It’s a new year and obviously a new era. It’s 2021. We have come so far. We’re at the famous Fat Bird Resort in Pennsylvania, and it looks like the ladytestants and our new lead can go outside and participate in activities. The Fat Bird Resort is the premiere destination and it doesn’t look 114 degrees in the shade. In the words of Michael Bublé and no one else, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day.
But first, we have to confront some realities about the Bachelor Cinematic Universe before we can celebrate the progress we’ve made. The Bachelor hasn’t always been the pinnacle of diversity and racial sensitivity, but the show is trying to correct some of its past errors by casting diverse and interesting leads. So, after years of struggle and hardship, we have finally broken that last barrier. This is the first Black Bachelor. And not only is he the first, he’s the first Black Bachelor with absolutely no charisma and no defining qualities, who wants us all to know he’s totally going to date 22-year-old white women.
There are a couple of issues making my usual tainted enjoyment of The Bachelor more difficult this time around. First of all, Matt James is a very hot automaton that may have been unplugged before he could learn any words other than “vulnerability” and “unpack.” They were working backward through his Automaton-to-Bachelor dictionary, obviously. What do we learn about Matt James and his journey to be the Bachelor? He’s from North Carolina. He’s biracial. He’s got a charity where he takes children to get sandwiches and then makes them do burpees in jeans. WHAT MORE COULD YOU NEED TO KNOW? Even the ladytestants struggle to say anything about Matt James and who he is besides “tall” and “said words in front of us.” He’s got qualities and attributes and characteristics that they’re looking for.
There’s also a strange gap that’s never fully addressed, where Matt owns up to never being on The Bachelorette but now he’s the Bachelor. How the fuck did that happen? Because I bet it has something to do with his close friendship with Bachelor Nation fave Tyler C. and the show’s need to do something about the whole racism thing that was happening this summer.
Which brings me to my next point: If we’re going to go through this whole season with only Chris Harrison moderating discussions about race, it’s going to be a looooooooong fucking season. Listen, I don’t expect this show to be radical or revolutionary in any way, but can we do slightly better than Chris Harrison saying “say more about that” when Matt James brings up his race? Where is Rachel Lindsay? Where is Tayshia? Where is a coalition of our favorite Black male contestants from years past to talk to Matt James about the reality of being a Black person on this franchise? Someone find Kenny King and Mike Johnson and get them to the Fat Bird Resort! Also because Matt James seems fucking terrified that he actually has to do this. Should we call someone to pick him up? What’s his mom’s cell?
Because of the audience for this show (and obviously the lead they picked), the only conversation about race or racism is, “If I pick a specific person of a specific race, white people will be mad and Black people will be mad” with literally no commentary, and those two reactions are presented like they’re equivalent. Let’s just decode what that means: If Matt James picks a white woman, white racists will be pissed because they don’t want to see an interracial relationship. If Matt James picks a white woman, Black people could feel like that continues the narrative of white women being ideal partners, and usually in the media, a white woman being seen as an ideal partner requires women of color, particularly Black women, to be seen as less than ideal partners. If Matt James picks a Black woman or another woman of color, who is mad exactly? Uh-huh, that’s what I thought.
And finally, truly the dumbest issue is that the show has cast an impossible number of ladytestants under 25 and seems to be returning to its previous atmosphere of “sorority after someone machine-washed everyone’s Bid Day dresses.” It’s fucking charmeuse, Tyffany! You can’t just put it in the washing machine! FUCK. After a season where several dates were just the lead asking the guys if they’ve gone to therapy and then paying their co-pay for them, maybe, just maybe the audience has grown to like watching a bunch of mature adults get to know each other and not watching the scheming of a woman wearing a Party City tiara. Because if that’s what we’re gonna go with, this handsome automaton is going to get eaten alive by these FashionNova babes.
Let’s get to it.
How fucking pissed do you think Clare was when she saw the Chateau at Nemacolin? Because it’s palatial. I love me some Fat Bird resort and I can’t wait for Matt to stroll through the fields of wheat that seem to be on the grounds. It also appears he has a three-bedroom apartment as his private residence.
Why don’t we meet some of the beautiful and proper ladytest — THERE’S A BITCH WITH A VIBRATOR. She’s got a FULLY OPERATIONAL VIBRATOR and everyone thinks it’s HILARIOUS. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like for me to teach and perform improv for ten years, it was basically like this. Besides Vibratin’ Katie, there’s Alicia the professional ballerina, Abigail who was born deaf, Kristin who is a lawyer who loves a rooftop bar, Magi the pharmacist from Ethiopia, Anna who is a caffeine fiend, and Sarah the reporter. Everyone shoots a little package of themselves in their hotel room or at home on their cell phone.
Let’s talk about some memorable limo entrances. Khaylah arrives in a pickup truck because they’re both from North Carolina. Matt calls it “a nice whip.” Serena C. trips a little bit and it seems unplanned. Serena P. pulls out a little stool so she can make eye contact. Alana has them do a Lady and the Tramp. Then Kaili has the absolute ballsiest entrance of all time, where she walks up in a robe and lingerie and asks Matt to pick out what outfit she’s going to wear. Ma’am. If you’re going to roll up in a bra and panties, wear it the whole fucking night. Who gives a shit. You’ve got the butt for it. Let’s GO. Saneh has goat feet for a Greatest of All Time pun. Illeana makes him take an eyes-closed bite of a grapefruit sized meatball. Then Victoria arrives in one of those chaises where four servant boys carry you, but they couldn’t get it together to find four Roman soldier costumes so it’s just four production assistants in all black and Vans carrying her in. It’s a visual representation of Victoria’s cognitive dissonance.
It’s time for the cocktail party to start and the vibrator has been raised in a toast. Matt James comes in and gives … an impossibly long opening night speech. He starts with a prayer. I know I get in trouble in the comments for a lot of reasons so I won’t comment too much on the prayer except to say it was … “prayer-y.” The prayer kept getting interrupted by the ladytestants going “YAASS! WERK! AMEN!” in a completely nonreligious way. The women cannot hold it together emotionally after the prayer and everyone is cooing like Matt James has a tiny Pomeranian in a Sailor Moon costume.
Matt says that he’s going to be vulnerable and unpack what he’s been through, and I need the people on this show to learn a new goddamn word. He lets everyone know that his mom is white and his dad is Black and there’s a vibrator on the table. He’s going to stop being perfect and start getting real. This is a man who has learned to emote through the Real World opening credits.
It’s time for the games to begin and Matt gets whisked off first by Sarah. He says he can’t wait to unpack himself, unpack them. Who taught him this word? Someone asks him about what it’s like to be the first Black Bachelor and Matt says he feels a little responsibility but is looking for someone who knows what that’s like and embraces it.
One of the Serenas plays chess with him and says that chess was very romantic back in the day. What day? Thursday? Khaylay says he’s a five-course meal. Mari sits down with him and tells him that her family is from Puerto Rico and he says, “How did your family deal with the hurricanes?” and she goes, “Thanks for asking.” Totally normal human conversation. Katie steals him away by tapping Mari on the shoulder with the vibrator. Victoria gets time with him twice but like … no one says or does anything about it. It just happens. Kit, the 21-year-old fashion entrepreneur, says that she’s not a princess but the king, CEO, and president, bitch. These people think they’re so funny, and I guess when you’re hot you don’t need to be funny per se, just able to approximate the rhythm and cadence of what you might call “a joke.”
The first impression rose shows up while Matt is talking to Abigail. Abigail tells him about being deaf and that her sister is also deaf and blazed a trail for her. Matt says he didn’t even hear Abigail’s name because he was so taken by her beautiful eyes. She says she’s glad he’s the Bachelor and they sit in silence for like ten full seconds and then start making out. I’m very excited at the prospect of a deaf woman getting to share more of her story on national TV.
… Yo, is it just me or does Matt not really have a ton of chemistry with anyone yet?
Regardless, he grabs the first-date rose and marches it past, like, three rooms of women all freaking out about not getting to talk to him and gives it to Abigail because he challenged the women with being vulnerable and she was vulnerable but also a fighter.
It’s time for the first rose ceremony. Matt starts out with another very long monologue about how excited he is. Do you think the show is going to use Matt as a narrator more than other leads just so we can get used to hearing his voice? Like listening to foreign-language tapes while you sleep for subconscious immersion?
Bri, Rachael, Chelsea, Sarah, MJ, Serena P, Khaylay, Kristin, Kit, Magi, Pieper, Mari, Illeana, Jessenia, Kaili, Marylynn, Serena C., Lauren, Sydney, Alana, who has to ask “Did you say Alana or Anna?”, Katie, Anna, and Victoria who says “Thank you, my king” all get roses. As the women who didn’t get roses leave, you can hear the ladytestants saying, “Let’s hang out!” Matt says that was superhard and it’s only going to get harder. He then says “Let’s get our workout clothes on and run a half marathon … jk!” Again, it’s like a joke but not really funny. Matt James, everyone!
Also, this show is going to bring in new people for no reason? And Heather M.? Oh, 2021, I thought you were supposed to be different.