For several years now, Chris Harrison has been promising viewers that each Bachelor season finale will be the most dramatic in the show’s history.
This year, he might actually be right — but not in the way that he imagined.
For starters, Matt James’ season will be the first to conclude with an After the Final Rose special that’s not hosted by Harrison.
As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Harrison has “stepped away” from the franchise that made him famous, and while he’s vowed to return, it’s unclear what sort of timeline he has in mind.
(It’s also unclear if the show’s producers will allow him to return at any point.)
But the drama surrounding this season goes well beyond concerns about the racial insensitivity that led Harriosn to step down.
At this point, Matt has narrowed down his group of potential suitors from a record-breaking 38 to just two — Michelle Young and Rachael Kirkconnell.
Michelle has become a fan favorite in recent weeks, but (and this is where we’ll issue your final SPOILER ALERT), those in the know claim it’s Rachael who receives Matt’s final rose.
That’s bad news both for Michelle fans and for the franchise itself.
Race scandals involving Kirkconnell have made her arguably the most controversial contestant in series history.
In fact, reports of her problematic behavior likely contributed to Matt and Rachael’s recent breakup.
Now, producers find themselves in a very difficult position:
For the finale, they have to present Matt and Rachael’s romance as a happy ending, a fairy tale come true.
In actuality, however, it’s the final proof that this season was both deeply problematic, and a colossal waste of time for pretty much everyone involved.
Don’t get us wrong, Matt was the first Black Bachelor in the history of the show, and he deserves endless credit for being the man who helped the show take this long overdue step forward.
But did producers let him down by not performing a thorough background check on all of the contestants?
Was this the best way for this successful young man to spend months oh his life in the middle of a pandemic?
If he had found love, we’re sure that Matt would be left with zero regrets.
As it is, however, he’s as single as when he started, and now his name is forever linked to a franchise that seems become messier by the day.
As for what these developments mean for the future of the show, that remains to be seen.
Matt will no doubt be fine, but the same cannot necessarily be said for The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and The Bachelor In Paradise.
Shows that once offered two hours of escapism now bring to mind many of the most severe societal ills plaguing our country.
ABC execs will certainly endeavor to preseve the franchise, but in order to do so, they’ll need to make some major changes.
And much will depend on how deftly the show navigates the public relations minefield that is the next twoo weeks.
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