Dallas attorney Rachel Lindsay made reality TV history this spring when she became the first black star of the “Bachelor”/“Bachelorette” franchise. She completes her journey Monday at 8 p.m. in the three-hour season 13 finale of ABC’s “The Bachelorette” — and while one of the three finalists, 29-year-old Los Angeles personal trainer Eric Bigger, is also black, at least one former contestant doesn’t believe he’ll be this season’s winner.
“You would look at him and wonder, ‘Are you really here for the right reason?’ He seemed overly dramatic,” says Los Angeles dentist Chris Strandburg, 31, who made it to the eighth episode of Kaitlyn Bristowe’s season 11 in 2013. “But,” he says, “Eric opened up to her about his life and I think there’s a maturity he’s gotten to toward the end. He’s a little emotional still, and she’s so mature in that she knows what she wants and doesn’t trust the fact he’s never been in love or taken a girl home to meet his family.
“The energy level is off between them,” Strandburg says, “so I think he’s out.”
If he’s correct, that would leave Peter Kraus, 31, a personal trainer from Madison, Wisconsin, and Bryan Abasolo, 37, a chiropractor from Miami Lakes, Florida, whom many consider the front-runner, at the final rose ceremony in Rioja, Spain.
“There isn’t much you can say or do at this point to change the outcome,” says Roslyn-reared J.P. Rosenbaum, 40, of “The Bachelorette” season 7, whose four-year marriage to season star Ashley Hebert, with whom he has two children, has marked one of the franchise’s great success stories. “By this stage of the show,” he says, “You’ve been in front of the cameras for over two months and it’s almost as if they don’t even exist anymore.
“All I can say,” he advises the eventual winner, “is that being who you are has gotten you this far, and if the two of you have something real, nothing will stop you from being together.”
What’s “real” at this point can be a question, Strandburg says. “You don’t know if you can trust your own feelings, because they’re very, very powerful. The feelings unquestionably are real — at this stage no one’s faking it. But there’s fear since you’re still rational and you know this isn’t the real world.”
He’s leaning toward Abasolo. Kraus, he says “has been very honest to her about recovering from a previous relationship, and I think he’s doing his best.”
But he adds: “I think he’s worried about his feelings — is this infatuation or something more real? In terms of how she looks at him. I think it’s a lust thing — she’s very attracted to him. But she doesn’t change her demeanor in the way that she does when she’s with Bryan.”
With Bryan, the series alumnus says, “She becomes a person who seems totally at ease, totally smitten. I know she’s a little on guard around him, because I think she’s afraid he’s going to break her heart, like he’s too good to be true.
“People seem a little unsure about this guy,” he says, “that maybe he’s a bit of a player. I was having a conversation with some friends about this and, I said, ‘He’s a chiropractor, not a DJ. He’s a professional, he has a normal lifestyle.’ I feel what they have is very natural. I think she’s going to choose him.”