Welcome to Paradise!
This show was created with one simple purpose: give some of our favorite cast members a second chance at love. Now how could something so simple “feel so right” in many ways and go “oh so wrong” in so many others? These questions will be asked and answered several times over the next two months as the drama unfolds in Tulum, Mexico. Tulum, Mexico, and especially Papaya Playa, were the perfect place to find Paradise. Unbelievable beaches, amazing weather and scenery, and an abundance of history made this the perfect place to help our Bachelors and Bachelorettes find love, and sometimes, their fair share of drama!
The biggest story to come out of the first day for me was Michelle K. I’ll give you my thoughts on her below. One thing we tried to do with this cast is keep them in the dark before the show started as much as possible. We know they all talk and text and were going to plot and scheme as much as possible before arriving, but in this instance it didn’t do them much good, and as you’ll see in the coming weeks, it probably actually hurt some of them. I think overall they were surprised at how simple the overall premise was. While I was welcoming them to the island, they kept waiting for the big twist that would shake everything up. What they didn’t realize was the big twist was that there wasn’t going to be one. They are essentially left up to their own devices to find love and earn the right to stay in Paradise. This show is about finding relationships. Every week everyone needs to be in a relationship or they will be going home at the rose ceremony. If you can’t find someone to be with, you’ll have to take a moment and say your goodbyes.
Once they learned there were going to be rose ceremonies and people would be going home each week, the “coupling” started quickly. Lacy was really the first aggressor—she stripped down to her bikini, stole Robert away, and jumped into the ocean. Because she went home so early in Juan Pablo’s season, not a lot of people knew much about Lacy. After they saw her strip down to that pink bikini, the women didn’t have to see much more to realize she was going to be tough competition. Dylan, who just came off Andi’s season, caught the eye of Elise and she made no bones about the fact that he was her target. They quickly paired up and started a nice relationship early on.
Clare got the first date card and then quickly got the first taste of one of the problems with Paradise. Some people might be interested in the same person. AshLee made it very clear from the start that she came to Mexico with one goal: meet Graham. Once she met Graham, her attraction only grew stronger. Clare, not realizing how zeroed in Ashlee was, walked in the house and stepped on the first land mine. She asked Graham out on the first date, and we had our first blow up. Barely a day into this, and AshLee became so possessive and so upset she was ranting about Clare and about the kind of man that Graham is. Clare was able to get herself out of the minefield by uninviting Graham and asking out Robert.
Graham and AshLee reconciled and seemed to work everything out by the rose ceremony, but my question is: Can a relationship really ever recover from a start like that? Graham was very clear in telling AshLee a lot of red flags went up because of this. Graham felt trapped, like he’d been stamped and owned barely one day into this. I’ll be the first to tell you there isn’t a guy on earth who likes that feeling. It was an incredibly bad move on AshLee’s part, and she’ll have to work very hard to recover.
Clare ended up taking Robert on the first date to the Tulum ruins, and it was a great first date. The two of them got along incredibly well, but there didn’t seem to be any romantic chemistry between them. Let’s put it this way: They climbed up and stood atop ancient Mayan ruins overlooking the ocean in Tulum Mexico, then went swimming in the ocean together, and there wasn’t even a little kiss. It doesn’t get more romantic than that. Maybe it was a first date thing, and he likes to play it slow, or maybe he was really just wanting to get back to see Lacy, who he started a flirtation with early on.
Sarah got the next date card and to me this was a sweet moment. As beautiful and strong as she is, Sarah is a pretty quiet and shy girl. For her to go up to Marcus, who she thinks is hot, and ask him out, was a big deal. I’m really glad he said yes and they had the experience they did. I was blown away when she asked for the kiss and got it. It may seem silly, but you could tell this was a big step for her, and she seemed really proud of how much she stepped out of her comfort zone and took charge.
A big surprise in the middle of the week was the addition of one of our favorite girls, Michelle Money. This really threw everybody for a loop. The woman had settled in and really wrapped their brains around the fact that one of them would be leaving. With Money arriving, that meant one more would be going home this week, and they knew she was going to be tough competition. Michelle immediately spotted Marquel and went for the “cookie monster.” They went horseback riding, but as you could see, they might as well have sent Marquel to the moon. I’m pretty sure that was the first time he’d even seen a horse, much less ridden one. Money and Marquel shared a great date and sparked up an instant connection, but no kiss.
Lacy got the final date card, and she taught all of us that in love she likes to give 120%. At least that’s how the math worked out when she delivered my favorite line of the first week: When she was describing how torn she was between Marcus and Robert, she said she was 80% to 40%. I’m pretty sure that’s not how that works. But she only used 80% of that love and took Robert—not Marcus—on her first date.
Heading into the rose ceremony, it was clear that Ben, who had yet to talk to or see a girl, and Marcus, who was feeling pretty popular, would be the wild cards. Michelle K., Daniella, Clare, and Sarah were the ones who felt the most vulnerable. It seemed pretty clear that Marcus was going to just give a rose to Sarah and move on to the next week, but then he stepped up and shook this whole joint to the ground. I was really proud of Marcus for deciding to go for what he wants. He took a huge risk by offering Lacy his rose. He knew she’d just taken Robert on a date and knew they had a little bit of a thing going, but he didn’t care. Was this disrespectful or was it bold? In my mind at the time, I saw it as a solid, bold move. This then forced Robert to go elsewhere and he saved Clare, and Ben spoke long enough to give Sarah a rose. That made Daniella the odd woman out this week, and she went home. If it’s already this messy after only week one, you can see how complicated and tricky this is going to get.
The oddest story this week for me was Michelle K. The day I welcomed the cast and explained the rules I started off with a rather flippant question about everybody being single. I really wasn’t being that serious as I assumed everybody was, I mean, Why the hell else would you be here? Everybody kind of chuckled, except Michelle K., who said “maybe.” When I heard that, I figured she was joking, so I gave her the chance to make her little joke and move on, but it only got worse when she made it very clear she may not be single.
It was so awkward that Graham got up and walked to the other side of the room to sit down just to get away from her. I honestly still thought it was her poor attempt at making a joke and gave her the benefit of the doubt. Many people have tried to be funny on this show, and they just aren’t, and I figured this was just one of those cases. She was awkward, and it was an odd way to start the new show, but I let it slide. But then Michelle K. was completely checked out the entire first week. She had nothing to do with any of the guys and made no attempt to start a relationship or get a rose.
She stepped forward at the rose ceremony and in the same awkward fashion she came on the show, she decided to oddly leave the show. You could see by everybody’s reactions nobody had any clue what this girl was up to. But then, in her final interview she made what she probably thought was a cute sly comment about the fact that maybe she’s already found love in Paradise. At this point things started to add up and they didn’t add up in her favor! Next week you’ll see and hear much more about Michelle K. She’s off the show, but her time here in Paradise is far from over.
What you see next week is truly unlike anything you’ve ever seen on any of the Bachelor shows. Next week starts off with a bang, and I can’t wait for you to see it.
More Bachelor in Paradise from EW: