I am normally not a fan of reality TV shows, but watching The Bachelor has been an enjoyable outlet during such a crazy year. In my first semester of college last fall, I watched The Bachelorette with Clare Crawley and then Tayshia Adams. It was a fun tradition to watch with my friends in the common room, and we continued this tradition for Matt James’ season of The Bachelor. So much went down in this season, and so many wild rumors were circulating, causing the finale to be much anticipated. My friends and I were very excited to see the finale, and here some answers to some burning questions from both the Bachelor and some of the contestants.
- The “Winner”
Normally, when new contestants are added to the show, I am very skeptical of them. However, this season, I immediately warmed up to Michelle and loved her connection with Matt. Their fast date and the clear romantic connection that blossomed between Matt and Michelle made her quickly become my favorite. When Michelle’s students grilled Matt about his intentions with her, I couldn’t help but further hope that Michelle would win. She is such a real, genuine, and authentic person (which can be rare for a contestant on the Bachelor), and it seemed that she and Matt were truly falling in love. When Matt ended things with her during the finale, I was so disappointed. That left only Rachael, and with the rumors surrounding her, I was anxious to see if Matt would propose to her. It was clear that Matt was torn about the possibility of an engagement, and I really appreciated his honesty that he was not ready to propose. Often, the Bachelor or Bachelorette rushes into a proposal rather than choosing to continue the relationship after the show. I was glad Matt did not propose to Rachael, but worried about the future of their relationship knowing the racially insensitive rumors about Rachael.
- After the Final Rose
Everyone knew that this “After the Final Rose” was going to be unlike any other. I was curious to see the current state of Matt and Rachael’s relationship, hear what Rachael would say about the rumors, and see who the next Bachelorette was going to be. Emmanuel Acho was the absolute perfect host for these interviews. He handled each situation with such grace and respect while asking meaningful, important questions. Listening to Matt speak about his split with Rachael, and how the racially insensitive rumors were true, was heartbreaking. It was clear that the breakup was so painful for him, especially considering he had to explain to Rachael, a white woman, how her attendance at an Antebellum-themed party a few years prior was racially insensitive. There were a few moments where Matt was speechless and took a few minutes to answer a question. His emotions were so raw, yet he handled the situation so well. Acho also handled his interview with Rachael with grace and asked questions that condemned Rachael’s racially insensitive actions without condemning her as a person. At one point, Acho powerfully explained the difference between being racist and doing something racially insensitive, which I felt was a very important distinction. All in all, this racially charged and emotional interview was hard to watch at times because it was so emotionally raw; however, it enabled conversations that were needed between the contestants and brought up important conversations regarding race, racism, and racial insensitivity for the viewers as well.
- The Next Bachelorette(s)
I had heard many different rumors circulating about who the next Bachelorette is going to be, and was very curious to see who was selected. When Katie and Michelle announced that they were each going to have their own season where they were the Bachelorette, I was extremely excited. Michelle was my first pick for the next Bachelorette, and Katie would have been my second choice, so I was happy to see both of them get a second chance to find love on the show.
Overall, this season was another whirlwind of drama and romance, but it took a more serious turn at the end and in the final interviews. I hope that the important conversations regarding race in “After the Final Rose” helped bring up important questions and taught viewers about how to evaluate their role as an ally for the black community. However, I feel for Matt James as his role as the first Black Bachelor was made infinitely more difficult given the racially insensitive actions of Rachael Kirkconnell. In the end, I just hope Matt James will go on to find love, either in the Bachelor franchise or elsewhere.