Can I get quickly, yet deeply intimate with you right from the jump, kind of like how almost every Bachelorette chooses to wear a backless gown in the premiere so that the first quick hug with all of her bros is secretly a sexy skin-to-skin moment? I see you and your Pilates-and/or-aerial-ribbon-acrobatics lat muscles, Becca, and I respect your kinesthetic hustle.
All that to say, would I have preferred to send this inaugural TATBT Bachelorette recap newsletter out to you a little earlier in the week, before you could forget the dulcet tones of Joe's delicate and highly understated Chicago accent, or Joe's perfectly crooked grocer's smile, or that Joe built his life's work on the rounded backs of wholesale watermelons, or that Joe was robbed, ROBBED I tell you?! Yes, of course. But did this premiere also take place at the front end of perhaps one of the most pivotal weeks of my young adult life? Again: hard yes.
Season 14 of The Bachelorette premiered on Monday night, starring a very lovely sentient dress-form, Becca K, and 28 handsome piles of Blue Apron coupons you think you might try, but then hold onto for a year and never do, until you finally recycle all but one of them. And then on Tuesday, I went about packing up the life I've made for myself in New York City over the past five years; on Wednesday, I put it all in a truck [ed. note: a ha ha, j/k two startlingly petite NYU students named John and Jason put it all in a van, and I can't wait until they're named the first ever co-Bachelors]; and on Thursday, I drove that van toward Asheville, North Carolina to start a new chapter in my li’l life.
Now, may I tell you, dear subscriber, that the very last thing I found in my empty Brooklyn bedroom under the very last piece of furniture was my cover letter for the very Entertainment Weekly internship that brought me to New York five years ago, turned me into an entertainment writer, and changed the entire trajectory of my life…
Oh, I wept for the symbolism! And then I cackled like Chris Harrison on laughing gas getting his annual set of solid-quartz veneers. Because in this ultimately life-altering letter, I was very excited to share with EW a fun new thing I had just started doing on my blog: Bachelorette recaps. And here I am…five years later. And here you are with me. Because much like Becca K being unceremoniously plunged into a living nightmare at the hands of a defunct racecar driver who potentially still has to call his mom to get his own social security number, then willingly signing up to participate in the process all over again — we are all trapped in a candlelit prison of our own making.
For her service in giving the Bachelor franchise what was truly its most dramatic moment ever (or rather, it's most dramatic raw, uncut, unedited two hours ever), Becca has been rewarded by being forced to relive that trauma over and over, starting with the sounds of her sobs that open Monday night's premiere, and moving right along into a very rude close-up of tears dripping off her nose as she looks at Polaroids of herself and Arie on what I am 300 percent sure was a sad, ABC-sponsored date to one of those paint-and-sip places.
The inherently complicated thing about ABC choosing its next lead from the existing pool of candidates is that we're asked to root for someone to win because they first lost. Nowhere is that more obvious than with Becca, a very nice person who the producers will not stop reminding us was unceremoniously dumped for a silent stack of Solo cups in a blonde wig. In the history of Bachelorette leads, no loss has been more insurmountable than Becca's — it was a living breathing, Sesame Street-sized L, and only watching her take a Cersei-style Walk of Atonement through the Minnesota tundra can appropriately drive her miserableness home.
No matter how many times Becca calls Arie "my ex" or refers to her "recent breakup," she cannot hide from her Bachelor past which, not for nothing, took place like two weeks ago. Plus, these dudes are literally pulling cardboard cutouts of Arie Luyndyk Jr from the limos and bringing them inside Becca's house. But Becca gets it: “I’m just your normal, average girl! All I did was, like, get my heart broken on TV.” Indeed, Becca’s embarrassing, soul-crushing past is the reason she’s here, about to become the soul-crusher herself — a job, she seems surprisingly cut out for.
I know nothing about Becca except that she is nice and maybe tall, but I do know now that girlfriend has no qualms with being in charge. "This is my time, my turn; my decisions, my choice," we hear Becca say, hopefully to a slightly quivering Chris Harrison somewhere in the distance.
Becca continues: "I want to be a strong woman not just for myself, but to show other women that you just have to push through to get what you want." And do you know who one of those women she’s teaching to just push through is? ME, Jodi Walker! For five years I have been toiling away writing about The Bachelor franchise, gritting my teeth through model-hot meatheads with their six-pack abs and their suitcases full of protein powder and their bottled up e-man-motions, until finally, Becca's season has come along out of the blue to give me the only thing I've ever wanted: a bunch of soft Beta males with sensitive spirits and detrimentally earnest dispositions.
I am perfectly aware that this is not objectively the most attractive cast of donut-heads The Bachelorette has ever seen (that was surely JoJo's season, who was as shallow as she was beautiful). But I don't care — I love them. I don't know if Becca and I share a type, or if these will all end up being awful #goodguys that are trying to rescue her, but I do know that I will find Joe and I will marry him. Or I will find Rickey and I will marry him. Or I will find Wills and I will marry him. Or I will find Jordan and I will bury him…
TWIST! Speaking of, let's kick off the annual Bachelorette premiere Bests and Worsts:
The Worst Villain
You know this is a different group of dudes when the silly first-night villain, Jordan, resembles a Von Trapp child, and explains his difficult small-town-Florida modeling life thusly: "You're talking gym year-round, tan year-round, salt spray year-round — it's taxing!" Remember Chad? Remember how he almost ate that small Marine Alex? Not, like, hyperbolically. Chad almost ripped smol Alex limb from limb and ate him like a tray of lunch meats (which he would have also eaten as dessert). Chad did not use salt spray.
All Jordan can talk about is his knit tie and his “shark skin grey”suit. He pauses for a full five seconds to adjust his jacket when he gets out of the limo before walking over to greet Becca. That might not sound like very long, but right now, wherever you are, stare at the chair closest to you for five full seconds and imagine that it's a man who is supposed to be there to meet you, but is diddling his windsor knot instead.
And you know what? I love Jordan. I mean, I hate him…but I also love him because this quote is true performance art: "I started to realize that I'm so focused on myself that I'm really missing out on potentially sharing myself with someone else." Share yourself with Bachelor Nation, you furious baby-faced man-child! Jordan is so angry at everyone else for the entire premiere, he’s like a tiny l'il overworked Christmas elf. I just want to sit him on a shelf somewhere in that house and let him yell in an itty bitty voice about how challenging modeling in the Florida panhandle is, and point out all the other men's inferior outfits. I will say, he might be onto one thing there…
The Worst Trend
If the Bachelorette mansion were an Amish community rather than a biannual emotional bacchanal, half of these men would have been dismissed on the first night for the sheer amount of exposed ankle. I've never before been personally offended when a man wears loafers or dress shoes without socks, but there were just so many man-ankles. No amount of half-socks can make it a reasonable decision to freeball in a stiff leather dress shoe, and the nine hours that 28 men are in that house held together by duct tape and a non-denominational prayer is way too long to be going sockless. Additionally, I'm almost positive that Connor (top right) was wearing a cropped Ann Taylor Loft suit pant.
The Best Bachelorettes
Before the men began arriving, Becca donned a sundress to meet with the tribe elders: Kaitlyn, JoJo, and Rachel. Not only are the last three consecutive Bachelorettes success stories — three proposals, three engagements, and exactly no weddings! — but they brought up a fun fact that all three of them ended up choosing the man they gave the First Impression Rose to on the first night. JoJo says that women are more intuitive: able to know what they want and they trust themselves. She also reminds Becca that she was in a similar situation of having her heart broken and feeling directionless after The Bachelor, and then her first night as Bachelorette ended up being "the most hopeful night that I've ever had in my life."
I actually found these words and this sun-dappled group huddle super reassuring because, yes, Becca was done dirty on the other side, but that's because this process is designed to reward two people, and demolish the other 27. Whereas before, Becca shared one unworthy boyfriend 28-ways, and then one deadbeat fiancé two-ways, she now gets 28 potential boyfriends to do with what she pleases.
(Rachel, for her part, advises Arie to go fuck himself, pulls out a huge bundle of sage, waves it at Becca's crotch and says, "Imma sage ya pussy!" That’s our girl.)
The Best Power Move
And what Becca pleases, apparently, is flexing on 'em a little bit. Becca meets a lot of bros she likes — Jean Blanc smells nice, Wills has an almost-charming Harry Potter tattoo, Leo whips his hair back and forth — but she meets one bro who immediately makes her weary.
Jake is an unremarkable marketing bro, other than the fact that Becca already knows him. They run in the same circles in Minneapolis, she says, and he's never shown any interest in her before. She pulls him from the group later in the evening to ask him why he would suddenly want to date her, and Jake is shocked. He seems to be under the impression that that Becca would love him saying over and over that he barely remembers ever meeting her back home. He tries to explain that he's had "a very transformative year," but Becca doesn't think she can trust his motivations for suddenly being interested in her, and walks him right the hell out of her harem house.
While I enjoyed this assertive side of Becca, I hope that she actually sent Jake packing because she's hiding some deep, dark secret that only a Minneapolis man could know. What have you gotten up to in Mall of America, Becca?
The Best Power Move, Male Edition:
"I made the app for Venmo." – John, a software engineer who made the app for Venmo, which, um…holy shit.
The Worst Misfires
Now, obviously, dressing up as Arie (Nick), or bringing a cardboard cutout of Arie (Mike) are not the best introductory moves toward the woman Arie recently broke up with in front of a gajillion strangers. But Kamil, who was already in the red for allowing himself to be called a "Social Media Participant" had to be the worst for getting out of the limo, sniffing loudly, then barking to Becca, "Come here."
She hesitantly walks over to her potential death and he tells her that it's important to meet halfway in a relationship. Becca plays along, agreeing "50/50" even though she knows inside that this man has given up his entire job — participating in social media — to come to this McMansion and meet her. Then this dumb-dumb corrects "how about 60/40" and he backs up. Becca, with a kindness and patience I will never possess, laughs politely and backs up herself, suggesting that she is, in fact, the 60…and this Kamil stands his ground. He should have just backed his ass up to 100, gotten back in the limo, and left.
The Best Surprisingly Non-Misfire
David in the chicken suit! All I can think about when I see a person in a suit like that is how bad it must smell in there, so it's no wonder that David just kept the whole package sealed up tight all night. But his intention with the suit was to make Becca laugh, and he did that, because I truly believe that Becca is a smart but simple woman.
I mean, she used to honestly say that she had fun with Arie. Becca is the type of beautiful woman who insists that she's a nerd because she has kind of a corny sense of humor and maybe likes the X-Men movies. And a woman like that loves a chicken suit, especially when the bro inside is quite cute once the beak came off.
Becca's Best Bros
But as much as Becca was feeling the McDavid Chicken sandwich, she liked two other bros even more. Blake was one of the first men she met at After the Final Rose when he rode in on a horse, and then sexily tossed her up there too. Blake looks kind of like a two-dimensional Elvis, and also seems to be a genuinely nice person. He absolutely seals his fate in the Top 3 when he tells Becca about his serious relationship that ended abruptly that makes him think, "If I was able to love the wrong person that much, how much would I be able to love the right person." Y'all, she loooooves it, and excitedly tells him she's said the exact same thing 100 times to her girlfriends since she ended things with "[her] ex" (which I will remind you was Arie, and took place about two weeks ago).
But if the last three Bachelorette First Impression Roses are anything to go by, we've found our winner in Garrett, the man who looks like a hybrid of every male Parenthood character — which is to say, majorly dad hot — and he plays that vibe perfectly by being very much a goober, and driving up to the mansion in a minivan. He gives Becca a full tour of the minivan, which means he gets to walk her back to the mansion hand-in-hand, and later he teaches her how to fly fish in the pool, which means lots of innocent, from-behind, Here let me teach you how to hold the pole business. Garrett seems a little too dopey to have intentionally played his cards this well…but, play them he did.
[Ed note: Ugh, but apparently Garrett likes racist and transphobic and sexist memes, so fuck that guy and the minivan he rode in on, I guess??? Will Becca ever be happy?!]
The Worst Wrong Reasons
In fact, the majority of the men competing for Becca's affections seem a little dopey, but no one dopier than Chase, who does not play his cards well. See, Chase’s ex-girlfriend texted fellow Orland(Br)o contestant Chris some choice words after she saw Chase meet Becca on After the Final Rose. Chris calls a summit of House Nice Guys, Blake and Christon (who, yes, did professionally and semi-questionably dunk on Becca during his time with her) to ask them for some advice on "someone who might not be here for the right reasons." You guys, he is so serious; it is so embarrassing, especially given what he relays to them next: "All he does is just hang out with his boys, and he's just trying to revamp his marketing company."
A few things: 1. Hanging out with your boys seems…fine, and 2. What exactly about going on The Bachelorette would be good for a marketing company that is not directly involved with FabFitFun boxes or Flat Tummy Tea or JadeandTanner'sWedding™? I don't like Chris, mostly because his hairline cannot be trusted and he looks like Chandler's crazy roommate from Friends, but he does the right thing and asks Chase about all the hanging-with-his-boys he's been doing instead of spending every waking moment dreaming of Becca, a woman who he only learned existed, at most, a few months ago, and who was engaged to another man, at least, a few weeks ago. Chris stumbles around saying he barely even dated this woman, and it was two years ago, and literally uses the phrase, "That's women!" Somehow, it seems like Chris is fine to leave it at that…
Narrator: Chase does not leave it at that.
Chase decides he wants to get out in front of the situation by talking to Becca about it which, fine, but if that's your plan, it's important that you be able to…talk to Becca. When he pulls her aside, he tells her that another guy got a text about him, and he just wanted to let her know. Becca is reasonably confused, so Chase goes and gets Chris and has him tell Becca what the text said. Chris reports that the woman "said a lot of negative things about his character and intentions." (He does not mention hanging with the boys). And rather than defending his character and intentions, Chase stares Becca right in the eyes and says, "I thought if it was going to be anybody, it would be one of my two exes, not someone that I dated for two months." Go home, Chase, your mom is calling. Which leads us to…
The Best Rose Ceremony
Never ever, not once has a Rose Ceremony been interesting. Sure, there have been times when a Bachelor(ette) or a contestant brings a Rose Ceremony to a halt in order to have a private conversation in the room where they keep Chris Harrison's battery packs, but that never changes anything — someone still stays, and someone still goes, so there's no surprises there.
But as Becca called the names of six black men competing for her luv within the first seven spots…I was finally interested in the goings-on at a Bachelorette Rose Ceremony. I'm not sure exactly the statement Becca was trying to make, but it certainly was a statement, and in a franchise that has often treated contestants of color as quota entries, it felt like Becca was asserting her own desire to personally choose only the snacc-iest of boyfriends for her harem, which would certainly include Lincoln (a snacc if ever there was one), Wills (the handsomest of wizards), Jean Blanc (hot Tom Haverford, it seems), Rickey (just the sweetest), Christon (professional dunker, duh), and Clay (y'know, if you don't listen to Clay's voice) to the top of that list. John, Ryan, Alex, Nick, Trent, Colton, David, Jordan, Leo, Mike, and that snitch, Chis R come next, and that’s when I realize…
The Worst Goodbye #justice4joe
I know I said early on that, given her treatment at the hands of ABC and Awful Arie, I could forgive Becca for anything. But I was wrong. There was one action I never could have anticipated, and that is letting Joe the Grocer go on the first night. The first night!
I'm sorry Becca, this man — this complete dreamboat with a Chicago accent so thick you could practice martial arts atop it — told you that he had a past life on the WHOLESALE WATERMELON circuit that he turned into opening his own grocery store, and you just…didn't care to learn more about that??? Read my lips: Joe will be on Paradise, he will bring a watermelon as a prop, he will wear wonderful tropical shirts, he will be totally ill-at-ease in a beach setting, and I will be waiting for him there in Mexico, wearing only a Bears jersey, and a two-inch coating of SPF 70.
There are a few important players I haven't mentioned, such as Colton, the kind-of-professional football player, questionably-intentioned philanthropist, and potentially-lying virgin, who didn't take their real star turn until the This Season On, and therefore, I will reserve comment until we actually get to hear if Colton is a born-again virgin (not a thing), or just a former college football player who's completely lying about being a virgin. Although, I do encourage you to seek out a rumor that's out in the atmosphere about Lincoln that is truly so bizarre, I simply cannot name it here unless it is mentioned on the show. See you next week when things get really cringy!