The Bachelor Finale Was an Hour of Dead Air Sprinkled With False Attempts at Anti-Racism Work

Illustration for article titled The Bachelor Finale Was an Hour of Dead Air Sprinkled With False Attempts at Anti-Racism Work
Screenshot: ABC

Well, Bachelor Nation, another season labeled as shocking has come and gone and I find myself not at all shocked and trying to figure out a way to speak to Father Time’s manager to get a refund on the two hours wasted watching Matt James attempt to make a single decision. Then there was After the Final Rose, which this year was supposed to be the big talk about racism where the show finally confronted itself while also confronting Rachael Kirkconnell, this season’s winner (if that’s what we want to call it), after photos of her at a Southern antebellum theme party emerged over the course of the season. The talk was so important and monumental, Chris Harrison had to step down because he’d gone too hard in defending Kirkconnell’s decision to dress like a plantation owner’s wife.

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The conversation was led by Emmanuel Acho, former football player and author of Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. I’ve never read Acho’s book but after an hour of watching him try to speak to four different people, I understand the title. The hour was 50 percent dead air, 40 percent Acho just saying the word “uncomfortable,” and 10 percent Rachael and Matt dodging some incredibly benign questions about race.

The only real information that the audience got was that Matt and Rachael broke up after the Antebellum photos surfaced and that James is not and has not ever been ready for a serious relationship. As easy as it would be to put the blame for the failed relationship squarely on Rachael’s shoulders, Matt was somehow the bigger problem than the woman who attended a plantation theme party in 2018 and didn’t realize it was bad until 2021.

Throughout the entire finale, Matt could only talk about one thing: his parents. He was fixated on what his parents’ relationship meant for his relationship going forward. Could he be the husband his mother never had? Could he be the father that his never was? Could he stop rubbing his mother’s thigh? Matt’s inability to separate his parents’ failed relationship from his present situation crippled him emotionally and is really the thing that would have made it impossible to work things out with either of the two women left standing.

But when it comes to Rachael, the person he did not propose to but gave the last rose to, there was something deeper and more specific going on. Matt’s father is Black and his mother is white and she is a mother to two Black sons and we know that Patty, the mother, was a good mother because it was all Matt could fucking talk about. Patty is the ideal woman in Matt’s mind and why wouldn’t she be? She’s beautiful, she’s kind, and most importantly she has a tiny inkling of what it’s like to be Black in America.

Matt wanted this from Rachael and said about as much in After the Final Rose, when he sat there and acted shocked and appalled that a 24-year-old white girl “couldn’t understand” what it meant “to live as a Black man in America” and for this inability to understand why he punished her. It wasn’t just about the photo. He knew that Rachael had “a lot of work to do on herself” and despite the many platitudes about loving her, Matt just didn’t really want to be along for that ride. Which in normal life is fine, not everyone wants to do the work that comes with an interracial relationship because it’s a lot to do. But this is The Bachelor and from day one Matt said, “I see my wife in this room.” He told Rachael, “I see you as my wife and the mother of my kids.” This man talked about being a husband more than CrossFitters talk about deadlifts and yet at the end of the day he wasn’t even ready to face the reality that choosing a white Christian woman from the South might come with its own special set of difficulties.

Acho did absolutely nothing to improve upon the conversation between the former love birds and the rest of America as he simply sighed and stared at the two waiting for them to come to some sort of resolution. He also seemed to be toeing the party line and instead of having an honest conversation with Rachel and pushing her to answer one question, any question he towed the party line and essentially echoed a lot of what Chris Harrison had already said. This could have been by ABC’s design or it might have been Acho’s choice to use velvet kid gloves when talking to fully grown adults about race but either way, I found myself agreeing with the multitude of tweets wondering what the point was of removing Harrison from the final episode in the first place.

Oh also, Katie and Michelle were both chosen to be the next Bachelorette and will have their own separate seasons to sift through boring men to find love.

DISCUSSION

CHIEF-QUEEF
CHIEF QUEEF

Yeah sorry, but this show is dead to me now. Reality TV is supposed to be fun escapism, and there’s nothing fun or escapist about watching people sitting around having extremely awkward “Race 101" conversations. Also it could’ve been mildly interesting if they picked an actual proud, confident Black man as the “first Black bachelor” instead of a messy biracial man with daddy issues, but Harrison is clearly too racist and cowardly to go there. I’ll stick to 90 Day Fiance and Love Island, thanks.