By Kristen Baldwin
January 07, 2019 at 11:01 PM EST
Rick Rowell/ABC

This one’s going out to all of you out there in Bachelor Nation — the ones who love Colton, the ones who hate him and are watching out of spite, those of you who swore you’d never watch again if they didn’t choose Blake or Jason to be Bachelor and yet here you are, and all those folks who clicked on this link accidentally and are about to navigate themselves the eff away from this page. Welcome back, rose lovers, and let The Bachelor: Doing it Like a Virgin begin!

Chris Harrison kicks things off from the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles, where he stands in the middle of a crowd of squealing women — in other words, his natural habitat. In order to fill three hours, Team Bachelor has set up live feeds from around the country, viewing events in Park City, Utah, Dallas, Texas (featuring a cameo from Mama Harrison), a fan party in Lansing, Michigan, and a sad hot tub in the parking lot outside the Fonda theater, where Bachelor in Paradise “success” story Krystal and Chris are taking a bacteria bath.

After a long, pointless live intro, it’s finally time to meet the “ladies.”

Cassie, 23: She’s a blonde surfer girl/grad student from Huntington Beach, California. Cassie works with kids as a speech pathologist, and we all know how Colton feels about helping kids… he hates it! (Kidding, he loves it, he’ll probably love her.)

Hannah B., 23: Our first pageant queen! Hannah B. is a former Miss Alabama, but don’t worry, guys, Hannah wants us to know she’s totally relatable. She calls herself the conductor of the “Hot Mess Express,” and she just dropped her crown! Adorable.

Katie, 26: An aspiring dancer, Katie currently works as a medical sales rep, and she works out like a beast.

Heather, 22: Blonde, born and raised in California, and not only a virgin but a mouth virgin too — she’s never been kissed! Did Team Bachelor grow this one in a lab or something? I’m also going to choose to believe that Heather only printed out and framed the photo she took with Colton at a charity event after producers asked her to.

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Totes not stalkery.

Onyeka, 24: Her full name is Onyekachukwu Ehie! Her adorable Nigerian parents got engaged after just two weeks! Look no further for your Bachelorette, Mike Fleiss.

Nicole, 25: Life is hard for Nicole, a “relatively attractive” single in Miami, because she’s not about that “hook-up culture.”

Oy, I know that the next “lady,” 26-year-old Kirpa from Whittier, Calif., is a dental hygienist, but this shot is NOT okay, Team Bachelor.

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“I really hope that Colton flosses,” says Kirpa, in a statement reminiscent of the Tooth Nazi from Mesnick’s season. (‘Memba her?)

Demi, 23: Filling in for Tia as this season’s “sassy country girl,” Demi has something no other contestant does: A mom who’s in prison for embezzlement! Though she’s a little worried about Colton’s virginity — a concern she expresses via an unappetizing cupcake metaphor — I’m guessing Demi will have ample time to talk about her fears over the course of the season.

Aww, isn’t it nice that even though Blake and Jason lost out on the Bachelor gig, the show gave them a free trip to Lansing, Michigan?

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Cue the sex guitars, because Colton’s shirtless and ready to get sweaty!

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“I am the first virgin Bachelor!” he reminds us. Oh man, then we get this heartbreaking montage of Colton growing up in his “conservative” household, going to Christian school and “wanting to fit in so bad,” but he was the “fat, chunky, awkward, weird kid” who “didn’t have girlfriends.”

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Okay, well… I’m just going to leave that alone and move on. High school football saved his confidence, says Colton. And Becca taught him what love is — until she turned around and “devastated” him right before Fantasy Suites. Then came some “transformative” experiences in Mexico, blah blah blah, and now Colton is “here to fall in love.” (Next: So! Many! Virginity! Jokes!)

And with that, we’re back at Casa Bachelor, where Colton and our dear leader Chris Harrison are chatting about all things “love” in the shade by the pool. “You were a controversial choice,” the host says, and Colton admits to looking at some of the “negative reactions.” (Side note: During our interview, Colton told me he read my “please don’t pick him!” post. Good times.) The Bachelor feels that the backlash came from the “stigma” around his virginity — but honestly, people would have bitched no matter what.

God, another live show interruption? This one offers an update on the Bachelor franchise’s most successful couples. Looks like Trista and Ryan’s kids are working through their issues on TV, as God intended.

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And with that, no more mentions of the live TV segments. They were painful enough for us to live through the first time, amirite? (And two proposals? That’s just excessive.) So now, FINALLY, it’s limo time, rose lovers! (Also, gird your loins, Colton — Hannah B. is itching to have some “really cute dimple babies” with you.)

Robot roll call!

Demi’s out first, and we’ve all seen her classy introduction in the promo.

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Tayshia, 28: [in droll teacher from Heathers voice] I must say I was impressed that the producers spelled “phlebotomist” properly in Tayshia’s chyron.

Heather is next, and shockingly, Ms. Never Been Kissed does not lead with that info. I guess that’s more of a “second 15 seconds of talking to someone” conversation to have.

Nicole greets Colton in Spanish (“Half of my heart is in Havana, but hopefully the other part is with you”), and then Caeylnn, 23, arrives with her Miss North Carolina sash draped across her body. “I’m here for an even better title,” she tells Colton, before turning her sash around to read, “Miss Underwood.” (Fun fact: When I was watching this play out from the control room, Mike Fleiss saw and yelled to no one in particular, “Shouldn’t that say ‘Mrs. Underwood’?” He’s not wrong.)

Sydney, 27: This brunette from New York quit her job as an NBA dancer to be on the show… but I’m not sure I would have led with that fact.

Elyse, 31: A redhead! A redhead over 30! He won’t have trouble picking her out in this crowd.

Tahzjuan, 25: Awww, she came equipped with a little mnemonic to help Colton pronounce her name: “I hope I’m the Tahz-juan for you!”

Cassie the speech pathologist brings Colton a box of dead — fake! I meant fake! —butterflies to prove how nervous she is. Kirpa’s up next — though it’s a shame we didn’t get to see her “is it wet around here” gag with the hose. Darn ABC and those censors!

The network apparently didn’t have a problem with Caitlin, 25, popping Colton’s “cherry.”

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Gross. “I thought that was an apple,” our hapless Bachelor admitted. Nor were they concerned when Atlanta caterer Courtney, 23, invited Colton to taste a “sweet Georgia peach,” or Katie, 26, took the poor guy’s “V-card.”

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Side note: Colton has never had a peach? Oh lord, here comes the sloth (a.k.a. Alex D., 23). Her “I heard you take things slow-ly” walk to the Bachelor lasts through one commercial break. It may take Colton just as long to learn how to say Onyeka’s full name – though if it were up to her, he probably wouldn’t do much talking: “Colton is a snack, and I’m ready to eat!”

Erika, 25: Her last name is McNutt, so she brought Colton a bag of nuts! I like the simplicity of it, as does the Bachelor: “Anybody who brings food instantly wins me over.” (Next: The kisses begin)

Tracy, 31: The wardrobe stylist arrives in a squad car because she’s… “the fashion police”? Pretty weak sauce, but her gimmick does come with a pair of handcuffs — which Colton jokes (once Tracy leaves) that he’ll save “for the Fantasy Suite.” Oh buddy, no one’s buying it.

Joining us from the “sparkle squad” is Angelique, 28, who’s wearing a purple dress that sheds glitter, and Devin, 23, in a rose-gold sequin number. Then comes the foreign language contingent: Revian, a 24-year-old nurse who tells Colton he’s a “stud muffin” in Mandarin; and Nina, 30, who tells Colton he’s “even more handsome” in Croatian. And in the no-language contingent is Alex B., 29, who is too sick to speak so she introduces herself to Colton via Love, Actually flashcards. Bri, a 24-year-old model, keeps the crazy-communication theme going by greeting Colton with an Australian accent… even though she’s from California. “You have to do what you can to stand out,” says Bri, who to be fair didn’t tell Colton she was Australian, she just said her accent was Australian.

Laura, 26, has the same red dress as Heather, but it’s cool guys.

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“It looks so good on you!” says Laura graciously. See, we can all get along!

Hannah G., 23: What is a “content creator,” you ask? Unclear. What we do know is that Hannah probably watched Bachelor in Paradise, because she knows Colton likes to go commando. Her empty box gag — “I got you your favorite brand of underwear!” — was silly, but at least it wasn’t another virgin joke. “Some of these women are paying attention, and they know me a little bit,” says Colton. “That means so much to me.” Annie, 23, pretends to care about football, and Jane, 26, brings a framed, photoshopped picture of his dog Sniper with her little pup Bella. Catherine, 26 (!), does Jane one better by bringing her pooch Lucy and essentially shoving the dog into Colton’s arms. (Fortunately, Harrison steps up to dog-sit while the Bachelor greets the remaining “ladies.”)

Erin, 28: In a charming moment of Disney-ABC synergy, this Texas belle arrives in a Cinderella-style horse-drawn carriage. “I’m here looking for my Prince Charming,” she says, before leaving her shoe at Colton’s feet.

Wow, was that 30 women already? The night is just flying by! (Perhaps it just feels that way, though, compared to the experience of being there. By the time Colton entered the mansion to give his kick-off toast, shooting had been going on for about four hours.)

Demi the sassy Southern girl grabs Colton first, which somehow manages to shock the other women. Will they never learn that someone has to grab the Bachelor first? Anyhow, Demi doesn’t lack for confidence — telling Colton that while she may look pretty, she likes to do rugged stuff like four-wheeling and long-boarding. “I definitely feel like Colton’s attracted to me,” she reports.

Erika the Nut gets right to the point: “Everyone knows you’re a virgin. So I want to know… why?” The Bachelor gives her the answer we’ve heard many times before — he was too focused on football to have a personal life, he’s waiting for the right person, etc. — and she seems satisfied with it. For now.

Though it seemed like the first kiss was going to go to Hannah G. the “content creator” — they held hands and did a breathing exercise to calm their nerves and I thought it was cute, sue me — Colton ends up planting one on Caelynn the beauty queen.

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A front-step smooch won’t guarantee her the First Impression Rose, though. Sydney brought in a string quartet so she could teach Colton to dance in the driveway. (They kissed, too, but it didn’t make the final cut.) Elyse the Alaskan redhead takes the Bachelor “fishing” in the pool (they also kissed though it wasn’t shown), and Tayshia has a whole carnival set up out front complete with pony rides. Sadly, she is the pony.

Hey look, the sloth finally took off her mask!

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“You stayed in character the whole time,” Colton says. “I can respect that.” Ditto. The poor woman even climbed a tree for producers. (Next: Finally, some tension!)

I know what you’re thinking: Why is no one fighting yet? Don’t worry, we’re getting there. After Catherine’s conversation with Colton was cut short by Tracy — who pulled the Bachelor aside to draw on sneakers (?) — the “lady” in red decided she was going to get more time. Catherine turns around and interrupts Tracy, and she’s not taking no for an answer. “I just really think we need to finish our conversation,” she says when Tracy asks for a few more minutes. Rude but fair, according to rules laid out in the the Not Here to Make Friends Act of 2012.

Still, the other “ladies” are miffed, and Onyeka takes it upon herself to give Catherine “a taste of her own medicine.”

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“Colton, I heard you were drowning in some bitches!” she bellows.

“I don’t know if she was trying to intimidate me,” says Catherine, “but I’m not gonna let it faze me.” But when Onyeka hears that her leggy rival stole Colton for a third time, she mistakenly believes that talking to Catherine will change her behavior. “It’s definitely rubbing people the wrong way,” Onyeka informs her. “I think it almost looks a little desperate.” Oh dayum, she dropped the d-word. Calling her desperate “is hilarious, by the way,” drones Catherine, who apologizes insincerely for stepping on toes and/or being “too aggressive.” Onyeka follows that with an insincere assertion that she’s just “looking out” for Catherine so there won’t be “bad blood” between her and the other women in the house. Okay you two, force yourselves to hug!

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But just when you think Catherine has learned her lesson (no one thought that, by the way, except maybe Onyeka), she seeks out Colton again and interrupts his chat with Tahzjuan. Unfortunately, even though it’s clear Tahzjuan doesn’t want to leave — and Colton knows he’s already talked to Catherine three times — the Bachelor just stares blankly rather than telling Bitchus Interruptus, “Sorry, but I’m in the middle of something right now, thanks.”

Colton seems very engaged in his chats with Cassie (who teaches him how to say things like “you’re cute” and “rose” in sign language), Katie (who shares his love of family), and Hannah B. (who makes a pinky-swear pact with him to be honest at all times). But the First Impression Rose goes to… Other Hannah! I guess those breathing exercises really worked for both of them.

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“It’s so enjoyable to be around you,” says Colton. “Your energy just lifts me up.” Okay fine, that’s sweet.

Dawn is breaking, rose lovers, so it’s time to send some women home! Get in there and break some fragile hearts, Colton. The keepers are: Caelynn, Katie, Alex No-Voice, Hannah B., Onyeka, Caitlin, Annie, Kirpa, Heather, Elyse, Tayshia, Courtney, Cassie, Demi, Nina, Erika the Nut, Sydney, Bri (so I guess he thought the fake accent was funny after all?), Angelique, Tracy, Nicole (thank God, she was about to have an aneurysm), and… Catherine, of course! You didn’t think they’d let that little pot-stirrer go, did you? Leaving us tonight: Revian, Alex the Sloth, Devin, Cinderella Erin (the pumpkin on the driveway was a clever touch), Jane, Laura, and Tahzjuan. “It’s hard to get rejected,” says Devin tearfully, as the women with roses celebrate behind her. It is hard, honey, but it’s generally unavoidable.

Welp, rose lovers, we’ve made it through week one! Who are your favorite-slash-least favorite “ladies”? What grade would you give Colton so far? And have you read my behind-the-scenes piece about the premiere yet?? Post your thoughts below! (And let’s be kind to each other and not post spoilers, mmmk?) I’ll see you here next week when The Bachelor will be back to a slightly saner two-hour runtime. Until then, take a moment and thank the Reality TV Gods above for Chris Harrison.

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The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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