Well, folks, Matt James made history as the first Black Bachelor.
But sadly, the former pro football player did not find love on the show.
From the very starts of this season, we've been bringing you The Bachelor spoilers, and while we hate to toot our own horn, our prediciotns have been spot-on accurate.
Some people prefer to be surprised, but we're firm believers that Bachelor spoilers make things more fun, especially as the episodes fly by and pieces fall into place.
Of course, we owe an enormous debt to Reality Steve who's been the source of so much of the information we used this year.
The man is just plain good at what he does.
He's been on top of this all along, though even the Oracle of Bachelor Spoilers would admit that Matt's season was full of surprises.
First the Rachael Kirkconnell racism scandal rocked this franchise to its core.
Shortly thereafter, Chris Harrison stepped away from his hosting gig following his tone deaf defense of Rachael, and it's unclear if he'll return.
To top it all off, Matt dumped Rachael after giving her his final rose, citing her racial insensitivity as the cause.
So what's to become of these two now?
Well, here's an update, along with your final rundown of the events of Matt's season:
James is Making History
On the Season 25 premiere, Matt James - not only the first Black lead, but the first franchise newcomer to hand out the roses in years - admits to Chris Harrison that he's never been in love. Not ever. Not once in his life. "It's my job to change that," the host tells The Bachelor. Whether we look back on this historic season as a turning point in a good sense remains to be seen.
Keystone State of Mind
James' journey kicked off January 4 at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania. The set was reportedly isolated and all COVID-19 protocols were being followed. If you recognize the surroundings, your eyes are not deceiving you. The latest Bachelorette actually filmed her After the Final Rose ceremony at this same place - and the newly-engaged Tayshia set a high bar for Matt.
Was There a Need to Shut Down at Any Point?
No. Just like The Bachelorette (and the NBA), Covid protocols were followed and no surprises cases created any hiccups. "It's the blueprint and the formula we used to shoot Clare's season, and is working out perfectly," Chris Harrison, who ironically was the only person from the show to break quarantine when he took his kid to college, and was required to sit out for two weeks, told Entertainment Tonight. "I can tell you it's working, it's successful and -- knock on wood -- it'll continue to be successful."
The First Impression Rose Was Everything
The woman who earned the first impression rose made quite an impression on Matt and viewers alike.
Say Hello to Abigail Heringer!
Abigail got Matt's first rose. Originally from Salem, Oreon, Abigail was reportedly born partially deaf and given cochlear implants as a child.
Bow Down to the Queen
Not everyone was as well received. Victoria Larson, a.k.a Queen Victoria, quickly made her presence felt on the 2021 season, both by captivating Matt and establishing herself as the villain to end all villains.
Body of Work
Victoria then found herself in an unexpected position - sympathetic victim - after a viral video showed Matt James' friend taking shots at her, specifically at her appearance. (Yes, somehow he had negative things to say about this person's appearance.) Whatever you think of her conduct on the show, she dealt with that off-screen controversy well.
Escort Her Out?
In an unexpected twist, one of Matt's aspiring girlfriends Brittany Galvin was accused by fellow contestant Anna Redman of being a real life escort. As in she has transactional relationships with men for money in Chicago. Brittany denied this - while not shaming sex workers - and in the end, it was Anna who ended up paying the price.
Bye Bye, Bullies
On the February 1 episode, Matt bid farewell to both Anna Redman (above) and Queen Victoria, sending a strong message that bullying has no place in his journey to find a wife. Brittany, Ryan, Rachael, Serena P., Magi, Kit, MJ, Jessenia, Katie, Abigail, Chelsea and Serena C. received roses at the end of this emotional installment.
How Far Does Abigail Advance?
Sadly, for those hoping that the first deaf contestant would run away with Matt's heart all the way to the finale, she was eliminated in the final six this year. (Which is still a heck of a run.)
The Final Four Lucky Ladies
It took a little longer than some fans hoped, but Reality Steve has delivered the goods, and we know the names of Matt's final four.
Michelle arrived late - one of five women who were introduced to the house after the second rose ceremony. And it seems she wasted no time in catching Matt's eye.
Next up is Serena Pitt. The 23-year-old publicist and self-described foodie from Toronto formed quite a connection with Matt. She may not have gotten as much time with Matt as she would have liked during the insanity of the first party, but she more than made up for it down the road.
Bri is something of a wild card. Steve says this is the one he was least certain of and she didn't get as much screen time as some of her competition. But right now, with Bri having made it to the final four, she got the last laugh.
Last but certainly not least, the lovely and controversial Rachael Kirkconnell rounds out the final foursome this season. Like Matt, the Cumming, Ga., resident is a southerner with a taste for the old-fashioned (which we recently learned is not necessarily always positive). Kirkconnell says she's never been in love, but obviously that will change this season. So who will receive Matt's final rose??
Not Serena Pitt
Serena Pitt withdrew from the competition during hometown dates (quote-unquote), saying she realized Matt was not her person. That made James' life easier, as he had three roses to give out and three women remaining. However, one was not entirely pleased.
Bri Springs Not Eternal
Bri was not happy that she was the third (out of three) to receive a rose from Matt. She felt this signified that she was his lowest priority, and she may not be incorrect.
There Can Be Only Two ... Then One
Steve's spies told him that Bri would be the next to go, leaving Rachael and Michelle in the final two, and he was correct. Despite editing that made it seem like an agonizing decision, Matt gave roses to Michelle and Rachael, sending Bri home. Then, by all accounts, in the finale, Rachael Kirkconnell will emerge victorious. Of course, major questions still remain about how it all went down.
The Bachelor spoilers guru says that intel is backed by reports from the residents of Cumming, Ga., who say there's no doubt that Rachael is Matt's woman. "All I keep being told out of Cumming is that Rachael won, and all her friends and family know and they’re telling everyone," Steve writes.
Could This Be Wrong?
Of course. Steve cautions readers that the outcome is still not guaranteed, and there's "a lot more that goes down this season." And there's also the chance of a late-season (even post-season) shift, as we've seen with Arie and Jason, to name a few. But Steve also doesn't publish things that he's not confident in, and overall has an incredible track record. So the smart money is definitely on Rachael.
How the Runner-Up Exits
As for Michelle, she met his mom (as did Rachael). On what would be his final date with Michelle, she gave him jerseys for the two of them. Bittersweet, as he would break it off with her on this same night. He says that while he loves Michelle, he is not in love with her. She suspects it’s because of Rachael, which Reality Steve says he confirms. At least he was honest.
No Ceremony Needed (For Once)
It's notable that Matt sent Michelle home during an intimate, one-on-one moment, as opposed to during a rose ceremony. Typically, this is a move we see on The Bachelorette - the lead sends one of the two guys home in order to spare him the embarrassment of standing there for a final rose ceremony. It seems Matt may have taken a page from the ladies' book. We respect that.
Did He Leave the Finale Single?
That certainly is the implication when you see a final date getting called off; Matt's demeanor didn't give off the impression that he was ready to take the plunge either. But sure enough, another twist: Rachael receives a letter under her door from Matt apologizing for canceling their final date. He asks her to meet him by the lake, where the final rose ceremony (or equivalent) takes place.
Twists and Turns ...
Just when you thought we were headed toward a clear-cut ending, slow your roll. The next day was supposed to be Rachael’s final date, but it gets canceled. The breakup with Michelle, along with the meeting with his dad that aired March 8, catches up to him. With James confused and hurting, Chris shows up to tell Rachael that the final date is off, leaving her in limbo.
Will There Be a Proposal?
Matt did not propose to Rachael. He tells her he loves her and he can’t picture his life without her, but that's as far as we get on ABC. She accepts the final rose and they leave as a couple - just dating, basically. No promise ring, as has been widely reported.
Does It Even Matter?
Think about it. Only one man's proposal (Sean Lowe's) on the show led to a marriage. (Yes, we know Jason Mesnick and Arie Luyendyk went on to date their respective runners-up and married them, but neither Molly or Lauren received the actual Bachelor Neil Lane special.) If anything, Matt might be going about things differently for that reason, and not wanting to cheapen something like an engagement - a charge Hannah Ann Sluss made re: Peter Weber last season.
Still Not a Great Sign
The odds weren't good that these two will last - not because of whether or not he proposed on the finale, just because it rarely works out in general, and while it's possible Matt was more ready for a serious relationship than he let on, it just doesn't seem likely. And that's not even taking into account the factors that have caused a firestorm of controversy surrounding this season.
There's the Whole Racism Scandal
Incredibly, the most noteworthy aspect to this season has yet to be mentioned on it. The controversy started when an Instagram user accused frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell of racist behavior. The whistle-blower claimed that Kirkconnell had bullied her for dating black men while the two were in high school.
It Got Worse in a Hurry
The controversy escalated when photos of Kirkconnell attending a plantation-themed party in 2018 began to make the rounds on social media. The Georgia native remained silent longer than many viewers thought was appropriate, and when Kirkconnell did apologize, she was widely criticized for sounding forced and insincere.
Open Mouth, Insert Foot
Chris Harrison then made matters much worse for the entire franchise. In an interview with Rachel Lindsay (pictured), Harrison defended Kirkconnell, criticized the "woke police" for coming after her, said 2018 was a lot different than 2021, and other insensitive things. He quickly issued an apology and took a leave of absence from the franchise. For what it's worth, Harrison and Kirkconnell have both apologized multiple times and asked fervent defenders of their behavior - there are many within Bachelor Nation - to stand down.
This is Going to Get Weird
Obviously, this puts producers in a very difficult position. The franchise relies upon happy, functional couples who stay together After the Final Rose (at least for awhile). This year the guests of honor will likely be Matt and a woman whose racially insensitive behavior has made her the most controversial Bachelor contestant in the show's history. How does Matt himself feel about it, having watched this unfold in real time?
Matt Breaks His Silence
On February 23, James finally spoke out about this, telling everyone how he feels - and also suggesting that he's still figuring out how he feels (not good, to say the least) and that he will have more to say after some more time passes. He writes: "The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life, and while there are several episodes left of the season, it is important that I take the time to address the troubling information that has come to light since we wrapped filming, including the incredibly disappointing photos of Rachael Kirkconnell and the interview between Rachel Lindsay and Chris Harrison. Chris' failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining the racist history of the Antebellum South, a painful history that every American should understand intimately, was troubling and painful to watch. This moment has sparked critical conversations and reporting, raised important questions, and resulted in inspiring displays of solidarity from The Bachelor nation. It has also pushed me to reevaluate and process what my experience on The Bachelor represents, not just for me, but for all of the contestants of color, especially the Black contestants of this season and seasons past, and for you, the viewers at home. As Black people and allies immediately knew and understood, it was a clear reflection of a much larger issue that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years. I will continue to process this experience, and you will hear more from me in the end. My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better."
Where do these events and Matt's statement leave us heading into the finale? This might be the rare case in which producers are actually rooting for the couple to break up before the finale so that they can dodge what's sure to be an intensely awkward situation and attempt to wash their hands of it all. Of course, only Matt and Rachael can speak for their relationship. Alternately, producers can choose to ban her from the ATFR special and have Matt on by himself, but that might do more harm than good. Whatever the case, it's rather ironic that it should happen in Chris Harrison's absence, but this the Most Dramatic Season in Bachelor History!!
UPDATE, 3/16/21: It's Over
Well, that was fast. In his tweet confirming the news, Reality Steve wrote: "Not that Matt’s statement wasn’t pretty clear itself, but I can confirm that Matt and Rachael have broken up."
Like We Said, It's Gonna Get Weird
The long-time Bachelor Nation spoiler source summed it up best in his follow-up tweet: "Watching these last few episodes is just gonna be...weird. Nothing about any of these storylines are relevant anymore, knowing what we know now." Wow. Just ... wow.
When Did it End?
Apparently, a few weeks ago, after spending Valentine’s Day weekend together, Matt broke it off with Rachael. There are a lot of conflicting and unverified reports about what happened, and we may not get the real story until the “After the Final Rose” special airs, or ever. But after spending Valentine's Day weekend together, he broke it off right after he got back, according to Steve.