A Look Back at Rachel Lindsay's Time with the 'Bachelor' Franchise

From getting the first impression rose on Nick Viall's season of The Bachelor to becoming the first Black Bachelorette, a look back at Rachel Lindsay's history with Bachelor Nation

01 of 12

Making a Good First Impression

THE BACHELOR - Episode 2101 - What do a dolphin-loving woman, a successful businesswoman who runs her parents multi-million -dollar flooring empire;, a bachelorette, who is hiding a big secret about her past involving Nick, and a no-nonsense Southern belle, who has Nick in her cross-hairs for a big country wedding, all have in common? They all have their sights set on making the Bachelor, Nick Viall, their future husband when the much-anticipated 21th edition of ABC's hit romance reality series, "The Bachelor," premieres, MONDAY, JANUARY 2 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (Rick Rowell/ABC via Getty Images) NICK VIALL, RACHEL
Rick Rowell/ABC via Getty.

Bachelor Nation was first introduced to attorney Rachel Lindsay from Texas when she competed for Nick Viall's heart on season 21 of The Bachelor. You could say that Lindsay made a pretty big first impression: she took home the first rose of the competition.

02 of 12

Changing Things Up

Michael Yada/ABC

The franchise broke with tradition when it announced that Lindsay would be the next Bachelorette while she was still competing for Nick's heart. Traditionally, ABC announces the next Bachelorette or Bachelor after the season finale. On Nick's season, she finished in third place.

03 of 12

Looking for Love

ABC/Craig Sjodin

Rachel had no shortage of men to choose from when she became the Bachelorette in 2017 — and made Bachelor franchise history as its first Black lead.

At the time Lindsay told PEOPLE, "I'm happy to represent myself as a Black woman in front of America and I'm happy for America to rally behind me and see what it's like for me to be on this journey to find love. Honestly, it's not going to be that different from any other season of The Bachelorette."

She added, "I'm obviously nervous and excited to take on this opportunity but I don't feel added pressure being the first Black Bachelorette, because to me I'm just a Black woman trying to find love. Yes, I'm doing on this huge stage, but again my journey of love isn't any different just because my skin color is."

04 of 12

Casting Controversy

rachel Lindsay and lee Garrett
Gonzalo Marroquin/Getty; Craig Sjodin/Walt Disney Television via Getty

That doesn't mean that her season was without controversy. One of the most notable of Lindsay's season was the casting of contestant Lee Garrett. Garrett had offensive and racist tweets resurface after the season premiere in 2017. In the tweets, he allegedly advised his followers to "Never trust a female liberal," allegedly described the Black Lives Matter movement as a terrorist group, compared the NAACP to the KKK and made Islamaphobic remarks that were captured by one fan.

In February 2021, Lindsay said on Reddit that she believed his casting was intentional: "There was a time where I truly wanted to believe that Lee slipped through the cracks but I now know better. I really think Lee was casted to add controversy and they also knew I would not pick him."

05 of 12

Bumps in the Road

ABC/George Burns

Of course, being the Bachelorette isn't always roses and shirtless hot guys competing for your attention.

Fans of the show watched as Lindsay narrowed down her suitors to Bryan Abasolo and Peter Kraus. And then, on the season finale, fans watched as Lindsay and Kraus broke up because Kraus couldn't promise a proposal. Their goodbye was painful, to say the least, and notably Kraus said that she would have a "mediocre life" if she decided not to be with him.

In March 2020, Lindsay said on The Bachelor Happy Hour podcast that she "got so much backlash for picking Bryan" as Kraus was the fan favorite.

06 of 12

Winner, Winner

The American Heart Association's Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection 2018 Presented By Macy's - Backstage
Astrid Stawiarz/Gett

There was love at the end of the tunnel for Lindsay, though! She gave her final rose to Bryan Abasolo, whom she also gave her first impression rose to. Abasolo got down on one knee on the season finale.

"It was like an out-of-body experience to hear the words that he was saying to me," Lindsay told PEOPLE of the big moment. "I blanked out on what I was saying — I meant it and it was from the heart, but it was just so surreal that it was happening. I mean we're in Spain, we're on top of this castle. I'm standing in front of the man of my dreams, and now he's about to get down on one knee. And so the moment he did it, it was like, 'Oh my gosh, this is happening!' I couldn't do anything but scream. Like that's all I could do, I was so happy."

07 of 12

Wedding Bells

Rachel Lindsay and Bryan Abasolo Wedding
Clane Gessel

After their engagement, the couple lived together in Lindsay's hometown of Dallas before relocating to Miami in 2019. The pair married in August of that year in a ceremony at the Royalton Suites Cancún, choosing not to televise the nuptials.

Initially, "I wanted a TV wedding. I 100 percent did," Lindsay told PEOPLE. "Then, as we got to know each other in the real world and things became normalized, and then I started hearing horror stories about these TV weddings, I am very thankful that we don't have one and that we're doing it on our own. I also think that it shows to the world or Bachelor Nation that what we have is more real."

She continued: "We don't need TV. We don't need to get paid. We're doing this because this is what we want to do. And I think it has more meaning."

08 of 12

Time for Happy Hour

Becca Kufrin, Rachel Lindsay
Co-hosts Becca Kufrin and Rachel Lindsay. Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images; Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

In July 2019, Lindsay became the co-host of the official Bachelor podcast, Bachelor Happy Hour, alongside Ali Fedotowsky. Former Bachelorette Becca Kufrin took over for Fedotowsky as Lindsay's full-time cohost in December 2019.

09 of 12

Extra, Extra

Rachel Lindsay
Noel Vasquez/Getty

After serving as a special correspondent in 2019, Lindsay joined Extra as a correspondent in August 2020.

10 of 12

Calling Out Racism

Rachel Lindsay, Chris Harrison
Rachel Lindsay (L); Chris Harrison. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images; Paul Hebert via Getty Images

In 2021, the franchise and its host, Chris Harrison, came under fire when Rachael Kirkconnell, a contestant on Matt James' season, was called out for past racially insensitive social media posts. The posts showed Kirkconnell — who has since apologized — dressed in Native American attire in costume and attending an antebellum plantation-themed college party in 2018.

Harrison addressed the situation during an interview with Lindsay. During their 14-minute, unedited conversation, he defended Kirkconnell, and said people should have "a little compassion" in the wake of the resurfaced photos and questioned the "lens" of 2021 compared to 2018.

Harrison's statements were met with backlash and he eventually issued a statement apologizing, eventually announcing he would be stepping away from the franchise for a period of time. In June 2021, he officially exited the franchise.

Days after the interview, Lindsay said on her podcast, Higher Learning with Van Lathan and Rachel Lindsay, "I can't take it anymore. I'm contractually bound in some ways, but when it's up, I am, too. I can't. I can't do it anymore."

After speaking out against the host and condemning his actions, Lindsay was thrust front and center in the controversy. Eventually, due to the harassment that she received online, Lindsay temporarily deleted her social media.

11 of 12

Saying Goodbye

rachel Lindsay
Rachel Lindsay. Astrid Stawiarz/Getty

In April 2021, Lindsay announced that she would be leaving the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast after 100 episodes, telling listeners that she had been struggling.

"It's been really, really hard for me lately and a lot of the things that we talk about on this podcast are also about taking care of yourself and finding your peace and protecting that peace and protecting your mental health," Lindsay said. "And so for me, I just feel like I've come to the end of doing the podcast and I'm glad that I'm leaving on a high note where it's the 100th episode, it's such a big milestone."

12 of 12

Telling All

Rachel Lindsay
Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

In a June 2021 piece for New York Magazine, Lindsay shared everything about her time with the franchise, from the light (the mansions are not as nice as they appear) to the very, very heavy ("I felt exploited.")

"The franchise has spent 19 years cultivating a toxic audience," she wrote. "They have constantly given it a product it wants: a midwestern/southern white, blonde, light-eyed Christian. Not all viewers are like that. My Higher Learning co-host and I have divided it - there is a Bachelor Nation, and there is a Bachelor Klan."

"Bachelor Klan is hateful, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic," she continued. "They are afraid of change. They are afraid to be uncomfortable. They are afraid when they get called out."

ABC did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Related Articles