Rant + Ramble
The Bachelorette: Bryan, I’ma Let You Finish But…
Revisiting Rachel Lindsay’s decision during Season 13 of The Bachelorette six years later
In 2017, I quickly wrote my reaction to Rachel Lindsay’s decision during the finale of The Bachelorette when I suspected the plot twist no one was expecting. During Season 13, the sister reality television show to The Bachelor naturally followed the branded storyline about ‘winning the heart.’ Still, to many people’s surprise, the female candidate was a Black Texan this time.
At the time, my recap of the finale was a hot take. Not like other biased perspectives rooted in politics of respectability¹ and challenging things like the necessity for the first Black bachelorette to be classy at all times or ones that demanded Rachel choose Eric Bigger and showcase the beauty of #BlackLove on cable television. My opinion piece questioned one thing: Why did Rachel not knowingly make the biggest mistake of her life, just like the rest of us?
Back then, I wrote…(FYI, this version includes a few edits)
If you are a fan of Bachelor Nation, you can probably guess where this post is headed, but sweetheart, do not be so sure you can read me. You might find yourself surprised by the end of this post. It is approximately 11:30 PM, and although I have a meeting in the morning, my mind is STILL swirling. I have to take a second and figure out why I am so bothered by the finale of The Bachelorette.
I mean, I am bothered. Throw the TV on the patio, bothered. Call my mama because she is the only one who would listen to me rant this late, bothered. Slide in Rachel’s DMs for a lemon squeeze, bothered. If I were on the production team, I would interrupt Bryan (like Kanye) during his proposal speech, bothered. I am so bothered I wrote a list of trigger words for the next 48 hours. This was my first time watching The Bachelorette, and I am bothered.
After accidentally tuning into The Bachelor last season when I was supposed to be finishing my thesis (I know…but I graduated), I was invested in Rachel Lindsay. Her journey of skepticism seemed to mirror so many women I know — sometimes including myself — that I was compelled to see it through to the end. And I was disappointed.
I did not think she was a “perfect” match for Nick Viall, the Bachelor, but I had hoped he would choose her or Raven once Kristina left. He did not, which led to Rachel being the first woman of color to be on The Bachelorette. You know my for-the-people self; I jumped on the bandwagon and declared myself a loyal viewer — despite her being a Delta. Secretly, I hoped that the pressure of race would not burden her journey to love, but at the same time, I hoped she would address some of the struggles successful, independent Black women face when dating.
Fast forward to last night.
Beloved, what have you done to me?
My predictions rarely fall through on a reality television show. Rachel is the exception.
I suspect that heightening specific matches was an intentional choice made by the producers. They wanted viewers to be invested in Peter and the optics that revolve around Eric and Rachel as a match. Because of the limited scenes between Bryan and Rachel, I was prepared for Bryan to go and for Eric and Peter to receive a rose.
When that did not happen, I felt like I was going into shock. Despite my initial shock, I was not disappointed in Eric going home. His departure was necessary. He experienced transparent love for the first time in his life, and that experience needed to be preserved. So often, during the infancy stage of a relationship, we develop a fantastical version of our partner that ignores some of their habits and preferences. I doubt he would have been able to survive Rachel possibly disappointing him down the road because this experience was a whirlwind that he believed profoundly changed him as a man.
In understanding that loving Rachel meant accepting a rare version of love nurtured in a vacuum, his journey with her served its purpose. His relationship with Rachel gave him a point of reference and exposed him to the infinite possibilities that come when you create space for love. Their romance ended its season, and building a bold relationship with his next lover will be a beautiful adventure because of this experience. Being able to savor the joy of a first love is a remarkable blessing. It was divine timing. #miracleseason
Now you’re probably wondering…
Sierra, what about Black love? What about the people?
I’m here for the people 24/7, Monday through Friday, and open on weekends! But in this case, and so many others, this is simply about people. Which leads me to Peter…
Peter. Peter. Peter. I had a chant for you every Monday night. I imagined you and Rachel’s kids with the little gap teeth, precious. I was rooting for you on day one! Every time I heard you say, “I don’t know if I’ll get to the end and want to propose.” I just smiled and ate more popcorn, telling myself, “he’ll get there.” Many viewers struggled to understand Rachel’s choice; however, after separating my shock and disappointment from reason, I knew precisely why Rachel chose it.
But first, I have to hit a home run for the team (i.e., for the feminist).
“Go find someone to have a mediocre life with.” — Peter Kraus
For those of you who bucked at Rachel and called her behavior towards Peter “rude,” please take your seat. Peter’s comment was unfair, and Rachel’s response during the reunion/recap was likely what she would have done during their final moments had she not been emotionally overwhelmed. I loved Peter the entire season, but his defensive response and hollow promise to offer Rachel an ‘incredible life’ while simultaneously not giving her what she needed is an excellent example of how insecurities and embedded ideologies creep in when you are not looking.
How dare he tell her she would be “settling for mediocre” by not choosing him?
In what world did he think it was okay to make a definitive statement about her life?
His participation in her life would have been a welcomed addition to her expanding career, loving family, and radiant personality. However, to say her life would be mediocre was unfair and disrespectful. Rachel had every right to call him out on that. Although Peter apologized, her sassy response provided forgiveness and asserted that no one has the right to project an unsolicited and pessimistic outlook on someone’s life. Her life is extraordinary, and her bio is proof.
Rachel rearranged her life to participate in a series designed to help her find a partner ready for marriage. Peter proved repeatedly that his reason for being on the show was not to commit to marrying the contestant. Based on that, we could question why Peter was kept on the show and why his scenes were prioritized over other committed contestants.
In dismissing Peter, Rachel achieved her goal of being on the show and claimed her power and right to choose what was best for her based on her experience. Her decision was to her benefit, and as a result, it might encourage viewers to resist believing that someone can make blanket claims about their life without it being challenged.
Patriarchal systems allow men to assert opinions about what is ‘best’ for women without considering facts or women’s experiences. That being said, Peter, you are a great guy who has learned to resort to offensive comparisons as a defense mechanism rather than challenging yourself to be more self-aware. What comes next in this post is meant to be informative, not hurtful.
Once I realized that Peter was not her choice, I was upset. Let me back up; I did a soft cheat and went on her Instagram for spoilers. Then, I watched it for myself, and I was upset. Initially, I thought she was being foolish.
I thought, Rach, Bryan is a snack, but you fell for the bad boy, Playa, Papi. I took to Twitter with a couple of tweets and then threw down my iPad. Then, I picked it back up and wrote a couple more tweets. When I finally finished watching the finale, I tweeted…
And here is why.
Rachel took Peter at his word. She considered the facts as a thinking human, lawyer, and woman with sense. She consistently asked him what he wanted; he could only offer her long-term, vague goals (e.g., marriage, a family, etc.). His ultimate concern was that he would lose her or regret fumbling the opportunity to create a life with her, and he did.
It was inaction that stopped Peter and Rachel from working as a couple. She pleaded with him to show her actions, and he offered her possibilities. Peter wanted her to choose him in the hope that — as a dating couple — they could get to a point where he would propose. In contrast, Rachel asked Peter to propose, hoping he believed they would marry. It sounds the same, but the difference is in the action. Rachel needed him to make a choice, not necessarily have an answer or set a wedding date.
If Peter had proposed and asked Rachel for a long engagement period, I have no doubt she would’ve agreed. That is clear because she and Bryan are “taking it slow.” Peter’s inability to separate marriage from engagement was tripping him up. Although he doesn’t fear commitment, there is room to improve his self-awareness and ability to create and communicate future visions for his life.
Many viewers are frustrated by the pace Rachel and Bryan are taking in their relationship without realizing the critical differences between Bryan and Peter.
If I ask someone, “What do you want for dinner?” and their answer is, “I don’t know, what do you want?” and we sit there for twenty minutes discussing it, it’s likely an hour later, we will still be hungry. However, if I ask someone the same question, and they say, “Let’s get in the car, and maybe we’ll see something we want.” We are more likely to eat within the hour. The difference lies in the action the person is willing to take to get a solution. Bryan is the type of man who would tell you to get in the car. He knows how to take action. Likewise, although he looks like the ‘type’ never to settle down, he is willing to commit to Rachel.
I understand entirely why Rachel was not willing to dedicate time (possibly another five years) to waiting for Peter to see more than a life with her that could include marriage and children. So many women fuss at their girlfriends about staying in relationships when a partner has made it blatantly clear they aren’t willing to commit beyond a certain point.
If we condemn Rachel for being wise enough to call a spade a spade, we are the fools. Sometimes, we are meant to wait; sometimes, waiting makes us a bystander to someone’s inaction. So, after all of my “frustration” (the most used word on the show), I say,
Beloved (Rachel & Bryan),
Thank you for publicly sharing your journey. I can’t imagine what it was like for you (also, I would never do it). I pray you and Bryan find peace in messy beginnings and strength in knowing that divine surprises have a savory sweetness that can bring endless blessings. May your friendship and love for one another grow with each moment, and your choice to love never waver. And girl, good luck with his mama. Be Blessed!
For everyone else who was bothered last night, go in peace. I quickly realized I was bothered by her decision because I would have [foolishly] chosen Peter. I have waited for a Peter once before. I resented Rachel for not making my foolish mistake —ignoring her needs (self-abandonment) and choosing to chase fickle possibilities. Hopefully, y’all will arrive at this epiphany on your own and not need another Lemonade album from Beyoncé before you give Rachel some credit. Sometimes, just making a move gets you the win.
Almost six years later, Rachel and Bryan celebrate their 4th wedding anniversary. Despite pressures to get married in 2017, Rachel and Bryan committed to their decision to take their time. Still, ignoring current pressures from trolls and well-meaning but presumptuous fans, they are in the honeymoon phase of their marriage — as they should be.
What is most spectacular about their story is that their love is far from mediocre. Being loved well is singular. Without a doubt, Rachel and Bryan are a testament to being loved well. So many people continue to be changed by Rachel’s bravery years ago and cheer for the Abasolo family’s continued health and flourishment.
In truth, I am surprised at how invested I was in this storyline in my late 20s. I instantly felt aged when I saw Rachel’s post celebrating their anniversary — six years later seems unbelievable. Hopefully, those who struggled to understand her ending on The Bachelorette have found peace and courage to choose what chooses you. A lesson we could all benefit from learning.
¹For additional reading check out this reference. Harris, Paisley Jane. "Gatekeeping and Remaking: The Politics of Respectability in African American Women's History and Black Feminism." Journal of Women's History 15, no. 1 (2003): 212-220.