of The Bachelor and the last season of The Bachelorette under my belt, but there is something I noticed about this finale. What struck me when watching two previous seasons was the amount of faith the leads expressed about the whole process and finding their marital partner at the end. Now, looking at Matt’s struggle, I realize that perhaps the show continues recycling its contestants as the leads because these people appear to become more desensitized to the show’s premise and are more likely to end up engaged at the end.

Anyway, after the Lord of the Rings-style monologue that Matt gives us about the engagement ring he picked out for Rachael (who was always the obvious favorite of his), he decides not to propose but to ask her to leave the show as a couple. Rachael happily agrees as she is visibly shaking from being made to stand in the chilly autumnal weather in a sparkly evening gown. Give her a coat, or a shawl, or something. 

So, the first Black bachelor chose a white girl whose not-so-distant racist past has come into the light shortly after the season debuted on TV. You could not have written it better if you tried.

In the After the Final Rose segment, hosted by Emmanuel Acho and not Chris Harrison who has been detained by the “woke police”, we find out that Matt has actually broken up with Rachael following the racist controversy. He tells Rachael that he was mostly disappointed by her inability to understand “his Blackness” and why he chose to end their relationship. 

Acho makes an interesting statement that being racially insensitive and racially ignorant does not classify someone as racist, as long as their intentions were not malicious. It is hard to see how someone attending the Antebellum party would be completely ignorant of what them being there means. 

When asked how often she would come back to the infamous picture of her at the aforementioned party and be scared of it coming out, Rachael said she didn’t think about it once. And, of course, she didn’t. This is where the distinction that Acho made to protect Rachael from the “racist” label loses its meaning. The show tries to make a point of prioritizing accountability over labels. Still, it is worth noting how accountability also requires naming your actions and the mindset that led you to them. 

The anti-racism journey that Rachael claims to be on does not make sense if she, along with many other privileged white people, are coddled from the word “racist” to begin with. If she is truly reading the books, watching the movies, and listening to podcasts, she should know this by now. And so should the showrunners. Otherwise, it becomes about Rachael and Chris Harrison and making their actions more palatable for the audience rather than taking real responsibility.

Oh, Michelle and Katie are announced as the next two bachelorettes, with each getting her own season. Diverse!

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