Grimly, the conspicuously lower ratings during Rachel Lindsay's season of The Bachelorette were just a portent of things to come.
In the past few years, Rachel has been insulted, targeted by hate campaigns, and blamed for all that is wrong with the world.
Why? Because she is a Black woman and willing to actually discuss systemic and individual racism that infects the Bachelor Nation.
Rachel knows that not all fans are vicious racists. But as for the others ... she has a nickname for that crowd.
Rachel Linday opened up in an op-ed for New York Magazine about her unique and at times harrowing experiences.
While the magazine unfortunately selected an unbecoming title, Rachel's words are still illuminating.
Among many other topics, she delved into why she stepped back from the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast lst month.
Rachel recalled how she had made that decision after being "exhausted from defending myself against a toxic fandom."
The fandom, she acknowledged, "had always had a complicated relationship" with her.
But fueled by racism and resistance to positive change, the hatedom opted to "turn against" her.
The turning point was the infamous interview in which Chris Harrison repeatedly spoke over her.
That was the interview in which he dismissed accusations of racism and unironically called Rachael Kirkconnell's critics a "woke mob."
Good people, simply put, would not use such a term sincerely. It was a "hot mic" moment for Chris and his image.
"The franchise has spent 19 years cultivating a toxic audience," Rachel correctly observed.
"They have constantly given it a product it wants: a midwestern/southern white, blonde, light-eyed Christian," she pointed out.
That is precisely the image cultivated by the franchise.
12 seasons without a Black bachelorette. 24 seasons without a Black bachelor.
At some point, the lack of diversity on the franchise stopped being an oversight and became a conscious choice for production.
In that time, the show attracted an audience where the disproportionate whiteness was a selling point.
"Not all viewers are like that," Rachel emphasized.
"My Higher Learning co-host and I have divided it," she explained, in terms of how one can view the fandom.
Rachel detailed: "There is a Bachelor Nation, and there is a Bachelor Klan."
"Bachelor Klan is hateful, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic," Rachel accurately characterized.
"They are afraid of change," she went on. "They are afraid to be uncomfortable."
Rachel added: "They are afraid when they get called out."
Rachel recalled how, despite initial misgivings, she decided to accept the leading lady role.
"How many people haven't seen a positive representation of a Black woman," she reasoned after a heartfelt conversation.
She had the chance to be seen as "someone who has the chance to be adored by men of all races, backgrounds, professions?"
"I thought maybe the moment was bigger than me," Rachel concluded.
Even when she was on the show, she noted how she feared being seen "as an angry Black female."
That of course is a pernicious stereotype often applied to Black women. It's a form of misogynoir.
However, Rachel was quick to note that there were times when production protected her.
Embarrassing moments, she noted, like when she was drunk, but producers declined to film her at those low moments.
"They could have taken those clips and depicted me as a wild Jezebel," Rachel acknowledged.
"Nick said he did not want to sleep with any women because he had been so sexualized on Bachelor in Paradise," Rachel shared.
"We didn't get there, anyway. I blacked out," she disclosed.
"Nick gave me Tylenol and carried me up the stairs. I never even made it into the Mrs. Claus outfit," Rachel detailed.
However, that did not mean that she did not feel "exploited" during her Hometown date with Peter Kraus.
Peter was always a fan-favorite on her season, a hottie who seemed like the total package.
For the first time, Rachel is truly opening up about what made her realize that she couldn't see herself with him.
Production set up Rachel to meet friends of Peter's, including two Black men and two white women.
"They separated us - Peter got to talk to his homeboys, and I was with the women," she shared.
These were women "who talked about having 'mixed babies' and what it was like to be an interracial couple."
"I couldn't believe it," Rachel recalled. "I'm Black. I have interracial couples in my family."
She noted: "I'm old enough to understand what I'm entering into and the difficulties that come with it. I felt exploited."
"If anything, that situation turned me off of Peter because I couldn't see myself hanging out with them," Rachel shared.
"They were nice, but it was so contrived," Rachel explained.
"The producers really thought, How great! All these mixed couples can come together," she noted.
Rachel understood: "They were only looking at the optics of the situation."
Unfortunately, Rachel's op-ed was given the headline of "Oops, I Blew Up The Bachelor."
Rachel took to Instagram to share that these were "not my words nor are they a reflection of how I feel."
Despite her disappointment, Rachel wrote: "My truth and my thoughts are told on the inside of the magazine which I am very proud of and hope you all read."