January 4, 2021
HI! And let me begin with an apology for how very late I am with this recap of the premiere episode of the historic 25th season of The Bachelor. I had originally intended to post this recap on Wednesday at the latest but then …
… And I’ve been a little … distracted.
Originally, I had intended to write an introduction explaining the importance of Matt James, The First Black Bachelor, how we got here and What It All Means, but then America went and had a meltdown, and I realized that what happened on Wednesday is not entirely unrelated to what happened last Monday.
Let’s go back. So Matt James is a “Bachelor Nation” (🙄) virgin: he was originally cast for this most recent season of The Bachelorette, as one of Clare’s contestants, but then George Floyd and the summer of BLM protests happened. The Bachelor had been under fire for years for never having a Black Bachelor and the folks at ABC realized they needed to respond to the moment. They yoinked Matt James out of Clare’s cast and declared him their guy.
Which, terrific! But what took them so damn long? For years, the excuse might have been that no Black Bachelorette contestants had made it far enough (typically making it to at least the top four/Hometowns) to be considered for the role of the Bachelor. But beginning with season 13 — and not unrelatedly, the season that The Bachelorette cast their first Black Bachelorette — Black contestants have come very close to striking distance, but none of them have been chosen for inexplicable reasons.
When asked, the producers have routinely made mealy-mouthed comments about how they were more concerned with finding a Bachelor who had a good story, implying that no Black men have good backstories. But the real problem here is white supremacy. For 24 seasons, the Bachelor has been White because White is “default normal.” The White experience is understood by Hollywood to be the experience of the majority, and the producers were clearly worried that the audience just wouldn’t tune in if the Bachelor didn’t meet their expectations of what a “Prince Charming” looks like, expectations that had been reinforced by society and culture over hundreds of years.
But. The demographics of this country have been shifting for decades now, becoming Browner, more accepting of LGBTQ folks, less predominately Christian, and Hollywood (and Washington D.C.) especially in the last decade or so, have been reflecting these changes. And this is very threatening to a certain subset of White supremacists who are afraid they are being displaced from their presumed positions of power.
So, no, Matt James’s casting as the first bi-racial Bachelor is not why a bunch of lunatics stormed the Capitol building on Wednesday. But it is part of a larger cultural shift towards diversity and representation that leaves a lot of very insecure White people feeling dispossessed, angry, and willing to commit violent acts to retain their diminishing sense that they are still the “default normal” and in control.
And you know what? Fuck them.
As for the episode itself: Chris Harrison stands on the steps of a large hotel, greeting us to a new season of The Bachelor and warning us that this season is different. First of all, we’ve never met this Bachelor — he never appeared on The Bachelorette or Bachelor in Paradise or even Bachelor: Listen to Your Heart. But second of all — and Chris Harrison is here to hold your hand and walk you through this stunning news — the new Bachelor is Black. Well, bi-racial to be precise, but we’re going to call him Our First Black Bachelor
Now Will People Get Off Of Our Backs Already?
His name is Matt James, he was born and raised in North Carolina, but now he’s a real estate broker in New York City who works with inner-city kids in his downtime. For some reason absolutely no mention is made of the fact that he is also best friends with former Bachelorette contestant (and shoulda been winner) Tyler Cameron:
All I can think is that the show is really pushing this story that Matt James is a Bachelor virgin and if they drag Tyler into it … it complicates things.
Anyway, Matt James arrives at the Nemacolin Resort in Pennsylvania where they will be quarantining the cast for the duration of filming. And a quick looksee at their website suggests that unlike La Quinta, there are plenty of activities at Nemacolin to keep everyone busy:
What I’m saying is that there is more to do here than in Palm Springs and the location scout on this show deserves a raise.
Even better, this resort has a big beautiful hotel AND individual houses, so Matt James and Chris Harrison can have a little privacy this time around.
Sorry, there will be no 2 a.m. wine parties with Chris Harrison, ladies.
Matt James tells us that his father is Black and his mother is White, and they split up before he was old enough to remember them together. He and his older brother were raised by their mother in a nice Christian household which served as his foundation. But he knows it was hard for her, and that she sacrificed much to give him everything he has now. However, because his parents split up, he had no real model of a happy relationship, and he struggles to be vulnerable, which is our secret word for the season.
And then Mom is there? In Matt James’ Bachelor house? Is … is she going to be staying there with him the entire time? Is she quarantining with him? We’ll she be going on Hometowns and Fantasy Suite dates? MANY QUESTIONS.
So Mom is there, and she begins feeding Matt James questions from the producers: When was the last time he was vulnerable?
Does the fear of having his heart broken mean that he thinks he might be able to fall in love on this dumb show? Is he ready for this journey? You know, the usual bullshit.
And then, right before we get to the Montage of the Most Important Women, the show throws us the first — but not the last — of the shirtless Matt James packages. This time, the workout montage!
And now The Ladies You Should Pay Attention to:
Alicia (24, Professional Ballerina, New York): who is a self-described perfectionist who really likes the whole “he-works-with-kids” angle, because she herself is a dance teacher in her spare time. She’s lovely, but she so BUSY and making me tired.
Abigail (25, Client Financial Manager, Beaverton, Oregon): who is deaf and is nervous about bringing it up with Matt James.
Kristin (27, Attorney, Virginia Beach, Virginia): who is a lawyer and it is very important to her that you know that.
Magi (32, Pharmacist, Adwa, Ethiopia): who moved here from Ethiopia to pursue her doctorate in pharmacy and received it last year. She is also so stunningly beautiful, she’s kinda hard to even look at.
Anna (24, Copywriter, Chicago, Illinois): WHO HAS SO MANY TEETH. WHY DOES SHE HAVE MORE TEETH THAN OTHER HUMANS?
Sarah (24, Broadcast Journalist, San Diego, California): who is a broadcast journalist from San Diego and who has a father with ALS and that is very sad AND I AM SORRY BUT SHE IS A TV NEWS PERSON FROM SAN DIEGO? WELP, LET ME JUST WARN YOU NOW I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO RESIST MAKING ANCHORMAN REFERENCES AND I WILL NOT STOP.
And then back to another shirtless Matt James moment, as he is now showering ahead of his big first night. Apparently, it requires him to be wet and naked to tell us that he’s nervous.
Finally dressed, Matt James arrives at the hotel where he is greeted by Chris Harrison. The first thing Chris Harrison notes is how tall Matt James is — and he is tall. In fact, he’s 6’5″, the same height as my husband. #brag Matt James is tall and he is TERRIFIED, and he asks if he and Chris Harrison can go inside and talk for a second before the women start arriving.
There, Matt James explains that he’s nervous and apprehensive about this whole thing, and wonders if Chris Harrison can give him any hints as to what to expect. Chris Harrison assures him that if he’s genuine, Matt James has a “phenomenal chance to meet the woman of his dreams,” — or, at the very least, a woman he will be infatuated with for a few months until real life sets in and then they have to put out a statement to E! News explaining that they have parted ways but will remain friends.
Matt James admits that he’s never been in love before, and is frightened about letting his walls down. He also expresses his anxiety about being the first Black Bachelor, and how he doesn’t want to disappoint anyone, and that it keeps him up at night. Chris Harrison puts on his concerned face, says, “I see,” and then is like, “ALRIGHT, GET OUT THERE, BIG GUY!”
Matt James legit looks like he’s going to throw up all over that freshly hosed down driveway as Limo #1 arrives and deposits:
Bri (24, Communications Manager, San Francisco, CA) who decides to add to Matt James’ tension by noting how highly everyone speaks of him. COOL. NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING.
And as this first woman walks into the hotel, Matt James does this weird thing that he will continue doing throughout the introductions, which is to turn around, watch her go inside, and comment on her in his normal speaking voice as if she can’t hear him. “Wow, she’s incredible,” he says WHILE SHE IS THREE FEET AWAY. STOP MAKING IT WEIRD, MATT JAMES.
Rachael (24, Graphic Designer, Cumming, Georgia) is wearing lucite stripper heels. I’m not sure I can forgive lucite stripper heels. She does look like Veronica from Riverdale, though, so that’s something, I guess?
Sarah (see above) tells Matt James that she’s very grateful to be there and warns him that she is going to be homesick during this experience.
Jessenia (27, Social Media Marketer, San Antonio, Texas) says something about looking for someone to be her rock.
Chelsea (28, Runway Model, Brooklyn, New York) comes out in … calling it a dress is generous. It’s more a collection of handkerchiefs strapped together with some ribbon, but the thing is, she pulls it off. My notes simply read “DAMN” and “DRESS!” and “GODDAMN,” because there are some people on this planet who were born to be runway models and Chelsea is amongst them.
“Wow, she is wearing that dress,” Matt James says when she is 48 inches away from him. I KNOW. THAT’S WHAT I SAID.
Mari (24, Marketing Director, Odenton, Maryland) says something about journeys and travel and just oozes “pageant girl.”
Limo #2 pulls up and out comes:
Magi (see above) who tells him that she came all the way from Ethiopia to meet him.
Carolyn (30, Journalist, Los Angeles, CA) offers him a sprig of lavender that I’m guessing she plucked from the resort’s gardens five minutes before getting into the limo. OK?
Sydney (28, Marketing Specialist, Nashville, Tennessee) tells Matt James that he’s the “hottest human being” she’s ever met. She reminds me of the lovely Traci Ellis Ross.
Kristin (see above) makes a dumb lawyer joke about how Matt James has been “found guilty of being incredibly fine.” WAIT, IS SHE GROANY MCBADJOKE ESQ.’S SISTER?
Anna (see above): TEEEEEEEEEEETH
Khaylah (28, Healthcare Advocate, Durham, North Carolina) arrives in a gorgeous vintage pickup truck (not being sarcastic) and explains that she is also from North Carolina. Hence: the pickup truck.
Serena C. (24, Flight Attendant, San Francisco, California) immediately trips on the red carpet, but handles it like a goddamned pro and instantly earns my respect. Also, she looks like this fish and I can’t unsee it.
Serena P. (22, Publicist, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) brings a step stool because she’s only 5’2″ and Hey! That’s how tall I am! This is like my husband and me except there are only two years of age difference between us and seven between these two and 22 IS TOO YOUNG TO BE ON THIS SHOW. Also, the stool is a cute gesture and all, but you are just going to have to adjust, girl, if you want to be married to a giant. You can’t be carrying a step stool around with you your whole life. Listen, if you win this thing, get in touch, I’ll give you some tips.
Alicia (see above) comes out on toe shoes.
Saneh (25, IT Consultant, Denver, Colorado) tells Matt James that he’s “the greatest of all time” and that she thinks that she’s also the GOAT, before pulling up her dress to reveal … she’s wearing goat slippers?
Because when it comes to first impressions, what you want to do is associate yourself with a sexy animal like … a goat.
Alana (26, Photographer, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) hands Matt James a bowl of noodles and makes him do the Lady and the Tramp.
Kaili (26, Hostess, Chicago) arrives in a robe, her underwear, and dragging a clothing rack with two dresses on it, demanding that Matt James pick which dress she should wear.
Limo #3? 4? Who knows.
Abigail (see above) immediately reveals that she’s deaf and Matt James is like, “Cool! I’ll enunciate more!” OK, Matt James, I see you. I see you, and I like you.
Corrinne (22, Marketing Manager, Pomfret, Connecticut) says something about only being there for him or somesuch.
Marylynn (28, Event Coordinator, Studio City, California) insists that everything in her life brought her to meet him. OK.
Emani (25, Realtor, Albuquerque, New Mexico) says something about how it’s crazy to be there.
Lauren (29, Corporate Attorney, Miami, Florida) says she doesn’t settle and she’s excited for their journey together. She doesn’t “settle?” Is it a lawyer pun? Maybe. The jury is still out on this one.
Pieper (23, Graduate Student, Happy Valley, Oregon) tells Matt James that she promised her father that when she got married she would keep her last name … which happens to be “James.” I’ll allow it.
MJ (23, Hair Stylist, Hudson, Ohio) arrives in a pizza delivery car, complete with pizza, but doesn’t unlock the back door first, thereby stumbling her entrance — but in a cute way. She then hands him said pizza, explaining that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
Limo #4? 5? Does it matter? arrives:
Katie (29, Bank Marketing Manager, Renton, Washington) has an entrance so absurd, they literally teased it at the beginning of the episode. Basically, she whips a dildo out at him, explains that it helped her get through the pandemic and that she hopes he can replace it.
And reader, I can’t tell you how much time I spent looking for a funny gif to go along with this. Let’s just say after the search terms I used, after the things my poor browser has just seen … I had to throw out my whole computer and buy a new one.
Once she goes inside, Katie introduces the other women to her vibrator, explaining that its name is “MJ.” The other MJ:
Amber (30, Nursing Student, Costa Mesa, California) arrives on a tandem bike.
Kimberly (28, Airline Recruiter, Seattle, Washington) who looks REMARKABLY like one of my husband’s law school classmates (and yes, his law school classmate still looks like this girl today some 20 years later) arrives and hurls a fish at him. I guess because of Seattle? And the whole fish market throwing thing? But there’s no explanation or warning, This woman just hauls off and throws a whole ass raw fish at him and he fails to catch it.
Casandra (25, Social Worker, Newport Beach, California) is wearing a football jersey with his name on it.
Illeana (25, Health Food Developer, New York, New York) walks up with a large, brown lump in her hands, and demand that he put her “balls in [his] mouth,” because there is nothing funnier than referring to an SNL sketch that aired with both of these people were in preschool.
Kit (21, Fashion Entrepreneur, New York, New York) … before we get to Kit’s arrival, let me make a correction: Kit is not a “fashion entrepreneur,” she is a college student and she is 21-years-old and she lives with her parents and she is one (1) year older than my oldest child and she has no business being on this show. But here she is, arriving like a complete asshole in a rose gold Bentley that I am 99% certain she rented from Dorit Kemsley for a steal.
Victoria (27, Queen, Los Angeles, California) But Kit’s not the biggest asshole of the season, because there’s this idiot who arrives in a tiara and carried in on a palanquin. See, because her name is “Victoria”? Like the 19th century British queen? Yeah, say hello to your drama queen of the season who will be required to stay on the show for at least four episodes before the producers allow Matt James to eliminate her.
One womanchild unimpressed with Queen Asshole’s entrance: our
“fashion entrepreneur” college student:
Matt James — and let me be clear, I’m calling him by his full name because when your name is two first names, that’s what happens — joins the women. But instead of delivering a big speech and toast welcoming them, he opens with a prayer, something about giving them the courage to get through the next few months and doing this for a purpose and blessing them all.
Meanwhile, Dildo Girl:
The first person to take him aside to talk is Veronica Corningstone with whom he has a boring conversation about how excited he is to be experiencing this for the first time with all of them. He then goes on to have similar conversations with a bunch of other women and it’s not even worth talking about here because YAWN. But the big takeaway is: future Bachelors should open with prayers because these women are HERE FOR IT.
Veronica from Riverdale burbles about how she’s always been afraid of being “vulnerable” and Matt James is like, DID YOU SAY, “VULNERABLE?”
Actually, he just burbles about how beautiful and sexy and articulate she is, and “articulate” is just another word for, “she said the thing that the producers decided would be my keyword for the season.”
Serena P. interrupts to take him out to the front lawn to play a game of chess with one of those oversized outdoor chess sets. Alright, Queen’s Gambit, calm down.
Meanwhile, the portion of the first episode when women begin panicking about not having spoken to the Bachelor has arrived. Mari the Pageant Queen takes him aside to talk, where she offers him a fake boarding pass to basically go anywhere with her once all this COVID bullshit is over and done with. They discuss Puerto Rico, where her family is from, and all of the trauma the island has experienced in the past few years for a minute, but the conversation is interrupted when Dildo Girl taps her on the shoulder with MJ the Vibrator.
And we don’t spend any time with Matt James’ and Dildo Girl’s conversation because who cares, but instead, we follow Pageant Queen as she returns to the house and tells anyone she can find that Dildo Girl tapped her on the shoulder with her dildo. But the thing is … it’s funny? I mean, it’s gross and it’s rude, but it’s also just legitimately hilarious, so.
Matt James has a conversation with Pickup Truck in the back of her pickup truck where they drink sweet tea and talk about having North Carolina roots.
Our College Student gives Matt James a New York City snowglobe, since he’s a New Yorker now, and there’s no chance he’s going to wander into Times Square and buy one from an overpriced and overcrowded shitty souvenir shop for himself. College Student is interrupted by Queen Asshole who calls her “Princess,” which College Student is understandably insulted by, HOW DARE SHE. And I mean, I’d be irritated if an asshole in a tiara interrupted me, too, but the thing is Queen Asshole was going to interrupt someone, the only question was who.
When Queen Asshole returns inside the hotel, she begins berating the women who haven’t talked to Matt James, and drunkenly badgers them that they HAVE TO GET TIME WITH HIM. When they politely stare off into the middle distance rather than engage with her, she’s like, “OH, THAT’S FINE, I’LL JUST GO INTERRUPT HIM A SECOND TIME WHILE YOU DUMB BITCHES STAND AROUND TWIDDLING YOUR THUMBS.” Which she does, while they all stand aghast. Listen! She warned you!
Meanwhile, the First Impression Rose has been left on the table by Chris Harrison and now the women are really getting the stress sweats.
Matt James chats with First Girl Out of the Limo, Bri, where they discuss the importance of his being the first Black Bachelor and telling diverse stories. Bri explains that her Dad is Persian and her mother is Black but they separated before she was old enough to remember them being together, and she was raised by her mother. Matt James doesn’t say it but …
Matt James also has a good conversation with Abigail, the deaf woman, where she discusses the fact that she has always been very open about her hearing impairment because she has an older sister who is also deaf and served as a good role model. Matt James admits that he thought she was gorgeous the moment she stepped out of the limo and then the next thing you know, these two are making out.
So, yeah, he gives Abigail the First Impression Rose.
And with that done, it’s time to line everyone up and start eliminating women because 32 women is entirely too many womens.
Rose #1: First One Out of the Limo
Rose #2: Veronica from Riverdale
Rose #3: The Model
Rose #4: Veronica Corningstone
Rose #5: Pizza
Rose #6: Queen’s Gambit
Rose #7: Pickup Truck
Rose #8: Groany’s Sister, Esq.
Rose #9: College Student
Rose #10: Gorgeous
Rose #11: Mrs. James
Rose #12: Pageant Queen
Rose #13: Schweddy Balls
Rose #14: Someone Named Jessenia
Rose #15: Naked Chick
Rose #16: Someone Named Marylynn?
Rose #17: Sexy Fish
Rose #18: Punster
Rose #19: Tracee Ellis Ross
Rose #20: Lady and the Tramp (who happens to be positioned directly behind TEETH while wearing the exact same dress, lol)
Rose #21: Dildo Girl
Rose #22: TEETH
Rose #23: Queen Asshole
This means we will be saying goodbye to Tandem Bicycle; Lavender; Football Jersey; Someone Named Corrinne; Someone Named Emani; Fish Thrower; Goat Feet; and ~checks notes, double checks the episode~ The Ballerina?! But he kept Queen Asshole?
Listen, the producers are gonna produce.
Anyway, all y’all, get out.
Here are the ladies who were eliminated along with their very not good nicknames:
Here are the women along with their dumb nicknames who are still “dating” Matt and whose nicknames could change as the show goes on, I dunno:
The Bachelor airs Mondays on ABC at 7/8 p.m.