*”The Bachelor” ended Monday night with its first Black lead choosing a woman who had become embroiled in racial controversy, only to have broken up with her after production ended due to the transgressions. It all played out on ABC’s “After the Final Rose” in one of the most painfully-awkward finales in franchise history.
Matt James didn’t give Rachael Kirkconnell a ring at the end of their journey, but chose the finalist in a shared anticipation for a future together as man and wife. But sometime between the end of production and before Monday’s airing of “Final Rose,” social media posts from 2018 surfaced showing Kirkconnell “liking” Confederate flag and pro-Trump pics, and appearing in photos at a college antebellum party celebrating the South’s pro-Slavery past. Monday’s “Final Rose” began with Kirkconnell addressing the controversy.
Matt was then invited to the stage, bringing the two face-to-face for the first time since cameras stopped rolling. Rachael apologized for her ignorance, while Matt – taking super long pauses between thoughts – revealed that his feelings have not changed and he did not want to get back together.
Meanwhile, Michelle Young, the sweet-natured elementary school teacher in Matt’s final two, was announced as the next “Bachelorette” along with fellow contestant Katie Thurston. Yes, two Bachelorettes were announced at the same time. Thurston’s run will take place during season 17 this summer, while Michelle’s season 18 will follow this fall.
Before Kirkconnell took the stage, Michelle got a chance to talk about being passed over, and revealed that Matt had turned down her request to have a “two minute” conversation after the breakup so she could have some closure.
Watch their breakup and Michelle finally getting to speak her peace on-stage with Matt below:
Host Chris Harrison, replaced Monday by Emmanuel Acho after defending Kirkconnell’s photos in a discussion with the show’s first black “Bachelorette,” Rachel Lindsay – will be replaced for the upcoming “Bachelorette” season by Tayshia Adams (the franchise’s second Black “Bachelorette”) and Kaitlyn Bristowe.