Have you ever dated a real piece of garbage? What am I saying? We’re all adults here, of course we have. Have you ever dated a real piece of garbage and just thought, “Well, this is all there is. The only thing that’s out there is other pieces of garbage. I am a barge floating through a sea of trash and the garbage sticks to me like the barnacles I deserve?” Who am I kidding? We’ve all used Tinder, we’ve all thought that. But then one special bright day, you meet someone who isn’t 100 percent pure trash. They might be 10 percent trash, or even 67 percent trash, or by God, they might be 85 percent trash, but it’s not 100 percent and it feels different. You’re reminded that it might not be all bad. It might just be one date with someone who isn’t a tire fire, but all it takes is that one moment, that one glance, one laugh that feels a little deeper to remind you that you are not a barge navigating an ocean of debris but a human person with feelings and thoughts. To remind you that it can be fun and good. THAT’S WHAT THIS EPISODE FELT LIKE TO ME.
The guys are legit cute and some of them are even accomplished. They are introspective and fun and charming. Rachel is an adult. She’s bright and bubbly. She got a fresh sew-in and she brought her dog with her. She’s ready. I’m living for her. If Carefree Black Girls were Pokémon, Rachel is what you get when you use a Sun Shard on Yara Shahidi. The shots of her dancing in the street and playing on the beach could be right out of the credits of a ’90s UPN sitcom. Queen Latifah would play her best friend and landlord and Brandy would be her lab partner. I’m going to travel back in time to write this show. Get ready for me to win some NAACP Image Awards in the past.
“I didn’t say I love you to Nick fast enough … [blah, blah, blah] … “I used to be a skeptic about love” Rachel brought her dog. HOW HAS NO ONE EVER THOUGHT OF THAT BEFORE? Rachel is really stepping this whole thing up.
It’s time to meet some of the guys! First, there’s Kenny King. I have several men in my life who really love professional wrestling but know absolutely nothing about The Bachelorette. All of these men texted me that there was going to be a wrestler on The Bachelorette. Not only does Kenny pin other men to the ring in suggestive poses (#redefiningwrestlingwiththefemalegaze), but he has a really cute daughter that makes him humble and sweet. Almost every guy in my fantasy draft picked Kenny.
Then there’s JACK STONE. He sounds like a detective in a novel that your dad would buy in a hotel gift shop and he looks like the stock imagery they would put on the cover. Alex says his mom thinks he has a 180 IQ.
Then there’s this Whaboom asshole. I have a very visceral reaction to everything he does, says, thinks, and believes. Stop trying to make fetch happen, Lucas. Blake E. says some nonsense about how many women have told him about the amazingness of his penis. Blake. No, they haven’t. They’re the rubber chicken of the human anatomy. They’re okay. Relax.
Anyone else nervous about how all the contesticles were answering lots of sexual questions in their profiles and now Blake’s nonsense? Does anyone else worry about a long history of portraying black women (and men) as hypersexual and how it might rear its ugly head on this the most problematic of reality shows?
… DIGGY IS PRETTY CUTE, RIGHT?
Can we talk about the positively heartbreaking story Josiah tells in his introduction? For vulnerability and honesty, he’s in the lead. I can’t remember any other background story this touching. I was disarmed. Hold up, I was emotionally moved by something happening on The Bachelorette. Is this what we could have had all along?
Rachel stops in with a bunch of women she beat to become the Bachelorette. It took me a good minute to recognize Kristina because she got highlights. I also didn’t recognize Whitney because WHO. IS. WHITNEY? They all tell her not to get in her head and give everyone a chance. They’re only giving this advice because they haven’t met Whaboom. I imagine he and Corinne are going to get along just fine in Paradise. It is actually touching to see how much everyone loves Rachel and wants the best for her. Then they cut to Raven staring into the middle distance, imagining what it would be like to be the Bachelorette and having multiple orgasms.
Enough of this! Let’s get to the mansion! Rachel is wearing a dress made of the shattered glass ceiling of this epic moment. I like to imagine somewhere Hillary is wearing the same gown, drinking an entire bottle of Champagne, watching The Bachelorette with Huma while Bill picks up Thai food.
First out of the limo is Peter in a cute lil’ checkered suit. I’m into the fashion risks the contesticles are taking this season. How long until someone goes full pink suit at the rose ceremony? More like ROSÉ CEREMONY, am I right? Next up is Josiah and he says, “See you later, litigator,” and that’s adorable. Next out of the limo is Bryan. He’s Colombian and he speaks Spanish to Rachel and tells her he’s going to be trouble. Bitch. Is. Into. It.
One of the main topics of conversation is how some of the men met Rachel at the “After the Final Rose” or on Ellen. Dean makes sure to ask her if she thought it was okay that he said, “I wanna go black and never go back.” That makes me think a producer told him to say it because, take it from me, if you’re the type of white guy who says that of your own free will, you don’t backpedal.
After DeMario enters, Host Chris asks Rachel how she feels about him because he might not be here for the right reasons. Oh? But we’re not gonna have a chat about Whaboom Whack-a-Mole?
It’s time for Fred to enter, and he went to elementary school with Rachel, and brought their yearbook, and she was his camp counselor. She does not think it’s really romantic to be shown a picture of her eighth-grade self. Milton won’t stop growling at her.
Up next is Adam who brings along … not exactly a puppet or a doll. It’s what Lil’ Poundcake looks like when her parents force her to dress as a boy. There is also a nameplate that says the doll is from Lyon, France. I’m with Kenny when he says he’s going to burn it. Jonathan tickles Rachel without her permission and he looks like Andrew Garfield if Andrew Garfield worked at Dunder Mifflin. Matt shows up dressed as a penguin … because Rachel likes penguins?
Can I just say there’s a new hilarious dynamic with the presence of multiple men of color and in particular black men in the house? There’s a culture of playful roasting and joking around when black men get together, even when they’re in competition. There’s also a matter-of-factness that exists. All that comes to a head when the guys are joking about someone being the crazy one and then Lucas enters, does his WonkyBoom, and DeMario goes, “That’s the crazy one. We were looking for this dude.” If you didn’t laugh out loud at that, you’re dead inside and you clap on the one and three.
They also make Rachel’s black ass sit down in front of that doll and I was offended. Somewhere, Maxine Waters and Shonda Rhimes felt chills down their spines. THE DOLL KEPT “SPEAKING” FRENCH.
Rachel has the most chemistry with Bryan and he pulls her aside to tell her he’s good with his hands and makes her speak Spanish. When she asks if he’s still gonna be trouble, I said out loud to my boyfriend, “SHE IS WET.” It’s disgusting but it’s true and we all know it. Bryan grabs her face and makes out with her hard. Bitch, I was wet. He gets the first-impression rose. (Also, if you didn’t laugh out loud when Mo shouted, “NO! BACK OFF!” when Rachel started making out with Bryan after giving him the first-impression rose, you’re dead inside and you order your chicken tikka masala mild.)
Rachel has an amazing fur stole that she wears over her dress and she’s perfect and I love her. Milton keeps growling at her. Mo gets too drunk. WonkyBoom keeps narrating the events at the cocktail party through a bullhorn. Blake E. and Lucas clash, thus setting up one of the rivalries. After a little speech from Rachel, it’s time for the rose ceremony. No theatrics, false modesty, or woe-is-me attitude. Just sending dudes home using flowers.
Peter, Will, JACK STONE, Jamey (who?), Iggy, Eric, DeMario, Gandrew Arfield, Bryce, Alex, Kenny, Dean, Matt, Anthony, Brady, Josiah, Lee, Diggy, Lil’ Baby Fred, Adam (and not that weird puppet), Blake E. and his penis, AND WACKYBLAM get a rose.
The sun is up as the failed contesticles are leaving the mansion and Milton cries about the outfits he didn’t get to wear. This feels different. This feels right.