Ooof. Wow. Okay. A lot has happened since last week. It’s been a hell of a week just in general. The world is freezing over and Joe Biden still owes me money. (Where is my money, Joe? I better not find out that you used my money to go to Michaels and get craft supplies for Jill’s cute li’l Valentine’s decorations.) But even in the world of Bachelor Nation, things are … happening, and we, frankly, need to talk about them.
The Bachelor is a racist television program. Off the top of my head, here’s a bunch of racist stuff that’s happened in the Bachelor Cinematic Universe: the casting of racist contestants; the casting of racist contestants on seasons with leads of color; going 24 seasons before having a Black man as the Bachelor; going 12 seasons before having a Black woman as the Bachelorette; casting entire seasons of both shows without contestants of color; casting token contestants of color; pitting contestants of color against racist contestants and encouraging drama between them; sending a racist on a two-on-one date with a Black man in the fucking woods; letting white contestants use racist language to describe contestants of color they didn’t like; painting the racist actions of racist contestants as “personality conflicts”; the host of the show saying things like “woke police” on television where people could see him; not protecting or standing behind contestants or leads of color when they were being targeted for racist harassment online; painting the life experiences of contestants of color as exotic, calamitous, or ungraspable; relying on stereotypes about people of color as part of their storytelling.
Did I forget anything?
For the people of color who have been on The Bachelor and associated shows, the experience has been difficult and sometimes painful. But instead of dealing with that problem, The Bachelor has chosen to make performative gestures of solidarity, increasing the number of people of color on the show without supporting them, and prioritizing the feelings and safety of their white contestants. The reason we’re talking about all of this is the combination of another white contestant’s racist past being exposed and the show’s host asking for grace and forgiveness for that white contestant — oh, I left out “asking for grace and forgiveness for white people who mess up publicly.” The contestant in question is Rachael Kirkconnell and the host is Chris Harrison, appearing like a giant racist Zordon looming over Rachel Lindsay, asking us not to judge Rachael’s 2018 actions by 2021 standards. As if that’s a sentence that makes any fucking sense.
I’m sure Rachael didn’t intend to do something racist (over and over), and I’m sure Chris Harrison didn’t intend to mansplain and whitesplain racism to Rachel Lindsay. I’m sure the producers didn’t intend to create a racist television program. Who does? I’m sure even the people who made all of those racist terrorist stereotypes on 24 were trying to have fun and get those residual checks. But when you do something racist, your intention doesn’t matter, your impact does.
And the impact of all these actions is that The Bachelor is a racist television program. You could make the argument, Well, what television show isn’t? They don’t have nearly enough characters of color on Girls, Sex and the City, or Friends despite being set in New York City, Earth. But when you make a racist television program, you have to be accountable for the impact of putting something racist out into the world. So far, Chris Harrison and Rachael have put out a few anemic iPhone Notes-app statements that barely acknowledge the problem, let alone lay out a path for accountability. Chris Harrison has committed to “stepping back,” but what does that mean? For how long? What is he doing to confront his racism? What is Rachael doing to educate her family and friends so that if she ends up with Matt, he won’t be walking into a racist environment?
We don’t know. We don’t know what they’re doing or learning. This show has an incredible platform and can reach a lot of people. It has the resources and the means to not only educate its contestants and host but to model anti-racism to a whole bunch of people who might not get it somewhere else. But until we know what this show is doing to make things better for its contestants and leads of color — until I know, as a Black woman who watches this show, what this show is doing to respect me and every other person of color as an audience member — how do they expect us to care whom Matt ends up with!
Because at this point in the season, they’ve been doing a bad job of telling Matt’s love story with anyone, and it’s becoming more and more obvious that the person he really likes is … the one with the racist past. And we haven’t seen any conversations between the two of them about the way they view the world or what their life would look like as an interracial couple. In fact, we know the show has cut out scenes of Matt going in-depth with the women of color. So the show is either hiding those conversations between Matt and Rachael or they aren’t having them. Either way, we’re being fed a love story between a Black man and a racist woman. It’s a strange choice … but it’s not that strange if you remember: The Bachelor is a racist TV show, and that’s a fucking bummer.
So let’s get to it?!??!?!?!? Briefly?!?!?!??!
The show has decided to open the episode by rewinding to Heather walking in instead of just picking up when Matt finally meets her. Let’s revel in everyone’s discomfort. Heather lays out her case for why she’s here with Matt, and it comes down to, “Well, I wanted to” because she just can’t say “I wanted to and production thought it would be a great idea.” Matt says that Hannah is totally qualified to pick someone who is a good match for him because she dated his friend. Meanwhile, Pieper is breaking down because she felt so invisible when Heather interrupted her. Yup, there are no weird racial dynamics there.
The rest of the ladytestants make Heather stand before them and answer for her crimes. Everyone else has been there for at least 19 days and Heather just got there. Heather cannot handle it because, again, this is clearly a situation where production made Heather believe this would be a great idea and Matt would just be in love with her, and now Heather is facing reality. And reality is wearing an asymmetric ’90s-inspired dress from ASOS and is fucking pissed. Ultimately, Matt decides that it’s not worth it to continue to rip the house apart at the seams, so he asks Heather to get in her minivan and head out. The ladytestants are incredibly turned on by seeing a man maintain the tiniest bit of decorum in the face of the absolute chaos of the previous 19 days.
It’s time for the rose ceremony. Serena C. and Chelsea are going home! Chelsea says she got her hopes up, but now there’s never going to be the chance to see if they actually work as a couple. Serena C. turns into pure energy and is breathed in by every girl who has ever made another girl cry in a locker room.
The next morning, everyone is on edge after being emotionally manipulated for six episodes. They are all shivering shelter puppies who just want to find a warm home. There will be two one-on-one dates and a group date. Abigail is worried that she hasn’t gotten a one-on-one date even though she got the first-impression rose. And honestly, it’s fucking nuts that she hasn’t gotten a one-on-one date when Serena P. is getting the first date of the week and her second one-on-one. Matt takes Serena P. to a tantric yoga class where he tries to kiss her multiple times in front of the instructor. This man has so little game it’s painful. Serena P. tells him she didn’t like the yoga and didn’t like him trying to peck at her face like some sort of bird. He admires her honesty, and she gets the rose.
Pieper, Michelle, Rachael, Bri, Kit, and Abigail all get the group-date card. Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME? Abigail doesn’t get the one-on-one? I’m furious. You’re furious. Abigail is broken down. And worst of all, the big group-date activity is … sitting around with Matt on a sectional. Matt takes them aside one at a time, and this is their last chance to bare it all emotionally. Bri tells him that she quit her job to stay on the show and girl. Do not give up a job for a man, and especially do not give up a job for this man. Kit tells him she’s looking for someone who will support her education and her career, and she tells him she doesn’t want to have kids until she’s 26. Kit wants to know if Matt is okay with just dating a hot, rich 21-year-old and not having kids with her right away. I let out a big hearty laugh at the hot, rich 21-year-old being worried about wanting to party and travel and apply some eye cream on my ancient 32-year-old face. Abigail asks him, “So what’s going on here?” He tells her the weirdest and meanest thing I’ve ever heard: “I got so comfortable in my relationship with you that I was able to explore other relationships and now they’re further along.” I’m sorry? I liked you so much I dated other people? What a majorly fuckboy thing to say to someone and expect it to be comforting. He doesn’t want to lead her on, which is precisely what happened. He walks her out. JUSTICE FOR ABIGAIL!!!
Rachael gets the group-date rose and a special post-group-date surprise. What the heck? Has that ever happened before? They get a private concert with Aloe Blacc, an actual singer (I don’t understand how he ended up in the Bachelor bubble). After the after-date, Kit realizes that she’s not all the way into the relationship and self-eliminates. We are losing people and fast on this episode.
Finally, it’s time for Jessenia’s one-on-one date. They go Tokyo drifting and make out on the hood of the car. Matt screams in excitement throughout the whole date until it’s time to sit down and talk about feelings. He can’t hide the feelings of trepidation on his big turtle-esque face. Jessenia tells him that she’s falling in love with him, and he picks up the rose and says he doesn’t feel that intangible thing that drives toward an engagement. Jessenia feels blindsided, and she’s not going to be the last one.
It’s time for the final rose ceremony and everyone looks tired, pissed, and completely drained. There isn’t a cocktail party because Matt is ready to follow his heart. He knows what he has to do. Bri and Michelle get the final roses of the week, and that means Pieper is going home. He walks her out and neither of them exchange a word. What a weird send-off for someone who was this close to hometowns. She gets in the limo and says she should have stuck to being unemotional because now she’s hurting.
Next week is hometowns and the whole preview is edited like a horror movie! See you next week?!?!?!?!?
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