Rachel Lindsay rips ‘The Bachelor’: ‘I was a token until I made sure I wasn’t’

    The Bachelor and all its spinoffs claim to be reality television, but Rachel Lindsay just got realer than any of them in this new first-person essay for Vulture.

    Before Lindsay was known as the Extra correspondent who boldly asked then-host Chris Harrison about eventual Bachelor winner Rachael Kirkconnell’s 2018 attendance of an antebellum-themed fraternity formal, she was a contestant on 2017’s The Bachelor season featuring Nick Viall and then the franchise’s first-ever Black lead—male or female—on the subsequent season of The Bachelorette, where she met her husband, Bryan Abasolo.

    The 36-year-old attorney and media personality explained in detail, as told to Allison P. Davis, why she is now completely untangling herself from the franchise in the aftermath of her interview with Harrison:

    “It’s funny to think that in 2018, when it was still “acceptable” for Rachael K. to attend a racist fraternity party, it had only been one year since I became the first Black lead—male or female—in the 16-year, 34-season history of the show. In 2018, I felt like I had changed the franchise just by representing myself as a Black professional woman in her 30s—those things had never before been seen on the series. In the years since, I had gone from a former contestant who advocated for more diversity to one who spoke critically about the show and tried to hold those involved with it accountable. By the time that segment with Chris aired, I was known as the contestant who was always starting trouble. ‘That Rachel Lindsay,’ the one who couldn’t stay quiet, who bites the hand that feeds, Bachelor Nation’s public enemy No. 1. Later, I would be known as the one responsible for Harrison’s eventually leaving the franchise. (He announced his departure earlier this month with a reported eight-figure settlement. And if he spends all of that, I’m sure the fans will somehow blame me, too.) Recently, during the drama with Matt’s season, I listened to an earlier episode of Bachelor Happy Hour, another podcast I co-hosted. I was surprised to hear myself having fun because now I sound as tired as I am. After 100 episodes, I announced my departure from that podcast. I’m exhausted from defending myself against a toxic fandom. 

    “I’ve often wondered if it felt like a 180 to the franchise when I became its biggest critic. As my sorority sister would put it, ‘You played the part, and when you were done, you called them racist with your whole chest.’ After all, they had cast me because, on paper, I made sense. I couldn’t be like the Bachelorettes who had come before—somebody who was still living at home with her parents, who had ‘pageant queen’ on her résumé. I was a lawyer. My father was a federal judge. I had a squeaky-clean record. I had to be a good Black girl, an exceptional Black girl. I had to be someone the viewer could accept. And I was a token until I made sure I wasn’t. The thing is, the day I went on the show, I didn’t wake up and say, You know what? I’m going to start standing up for myself. I was taught at a very young age to speak up about injustices. It was no different with Bachelor Nation. And I don’t think they ever saw it coming.”

    While Lindsay expressed disappointment in Vulture‘s decision to make “Rachel Lindsay Has No Roses Left to Burn” as their headline, she stood firmly behind the sentiments she expressed throughout the cover story, which includes a behind-the-scenes account of her time as a Black woman in the Bachelor house for Viall’s season, footage producers chose to never air, and the racist undertones she faced as the first Black Bachelorette:

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