In the penultimate episode of season 25 of The Bachelor, Matt James had one-on-one dates with the three women still contending for his heart and spent the night with each one of them in a “fantasy suite.” However, the fulcrum of the episode was a deeply personal conversation James shared with his estranged father, Manny James, prior to those dates.
The conversation painted the elder James as a poor father whose infidelity and prevailing absence in his son’s life had long-term impacts on Matt James’ ability to find a successful romantic relationship.
Both men were emotional during the talk and many viewers found the personal and often uncomfortable conversation exploitative. Among those was former Bachelorette lead Rachel Lindsay, who said it preyed on stereotypes of Black men. In an appearance on The Ringer’s Bachelor Party podcast, Lindsay also revealed that Matt James himself wasn’t happy about the conversation being aired on ABC.
“I know for a fact — please listen to me when I say this — I know for a fact, Matt was uncomfortable with this conversation and the fact that it was going to be aired,” Lindsay said.
That could be why James, 29, was quick to provide more context to the conversation on his Twitter account just minutes after it aired on the East Coast.
“Tonight’s convo with my dad was hard to experience, and it’s just as hard to watch all this time later, especially knowing the world is watching with me,” James tweeted during the episode. “I just wanted to say that too often, we see dangerous stereotypes and negative depictions of Black fathers in media. And they have consequences when presented without context.”
James shared a link to a publication on distorted patterns of portrayal of Black men in media, followed by another tweet.
“All I hope is that people watch that conversation with nuance, care, and also an understanding that there are real systemic issues at play. I’m so proud of myself for being vulnerable, and I’m so proud of my mother. I wouldn’t be who I am without my dad. That’s a fact.”
Rachel Lindsay Says It’s Another Example of ‘The Bachelor’ Bungling Issues of Race
Lindsay has shied away from talking about The Bachelor much since conducting an interview with Chris Harrison in early February. When Lindsay asked Harrison about accusations of racism levied against contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, which began circling in January, the longtime host of the franchise blamed “woke police” for attacking Kirkconnell and claimed that the contestant’s 2018 actions were only racist by 2021 standards.
Harrison has since stepped down from his position as host — although he aims to return — and Lindsay has distanced herself from both The Bachelor franchise and social media amid an avalanche of criticism and harassment.
Lindsay hasn’t appeared on the podcast she co-hosts, Bachelor Happy Hour, since February 23. However, the most recent episode of The Bachelor caused Lindsay to appear on Bachelor Party and vent her frustrations.
“If The Bachelor franchise has shown us anything, it is that they do not know how to protect people of color,” Lindsay said. “They only know how to exploit them. They only know how to mishandle situations when they come to race. They’ve shown us time and time again.
“This conversation may have been necessary for Matt, let’s just say that. Maybe Matt really did need this. But this was a conversation that should’ve just been for Matt, not for the rest of the world to see. And it shows that you don’t care about your contestants, specifically the ones of color. The fact that you were willing to throw him under the bus and exploit him and stereotypes within the Black community for what you would call ‘good TV.'”
That’s a sentiment that was shared by many social media users, who felt that the conversation was exploitative and too personal to be on national television.