The latest season of The Bachelor US didn't even make it through its first episode before the controversy began, and it's been unable to shake it off ever since.
The 2021 season was meant to be groundbreaking in representation, with its first Black bachelor Matt James, and 25 women who identified as women of colour. Instead, the franchise has found itself engulfed in a racism scandal, which has cost it its long-time host, its newly crowned couple and its credibility among fans of colour.
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Contestant Rachael Kirkconnell faced allegations of attending a 2018 Old South antebellum-themed party (antebellum means "before a war" and is widely associated with pre-Civil War America in the Deep South, before slavery was outlawed), as well as other unverified claims of racism.
Season 25 (yep, really) isn't streaming anywhere in Australia just yet, but given how far-reaching this has been, we're willing to bet you've heard murmurs or snippets of this drama already. Regardless, we've gone deep for this very comprehensive explainer, because hoy boy, this is a lot.
Ok, talk me through what happened.
Back in early January, the season premiered in the US and almost instantly, it was in trouble. Following the first episode on January 4, TikTok user @maddyybierster - who claimed she went to high school with contestant Rachael Kirkconnell - uploaded a video captioned "Girlieee, remember when you bullied me in high school for liking Black guys???"
It went viral and led to her receiving other DMs from people who claimed to have experienced or witnessed racism from Rachael.
There was then intense scrutiny across all of Rachael's social media, with other TikTok users posting receipts that showed cultural appropriation in photos, liking photos of people in MAGA hats and sharing QAnon theories.