The finale of the 25th season of The Bachelor was a rollercoaster ride. During the finale, Matt James chose polarizing contestant Rachael Kirkconnell over Michelle Young. James told Kirkconnell that she believes that they will start a family together and live a beautiful life in unison.
"I see you as my wife. I see you as the mother of my kids," James told Kirkconnell.
However, things quickly changed during the After The Rose special. Taped long after the season finale, James revealed that he had separated from Kirkconnell recently after controversial photos of her surfaced. The photos showed that she had attended an antebellum south-themed formal just three years ago. After these photos were shared online, former host of The Bachelor Chris Harrison attempted to defend Kirkconnell, which sparked a controversy of its own. Former star of The Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, also called the show out for its longstanding issues with race. Altogether, these photos created a handful of fires around The Bachelor franchise.
Having parted ways, James and Kirkconnell met face-to-face for the first time since their split. James acknowledged that Kirkconnell had apologized for the photos, but he still needs to see her act on that apology before reconsidering their relationship.
"If you don't understand that something like that is problematic in 2018, there's a lot of me that you won't understand. And it's as simple as that," James said.
"As Rachael acknowledged in her apology, there's a lot of work that needs to be done. I have to take a step back and allow her to put in that work. And I'm looking forward to seeing her put in that work."
Initially, Kirkconnell said that she felt "blindsided" and "confused" by his decision to break things off. Over time, she began to acknowledge the error of her ways and make changes within her life.
"For him to end things, he must've been very, very hurt by everything," she said.
"It was hard because I lost the love of my life, but in the process of that, I hurt him while doing so."
On a brighter note, it appears that the woman James did not pick, Michelle Young, will star in an upcoming season of The Bachelorette. She is the second Black woman to lead the series.
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