This past season of The Bachelor definitely shook up the dialogue surrounding the long-running reality show, starting due to pre-show actions of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell coming to light. She technically got the final rose in the end, yet the racist revelations ultimately led Matt James to not continue with the relationship. But after a very recent sighting of the two, many are now wondering: are they back together?
Reality Steve claimed on Wednesday that Rachael Kirkconnell and Matt James are “not over,” after supposedly being spotted in New York together. If true, the news would be a huge turn of events for Bachelor Nation fans, considering the last time Kirkconnell and James were seen together was at The Bachelor: After the Final Rose. At the time, James explained that the controversy surrounding resurfaced pics of Kirkconnell at an Old South Antebellum party was “problematic” and “disappointing.”
Though Rachael Kirkconnell and Matt James were apparently having a get-together in New York, reports indicate that the two are actually not back in a relationship. A source to Page Six claimed that the two were just hanging out as friends, saying,
They are working on building a friendship outside of the show and away from the noise. The past few months have been extremely difficult for Matt. He is not ready to throw himself into a relationship right now.
The whole situation regarding Rachael Kirkconnell was particularly challenging for Matt James, who was the first Black leading man for The Bachelor in all of its nearly two decades on the air. The drama only escalated when the host of The Bachelor, Chris Harrison, was accused of also being “racially insensitive” when discussing the debacle in his interview with Rachel Lindsay. Harrison has since stepped down from his hosting duties and reportedly lawyered up in the aftermath.
Despite the difficulties of his season, however, Matt James has given hints in the past that he doesn’t see Rachael Kirkconnell as “irredeemable” because of things she did before coming onto the show. In March, James told The Bill Simmons Podcast that though he was disappointed with her, he wanted her “to do better,” saying,
I think that for Rachael, there's a lot that we didn't discuss that we probably should've talked about. I probably should've asked more clarifying questions. And I'm giving her that space to do that.
So perhaps this Rachael Kirkconnell/Matt James meeting is just James’ way of giving her the space to redeem herself in his eyes. Or maybe they just share a common bond after a particularly rough season of reality TV together. But surely if the two decide to get back together one day, Bachelor Nation will have something to say about it.