Last weekend, I was doing some shopping at my favorite affordable and ethical grocery chain, Trader Joe’s. A man passed me wearing a button-down shirt with none of the buttons fastened, exposing his entire chest to his fellow shoppers. It was weird but I moved on. As I reached for one of my favorite signature TJ’s products, Popcorn With Herbs and Spices™, I heard a familiar sound. It was the music stylings of Loverboy’s Mike Reno and Heart’s Ann Wilson, joining together in the iconic duet we know as “Almost Paradise.” Yes, the Bachelor in Paradise theme song was playing in the goddamn grocery store, and I was hype as fuck. I wondered if it was mere coincidence, but thought, “You know what? No. This is a sign. Chris Harrison must be the shadow DJ of this fresh format grocery establishment, and he wants me to remember that my favorite summer smash television program will soon be back on the air.”
That’s right, Bachelor in Paradise is back for another season of calamity. And to all you Drunk & Hungry loyalists, we’re committed to another season of recaps even though they take fucking forever and we get nothing in return for them.
It seems Chris Harrison is going to do a lot of heavy-lifting in the first portion of this season, considering production got shut down due to a sexual assault allegation after only two days of shooting. It all went down very publicly, so they don’t have much of a choice but to explain it to the audience. But on the other hand, I’m sure they don’t mind exploiting this dead serious issue as “juicy drama.” The show starts off with some ominous music and Chris Harrison talks about how this has been hard on everyone, including him…..Okay, no….But assures us all that after the hiccup in production, the show has been restored to its former glory as a celebration of “summer fun.” Cause what’s a bumpin’ summer without a sexual misconduct investigation, amirite?
On a serious note, we don’t know what happened here. Corinne insists she is a “victim,” and Demario vehemently maintains his innocence. Either way, something really awful has taken place, and the way they’ve played it up as a salacious plot point of the show is gross. I’m never going to be comfortable with the people who run the Bachelor franchise trying to “tackle tough issues” – they flubbed race, and they appear to be doing an even worse job with a sexual assault allegation. Production implemented new rules regarding drinking and sex after this incident, which is good, but if they were committed to being responsible about this stuff, they wouldn’t play up a potential assault as a fun little cliffhanger. After this disclaimer from serious-voice Chris Harrison, though, the show follows its pretty standard formula for night one.
The intro is as campy as ever, with Taylor reading a book about emotional intelligence and Amanda being chased by a slice of pizza that just got mouth-fucked by her gross ex-fiancé Josh. It was honestly pretty funny.
Raven, one of the best people to ever grace this television franchise, is the first to arrive in Paradise. She’s followed by Dean, Kristina, Danielle, Ben Z., Iggy, and Iggy’s huge pit stains. Jasmine arrives in specific pursuit of Rachel’s former suitors, and Jack Stone is back to assure us that he has never murdered anyone.
Alexis is back in her shark-dolphin costume and I would like her to be on all television shows forever. Not just Bachelor-related shows. Find a spot for her on Game of Thrones. Write her a new drama that will devolve into complete nonsense by season three, Shonda Rhimes. Can we get her a talk show while we’re at it? Seriously Alexis, you’re doing amazing sweetie.
There’s a little preliminary drama with Demario that rolled over from his lies on Rachel’s season. The girls don’t like him and want him out. Also for some reason he is blowing a whistle really frequently. He knows that Raven is the ringleader of the exclusive Anti-Demario’s Lying Ass Club, so he wants to talk to her right off the bat. He thinks that saying “I’m all about vibes” is all it will take to win Raven over, but she is not convinced.
The next round of arrivals include Derek, who is still very cute, Alex, who is still very small and annoying, and Corinne, who has since learned how to say “pasta con queso” so she can now demand things of her adult nanny in two languages. Her and Demario hit it off right away and she quite literally leaps into his arms when they realize they’re both from New Jersey. Why is Alexis, the Empress of Seacaucus, excluded from this Jersey celebration? Not cool. Next, Lacey, Vinny, Diggy, Matt, and Taylor all arrive to little fanfare. Saint Nick, who I totally forgot about, is back and has his sights set on Jasmine. They christen paradise 2k17 with its first makeout. Good for them.
Amanda Stanton is back and tbh I’m tired of her. She was cute on Nick’s season, stupid af on Paradise last year, and it’s abundantly obvious that she’s back for a third time just to keep the gravy train running. It was *hilarious* that she admitted she couldn’t get onto the celebrity dating app. It felt like she broke the fourth wall with this revelation, giving us all a weird little reminder of the C-list fame that these people maintain in real life. Amanda told Chris Harrison that after her engagement to Josh, she started to notice “red flags.” Amanda, GIRL, everyone literally teamed up to tell you this and you still got engaged to a shady dude you were dating for a week. If there was “always something a little off” in your relationship with Josh, it was because he is a controlling and borderline abusive psychopath. I want you and your flower crown-wearing daughters to be happy. Use ya brains and stop dating horrible men.
This episode sets up the doomed Corinne/Demario relationship, which feels weird to watch when we know what came later. Considerable time is devoted to showing Corinne jumping all over Demario and appearing to initiate the contact, likely because they want to hammer home their point that nothing improper happened. Again, feeling pretty icky.
Once everyone has arrived, Chris Harrison welcomes the cast to Méjico. Of course there is a #Janner reference (drink!) and a less enthusiastic acknowledgement of Carly and Evan’s impending nuptials. In addition, Jorge the bartender is leaving paradise to start something called “Jorge’s Tour-jes,” and will be replaced by none other than WELLS. I love Wells. So much. He is so cute. Apparently he’s not going on dates or getting roses, which is weird… like you really gonna take the best dude you got and stick him behind the bar to serve a nanny-less Corinne cucumber slices? Weird choice but I’m glad he’s here either way. I’m sure he’ll somehow end up in a romantic storyline this season.
Derek and Taylor became an item almost immediately. They definitely like each other and I want to find them cute, but Taylor is just so weird. She was definitely that girl in your school who was really into horses. Like she for sure carried her worksheets around in horse-themed folders.
Dean and Kristina are another quick couple. They have a lot in common family- and childhood-wise, and are very, very hot together. I am here for this pairing but am sure there will be trouble as more women arrive because they obviously will all want to lock Dean down as fast as possible. We’ll see what happens – they seem really into each other and survived an impromptu mariachi show, so they could probably make it through anything at this point.
Iggy and Lacey have an early spark. Lacey pretty much calls him fat and ugly and he’s like “wanna make out?” Unfortunately, Lacey’s grandpa passed away and she had to leave paradise to be with her family. Iggy shows empathy for roughly three seconds before openly panicking about what this means for his chances of staying, since Lacey’s rose was presumably going to him. Classy stuff, Iggy!
Jasmine had the first makeout of the season with Nick, but his blackout memory loss is ultimately Matt’s gain. While Nick is too drunk to get down, Matt swoops in on Jasmine and she repays him in-kind by rubbing against him suggestively in the hot tub! This is the most screen time Matt has ever gotten despite making it to Rachel’s top five, and I say GOOD FA YOU, MATT.
Ugh. Robby is here. Am I the only person who is completely and totally repulsed by Robby? As he arrives, he flashes his Hillary Duff veneers and reveals his date card. After a few short introductions, he chooses Raven as his date. Ben Z. is very upset about this because he left his black and brown dog behind to come here, and he’s been working hard on getting Raven’s rose. Robby is similarly upset because he had to leave his bow ties, pocket squares, and lapel pins at home. Y’all, my brain is melting.
I have so many issues with Robby. First, he is so weird looking. Second, he calls jet skis “Sea-Doos” like a fucking loser. Third, he says no less than one hundred and fifty-seven times that jet skiing is “in his wheelhouse.” Motherfucker how small and stupid is your wheelhouse??? SHUT UP ABOUT YOUR WHEELHOUSE!
Raven has a fine time on the date but sees no future with Robby, because he is a ridiculous moron. She gives us some of the most solid Bachelor shit-talk I have ever seen. This is the best roast since Andi destroyed Juan Pablo in her epic departure. Raven remarks, “Robby has like, twelve abs. He should only have six abs, max. Like, what do you do for a living? I don’t trust you, it’s scary. STOP working out.” Robby tells his boys about the date while Raven tells her girls, creating one hell of a Grease-inspired “tell me more, tell me more” scene on the beach. Robby and Alex have the following conversation:
Robby: “We did get into some deeper stuff.”
Alex: “You talked about instagram?”
Robby: “Yeah. Everything.”
While Raven and Jasmine carried on the following conversation:
Raven: “He kept talking about being an ‘influencer.'”
Jasmine: “NO HE DID NOT.”
Raven then makes out with Ben Z. and tells him “that was way better than Robby,” while Robby is telling producers, “I’ve got the X factor.” This is glorious. I can’t wait to watch Raven give her rose to anyone but Robby.
Matt gets the next date card and takes Jasmine, sealing Saint Nick’s fate. For some reason Matt is forced to dress in drag.
Right before the rose ceremony, Corinne and Demario are pulled away and production is halted. Feels a little too convenient that this cliffhanger occurred right before the first rose ceremony of the season. Almost as if it was manipulated for optimal entertainment purposes. Nah, can’t be.
ONTO EPISODE TWO!
I just really don’t think we needed a full hour for Carly and Evan’s wedding. We got the full montage of Carly and Evan’s times on their respective seasons, the time in Paradise when she thought he was disgusting, and the time in Paradise when she begrudgingly accepted him because she just really fucking wanted to get married. There were flashbacks to their awful dates, repulsive kisses, and that time Evan stroked his belly for a while, but I think we all know who was the true star of this evolving and ever-changing journey: Carly’s eyebrows.
Okay, let’s get this over with cause I’m super grossed out. The gang was all here to celebrate this strange couple, and a few cast members even made it into the wedding parties! Wells looked very cute in his lil suspenders and Jade is a glowing pregnant angel.
I guess the wedding itself was pretty nice – I liked how colorful it was and Carly looked really good. Her dress was pretty and her bod looked great tbh. Evan’s reaction was overdone and lame, but AS LONG AS CARLY IS HAPPY I GUESS.
The ceremony is of course officiated by Chris Harrison, who literally kicks things off by encouraging everyone to laugh about how fucking weird this marriage is. Evan tells Carly, “Your beauty reminds me of a sunrise” and “I promise to never stop exploring you,” and I cannot understand how he gets women to have sex with him. Both of their vows are so geeky but honestly, they might be perfect for each other. If Carly didn’t call off the wedding the second Evan said “Hola señorita,” they can probably make it through anything at this point. Chris Harrison declares them husband and wife “with the power invested” in him, which is no power, none at all, because he is a reality television show host and romance novel author, and nothing else.
I’m glad that’s over. Congraturitos, Carly and Evan.
Now, for the return to production. I have to say, I REALLY do not know how I feel about the group sit-down they had. Chris Harrison explained that Warner Brothers hired an outside firm to investigate the accusation by reviewing video footage and taking interviews with the cast and crew. That’s good – it is certainly what they should do when an incident like this occurs, and the cast all seemed to completely agree with the firm’s conclusions.
A few elements of this discussion left a bad taste in my mouth, though. I didn’t like that they entirely denied the roles of the producers. Sure, everyone has agency over their own actions, but to suggest that the producers have no influence is just a lie. They don’t force anyone to do anything, but they certainly manipulate and pressure cast members, and there are countless first-hand accounts by former cast and crew members to support that fact. In that same vein, there was some not-so-subtle shaming of Corinne for her drinking and sexual aggression. Taylor, it doesn’t matter that you don’t drink. People should be allowed to drink on the show and expect a reasonable guarantee of safety. Even if Corinne was not a “victim” in the way she claimed to be, the shaming was unnecessary and made me feel really gross about what could have been a very productive conversation.
However, certain aspects of this were handled well. Diggy and Raven both made very good points about false accusations of sexual violence through the lens of race. Raven spoke serious truth about the history of white women being used as scapegoats for perpetuating the stereotype of violent black men. That is very real, and very important to acknowledge here. As viewers, we don’t know exactly what happened, but I do tend to trust people like Raven. She seemed keenly aware that choosing the side of the accused can lead to slut-shaming of the accuser, and admitted to being a victim of sexual abuse herself. Additionally, she was friends with Corinne and hated Demario on the first day of production, so it seems even more significant that she sided with Demario here. I will reiterate for the umpteenth time that none of us know exactly what happened, so any slut-shaming of Corinne or accusations against Demario are sorely misguided, but every cast member seems to be on the same page about what happened.
Another thing that is important to remember is that Corinne did not initiate these accusations. Production watched the footage and flagged it for potential misconduct, Corinne didn’t pull it out of nowhere. It’s possible that Corinne was a little too drunk that night and was surprised by what she saw when she watched the tape back. I would like to think that this is the case, and that she didn’t devise a plan to maliciously attack Demario or ruin his reputation. It’s also entirely possible that she did have reason to feel violated, and it feels wrong that they didn’t acknowledge that possibility at all.
You could tell their legal team had a significant role in this conversation, as Chris Harrison assumed the role of the RA at a freshman welcome week floor meeting, and forced each cast member to define “consent.” This felt a little scripted, but I guess it’s better than ignoring the issue, so fine. Again, it’s weird to process all of this, because there are true glimpses into real conversations and frank remarks by the cast, but we also have to remember how much money they’re all making off of this show. It’s entirely possible that they have ulterior motives for sweeping this under the rug and moving on.
…..And boy, do they move on quickly. Before you can say “non-verbal consent cues,” they’re right back into Paradise-mode. It is kind of funny to see how weird it is for them to be thrust back into this environment after an abrupt interruption. You can clearly see that a lot of these guys’ success depends on the insular bubble in which this whole competition takes place. A few of these girls left Paradise feeling really into the guys, and came back a week later, having totally soured on them. It’s as if the interjection of a week in the real world acted as a bucket of ice water getting dumped on them. It’s like the lights came on in the club and the women realized the reality of the situation.
Dean and Kristina apparently hung out in Kentucky for the week-long hiatus, which is ADORABLE. Derek and Taylor are an official item, Matt and Jasmine are still seeing it through, and everyone is now repulsed by Alex. They were pretty mean, but when he yelled, “HEY WIFEY!” at Amanda, I didn’t really feel bad for him anymore.
Amanda spends the rest of the episode trying to get away from Alex. He asks if he can steal her for a second and she literally yells, “UGH!” The rest of the cast is laughing at how clueless he is, which quickly devolves into mocking his height, featuring insults involving the words “fun-sized candy bar” and jokes about not being allowed on roller coasters. It was all terribly juvenile, but I did have to laugh at this exchange between Vinny and Alexis:
Vinny: “Do you ever go to theme parks?”
Alexis: “Yeah, when I have off.”
I’m not even laughing because of the Alex-is-short jokes, I’m laughing because Alexis just gave such a weirdly mundane, hourly-worker response to that joke question. “Yeah, when I have off?” Her delivery in that thick Jersey accent was just *kisses fingers like an Italian chef*. Vinny and Alexis should absolutely team up as a guido power couple, please.
Lacey is now in the fifth stage of grief after the passing of her grandpa, which is the Reality TV Emotional Breakdown Stage. She knows that Iggy is “full of shit” and just wants a rose, and isn’t interested in any of the other guys here. It turns out that Lacey came here in the hopes of meeting DANIEL, which is beyond comprehension. I don’t think anyone has ever cried over Daniel before. I’m positive that this is foreshadowing, Lacey has said his name three times, so he (and his Canadian flag Speedo) will certainly be summoned in the next episode or two.
Kristina and Dean are having trouble because Dean is an impossibly bad communicator. He pulls her aside to “see where her head is at,” and then says NOTHING to express himself at all. She is super confused and asks how he is feeling, to which he replies “Not good.” Why are you not feeling good, Dean? Care to explain yourself even a tiny bit? Kristina is justifiably frustrated with this. I’m not sure if he was just trying to talk or if he was trying to break off the relationship entirely. Is he skeptical to jump into this relationship when he knows other women are coming? If so, that’s fine, he just needs to vocalize it. Ladies, we have found Dean’s single flaw!
Taylor and Derek are definitely going to be a day-one Paradise couple, a la Janner. They’re weird but good for them. They seem happy. Matt and Jasmine on the other hand, are having some issues. Matt is not sure he’s on the same level as Jasmine, which is understandable because she keeps choking him out and trying to drown him in the pool. But she’s way hotter than him, so he should get over it.
The episode ends with all of the women in absolute shambles, having no idea who they are going to give their roses to because these dudes are all so mediocre. ALSO I JUST REALIZED I SAT THROUGH FOUR HOURS OF THIS SHOW AND THERE HAS STILL NOT BEEN A SINGLE ROSE CEREMONY! At least they offered us this gem during the credits: