‘The Bachelor’ After The Final Rose Episode Tackles Racism Controversies From Season 25
Season 25 of The Bachelor officially came to a close last night when the After The Final Rose episode aired.
Former NFL player and Fox Sports analyst Emmanuel Acho hosted the episode, stepping in for usual franchise host, Chris Harrison. Harrison took a break from the show after facing backlash for defending Rachael Kirkconnell after photos of her at an antebellum-themed party surfaced online.
The first cast member to appear on the episode was runner-up, Michelle Young.
“I did not want to be sitting here with the ending that I had,” said Young. “But I’m ready to face it.”
Young said after the Bachelor, Matt James, broke up with her, she requested to have a conversation with him about things she was too shocked to say in the moment. She said James refused to have that conversation with her.
James came out to talk with Young and she explained how much it hurt her that he refused to speak with her.
He said “there was no justification for not having that conversation, and if I would have known that this is how you were feeling in that moment, then I would have fought to have that conversation.”
Acho also asked Young for her thoughts about Harrison and Kirkconnell’s controversies. Regarding Harrison, Young implied that the franchise is doing little at the moment and has a long way to go. She said the more she learned about Kirkconnell’s situation, the more hurt she felt as a black woman.
“That was a prime example of not understanding the history behind it,” she said about Kirkconnell. “I feel like Rachael has a good heart… but I think there’s a lot of learning [that needs to be done].”
After Young finished her interview, Acho and James talked about James’ experience as the first black bachelor. James said it was a lot of pressure because Black people face an “extra level of scrutiny,” especially when they are the first to do something. He added that the special attention on racism and civil rights the past year added to the pressure.
James said he ultimately is glad he did the show though because he learned a lot about himself.
“It was the first time I wasn’t afraid to cry,” he said. “I wasn’t afraid to show emotion.”
Finally, the pair talked about Kirkconnell’s controversial photos and why he stepped back from their relationship.
“I dismissed them as rumors because that’s what they were to me,” he said. “You just pray they’re not true.”
James said finding out they were real made him question their relationship and realize that Kirkconnell might not understand “what it means to be black in America.”
Eventually, Kirkconnell herself made an appearance, addressing the photos and her racially insensitive past.
“In my eyes, there’s no excuse. I did get a lot of people saying, ‘This is normal where I grew up.’… That doesn’t make it right,” she said. “I don’t think that anything is going to change if we don’t take actions to put that education into play.”
James joined Kirkconnell for the first time since the couple broke up. Kirkconnell apologized to James for hurting him, but he did not respond to her right away. Eventually, he said the most disappointing part was having to explain to her why what she did was problematic. He reiterated repeatedly that she needed to do the work on her own.
“When I questioned our relationship, it was on the context of you not fully understanding my blackness, and what it means for me to be a black man in America, and what it would mean for our kids,” he said.
The conclusion of the episode revealed that former Bachelor contestants Katie Thurston and Young would be the next Bachelorettes, with Thurston’s season airing in the spring and Young’s season airing in the fall.