Matt James has issued a powerful statement calling for institutional change at The Bachelor, uncommon for current leads
The current season of The Bachelor has been absolutely mired in controversy, after a season frontrunner was revealed to have posted problematic and racist content on her social media, the longtime host of the show, Chris Harrison, stepped down after defending her, and the most racially diverse cast in the franchise’s history banded together in solidarity calling for real change, all the way up to the show’s highest ranks.
Now, Matt James, the first ever Black bachelor, has issued a statement on… all of it, and in his own powerful words, he criticized the show for consistently falling short and called for change to finally happen.
“The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life, and while there are several episodes left of the season, it is important that I take the time to address the troubling information that has come to light since we wrapped filming, especially the incredibly disappointing photos of Rachael Kirkconnell and the interview between Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison,” he wrote. The photos he’s referencing showed Rachael Kirkconnell, rumored to be the winner of his season, attending an Antebellum South themed fraternity party just two years ago.
“The reality is that I’m learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it bluntly,” James continued. “Chris’s failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining the racist history of the Antebellum South, a painful history that every American should understand intimately, was troubling and painful to watch. As Black people and allies immediately knew and understood, it was a clear reflection of a much larger issue that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years.”
James said that watching the events of the last few weeks pushed him to reevaluate his entire experience as The Bachelor. He also strongly called for change, which is highly unusual for a current lead to do.
“I will continue to process this experience, and you will hear more from me in the end,” he wrote. “My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”
A lot of things at The Bachelor are still very up in the air. With two episodes left in the season, there are still calls for Chris Harrison to be permanently removed, though ABC hasn’t spoken at all about any of the controversy or Chris’s future. There are rumors that the popular “After the Final Rose” episode has been canceled, and even the fate of the next season of The Bachelorette seems unclear — a block of reservations at a Canada resort that was rumored to be for the show was abruptly canceled last week. Only one thing is for sure: Viewers are not willing to put up with more lip service from the show, and this is a real moment of reckoning that will determine its future.