After a heavy dose of roses, racism and tears, we’ve finally made it to the finish line.
Typically at this point in the season, right before the finale, it’s fairly easy to guess which contestant will be chosen by the lead. While Matt James’ season winner has been spoiled left and right in the media, this finale still has a curve ball to it that not even famous Bachelor spoiler Reality Steve revealed. Matt’s final pick was met with a lot of criticism and controversy from viewers, but what happened after filming wraps was the big question mark for everyone.
Throughout the entire season, it’s been no secret that Matt struggles with being vulnerable and opening up. During Fantasy Suites, he had a very raw conversation with his father about how he was absent and neglected him during his childhood. The moment with his father is briefly aired, but it’s obvious the combined weight of the conversation and the pressure of a proposal eventually caught up with him in the end.
As a lead who does not do well opening up, producers set Matt up for failure when they continuously put him in situations that are far too personal for national television, let alone for someone who severely struggles with vulnerability. Forget Victoria and the mean girls — the producers have earned the villain title of the season.
At the end of the episode when Matt started getting cold feet, producers even tried to make him feel bad for ending the season without a proposal. It’s 2021; people don’t want to be engaged after two months just to break up shortly after.
At the end of the road, two things are certain: this season was historical for all the wrong reasons, and Matt James still kisses with his eyes open. Let’s recap:
Matt’s mom doesn’t tell him what he wants to hear
At the beginning, I was confused because the episode was absolutely blowing through the family dates, which are the two most important moments of the season when the girls finally get to meet the only girl Matt has ever loved: his mother. When Michelle and Rachael both met Matt’s mom, Patty, by 8:30 p.m., clearly something was up. It was obvious at that point the last hour-and-a-half would be dedicated to a lot of cold feet, drama and even more tears.
After both dates were over, Matt reconvened with his mother and brother to listen to their opinions. Patty had nothing bad to say about Michelle or Rachael and actually said she felt “nothing but warmth” for each of them. As cute and innocent as Patty is, she has no problem dropping all the out-of-pocket comments. Instead of telling him what he wants to hear, she says the facts: “Love is not the end all be all.”
This quote alone crescendoed through the entire episode — forcing Matt to reflect on the past, doubt his feelings and realize he’s not ready for an engagement. His internal conflict was heavy throughout the rest of the episode and resulted in him questioning if his feelings would quickly fade. Airing a quote like this on a show such as The Bachelor, which is based on love, almost feels like profanity. But it was obviously needed, nonetheless.
Not. The. Jerseys.
Apparently, Matt doesn’t know how to politely break up with someone, especially in front of cameras. If you already knew the season spoilers, watching this final date with Michelle was like watching an innocent deer get shot between the eyes. The second Matt says “I just have to lay it all out there” prior to the date and with doubt in his eyes … we all knew where this was going (yes, up in flames).
AND THEN THE JERSEYS. Oh, my God, what producer allowed this kind, innocent woman to humiliate herself like this on national television. Moments before Matt absolutely shatters Michelle's heart, she gifts him two basketball jerseys titled “Mr. James” and “Mrs. James.” It was a bold move on her part, but judging from the way Matt acts around Michelle, it’s easy to see why she didn’t have a doubt in her mind.
Then, he has the audacity to tell her nothing besides, “I don’t think I can get there with you” with his hand still on her knee. Electric chair.
Welcome to the “People Who Deserved Better Club,” Michelle! Matt can kick rocks.
He doesn’t close
After his series of internal conflicts throughout the episode, it wasn’t a surprise Matt doesn’t end up proposing in the end. When a lead ends a season without an “I do,” it is usually met with a lot of criticism. However, if it was normalized, there would definitely be a more positive rate of couples actually staying together after filming.
After canceling his final date with Rachael to collect his thoughts, he eventually meets her to explain his feelings and hear her out as well.
“I can’t propose to you today … But that doesn’t mean I wanna lose you,” he tells her. The two agree to leave together in a relationship but not as an engaged couple.
Rachael gets canceled while Matt is still disappointed
Matt and Rachael may have left the show together, but they are no longer a couple. After the pictures of Rachael attending an Old South-themed party, it was obvious the news would cause a rift in the relationship. Host Emmanuel Acho had no issue airing the photos by showing them on the jumbotron for the world to see. At that point, Rachael was beyond canceled.
After Acho began asking Matt how he felt, he told him the news led to the couple's breakup and that he had to step back from the relationship so she could educate herself.
“It’s heartbreaking. It’s devastating. It’s disappointing,” he said.
Acho pointed out “you may never see this woman again” and pushed Matt to say something to Rachael, but Matt still remained in silence. Throughout the moments he and Rachael were both in the hot seat, Matt’s tears never stopped, and he barely looked at her during the interview. One thing is for certainL the potential for these two in the future is slim to none.
On the bright side, Bachelor Nation is trying to atone itself after this terrible season by giving viewers not one season of The Bachelorette, but two.
Katie Thurston and Michelle Young will lead the two upcoming seasons of the show. Look out for Katie’s season premiere at the beginning of this summer and Michelle’s season premiere in the fall.
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