The Bachelor: Episode 1 Recap

I remember the first time the Bachelor/Bachelorette, made me believe in love.

Back then, I was in elementary school, and the multi-million dollar franchise that has spawned hundreds of Flat Tummy Tea influencers was still a relatively new concept. Trista Sutter was the first ever Bachelorette , years away still from peddling gummy vitamins and sunglasses online. As a kid, I watched passively while my parents openly mocked how silly reality TV had become. Trista picked her winning suitor late on a school night, so the next morning my mom tiptoed into my room and her first words to me were “Trista picked Ryan.” The couple, who had found love in less than a month while cameras documented their entire relationship, were engaged. So that was how love worked!

My relationship with the franchise became much more fraught with time. I dabbled here and there, getting sucked into the first season of Bachelor in Paradise and closely following Ben Higgins’ season because I thought he seemed nice and disagreed with his own declaration that he was unloveable.

The older I got, the more my personal values changed, and the more controversies the Bachelor (and its spin-offs) seem to accumulate. It is no secret that the franchise and its creators are constantly plagued with scandals that, well, make a lot of their leads and contestants look like not-very-nice people. Not only is the show’s concept sexist and outdated, but dare I say, completely out of touch with the real world? Imagine if one of your friends did the following:

Alas, there appears to be some hope for the producer-dictated popularity contest dating show that keeps North Americans coming back season after season. Contestants in recent years have not shied away from opening up about their personal struggles. A Bachelor diversity campaign has been launched to increase representation of BIPOC on the series. Before Matt James, Rachel Lindsay was the only person of colour to lead the show in 40 seasons. Fans were ecstatic when 39-year-old Clare Crawley was cast as the oldest bachelorette in the show’s history (I would like you to know that a small part of my soul died after I wrote that). Following Clare’s abrupt exit, new lead Tayshia Adams discussed the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality on one of her dates. Now, Matt James is making Bachelor history as the first male black lead. Let’s hope things continue to improve from here, but to be fair, the bar was very, very low.

Senior Citizen Clare Crawley, the “oldest Bachelorette in history”.

My feelings on the Bachelor franchise have certainly changed since 2003, but I am also very curious to see what all the fuss is (still) about, and why people are tuning in after 41 seasons. Plus, I’m a sucker for good entertainment, and my partner has sadly refused to perform concerts for me every night. And finally, ~ I went to film school~ and I know ~a thing or two~ about picture editing, so…. hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen, because I’m about to point out a few, ahem, ~discrepancies~ in the ~editing~… manipulated dialogue and such….

Ok, let’s get to the recap shall we?

THE BACHELOR: SEASON 25, EPISODE 1 aka “I will memorize your names eventually”

Contestant Katie is the first out of the limo and she brought something from home. She talks about the hardships of the pandemic (i.e. the… PANDEMIC of it all) and then hands our bachelor a (censored) vibrator. Our bachelor finds this VERY amusing. Exhibit A:

I have never seen something so amusing!

Katie is confident in her bold choice. “I strategized. Some of the other girls didn’t plan ahead.” Perhaps we should put her in charge of some *ahem* vaccine rollout strategies?

We cut to OG Bach Daddy Chris Harrison standing in front of a never-before-seen bachelor mansion. Chris explains that none of us know who Matt James was before his season because he hasn’t been a part of any Bachelor franchises, save for a pre-COVID casting on Clare Crawley’s season.

For what it’s worth, I knew him before it was cool because I downloaded Tik Tok at the beginning of the pandemic (OK I STILL HAVE TIK TOK) and saw him pop up on Tyler Cameron and Hannah Brown’s videos. Look, I said I haven’t watched a season in years – I never said I haven’t been extremely online.

Chris says they received a record number of submissions for this season, which I’m sure has everything to do with Matt and nothing to do with the fact that like me, people crave attention everyone has been extremely online since March 2020.

Ok, let’s meet the next flat tummy tea influencer our Bachelor! 

CUE SHIRTLESS JOGGING FOOTAGE! Oh Bach, you rock – don’t ever change. In Matt’s intro, we learn he is 29, extremely fit, works in finance in New York and also runs a non-profit that helps kids learn about food and fitness. He flies over autumn Pennsylvania landscapes and then is driven to his private Bach mansion. The first thing Matt does is try the couches, and the second thing is perch on a rock in complete silence, which is also my routine whenever I arrive at a new Airbnb.

Rock, I know you’re here for the right reasons.

Matt was raised by his single mom, and thus believes he missed out on observing a healthy romantic relationship. He leaves his beloved rock to welcome his mother into his new mansh, and she asks him about the last time he was vulnerable. Reader, I’m no ABC producer, but I have a feeling Matt’s emotional vulnerability and unwillingness to open up will be important themes this season. 

Mom wants Matt to meet his one and only. Can he do it in 20 days and approximately 7 dates with his betrothed ? We will see, but one thing is for certain – The Bachelor loves adding a poetic voiceover to a shirtless workout montage.

Commercial break note: It makes me a bit sad that Jon Hamm is the spokesperson for Skip The Dishes. I don’t know why, it just does.

THE CONTESTANTS

A short montage reveals the women that will be competing for Matt’s affections, and I don’t know about you, but seeing one of them say “I can’t stop smiling!” while wearing a mask is A BIT TOO REMINISCENT OF 2020 FOR A SHOW THAT IS SUPPOSED TO DISTRACT & ENTERTAIN ME!!! But I digress.

The women quarantine in a hotel, and we meet a professional ballerina who dances beautifully in… an empty and gray hotel hallway. Oof. Then there’s Abigail, who was born deaf, and speaks to the awkwardness of telling dates about her disability, though she loves answering questions and informing people. She seems like she will go very far in this show. We also get a glimpse of Kristin, a lawyer who dances in front of the camera in her hotel room, narrowly avoiding crashing into her bed, and I’m starting to wonder if doing this during a pandemic was really necessary.

Watch out for that bed, Kristin. It’ll getcha.

Are the contestants allowed to go outside for walks?!?!! Imagine being stuck in a hotel room with only 8 of your best gowns???

THE COCKTAIL PARTY

Back at the mansion, Matt tells Chris he feels extremely intimidated due to his lack of experience in Bachelor world. Chris reassures (?) him by telling him he knows this whole thing sounds crazy (because it is), but he could be engaged (!!!) to the woman of his dreams (?) very soon. Totally normal. Matt’s background also contributes to the pressure he feels – he is worried he will never be able to please everyone with his final choice. I certainly can’t speak to how our Bachelor feels, but it is encouraging that this conversation about his identity is front and centre, and is taking place before the first limo has even pulled up.

And with that… here comes contestant number one! “Let the journey begin,” says Chris, a man who has probably used the word “journey” more than any other person in history.

Bri, a communications manager, is the first person to meet Matt. I forgot how awkward these intros are. She asks Matt what his name is, and it is cute, but there’s a lot of nervous giggling and I’m not sure how many more of these I can take. Good thing there are about 25 left.

After meeting just 2 contestants, Matt already seems overwhelmed at how attractive these women are. With all due respect sir, I know you’re new here…. but HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THIS SHOW?

Moving on.

There seem to be many contestants in the marketing/social media/communications field this season. Take with that what you will. The first limo group gather in the mansion and feel relieved that Matt was as nervous as they all were. Matt may be smooth in real life, but it’s very endearing to see how shy and tongue-tied he is during the intros.

The first “unique” intro is Kayla in a pickup truck. She and Matt are both from North Carolina. I predict that she will also go far.

CANADA COUNT: 1. Welcome Serena, a publicist from Toronto!! I am confident that we at least have 2 social media followers in common.

As the women watch from above, I’m getting a little stressed thinking about how I would make myself stand out if I were a contestant.

CANADA COUNT: 2. Welcome Alana, photographer from Toronto! Maybe my unique thing could be that I too am from the exotic land of Canada. Alana gets the first kiss of the season with her Lady and the Tramp pasta stunt.

The first contestant to ruffle a few feathers with the other women is Kaili, who shows up in lingerie and asks Matt to pick which gown she should wear. I like to think that Matt just wracked his brain in a panic trying to find a word to describe the dresses and blurted out “STRAPLESS”.

The other women have some choice words for Kaili’s bold entrance, to which I say that there is virtually no difference between lingerie and a bikini and she is a grown woman who should be free to wear WHATEVER SHE PLEASES. Surely another contestant in Bach history has shown up in a bikini?

cool dress alert!

Abigail is next and I’m calling it. She will be part of the COVID version of hometown dates.

Hang on, I recognize the next dress… Full circle moment with Katie, who brought her… special instrument.

A lot of airtime is devoted to Katie’s vibrator. The contestants name it MJ. I think this is ABC’s version of being edgy.

Kit, who has a lot of Blair Waldorf energy, shows up in a sports car that she… did not drive? She just got a ride in a $50,000 car? There’s also Victoria, who introduces herself as Queen Victoria and arrives wearing a tiara. Readers, if I didn’t know any better, I would say these two are prime producer-created villain material.

Bow to your queen.

When Victoria enters the cocktail party, she is met with some serious side eye. Kit claims that she thought there would be more competition. Katie proposes a toast with some help from MJ. The women wonder where actual MJ is – turns out Chris is giving him the first impression rose spiel.

In his first speech to the ladies, Matt discusses the importance of vulnerability. THEME, ANYONE? There are so many women in the room. I promise I will get better with their names as time goes on. The important thing is that most of them are gazing at him adoringly. Some women get emotional. All of them are already infatuated. EXHIBIT B:

“Oh Matt, you make vulnerability sound so charming.”

FINALLY! The one-on-ones have begun. I am looking forward to living vicariously through these social interactions that are mask-free and taking place within 6 feet of each other. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

The contestants are in awe of Matt’s toast, which he opened with a prayer. He seems to have a lot of emotional depth and intelligence despite his reluctance to be vulnerable. He is also sweetly nervous. I like episode 1 Matt, but this is not my first rodeo. I know I will be angry at Matt eventually. It is part of the process.

Some things that take place during the cocktail party:

  • Matt reveals he was in the chess club.
  • One of the contestants describes Matt as “not a snack, but the whole 5-course meal” including the Gazpacho, that “little cold soup thing”, and I am very impressed that she remembered the fancy name for cold soup. I have not been to a restaurant since February 2020.
  • Mari worries that she will not be able to interact with Matt, and when she finally does, she presents him with a boarding pass she made for them that has information about Puerto Rico, her home. Just as she begins to elaborate on how the hurricanes affected her family… Mari and Matt get interrupted, by vibrator Katie no less. Oh you sneaky producers, you!
  • MAN this episode is long. I’ve had to digest it in three parts so far.
  • Katie brings her vibrator to her one-on-one. She will not put that thing down. Mari is upset that Katie interrupted her and has begun calling her “dildo”. I hope my parents never read this.
  • Matt drinks sweet tea in Kayla’s pickup truck. Do we think she really brought her own truck?
  • Kit gives Matt a snow globe of New York, and before she can even utter the words “the big apple”, Queen Victoria announces her own arrival. Kit is miffed that Queen Victoria called her “princess”.
  • Matt explains to Queen Victoria what the expression “drinking from a firehose” means, and after a bit of confusion, Queen Vic says she will be the best drink he ever had. I think I love Queen Vic? Even though she is very clearly getting the villain edit after clashing with Kit.
  • Queen Victoria interrupts another contestant even though some women haven’t gotten any time with Matt, and presents him with a bracelet. Queen Victoria gets what she wants and none of the women will stand in her way. She also gives other women advice on how to approach Matt while simultaneously calling them idiots.
  • Matt has a heart to heart with Abigail and oh boy do these two kids have chemistry! She gets the first “official” kiss. The other women fret about the first impression rose, and Queen Vic is convinced it’s hers, but Matt brings the rose back over to Abigail. Oh this is so sweet. Sure, we are all a bit deprived of human connection, but I definitely melted when he told her that she is one of the only people who was vulnerable with him. Abigail passed the vulnerability test!

THE ROSE CEREMONY

Bri, the first woman out of the limos, is also the first to get a rose. A good picture editor loves consistency. Why did I write that

With only a few roses left, Anna, who hasn’t gotten any time with Matt (and who is wearing the same dress as Alana!!) is shaking in her boots. Awkwardness ensues when Matt gives Alana a rose, and she is forced to clarify whether or not he said “Anna”. Conveniently, Alana is standing RIGHT BEHIND Anna, in the same dress. Oh you sneaky sneaky producers. You couldn’t even provide them with some social distancing? But all is well – Anna gets the second last rose.

One rose remains, and you can bet the music is amping up. Queen Victoria is chosen by the producers last, and says “Thank you, my king.”

The eliminated women are understandably disappointed that they had to quarantine for 2 weeks for nothing in a hotel in Pennsylvania have been sent home, and among them is Alicia, the ballerina, who walks out of the mansion in… broad daylight. I was vaguely aware that the first rose ceremony is an all-night affair, but this seems particularly rough. I don’t know about you, but if I had to wear spanx, fake lashes and heels for an entire night only to get sent home, I would absolutely be asking the driver to pull up to the first drive through he saw.

Matt’s future wife is most likely in this picture!

Coming up this season….

  • Montage of Matt making out with various contestants while they describe how attractive he is
  • Horseback riding count: 1
  • Hot air balloons, ATV’s, wedding gowns – this season has it all!*
  • ABRUPT TONE CHANGE – it appears new contestants will be arriving halfway through the process to stir things up?
  • Really gross fabricated drama about a contestant who may be an escort or, as one contestant sums it up, “having a transactional relationship with wealthy men”.
  • A blonde named Heather reappears, and from the looks of things, she has appeared on a previous season of the Bachelor
  • Is Katie getting a villain edit?!
  • Lots of tears
  • The classic ambulance door closing shot
  • Engagement ring closeup – looks like no matter what happens, Matt will be proposing to someone this season.

*minus travelling to any international locales

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