Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for the season 25 finale of ABC’s “The Bachelor.”
ABC’s “The Bachelor” ended its 25th season Monday night, addressing recent controversies around racism and bullying, and announcing plans for future seasons of the franchise. Katie Thurston, a 30-year-old bank marketing manager from Renton, was named the star of ABC’s next edition of “The Bachelorette.”
But she’s not the only “Bachelor” contestant from this season to get her own show. Michelle Young, a 28-year-old teacher from Minnesota, will also star in a season of “The Bachelorette” that will film after Thurston’s season. Thurston’s edition will air this summer, with Young’s season set for fall.
Going into Monday’s finale, Young was still in the running to be picked by “The Bachelor” star Matt James, the second Black lead in the franchise’s history and the first Black male star, who ultimately gave the final rose to Rachael Kirkconnell, although he stopped short of proposing marriage.
Kirkconnell, a 24-year-old graphic designer from Georgia, recently came under fire after photos surfaced revealing her participation in a plantation-themed “Old South” party in 2018. Shortly after, “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison defended Kirkconnell in an interview with the franchise’s first Black lead, former “Bachelorette” star Rachel Lindsay, on “Extra.”
Harrison took heat for his defiant, tone-deaf defense of Kirkconnell, and announced he’d be “stepping aside for a period of time” from the franchise. He will be replaced on Thurston’s edition of “The Bachelorette” by two former cast members, Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe.
Emmanuel Acho, a former NFL linebacker turned Fox Sports analyst, hosted Monday’s “The Bachelor: After the Final Rose,” in which James revealed he broke up with Kirkconnell after the revelations of her participation in the racist party came to light.
“Rachael might not understand what it means to be Black in America,” James said on “After the Final Rose.”
Thurston’s casting as “The Bachelorette” was first reported in early February by Steve Carbone, a reality TV spoiler specialist who goes by @RealitySteve on Twitter. While it’s typical for ABC to pull a finalist from “The Bachelor” to be the next “Bachelorette” star, why did ABC choose both Young and Thurston? Per Carbone, Young, the teacher, did not want to film her season before the end of the school year, which would have forced her to leave her students. So ABC opted to go with Thurston first.
Carbone reports Thurston’s season will begin filming as soon as later this week under a COVID-19 quarantine bubble at a New Mexico resort.
Although Thurston came in 11th place on “The Bachelor,” she made a positive impression on viewers after calling out the show’s most bullying contestants. Thurston ultimately went to James, asking him to address the toxic environment, which he did before sending Thurston packing a few episodes later.
“I’m ready to find love and not just the temporary kind, I’m talking forever,” Thurston said during “After the Final Rose.” “I’ve seen it work before, why can’t it work for me?”