Greetings, dearest readers. Thank you for joining me. If you’ve a) been following the news surrounding this season of The Bachelor and b) are thus feeling even shittier than usual about the fact that you still watch The Bachelor, then you’ve got company, because that’s me, too! So this week’s recap is going to look a little different.
Let’s get to it.
Ahahahhhahahahahahaha who cares.
For those who don’t follow Bachelor news, here’s a little primer (but please click through to some of these links, because it’s a lot and this post will just skim the surface). Rachael Kirkconnell—the winner of this week’s group date and a clear frontrunner, as the editing of this and several other episodes makes clear—has a bunch of racist shit in her past. Rather than break it all down for you in detail, I’ll direct you to this rundown via Los Angeles Times. You can also, of course, turn to TikTok.
In short, some recent racist social media behaviors and posts from Rachael began to circulate early in the season (that video is from January 26), and it all came to a head when photos of Rachael at a fucking antebellum-themed party in 2018 began making the rounds on Twitter/TikTok/Reddit/etc. I’m white, so it’s not for me to weigh in on the apology itself, but I can say that it took an embarrassingly long time for her to apologize and that an apology has to be the beginning, not the end, of her work to make amends.
It’s not the first time this has happened with a contestant; it’s not even the first time a contestant with a history of racist behavior was cast on a season with a Black lead. Rachel Lindsay had a racist dude on her season, and said this way back in June:
I did have a racist contestant on my season, which is one of the things that I’m fighting for with Matt James as the first Black bachelor. For them to do a better job of vetting contestants. You need a person of color in the decision room making decisions so that doesn’t happen to them.
Welp, it did happen to him, and to the 25 BIPOC-identifying women in his cast. That, all by itself, is deeply messed up. That’s a hostile, dangerous work environment. But that’s just the beginning, folks! It gets worse!
It absolutely does not matter if Matt James or any of the women in his cast + Heather Martin And Her Minivan ate the food. As far as I can tell, they did not.
Two plates of catered food that are always almost out of frame. Let’s get this over with: Heather got sent right back to her minivan, and Serena C. and Chelsea (you deserve better anyway, Chelsea! He kisses with his eyes open!) went home in the first rose ceremony. Serena P. got a second one-on-one, and the date was tantric yoga, and she was visibly uncomfortable and definitely did not want to kiss him in front of the yoga teacher/Viewers Like You, but she was honest about not being into it at all so she got a rose. Abigail, who never even got a one-on-one, was eliminated after asking Matt if he could see a future with her (The answer, paraphrased: At first, but then I liked you so much I started dating other people and now I like them more). Kit self-eliminated because
she used her hey you should eliminate me because I’m not ready to get married line and he kept her anyway it’s too hard. Jessennia The Champ was eliminated on her first one-on-one date after telling Matt she was falling in love with him; he did the ‘pick-up-the-rose-then-dump-you’ thing again, so please bring that up in Paradise, Jessennia. Pieper was the only one eliminated at the final rose ceremony, after which she was ushered to her waiting SUV of sadness without saying a damn word. Hometowns are next week. There were no snacks.
Also, hey, Chris Harrison is “stepping back” from the show, whatever that means, because wow, this is messed up:
And here’s some analysis of that garbage from Rachel Lindsay herself. If you skipped the above video, you should still watch this one.
So he’s “stepping aside.” He should be fired. The fact that he spoke that way to Rachel, someone who is essentially a coworker, is garbage all by itself, but the broader implications for the BIPOC-identifying members of the casts and crews in this franchise make his continued employment insupportable. Matt James is the 25th Bachelor. They’ve cast this show—just this one!—24 times before. They couldn’t a) round up 30+ women who haven’t shared QAnon conspiracy theories and gotten dolled up to flounce around a goddamn former plantation for funsies, and b) bother to sit down the host of the franchise to explain why the fact that they cast such a person—who, let’s face it, is probably the winner or they wouldn’t be working his hard to defend her—is a problem?
Because the casts of this season and the Tayshia/Clare season certainly know it’s a problem:
Listen, that time he rocketed around the La Quinta Econo Love Palace on a scooter aside, Chris Harrison’s job basically consists of showing up to say “This is the final rose tonight” and “If you did not receive a rose, say your goodbyes,” occasionally telling all the contestants to put on short shorts and punch each other with giant boxing gloves or whatever, and once in awhile acting out a little skit with Heather Martin and her minivan. That’s his job. It’s not something only he can do. Replace him—and not with Rachel Lindsay, who, like quite a number of the women on this season, deserves better than this.
I’m going to quote my A.V. Club colleague Ali Barthwell, whose excellent Bachelor recaps for Vulture are typically my first stop after I write my own. In this case, I read it before filing, assuming her response would be as insightful (and funny) as usual and that I might want to include it with the many other pieces linked above. This was a safe assumption.
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?
The answer to that last question is almost certainly yes. Maybe there will be food jokes next week. This week, it’s just not fucking funny.