Well, for better or worse, it was an After the Final Rose special unlike any that we’ve seen before.
Some viewers complained about the awkward silences, of which there several.
But when the conversation was at its most intense, it offered the sort of depth and insight one rarely finds on primetime television, much less on a show like the Bachelor.
First, guest host Emmanuel Acho spoke with Matt James, who confirmed that he and Rachael Kirkconnell had broken up.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. I have to take a step back and allow her to put in the work,” James said.
“We are not [together]. It was as tough as you can imagine. It’s heartbreaking. If you don’t understand that something like that was problematic in 2018, there’s a lot of me that you won’t understand.”
After making that bombshell reveal, Matt left the stage and Rachael offered her side of the story.
“I thought about how strong I thought our relationship was, so for him to end things, he must have been very, very hurt by everything,” she said.
“It was hard because I lost the love of my life and in the process of doing that, I hurt him. … I love him so much and I always will. I do feel like I finally do know what real love feels like.”
There’s no denying that Rachael messed up badly, or that those plantation party photos were appallingly offensive.
But her heartbreak was genuine, and it seems her intention of doing better in the future is as well.
“I see someone who was living in ignorance without even thinking about who it would be hurting. I never once asked myself at any point, like, ‘What’s the tradition behind this? What does this represent? Why do we wear those dresses?’” Kirkconnell explained.
“I’m not gonna sit here and say I didn’t know any better, because I could have easily asked myself those questions,” she continued.
“I never took the time to make that connection, because if I would have taken the time, I easily could’ve understood what was wrong with it. … There is no excuse.
“I wanted myself to really understand exactly why people were so hurt by this because I want to do better,”
So Rachael now understands that what she did was wrong, and she hopes to make amends.
But apparently, it took her quite a long time to recognize the error of her ways.
When Emmanuel asked her if she lied awake nights out of fear that the antebellum party photos would re-emerge and “ruin [her] life,” Rachael revealed that the thought never occurred to her.
There are those who complain that modern society is overly fixated on matters of social justice.
But the fact remains that in 2020, a college-educated woman who was dating a black man was entirely ignorant to the fact that parties celebrating the slave-holding South might cause pain to people she cares about.
This season of The Bachelor might not have helped Matt James find love, but it succeeded in reminding millions of Americans that we still have a long way to go if we hope to live in a more enlightened society.