The Bachelorette finale was a mess, with a live/pretaped combination that killed any momentum, a total lack of suspense because Rachel revealed she was engaged months ago, and the shocking revelation that it was the smooth operater Bryan, not the sensitive and conflicted Peter, who received Rachel's final rose, taking the air out of an otherwise groundbreaking season of the show. So no, Rachel wasn't the savior of The Bachelorette, able to swoop in with her amazing smile and her encyclopedic law knowledge and boost the franchise to unknown heights. But Rachel's Bachelorette season wasn't the worst ever just because she chose a guy that a lot of the fans don't like. Sure, Bryan didn't have the most photogenic crying jag in the history of television like Peter did, but you can't deny that this sets Peter up perfectly for a legendary season of The Bachelor (when he gets over his proposal aversion).
And personally, I think Rachel's confusion was understandable. Imagine taking a chance and deciding to become the Bachelorette, an instant TV star for simply being yourself and wanting to find a relationship. Now imagine breaking the racial glass ceiling, as the first black woman and woman of color in general to look for love on the show, bringing even more attention to the outcome. As Rachel explained time and time again, the pressure was immense to make sure she made the right decisions.
And from the beginning, she said she wanted to get engaged. "I didn't come here to date" was one of her most common refrains. Now, in the final few days of the competition, the guy who makes the most logical sense — the cornball who took his time falling in love — says that he can offer a relationship... but no proposal. What do you choose, to go back on everything you said and settle for being the Bachelorette who walks out without a ring? Or do you choose the other guy, the one who says all the right things? It's not as easy as it seems.
Not only was Rachel the first black Bachelorette, she somehow always seemed to make the right choices, but she was long overdue for a shocking or controversial moment. Even if there hadn't been this protracted proposal dustup, something else would probably arise. Rachel and Bryan will probably break up because most Bachelor and Bachelorette couples break up. The show and the show's audience (at least on social media) seemed far more interested in her shocking decision to send Peter packing than it did the proposal she so passionately fought for. But even though Rachel's Bachelorette season ended with some hurt feelings, some awkward moments, and a proposal that only the Bachelorette herself really seemed excited about, don't let it poison the whole season.
This wasn't a perfect season of The Bachelorette because, shockingly, this is not a particularly natural way to meet someone and fall in love. It also wasn't the worst season of The Bachelorette, because Rachel has the right to make whatever choice she wants, and that can't erase all of the amazing moments leading up to the finale — among those: her amazing outerwear, her graceful choice to do personalized eliminations instead of waiting for the rose ceremony, the way she basically hosted this season herself because Chris Harrison was so MIA. What Rachel's season did give us, though, is a step forward in making the show more diverse, a fantastic casting pool for Paradise and Bachelor seasons to come, and a reminder that no one is perfect — not even Rachel Lindsay.