by Quincy Marks
Public Relations Manager
Matt James’ season of the Bachelor is quite possibly the most controversial season the franchise has ever seen. Featuring the first Black Bachelor, this season was promised to signify major changes within the Bachelor franchise. However, controversy struck as old photos of Rachael Kirkconnell, one of the women on this season, resurfaced.
In January, photos of Kirkconnell attending an Antebellum-themed party in 2018 shocked fans and members of the Bachelor franchise. In a statement posted to her Instagram on Feb. 11, Kirkconnell apologized and wrote, “racial progress and unity are impossible without [white] accountability, and I deserve to be held accountable for my actions.”
Prior to Kirkconnell releasing her statement, Chris Harrison, the host of the Bachelor franchise, defended Kirkconnell’s past actions on a podcast hosted by Rachel Lindsey, the first black Bachelorette. Harrison’s interview infuriated fans and members of the Bachelor franchise, ultimately leading to Harrison temporarily stepping down. However, Harrison noted in an interview with Good Morning America that he plans to return.
While Matt seems to be charming, well spoken, and funny, his season has been lackluster, through no fault of his own. Throughout his season, it is apparent that the producers have shifted focus from showing the women building relationships with Matt to the drama occurring in the house. This shift in focus has made it difficult to make sense of Matt’s decisions, as the audience isn’t seeing Matt form any meaningful connections.
Matt’s final four women are Rachael Kirkconnell, Bri Springs, Michelle Young, and Serena Pitt. After the hometown episode, Serena sent herself home after her family expressed concerns with her relationship. Although the final episodes have not aired at the time of this writing, Reality Steve, a reality TV show blogger, reports that Matt’s final two are Michelle and Rachael and that he ultimately chooses Rachael; however, the two do not get engaged.
The finale of the Bachelor, known as After the Final Rose, aired on Mar. 15, with Emmanuel Acho replacing Chris Harrison as host. During the finale, Matt explains that he ended his relationship with Rachael after he had to explain to her why her pictures were problematic, thus coming to the realization that Rachael did not understand “what it means to be a Black man in America”.
(Sources: CBS News, LA Times)