The Bachelorette Season-Premiere Recap: Love Notes

The Bachelorette

Week One
Season 18 Episode 1
Editor’s Rating 4 stars

The Bachelorette

Week One
Season 18 Episode 1
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC

This far into the paradox, I thought we’d all be in a different situation by now. I thought I’d be raw-dogging the air again and breathing deeply in the Pyramid Room at the Korean day spa. I thought we’d be waltzing into Sephora with our buck-naked faces, rubbing the sample lipsticks directly on our lips and then going on first dates with strangers. Instead, I’ve just been lying on the floor of my apartment, wailing plaintively as the sun begins to set at 4:17 p.m. I’ve bought 16 new pairs of pants and there isn’t a button in sight! The only source of joy for me in these turbulent times are things like MY EMMY, finding out what new color they’re painting the Miz on Dancing With the Stars, and a new season of The Bachelorette. 

Yes. This is exactly what I want. Give me this. Michelle is adorable and fun and fucking loves basketball. All of the men are either seven feet tall or they look like someone ordered the men from Insecure on Wish dot com. Every other man is AliExpress Kendrick Sampson and I’m perfectly fine with that. Tayshia and Kaitlyn are mentally at a slumber party and they’re here to stir shit up. The first 15 minutes at the Indian Wells — oh, we gotta do something about that resort name, I think — is just an episode of Room Raiders and fuck it, I’m in. Anything to distract myself from the fact that another winter is about to set in and the circadian rhythm of the Bachelor Cinematic Universe has been disrupted. Because we’re going on our fourth season of this nonsense this calendar year. So, if we’re gonna do this, let the men be giants and let our lead be captivating.

Let’s get to it.

Y’all. They hated Katie, didn’t they? Just the amount of gownery and inspiring footage of Michelle teaching fractions lets you know that they want us to fall in love with this woman. I’m already in love with Michelle and her entire fifth-grade class. They are asking the tough questions like, “How many boyfriends are you going to have?” They should turn the “After the Final Rose” over to a handful of fifth-graders who just learned how to explore and use figurative language. “Joe, would you say that ghosting Miss Young was as dumb as a Norwegian lemming? That’s a simile.” Her students are very concerned that she’s about to be kissing 30 boys, but they still tell her, “You have to find your love, Miss Young!” and to not change for anyone. I love these children. They really are the future.

We’re reminded that Michelle is from Woodbury, Minnesota, and she had the best childhood anyone could ask for. Her parents are still married and deeply in love. Ummm … weird flex but okay. Please, Bachelorette, can we just free ourselves from the notion that what our parents did in their marriage somehow defines us? There are people whose parents divorced who are in loving, committed relationships with the first person they kissed, and there are people whose parents died holding each other like in The Notebook who are currently dating multiple club promoters. It can definitely help explain what might be going on with someone, but it certainly isn’t the end-all and be-all when it comes to someone’s romantic life. But this is Michelle’s whole thing, relationship-wise, and she goes so far as to say that she’s still single because her parents’ marriage is so good. Girl, that’s sweet, but dear God, either keep that to yourself or ascribe it to your own internal sense of values. Michelle is horny for her own parents’ marriage and they’re breaking down in tears at the mere mention of her finding love. Whatever they’re doing in Woodbury, God bless.

We get one last montage of Michelle walking around in a bathing suit and floating in the pool at the Indian Wells. Yeah, we’re definitely going to have to work on that one. What’s their logo? Is it a fat mouse or something? I could really work with that.

It’s time to meet the men and stretch every teacher and basketball pun to its physical limits! Up first is Chris from New Orleans, and he’s bringing being a Southern Gentlemen to California. He’s a mama’s boy and he likes sports and Michelle likes sports. He says Michelle wears her heart on her shoulder and that’s almost correct.

Up next is Joe from Minneapolis, and we’re about to be reliving Insecure season three. He’s looking for his queen and he also … likes basketball. They graduated the same year in high school and they’re both biracial, so they’re meant to be. Up next is Clayton. He’s the tallest man in the history of men. He’s so corn-fed and white bread that if he were a wrestler in the WWE, he’d win the championship on his first day and Vince McMahon would explode into a metric ton of confetti and cigars. Everyone in Clayton’s family is also a big beefy boy. He’s Lawful Good Gregor Clegane and I love him.

We meet Brandon J., who saw that photo of the Rock in a turtleneck and chain and thought, “I can make that my entire personality.” Next is Nayte, who loves road trips and his mom is a teacher. He thinks about Michelle during his intro package and gets nervous. He’s got an amazing amount of jewelry and an immaculate beard. Finally, we meet Chris G., a motivational speaker who interacts with thousands of kids a year, which is the absolute most generic and flattering way to say he’s an assembly speaker. “Class, Chris G. is here to talk to us about train safety!”

And because we have a story line to manufacture, Tayshia and Kaitlyn are going to poke around in the contesticles’ hotel rooms to expose their coconut scrubs and their Bachelorette strategy pamphlets. Ryan is the owner of the Bachelorette strategy pamphlet and “Bachelorette” is misspelled on the cover of the folder. Ryan printed out his entire Notes app and stapled it together; that shit looked like something the Zodiac Killer typed out. He has notes like “pretend to be interested in teacher stuff” and “Jason Tartick … wasn’t a standout on his season,” which I VEHEMENTLY disagree with. He was Becca’s Best Business Boy and he took her to get buffalo wings in Buffalo. Jason is currently engaged to one-half of the hosting team of The Bachelorette and spends most of his day giving résumé advice on TikTok. I think he’s living the dream, honestly.

But before Tayshia and Kaitlyn can deal with this egregious violation, it’s time for the entrances! Probably best to have Tayshia meet Ryan and feel some chemistry with him before telling her about this manifesto. Michelle is wearing a beautiful green-gold shimmery dress with an irresponsible amount of cutouts. Based on her swimwear in her opening montage, Michelle loves a cutout.

Out of the limo first is Nayte! Yes! It’s all happening! Nayte is visibly nervous and Michelle tells him to take all the time he needs to talk to her. Then Nayte says, “Better Nayte than never.” This prompts Michelle to go, “Fuck, I like Nayte.” Next is Romeo, who quickly mutters some French, and despite being a lapsed French major, it took me a few seconds to realize he was speaking French and the only word I caught was “tragedie.” Michelle gives a thumbs-up as Romeo walks away. Next there’s some guy named Jack whose full name is Jack Russell, and he says he’s loyal, attentive, playful, and prone to patellar luxation. Up next is Clayton and he gives Michelle a yardstick to slap his firm bottom. I know Michelle doesn’t put her back into it, but that ass does not move. It’s like two firm honey-baked hams in those slacks. Kaitlyn calls the yardstick “a teacher stick.” Yeah … okay.

Chris G. has a poem for Michelle as we enter the rapid-fire entrances where Michelle is telling us that she’s so excited and everyone is here for love. There are gimmick entrances, but then there are gimmick entrances, and Rick pulls off a GIMMICK. A PA rolls up a room-service table with a metal cloche and Michelle inches toward it and reveals RICK’S HEAD. HAHAHAHAHAHA. My boyfriend, who famously does not like a single second of these television programs, looked at the TV, laughed for a full minute, and said, “That’s the best entrance. Give that guy a rose!” Rick’s head is surrounded by lettuce and he’s ready to be Michelle’s entrée. Then he doesn’t get out of the table and they wheel him into the cocktail party with all the other men. HAHAHAHAHA Perfect. No notes.

Rodney is dressed like a red apple and says he’s a Granny Smith, literally the only apple that’s bright green and famously not red. There are two firemen and one arrives on a tiny toy fire truck and the other arrives in a real fire truck. Both of them are cute as hell, so that’s okay.

After a few more gimmicks, Joe arrives with the best gimmick entrance of all: “Pretend not to remember who Michelle is when you were definitely DMing her last summer.” Very cool.

Michelle heads into the cocktail party to greet the contesticles and she gets a little flustered when she remembers that Rick is currently in a table like he’s in Delicatessen, but she tells the guys no fewer than six times to be authentic, vulnerable, and open. Please sweet Jesus, just be authentic, vulnerable, and open. Don’t fuck this up for anyone. Michelle tries a cannoli for the first time from the Pizzapreneur, and as someone who didn’t try a cannoli until college, cannolis are part of the white-food canon and they’re definitely part of the white East Coast food canon.

Joe and Michelle sit down to chat about the fact that he’s literally here. Joe says that he owns some property near George Floyd Square and he was dealing with everything that was happening and he just wasn’t in the right headspace to open up with someone. Michelle says, “… sure,” but as a woman of color in Minneapolis, who would be better able to understand than her? He just needed to communicate and she would have been okay with it. He’s trying to work on that and has been going to therapy. Michelle applauds him for even admitting that he’s going to therapy, but she’s gotta figure out how to protect her heart.

After listing every type of apple on earth, it’s time for Michelle to find out about Ryan’s Bachelorette Instruction Manual. She has a good moment with him, but Tayshia and Kaitlyn corner her and explain that they were riffling through some of the guy’s luggage and found this document. My favorite line that keeps getting quoted out of this document is, “Make it seem like you’re interested in stuff.” Like … yeah, man. That’s what we’re all trying to do literally every minute of every day. We’re all trying to appear like we’re interested in stuff to make people like us. Michelle takes Ryan aside and asks him, “da fuck?” Michelle is very good at laying out what is and isn’t acceptable and tells Ryan that he needs to clear this up immediately. Ryan says he’s never watched The Bachelor(ette), so he took some notes about what Michelle liked. Michelle again asks him to fucking clarify. He says that he’s acting just like he would any other day … then why do you need the notes, my guy? He says, well, his friend’s wife who is into The Bachelor wrote out some things for him. Y’know, that very normal thing of taking notes but also your friend’s wife taking notes for you about a television program and then printing them out and putting them in a folder. That very normal thing we all do.

Michelle says, “Why don’t we just look at these notes if they’re very normal and not a cryptograph written by a murderer?” Ryan says some of the notes are just his “dream girls in dating list.” You gotta write that down?!?! Ryan goes out into the hall while Michelle sits with his notes and reads them aloud. Michelle says, “Huh, quotes from every season and most repeated phrases,” as Ryan says in the hallway, “I’m here for the right reasons.” There’s also advice where it says Ryan can be overconfident, so he needs to keep those thoughts to himself and keep a positive outlook. It reads like a third-grade report card and it’s fucking weird. Michelle comes out of the room and tells Ryan that his weird packet of papers is just too big of a red flag and she wants him to go home. He asks if there’s anything he can do and Michelle says no and he says, “Are you sure?”

Michelle heads back to the guys and explains that Ryan wasn’t authentic, open, and vulnerable, so he had to go. Nayte steals Michelle away right after this moment and tells her that he’s trying very hard to be authentic, open, and vulnerable. He tells her about his parents and how he’s never seen his parents kiss and he doesn’t want his children to miss seeing that affection. Michelle appreciates how he pushed himself to be open with her and how he reset the night for her. Nayte gets the first impression rose and he gets that smooch! The only smooch of the night?!?! YES! THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANT!

It’s time for the rose ceremony and the sun is fully up. It’s 11:30 a.m. and everyone missed the continental breakfast. Jamie, Leroy, Martin, Spencer, Rick, Clayton, Peter, PJ, Mollique, Romeo, Daniel, Brandon J., Will, Chris S., Rodney, Alec, Pardeep, Chris G., Casey, Olu, and LT all get roses. Before Michelle gives out the final rose, she heads back behind the scenes to make sure she’s doing the right thing. She comes back and gives the final rose to Joe. Michelle gives a toast and says, “Cheers to really beginning the journey!”

I don’t know what you’re excited for this season, but I’m excited to see a grown man cry while saying, “This man is really pushing my buttons!!” Will it happen next week? We’ll see!

The Bachelorette Season-Premiere Recap: Love Notes