Rachel Lindsay’s journey to find love finally came to an end last night. My expectations for this season were naively high. They came crashing down when the show cast a racist sociopath to date a black woman while living in a house with black men and subsequently had no idea how to handle the storylines involving race that it had orchestrated. I don’t know why I expected more from the producers of a reality show that forces its contestants to get married after a couple of months of dating on TV. It’s ridiculous. The show is ridiculous. I know this. And yet, along with many other viewers of last night’s finale, I got way too emotionally invested.
Duana has never texted me about The Bachelorette. I don’t think we’ve ever talked about The Bachelorette. At 7:35am she wrote me, “The outrage this morning is something else. Is it legit?” Well, that depends on what everyone is outraged about. Rachel’s season has been full of fodder for analysis and conversations that the other Bachelorettes have not had to deal with. Rachel’s race is the reason she faced unfair criticism about whether she would choose a black man in the end (SPOILER: she didn’t and that’s OK). Last night’s live 3 HOUR finale gave people a few reasons to be upset but let’s start with the obvious: Rachel’s choice. I’ve been trying to be supportive of my girl all season but boy, did she choose wrong. We were all Team Peter, right?
Rachel did not choose Peter Kraus, the salt-and-pepper haired, HOT AF business owner from Wisconsin who was too damn sensible for his own good. Instead, she chose Bryan Abasolo, the loud-kissing, smarmy chiropractor from Miami. When I first wrote about Rachel’s historic casting as the first black Bachelorette, I predicted that the crop of dudes competing for her love would “probably be douchey and unworthy.” Well, douchey and unworthy are the exact two words I would use to describe Bryan. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
About midway through the season, when the dream was still alive and I was certain Rachel was going to choose Peter, have gap-toothed babies and live happily ever after, I asked if we were still having fun. This season was frustrating and exhausting in a lot of ways but The Bachelorette franchise’s biggest draw has always been the fairy tale – and that fairy tale usually ends with a proposal. Rachel went into this process hoping for that fairy tale ending. Peter, however, is clearly confused about which show he signed up for because as he got closer and closer to being the last man standing, he refused to give Rachel her the happy ending she wanted. Instead, he said he loved her and wanted to date her outside of the show before he proposed, like, you know, a sensible human being. But there is no room for logic in the Bachelor universe. Only diamonds. This is where a lot of this morning’s outrage is coming from. Rachel is a lawyer. We watched a smart, successful woman reinforce antiquated notions about marriage and double down on the stereotype that in order for a woman to be happy, she better have a ring on it.
Rachel and Peter’s breakup was the realest thing I have ever seen on The Bachelorette. Rachel cried off her eyelashes. Peter had to take off his shirt to wipe away his tears. I was sobbing on my couch hugging my dog because I am extra and it was super hard for me to watch Rach break up with her perfect dude solely because he wasn’t ready to propose. After watching their tearful goodbye taped months ago, Rachel and Peter were forced to talk about their breakup for the first time on live TV. It was AWKWARD and emotional and dear sweet Blue Ivy, I just want these two kids to get another chance at love. Is that too much to ask?
At one point during Peter and Rachel’s heated post-breakup talk, Chris Harrison asks Rachel if she’s “angry at Peter.” The word “angry” is a trigger for many black woman because the Angry Black Woman is a stereotype we know all too well. Black women spend so much energy trying NOT to get angry so we won’t get that label. So, when Rachel shot back with, “I wouldn’t say I’m angry. Angry is a strong word,” I felt the racially-charged tension in the room but, you know what? Rachel WAS upset and maybe even a bit angry in the moment. She was going through a breakup on live television. The woman is allowed to feel emotions. When Peter apologized for saying Rachel would be choosing a “mediocre life” if she chose a proposal over him, Rachel snapped, “I’m living my best life.” To which Peter responded, “I feel attacked.” Again, accusing a black woman of attacking someone is loaded. Rachel handled herself in her usual composed and classy way but she did throw purposeful verbal jabs at Peter. Rachel was not aggressive but she was upset. To me, it seemed like the emotions were still raw (and they’re still, totally, madly in love) and the conversation that ensued was a normal, tough talk that comes with the dissolution of a relationship.
After spending a season with Rachel Lindsay, I wanted more for her than settling for a dude with alleged fake cheeks and a terrifying mother. I wanted more for her than an ugly ass pear-shaped engagement ring. But maybe that’s my fault for expecting so much from a reality show with a dumb premise and delusional definitions of romance and commitment.
Finally, how do we make sure Eric, his breakup beard and his Insecure Season 2 glow up becomes the next Bachelor?