The Bachelorette is back(-chelorette) and this time, she’s black(-chelorette). For why this is a big deal, please check out this excellent Vulture piece by Ali Barthwell. Also, read this NY Times Bachelorette primer if you’re a newbie because there will be a test at the end.
For those of you who blessedly missed the trainwreck that was watching human fidget spinner Nick Viall mumble his way through last season, Rachel Lindsay, our current franchise lead, is a smart and accomplished 31-year-old attorney from Texas with a megawatt smile and the personality of a summer camp counselor but like, a cool one. She might be, and I do not say this lightly, the best person in the world.
It appears from some of this “I can’t believe I’m the next lead” introductory footage that Rachel has a dog but SPOILER: We don’t see the dog again in this episode. I promise to watch vigilantly for more sightings of Rachel’s dog as the season progresses. ANOTHER SPOILER: Rachel claims that she is currently engaged to one of the suitors we’re about to meet, but isn’t she contractually obligated to say that? Whatever. It’s time for dudes!
The dudes are plentiful. There’s Kenny, a wrestler who loves his daughter so much that he’s volunteered to spend what might be months having minimal contact with her so he can be on television; Mohit, who works at a start-up and lives in San Francisco (as a SF native, lemme just say, UGH); Jack, who, like Rachel, is a lawyer and like Rachel, has a dog; Diggy, a sneaker junkie; and then…there’s Lucas.
Lucas has a catchphrase. That catchphrase is “whaboom.” It doesn’t mean anything. Lucas likes to shake his head and scream “whaaaaaa-boom” when he’s excited. It is funny exactly once and obnoxious for the rest of the episode.
Josiah is our resident Nice Guy With A Sad Backstory: His older brother was bullied as a child for being overweight and hanged himself in their backyard. Josiah, at just seven years old, found his brother’s body and cut it down. This kicked off a period of rebellion and petty crime for Josiah, but a kindly judge gave him a chance to turn his life around, and he did just that; he’s now a lawyer who wants to help his community. It’s a moving story that, frankly, comes out of nowhere in this fun and frothy show. Josiah is completely certain that Rachel will be his wife, which is charming exactly once and then obnoxious for the rest of the episode.
But whatever, because the laaaadieeeeees are back! Corinne, Jasmine, Raven, Alexis, and some other white gals whose names I don’t recall from last season of The Bachelor have returned to advise Rachel on matters of the heart. They are 75% happy to see each other, 25% manicured. Their advice is basically, “Rachel, you are great and possibly a little judgmental, so please relax and let your heart guide you and don’t send a guy home for being a little wacky when you first meet him.” That’s close to the unfortunate “career gal who just needs to let her hair down” trope, but in Rachel’s case, also probably good advice. Raven cries.
But back to the dudes, because we have more to meet! Rachel greets them with a smile in a shimmery white dress that makes me want to up and die, she is so pretty. (Chris Harrison’s fake tan has turned him roughly the color of a Wheat Thin cracker.) First out the limo we got Hot Peter in a dapper jacket, whose slight tooth gap matches Rachel’s; Hot Peter goes for the simple introduction of a handshake and a smile. Josiah goes the “corny but cute” route with a couple lawyer jokes: a play on “reasonably doubt” and the excellent send-off “see ya later, litigator.” Bryan, who is Colombian, compliments Rachel en Español which is muy romántico until we realize that Rachel no habla Español. God, OK, let’s speed things up because this is taking forever…
Kenny: fun! Likes to dance!
Rob: glasses. Sweaty.
Bryce: picks Rachel up which would be more impressive if the entire rest of the cast weren’t also jacked.
Will: does an Uriel impression and is surprised when Rachel gets the reference, which is my favorite form of misogyny, when you think girls don’t get your jokes. Love it. So good. Fantastic.
Diggy: brought cheese.
Blake K: friendly and polite.
Brady: breaks some literal ice to break the ice. LOL. Polka-dotted tie.
Dean: makes sure that Rachel wasn’t uncomfortable with the racial joke he made when he met her before (“ready to go black”), which shows some maturity and self-reflection on his part, though not as much as not making a race joke would have shown.
Rachel is a goddamn trooper for smiling so politely through all of this.
Eric: dances and it’s terrible. Very annoying.
DeMario: confident. Polka-dot tie. Early front-runner for the season villain. Whitney warned Rachel about him.
Blake E: brought a marching band much like Andy did for Erin during the 12 days of Christmas on The Office.
Fred: knew Rachel in middle school. Brought a yearbook. Rachel was, of course, a real cute kid. This would be so cute if he weren’t so intense about it.
Jonathan: tickles Rachel. Um.
Lee: plays guitar and sings. He’s not great at either, but he also brought a flower so good for him.
Alex: brought a vacuum. Gotta love prop comedy!
Milton: takes an instant picture and then…growls? Looks like a lost Wayans brother.
Adam: brings a meter-high doll named Adam Junior. This doll looks like if you started to make a doll of Eric Trump and then decided halfway through that the doll should actually be of Donald Trump, Jr. Adam is very, very, very lucky that Lucas is here or he would surely be the weirdo of the episode. The show producers, to their credit, get a lot of comedic mileage out of Adam Jr.
Matt: dressed as a penguin because Rachel likes penguins. Now, before you say, “This is an Alexis rip-off” or “Couldn’t he have just gotten her a penguin doll?”, let me say that, as a person who also likes penguins (they are so cute and they mate for life and sometimes they exchange rocks, there’s a movie about this called The Pebble and the Penguin), there is not a wealth of adult woman-appropriate penguin stuff out there.
Grant: arrives in an ambulance!
Jack: has a murder face.
Jedidiah: tells her, “when Jacob met Rachel, he wept,” confirming my suspicion that he’s super religious because, I mean, his name is Jedidiah.
Michael: brought a brownie, so honestly he’s the one I would pick, first impression rose right there.
Lucas: Here’s the thing, readers, friends, comrades, I can’t with this guy. Another writer, a funnier writer, a better writer, would find a way to mock or celebrate or just describe Lucas in a way that would bring you all the joy and secondhand embarrassment his presence on the show engenders. But that writer is not me. I cannot. I am unable. I just…I’m literally sitting here trying to think of something to say about this guy, and it’s short-circuiting my brain. Lucas broke me. I was an alive girl and now I am a dead girl. Whaboom.
Inside the mansion, the menfolk half-heartedly align themselves into teams of “met Rachel at the After the Final Rose special” and “did not.” Once their queen enters the picture, the hierarchy devolves into a Lord of the Flies-type situation where it’s every man for himself as they compete for bits of Rachel’s attention like she’s the Lord Fly (I have never read Lord of the Flies and have only a vague idea what it’s about). Josiah steers Rachel into the garden immediately to tell her the story of how he turned his life around and became a lawyer. Bold and strategic.
Dean and Rachel make sand castles in a small tabletop sandbox. Rob gives Rachel a trading card that he has of her. Rachel waxes poetic about the mystery and power of love.
(The producer who decided that Adam Junior should speak French deserves an Emmy.)
So, apparently Rachel didn’t just go to middle school with Fred, she was his camp counselor, and he was a bad kid. And now he’s a “grown-ass man” and “very attractive.” I’m trying to think if I’d date anyone from my middle school. It was all girls, and I am tragically heterosexual but…you never know!
Bryan knows a good thing when’s he’s got it and wastes no time in teaching Rachel a little Spanish and then making out with her face! She likes it!
Chris Harrison stops by to drop the first impression rose, then all the men take turns describing the first impression rose.
For the record because men are asking: Rachel prefers Michael Jackson to Prince and N*Sync to Backstreet Boys, so I guess the BSB aren’t coming back this season.
As the boys interrupt each other, Josiah is trying to help a very drunk Mohit work up the courage to talk to Rachel. Lucas is doing his thing. It includes falling over the couch and, later, chanting.
Rachel tells Hot Peter that she doesn’t like chocolate, which makes me hate her for a tiny second. They see a shooting star and manage to completely ignore Lucas on his megaphone. I’m digging Hot Peter.
Milton growls at Rachel a number of times, and it’s not nearly as fun as when (SPOILER) Prince Adam growled at Belle at the end of Beauty and the Beast. Blake E. and Lucas have the strangest and most mind-numbing conversation about the pros and cons of Whaboom. Kenny and Rachel flirt.
The crucial F.I.R. (which Nick gave to none other than Rachel Lindsay last season) goes to…Bryan! Must have been one helluva kiss. They kiss again!
Clink clink! It’s Chris Harrison with champagne, and it’s time for the first rose ceremony. Everyone is nervous but not that nervous because they are MEN and MEN are STRONG and CONFIDENT! Feelings are for WEAK people who read BOOKS and use BUTTER KNIVES.
Can she give a rose to Adam Jr and not Adam? First rose goes to Hot Peter, then Will, Jack, Jamey, Iggy, Eric, DeMario, Jonathan, Bryce, Alex, Kenny, Dean, Matt, Anthony, Brady, Josiah, Lee, Diggy, Fred, Adam (“just Adam”), Blake E, Lucas (I’m bleeding out of every orifice).
Rachel, ever the class act, remembers everyone’s name and says goodbye to them individually, with hugs. My heart breaks for Blake K, the very cute former Marine. Blake K, call me.
Milton, who wouldn’t shut up about his outfit but did a fun impression of a lawyer-on-lawyer conversation, cries.
Aaaaaaaand season preview time. They go to Europe! Rachel wears a fur! There’s a boat! She kisses hot Peter in front of fireworks! She’s smiling a lot! They go to the Alps! Things get racial but maybe not that much! Lee and Fred seem to be the feuding Corinne and Taylor of this season! Some tattooed white girl has text message RECEIPTS! Kenny is…bleeding from his eye? This is nuts! There is no sign of
Whaboom Lucas in the season preview so hopefully he goes home next week. This is nothing like Nick’s season! Rachel might actually be capable of love? We’ll see!
Parting Thoughts: I know we’re weeks and weeks away from this, but how much would it suck to be on your period during the Fantasy Suite? Menstrual sex is certainly a thing, but it’s not ideal for what’s (presumably) the first time.