I was really hoping to see some love stories form in last night’s episode. The drama within the show this season has been overpowering any true love stories, so I figured a good ol’ hometown episode would bring those moments we’ve been missing for so long to light. However, it was close to impossible to watch without thinking about all of the controversies going on outside of the show. Just because Rachael Kirkconnell’s questionable party attendances and Chris Harrison’s blatant ignorance was news last week doesn’t mean it’s something we can forget about and move on, especially if you’re a BIPOC fan like me. Just before last night’s episode, Matt James made it known that he didn’t forget about anything going on either with his first official statement addressing...everything...
“Oof” was my reaction when I first saw that. I’ve avoided spoilers about who the winner is, but the whole, “past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life” thing he wrote really screams “Kirkconnell won”, if you ask me. Ring winner aside, I cannot imagine how much Matt is going through right now. In the very first episode of his season, he spoke about how much pressure he felt being the first Black Bachelor, so this is quite literally his worst fear coming true. Throughout my life, I have had countless conversations with other Black people about feeling so much pressure to be perfect in hopes of not being looked at as a stereotype, so I’m sure he’s probably struggling. Now of course he couldn’t have had any idea while filming that Rachael was taking selfies on a plantation just two years ago, but I’m sure he’s still being hard on himself. I still wonder to this day who the hell does background checks on these contestants because a similar situation happened on the first Black Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay’s season.
Matt’s timing for this post is definitely something to keep in mind here. Rachael was quite the focal point in this episode. I mean, besides the fact that she’s looking like the frontrunner, they’ve also been teasing her rough skydiving landing since last week. I couldn’t help but cringe when she said, “communication, honesty, and trust” are really important to her while they were on the date. This hindsight being 20/20 thing sure is something. The section I was most uncomfortable watching was her family meeting him (the endless amount of Get Out memes on Twitter proved that I wasn’t alone). Although there aren’t any specific allegations against her family that I know of, the vibe was weird, especially when Matt was communicating with her father. Yes, they seemed polite, but it just goes back to all of the things we know about Rachael’s life outside of the show. If Rachael was going to plantation-themed parties in 2018, what does that say about her parents? As a Black person, it is a completely valid worry to uphold, particularly while looking for a lifelong partner. On top of that, Matt just seemed really nervous, and maybe I wouldn’t have noticed that if it wasn’t for the other hometown dates he had with the other women.
Before Rachael’s date, Matt had the most wholesome date with Michelle. First of all, they accidentally wore the same colour. Call me dramatic, but I think that’s the cutest thing ever. After riding bicycles around, they had a zoom call with some of Michelle’s students where they grilled “Mr. James” in order to get their approval. In the evening portion, we got to meet Michelle’s adorable parents (Twitter has decided that together we will be protecting them at all costs). This perfect date was such a beautiful representation of Black love. There was no drama or extravagant element that took away from it, just their love story. Bri’s date came right after Rachael’s, which was really nice to watch after feeling uncomfy for 20 minutes. Their relationship also seems to be strong, but I’m not quite sure if she’s gonna be the one at the end.
Serena P. was the last date, and this one had some Canadian rep. Their date before meeting the family consisted of poutine, peameal bacon, hockey, and lots of Canadian flags. Although it was super fun to feel some Canadian pride, I knew this date was going to end in friend vibes because watching them eat poutine together didn’t give me any romance at all. The day after meeting her family, she seemed to make her mind up that she wasn’t feeling it with him. So, the next day after Matt told her how much he liked her, she broke up with him. She even walked him out to the van and everything. My jaw.
Overall, the episode was decent. It’s nice to finally see some real connections form, and I'm especially happy to see the most diverse final three in the show’s history. It just pains me to know that Matt, as well as BIPOC contestants and viewers, can’t watch this historic season with the joy we should be experiencing.