Don’t get me wrong, I love the Bachelorette. There’s just something about the Bachelor that kicks all of my tea-consuming, drama-adoring, histrionic-hounding, and yes, blog-writing senses into Mach-10 overdrive. This partiality is quite staggering given the two soporific snooze-fests we were subjected to with Colton and Peter’s seasons, and then the hand-warming Houdini himself, Matt James, who managed to escape the devilish clutches of such women as Queen Victoria and Katie Thurston. This season will be different though right? We have a new host, Jesse Palmer, who bears a startling resemblance to our new protagonist, Clayton. We are also back in the Bachelor mansion, where the bunk rooms that house our lovely ladies are intentionally kept at a just-above-comfortable temperature to encourage the maximum number of angsty overheat-induced outbursts. It’s good to be back with you all, let’s jump in.
The season started with Clayton filming himself breaking some “exciting news” to his family. That “exciting news” was that ABC’s focus groups came back after Matt’s season, and all America really wants in prime time is red meat-eating, football playing, God-fearing, Middle American white dudes who simultaneously date 30 women. I believe their business intelligence team calls it Analytical Race Theory… Regardless of the provenance of his promotion, his 8-minutes of screen time during Michelle’s season is certainly an interesting route back into the spotlight. He claims that he is the Bachelor because he “truly believes in the process.” Ask any Philadelphia 76ers fan what they think of believing in “the process” and they will tell you that this theory doesn’t mean shit. We can theorize until the cows come home about how Clayton assumed his position despite the presence of thousands of eminently more qualified and interesting candidates, but here we are.
The intros are always great. A couple stood out in particular:
Rachel, the simultaneous aviation student and instructor (inmates running the asylum?!), doesn’t know that much about Clayton, but says that he has really nice teeth. Seems like as good a reason as any to drop everything in your life and join the show!
Daria is a Yale Law student and had her intro filmed in the Starr Reading Room. I’m glad that this particular academic weight room is finally getting some buzz on national television, it’s been an entertainment-starved locale ever since my freshman year, when in pursuit of a fake ID, I had to stand up on one of the desks and give a 15-second singing and dancing rendition of Hollaback Girl as penance for my counterfeit papers! Roll dawgs.
Teddi is a regretful virgin. Honestly all power to her, but the fact that she is beholden to her maiden status just because she has maintained it to this point seems like a poor reason. Sexual scholars are calling this one the sunk cost phallusy – someone needs to tell her she holds the keys to her own chastity belt.
Salley “Previously engaged” and Heather “never been kissed” are currently in a run-off for most brazened Bachelor tag lines in history (we are of course excluding Bachelor in Paradise here as they are in a different stratosphere). There was a lot of pre-season buzz about her candidacy, so it was nice to finally get a sense of what caused the breakdown. Salley claimed it was a lack of trust that derailed her relationship… a lack of trust that could potentially be embodied by one member of the impending conjugal union immediately deciding to go on the Bachelor in pursuit of Colton Underwood’s heterosexual doppelgänger perhaps? Whatever the trust issues were, I’m glad that Salley’s difficulties were all magically overcome when she saw the Clayton was good looking. The two had a nice chat, after which Clayton offered her a rose. Salley saying off camera “why did he have to pull out a fucking rose” is like saying “why did he have to pull out a fucking scope” at a colonoscopy appointment – it’s what you signed up for sweetheart. I have a not-so-sneaking suspicion that this won’t be the last we see of Salley, but Clayton starting out his Bachelor career 0/1 on rose acceptances doesn’t do wonders for the old confidence I’m sure.
Following Clayton’s fumble at the 1-yard line, the ladies started arriving in a combination of limousines and other interesting modes of transportation. I hate writing about the limo exits because they all pretty much include one, or multiple of the following: Hugs made awkward by the fact that Clayton is, on average, 18 inches taller than any of the ladies; uncomfortable arms-length hand holds; rehearsed lines that make 1st grade Nativity Play participants seem ready to grace Broadway stages; gimmicky and overly-sexualized tokens of faux-appreciation; incredibly strange requests like opening a jar of pickles; puns that would make even the most stalwart New-Balance-wearing, barbeque-tong-clicking, pants-that-double-as-shorts-unzipping dads cringe; if you speak a foreign language, you MUST introduce yourself; and of course the fake fucking Barbie and Ken smiles etched on these people’s faces. I think that pretty much covers it… on to the cocktail party!
Clayton’s whole shtick is that he’s just a regular old guy from Missouri. “I’m just a guy from a small town, and I’m so excited and humbled to be here” was his introductory line to the group. It’s tough for him to maintain any kind of credibility as the poster child for Eureka Missouri however, when not only does he drink the classic middle-American male staple of a vodka soda, but he proceeds to spill it all over himself while making a toast.
Pretty much my only consolidated takeaway from the cocktail party is that Clayton really does not have the maturity or emotional intelligence to manage the simultaneous courting of 30 women. He treated the cocktail party, not as an opportunity to get to know the ladies, one of whom he would eventually be asking for her hand in marriage, but as a prime chance to re-enact the time that he manned the kissing booth at the Eureka town fair in 2012 to raise funds to repair the town hall roof. In a post-COVID world, who knows how many opportunities like this there will be, but this is the Bachelor man, not a do your best impression of Morgan Wallen at an Alabama bar competition.
Clayton made out with EVERYONE, except this one girl called Clare, who “kicked his ass” at corn hole and then proceeded wander around telling everyone how much she hated him. Clayton promptly kicked her out and then started putting his tongue to work with a couple of the other ladies in his admittedly substantial orbit.
He had a long conversation with Rachel the pilot, but instead of trying to get to know her, he started hustling her to help him tick of items on his bucket list like skydiving, and then asking her if she could hook him up with some frequent flier miles… I’m no expert on aviation perks packages, but I’m pretty sure the people attending flight school aren’t the gatekeepers of the air miles stockpile.
The first impression rose ended up going to Teddi, a pretty amazing accomplishment considering her hair stylist, clearly unenthused by her recent tipping perhaps, gave her the Chad Danforth for opening night. Hair aside, she stuck to the status quo, which in this case means making out with Clayton for an additional lengthy period of time.
A couple of takeaways from the rose ceremony: First, not only does Genevieve look like an airbrushed Amy Winehouse, but the way she was talking about Clayton after having snuggled up by the fire for all of 45-seconds, it seems like she would have said yes, yes, yes to Rehab had she not snagged a rose!
Is there anything worse than staying up until 7AM, getting rejected by the world’s most average guy, and then having to attend a 9AM contract law section, Zoom video on, with your Yale Law School classmates who have been up all night drooling over Elena Kagan eminent domain dissents? I highly doubt it.
It’s still a marvel to me that these girls can sit around crushing cheap Andre and gossiping about Clayton’s time allocation until the sun comes up during the first night. Whenever I’m up until the sun rises, I’m not dishing out roses, I’m dishing out hugs and high fives to my boys at Kips Bay Deli before falling asleep straddling a half-eaten chopped cheese (w/ hot sauce).
Might be time to go grab one right now – until next week folks!