Hello, Bachelor fans! I’m not Ali. I’m so sorry, I really am — she will be back the week after next and then you’ll get all the Patented Barthwell Wisdom we know and treasure. But for the first two weeks, you’ll have to make do with me. We’ll all muddle through somehow.
The first thing to say right off the bat is that Clayton wants kids! He wants kids very badly. He wants kids in a way that definitely does not give off any John Stamos on Law & Order SVU vibes and is instead a very chill and healthy way to approach a new relationship. The other real standout in the first half-hour is Salley, who may have a career but whose career does not matter at all because this was supposed to be her wedding day, but instead they broke up. She’s sad! That’s understandable. But knocking on the Bachelor’s door because you need to have a talk — before anyone’s even gotten out of the limo! — is pretty ridiculous. In general, the game is the game. People are going to ask if they can steal you for a minute, and they’re going to talk shit about you behind your back, and the producers are going to egg people into all kinds of nonsense. Doors are going to get knocked on. Fences will be jumped. But showing up before limo night is a bridge too far!
Anyhow, Clayton offers Sad Salley a pity rose, but she calls her mom and then decides she can’t accept it. (Good work to the props team, though. That rose was as readily available as a free AOL CD-ROM in the year 1998.) I’ve got to say, though, this is some of the most brazen TV franchise work I’ve seen in a while. Appearing and having a whole dramatic crying arc just so you can say you’re not going to be on this show? Salley is now very, very primed for some return at a later point, for Paradise or a later season or something. It’s a bold move. And yet I’m also proud of her? In the most generous read of this situation, to realize you don’t have your shit together and should not be on a reality show at this moment is a good life choice! Congrats to Salley! Best of luck.
Let’s take a moment to talk about Jesse! He’s fine. It’s very unnerving that he looks exactly like Clayton, and his entire hosting strategy seems to be based on calling Clayton “brother,” but he’s neither bringing good energy nor actively detracting from the proceedings. That seems like about the most you could ask of him.
Some Out of the Limo Fast First Impressions:
- Clayton’s reaction to people continuing to get out of the cars is “Wow, another pretty one.” Move over, Shakespeare!
- Pointing out that your name, Tessa, is asset backward does not communicate chill.
- It’s kind of fun to watch a person just fully lose control of their body when they see a hot person, and that was Clayton’s reaction to Teddi.
- “Hold my nips” girl is wacky but in a potentially acceptable way; “ashes of my ex-boyfriend” girl needed to go harder on the goth angle; 33 is significantly too young to be a cougar; I did not realize bar mitzvah dancer was a career, but mazel tov; “I just want to sit on your face” but it’s a pillow is a goofy/fun choice.
- Do you think they have to put in bids for who gets to enter with wacky forms of transportation? Is it like a lottery?
- I think if you bring a snake to the limo entrance, you should have to surrender the snake before entering the mansion. It’s just polite.
- Don’t give the Bachelor a 100-year-old family heirloom!
Teddi gets the first kiss, which is no surprise after Clayton reacts to her limo entrance with giant cartoon awwoooogah eyes. Will Teddi’s virginity become a major plot point? Who can say! (We can. We all can say.) But then Clayton just starts kissing everybody, and he’s doing it in a way that very clearly communicates that he’s just trying to figure out what to do with his mouth, and this is honestly easier than talking. My theory is that this is how his awkward midwestern-ness is manifesting. He’s concealing his feelings; he’s trying to go with the flow. But somewhere inside him, he also finds most of this kissing to be pretty suspicious. Sure, it’s fun on the first night, but should they really want to be kissing him this much? Is his future wife someone who will be this forthright with the mouth hockey this early? I very much doubt that Clayton actually respects this much kissing — he’s got “It’s fine for me, but it makes them too slutty” written all over his giant meathead face. So these are Midwest Nice kisses. They’re fake! And Claire, wildly overdramatic though she is, picks up on this!
All the women insist that Claire made this about herself instead of Clayton, and she was bringing a strange energy into the house. Clayton has her sent home, no surprise. But what a strange beginning for this dude. First, he tries to give Salley a rose before the show even starts … and she refuses it and leaves. Then the incredible, overwhelming weirdness of having to come out on the first night and say, “I was made aware that one of the women hates me!” Ouch. Many of the women are doing a great job of seeming very into him, and some of them probably are! There’s a lid for every pot. (And some lids fit with lots of pots, and some pots are actually more into other pots, and what about BOWLS and, look, no analogy is perfect.) Still, purposely or not, this episode creates a strong impression that some women just look at Clayton and say, “Yeah, no thanks.” Kind of an interesting move, Bachelor.
Except for Teddi! Clayton is appealing to Teddi, apparently, and she is very appealing to him. She gets the first-impression rose, and every single person watching says, “Yep! Yep. Duh.”
Okay, now for the goods: the preview! There’s a lot of crying. Clayton walks on a tundra. There’s an Outlander situation. And then there’s the already infamous “I’m in love with each of you. And I’ve been intimate with two of you” line, the one that everyone will surely hear at least 20 more times before it actually happens in the context of the show. Clayton will tell three women (presumably the final three??) that he’s in love with them — which, as many outlets have already suggested, appears to be a spoiler for which of these women make it to fantasy suites. And it doesn’t include Teddi! Interesting.
A final piece of advice for everyone, based on this episode of The Bachelor. The big, exciting takeaway from this preview is obviously the dramatic announcement that Clayton loves three women and his decision to say out loud that he has slept with two of them. (This is a dumb thing to get excited about because that has been implicit in the concept of the fantasy suite for years, but okay, sure.) But do not overlook one crucial, small scene in that preview clip: a woman weeping, her face obscured by a beautifully folded napkin still inside its napkin ring. This is a practical and important reminder to us all. If you’re going to cry on TV, take the napkin out of the damn ring! Unfurl that sucker! Don’t just sit there wielding it like an oddly floppy spear — make use of all that napkin real estate.