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Every Single Thing We Know About Matt James's Season of 'The Bachelor'

The Editors
·6-min read
Every Single Thing We Know About Matt James's Season of 'The Bachelor'

From Marie Claire

Spoilers for The Bachelor ahead. If it feels like Tayshia Adams and Claire Crawley's season of The Bachelorette just ended, that's because, uh, it did. Just two weeks separated their season of The Bachelorette and Matt James' season of The Bachelor, which started on January 4, 2021 on ABC at 8 p.m. (hallelujah, we're back to that Monday slot!). Early spoilers for James' season from Bachelor Nation guru Reality Steve and other spoiler accounts made clear that this season was going to be soapy and dramatic (or "dra-MATT-ic," as ABC put it)—but controversy over the franchise's handling of race quickly marred James's season, leading to host Chris Harrison stepping down before James had even handed out his final rose.

As for James, he's unique for being both the first Black Bachelor and the first Bachelor in years that wasn't a fan favorite from previous seasons. Instead, James was plucked from Crawley's cast before he'd even met her—and the timing was interesting, to say the least, since a petition had just begun circulating that demanded a greater commitment to diversity in The Bachelor franchise. But James also ticks a lot of the boxes for the franchise: He's handsome, charming, best friends with Tyler Cameron, and committed to charity work. Who wouldn't want to date the guy?

Who wins Matt James' season and gets engaged to him?

The four final contestants who made it to hometowns were:

  • Serena Pitt

  • Rachael Kirkconnell

  • Bri Springs

  • Michelle Young

The frontrunner who has commanded the most attention, by far, is Rachael Kirkconnell. You can learn more about her and the controversy around her here:

Photo credit: Craig Sjodin - Getty Images
Photo credit: Craig Sjodin - Getty Images

And here's Serena Pitt (more on her here):

Photo credit: Craig Sjodin - Getty Images
Photo credit: Craig Sjodin - Getty Images

Michelle Young:

Photo credit: Craig Sjodin - Getty Images
Photo credit: Craig Sjodin - Getty Images

Bri Springs:

Photo credit: Craig Sjodin - Getty Images
Photo credit: Craig Sjodin - Getty Images

As for who wins the season and James' heart, Reality Steve says it came down to Rachael and Michelle as James' final two, with Rachael winning the season and getting James' final rose. If you needed more evidence that Kirkconnell won: @BachSleuthers discovered that James had been listening to one of Kirkconnell's playlists (I mean, do you listen to your ex's Spotify playlists?).

Photo credit: Craig Sjodin - Getty Images
Photo credit: Craig Sjodin - Getty Images

So are they still together now? The answer, it seems, is no. Reality Steve reported that Kirkconnell and James broke up at some point after the season filmed and before it aired. When the season began airing, people noticed that Kirkconnell had "liked" racist posts on social media—and the controversy hit breaking point when photographs of her at a plantation-themed ball, apparently dressed in an "antebellum"-style outfit, emerged. At some point, Kirkconnell and James split—something RS says is clear from James' statement on Feb. 22, in which he calls Kirkconnell's actions "incredibly disappointing."

It does seem that the breakup was initiated by James. Says Reality Steve: "I know that she didn’t want the break up to happen, so what mind set will she be in? Will Matt say something different on TV than what he told her during the breakup?"

We'll learn more about what happened between them during the finale of James's season on March 15, and the "After The Final Rose" thereafter. Former NFL player Emmanuel Acho will be hosting in lieu of Harrison.

"Matt seems to be content on leaving this thing as a single man, and frankly, seems to be done with this franchise," says Reality Steve.

What else happens on James' season?

In I-feel-weird-about-this news: Matt James's dad, who wasn't around when James and his brother were growing up, will make an appearance. "I don’t know the outcome. If it was contentious, if Matt got closure, if it’s a touching moment, etc. Not sure," RS writes. What is clear is that James did not consent to his dad being brought on the show—which feels incredibly uncomfortable, frankly, but judging by the amount of press James has been doing around the show, we can assume he's not too furious about it.

Also, we learned some...weird details from an interview between the owner of the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Page Six: "Sometimes there’s some hanky-panky going on where it should not have been, but I can’t tell you everything that was going on. We are on 3,000 acres. So there’s a lot of land, and a lot of woods out there. There were things going on inside and outside of the hotel all the time...We actually found a used condom in the tree branch.” (Reality Steve confirmed that, yes, these comments are weird, and no, James did not have sex in the forest.)

Who will be The Bachelorette next season?

This is an interesting one. Reality Steve initially reported that ABC had chosen Katie Thurston, the contestant you'll remember for calling out Victoria and everyone else when you were screaming at the TV, but Thurston then posted an Instagram story that sent: "Reading my texts this morning like...news to me." She reiterated this sentiment on Tamron Hall: "Until I hear otherwise officially, again, it’s news to me."

Photo credit: Instagram
Photo credit: Instagram

Reality Steve then backtracked: "Now, I don’t see [Katie being cast as the Bachelorette] happening. Hell, we don’t even know if there WILL be a “Bachelorette” season."

Of course, RS is referring to the controversy over Kirkconnell that led to Harrison stepping back from the show. RS added: "If “Bachelorette” does film as scheduled, filming would start in about a month. That may seem like plenty of time, but that’s if everything was running smooth in the franchise. Which it isn’t. At all."

When it comes to casting for The Bachelorette, ABC typically selects its next lead from the batch of contestants in the last season. But they broke with tradition to cast Matt, and it's anyone's guess whether they would return to form with a contestant from Matt's season, or pick someone else entirely. If ABC does go with someone from Matt's season, the most obvious choices would be Michelle Young, Serena Pitt, or Bri Springs, all of whom make it to hometowns but don't win the season. They've all gotten good edits, too—another sign that the show may be setting them up to be the Bachelorette. Two more contestants from this season that have become fan favorites are Abigail Heringer and, of course, Katie.

But if they do break with tradition, Kristina Schulman is a top contender, and fans have suggested that now-single Kelley Flanagan and past Bachelorette Andi Dorfman could be considered for the role.

Another twist: Now that Chris Harrison is stepping aside following controversy over his comments about Kirkconnell (you can read more about that here), who will host that Bachelorette season—if there is a season? Will it be half Chris, half another host (JoJo Fletcher and Rachel Lindsay come to mind here) or another host entirely? And afterwards, would Chris come back? After all, to quote RS, guru on all things Bachelor Nation: "Chris Harrison, while no doubt the face of this franchise, can be replaced."

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