If you're a fan of The Bachelor, we probably don't need to tell you these are very strange times for the longtime ABC ratings stalwart.
For nearly 20 years, the franchise has thrived on predictability:
Sure, you don't who will win (unless you read our The Bachelor spoilers) until the last episode, but you always have a pretty good idea of how the season will unfold.
Until now ...
In the beginning, aside from the fact that it featured the first Black Bachelor in the show's history, Matt James' season offered more of the same:
A handsome and successful young man met a slew of single ladies who were all smiles and jump-hugs on their dates, but were quick to let the claws come out in their interactions with one another.
There were villains (we're looking at you, Queen Victoria!), fan favorites, and hot takes galore following every rose ceremony.
But in recent weeks, all that has been overshadowed by a series of scandals that highlighted some of the most damaging problems plaguing not only the Bachelor franchise but American society as a whole.
First, a former high school classmate accused frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell of bullying her for dating black men.
Shortly thereafter, photos of Kirkconnell attending a plantation party emerged and created an uproar among fans.
The situation was soon exacerbated by Kirkconnell's apology, which many regarded as insincere and unconvincing.
Making matters even worse was an interview in which host Chris Harrison spoke with Rachel Lindsay.
To the shock of many fans, the host clumsily and callously defended Rachael's actions while speaking with the first Black star of The Bachelorette.
The interview gave Lindsay a starring role in the saga of the Bachelor breakdown, and she's using her platform to call attention to systemic issues in both the show and society.
Speaking on the Bachelor Party podcast this week, Lindsay addressed Kirkconnell's recent Instagram Story, in which she's seen reading a book entitled Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man.
“You almost feel like you know everything you need to know about her in that picture,” Lindsay explained.
“The fact that that’s what she decided to do. Several people sent me that Story. Her apology was well-written, it was pretty, and it was sincere. I’m not going to knock anyone’s apology."
Lindsay was more accepting than most with regard to Kirkconnell's apology, but it seems she's unimpressed with the 24-year-old's actions in the weeks since.
"But then the next step is to take action. Taking action to me isn’t showing everybody that you’re reading the book," Lindsay said.
"You have such a big platform. There’s a lot of people who don’t necessarily understand what Chris said in the interview or why people are so upset, so this is an opportunity for you to explain that.”
Lindsay saved her harshest comments for last, describing Kirkconnell's efforts to appear woke as "vapid."
“Vapid is the word that comes to mind,” Lindsay about Kirkconnell’s recent affectations.
“I don’t think it could get any worse, unless he chooses Rachael.”
At this point we're gonna go ahead and issue a SPOILER ALERT for anyone who's not yet aware of how this season ends:
Lindsay will probably be unhappy to learn that Matt does pick Rachael in his season finale.
However, insiders say Kirkconnell and James have already broken up.
So buckle up folks -- this season might be almost over, but it sounds like the twists and turns are just beginning!