Type keyword(s) to search


Matt James Rips The Bachelor: 'The Show Missed the Mark' on Black Representation

"If they're not willing to have that conversation, they should strongly consider not going there in the first place."
  • Matt James (Photo: ABC)
    Matt James (Photo: ABC)

    Following the nationwide outrage surrounding the death of George Floyd, Matt James, who was set to be a contestant on an upcoming season of The Bachelorette, was quickly thrust into the role of America's first Black Bachelor. His season was billed as a landmark move for ABC, but his journey for love quickly spiraled when his frontrunner, Rachael Kirkconnell, was found to have attended an antebellum South-themed party and had liked racially insensitive social media posts. The controversy caused a firestorm and prompted deep conversations about race that James now says the show wasn't capable of handling.

    In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, James revealed "the show missed the mark" on "the opportunity to have those tough conversations" even prior to the controversy surrounding Kirkconnell. He reveals in his new memoir, "First Impressions: Off-Screen Conversations With a Bachelor on Race, Family, and Forgiveness," that many of his deep conversations with potential partners and then-host Chris Harrison were cut from the show, including one about the pressure he faced to choose a Black woman at the end of the season.

    "I poured my heart out [to Harrison] for more than an hour, stressing over the impossible choice before me — an openness to love in all of its many forms on one side and a duty to my people on the other," James writes, per the LA Times. Ultimately, the scene was shortened to "only a few seconds," removing much of the thoughtfulness about race that James had hoped to bring to the franchise. "In my conversion from person to prop, key pieces of me were left behind," he writes.

    "When that didn't come across on the show, it looked like I lacked substance, I lacked depth," James said. "I' m disappointed, not only for myself... Middle America could have benefited so much. So many lives could have been enriched, not only by my conversations with Rachael but with the other women who were on this journey."

    As for how the franchise handled things when it was clear a besmirched Kirkconnell would receive James' final rose, he said, "There wasn't anything left to rehash. My relationship had been made into a sideshow, a complete circus." James was left so disillusioned by the experience that he didn't feel the need to further address his relationship with Kirkconnell, which is still going strong, in his book.

    "Maybe I would have told that story if the franchise had made a more concerted effort to take part in that conversation when it was at its height... That opportunity was lost because everyone was afraid and sitting on their hands. I understand it, but that's the kind of thing that happens when you bring people of color into your space," James said. "If they're not willing to have that conversation, they should strongly consider not going there in the first place. There are things about being Black that people who aren't Black can never understand. It's too much for them to handle."

    People are talking about The Bachelor and The Bachelorette in our forums. Join the conversation.

    Kirstie Renae is a writer, blogger, and Austin-based actress with a penchant for binge-watching TV with her dogs. Follow her on Twitter @KirstieRenae.

    TOPICS: Matt James, ABC, The Bachelor, Chris Harrison, Rachael Kirkconnell