Up until recently, Bachelor in Paradise had a better marital track record than the mothership shows from which it spawned. But then Jordan and JoJo (finally) got married, and two Paradise couples divorced… which puts The Bachelor and Bachelorette back in the lead.
It's probably for the best, rose lovers. Because if the season 8 premiere of BiP proved anything, it's that this show has evolved from a sun-drenched lark to a comically grotesque parody of itself that is unlikely to produce a lasting relationship of any kind — except maybe patient-therapist.
The buffoonery starts at the very beginning, as host/hype man Jesse Palmer welcomes us to "the wildest show on television." He strides across the beach, reminding us that BiP is a reality TV vortex filled with "romantic proposals," "crazy drama," "bizarre behavior," and "devastating breakdowns." In fact, he adds, "The locals say that if you listen closely enough, you can still hear the sound of crying."
ABC Jesse Palmer hits the beach on 'Bachelor in Paradise.'
Or, you know, just tears. Emotions have no gender, Jesse Palmer. And when it comes time to meet the Bachelor Nation alums who will risk "heartbreak and humiliation" (Jesse's words) for a "second chance at love" — well, rose lovers, producers really decided to double down on the "humiliation" part. Come on out, Hunter!
ABC Oh, Hunter. No.
Get it? Because Hunter, 29, has IBS? Which we learned on Clayton's season of The Bachelor when Marlena revealed it during a group date roast? Heavy sigh. My real-time reaction to this went something like: GASP! No, Hunter, no! I can't believe they asked her to do that, that's f---ed up. I can't believe she said yes. That is EXTREMELY f---ed up. Girl, is beefing up your follower count worth such depths of self-degradation? This g-d show is going to be the death of me.
ABC Johnny gets his SPF on
Though I did like Johnny with Gabby, there was no way this 25-year-old realtor from Florida was ready for monogamy, let alone marriage. Two-fisting margaritas in the Paradise pool seems way more his speed.
Next up is Serene, 27, the sweet schoolteacher from Clayton's season. She's got her heart set on meeting Brandon, who you may remember as the guy who hurled a Neil Lane diamond ring into the ocean after Michelle dumped him in her Bachelorette finale.
ABC Brandon is back in Mexico
Since that sad day in Mexico, Brandon's spent a lot of time at the gym healing his biceps and lats, and now he's "truly, truly hoping to find love again."
Romance is not the goal for Kira, however.
ABC Her alma matter must be so proud.
"My biggest question is not whether I'm going to find love," explains the 33-year-old Harvard-educated physician from Clayton's season. "It's how many times I'm gonna be in the Boom Boom Room, and with how many people."
Wonderful. From there we move on to Jacob, 27, better known as the ponytailed guy who a) told Gabby he'd leave if she were the only Bachelorette, and b) tearfully apologized for that clumsy sentiment at Men Tell All. Jacob is a mortgage broker who really enjoys being shirtless. In fact, his favorite things in life are being naked, doing push-ups, drinking margaritas, and girls with thick but well-manicured eyebrows.
ABC Genevieve glams up
Oh hey, Genevieve. This 26-year-old has 200 bathing suits and her eye on Justin from Katie's season. She also really doesn't want Shanae — the blonde, shrimp-eating villain from Clayton's season — to show up on the beach. You know what that means, rose lovers. Please welcome…
ABC Get a room, you two.
Oh ffs. Once again, a friendly reminder for all contestants on Paradise: JUST BECAUSE THE PRODUCERS ASK YOU TO DO SOMETHING STUPID, IT DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO SAY YES.
In a shocking coincidence, Shanae, 30, also wants to meet Justin from Katie's season. Thank goodness — for a second there I thought she and Genevieve wouldn't have anything to fight about in Paradise. Welp, let's get the rivalry started. Come on in, Justin!
ABC You better work, Justin.
"I've got a feeling my wife is on this beach," says the 27-year-old meme master. "I've been working on my Español." (Unfortunately, Justin also thinks "Mexican" is a language. God doesn't give with both hands, people.)
Our next contestant is…
ABC Jill's here, y'all.
Hi, Jill! Wow, we're now up to six women from Clayton's season. Though Jill says she was in her shell on The Bachelor, now she's ready to let her freak flag fly as she searches for a "cat daddy" on the beach. Perhaps she'll settle for a real daddy? It gives me no pleasure to introduce our next Paradisian, Michael, 38, from Katie's season.
I'd love to remember him as the sweet widower who briefly went insane and agreed to be on The Bachelorette, only to come to his senses and leave the show early to be with his little boy. Instead… he's the guy who was almost the Bachelor and when that didn't work out, he chose to spend more time away from his motherless child to go on another reality TV dating show.
"Dating as a single parent is really difficult," says Michael, who promises us that he got his son's approval before flying to Mexico for three weeks. "He said, 'Dad, I miss [mom] too, but everybody needs somebody.' Since Laura passed, he wants a mother figure." And what better place to find one than F***tub Island? Good luck, buddy.
Okay, enough with the intro packages. The beach is open. Serene is the first to arrive — "Literally, it's you and the crabs," Palmer tells her — and she celebrates by doing cartwheels in the surf. She's followed by Michael and then Andrew, 27, from Katie's season. Genevieve, Johnny, and Teddi, 25, from Clayton's season (number 7!) emerge down the stairs next.
Immediately, Andrew is smitten. "Coming here, I wanted to meet Teddi," he says, before immediately pulling her for a chat. And when Andrew says he's got "something special" to show Teddi, he's not lying.
ABC Andrew's toe.
On the one hand, Teddi appreciates the effort. On the other hand… blech. "I love the smiley face," says Teddi. "But his feet look like they've been through some hard times." Still, she says, "It's not a dealbreaker."
Don't worry, Andrew, this next contestant also probably has gross feet.
ABC Welcome, old man.
I really don't remember much about Casey from Michelle's season — and apparently, I'm not alone. "I feel like a little bit of a lesser-known person from the show," admits Casey. "But if I'm going to find love, there's no better place to find it." Agree to disagree, sir.
Hailey (26, Clayton's season), Brittany (25, Matt's season), Jill, and Hunter get quickie intros, which leaves us more time for Sierra, 26. And she's already pre-gaming!
ABC Sierra and Jesse get the party started
Could you spare some alcohol, Sierra? Because this next intro might just drive me to drink.
Yep, it's Jacob wearing a flesh-colored thong, a fig leaf, and the Black Box of Shame™. As a viewer, I absolutely did not consent to this. "Look at his lil' buns!" says Andrew, cackling. "I'm too old for this," sighs Michael.
In case you're keeping count, we're now up to nine women from Clayton's season. ("It's Clayton's island!" jokes Andrew.) And we're about to make it an even 10: Shanae's here!
ABC Shanae hits the beach.
She sits down with the women and introduces herself as "the new Shanae," while Genevieve and Sierra hit her with some icy stares. "I'm just so scared that I'm going to end up falling for someone and Shanae ruins it," says Genevieve with a sigh.
That's your cue, Justin! And look, he and Genevieve are already getting along famously.
ABC Genevieve and Justin
Meanwhile, Shanae and Jacob are getting to know each other on the daybed. "I'm a funny, crazy dude," says Tarzan. "I want somebody who's also funny and crazy." Within a few minutes, the flirting turns to cuddling, and then the cuddling turns to smooching. Did I shout, "Ewwww!" at my screen like an 11-year-old girl? Yes, yes I did.
Come on, guys. You've been there 45 minutes. Take it down a notch. Then again, both Jacob and Shanae love to have the cameras pointed their way — so they're just doing what they've gotta do to make that happen. Speaking of people who love attention…
ABC Welcome back, Lace!
"I have so much more to offer someone than I did at 25 years old," explains the BiP 3 veteran. That may be true, but first she'll need to introduce herself, because no one on the beach has any idea who she is. "Is she, like, with us?" wonders Johnny. Adds Hailey, "I'm all for, like, alumni showing up at the beach and everything, but six years? Girl, come on. Like… you're done here." Pretty rich coming from a woman who made absolutely zero impression on her season, but whatevs.
Hey producers! We need more man meat! Logan, 26, from Gabby and Rachel's season strolls in next, followed by Serene's number-one pick, Brandon.
ABC Brandon makes a grand entrance.
And Brandon is a man on a mission. He pulls Serene for a chat right away, and they both immediately start "vibing," as the kids (probably no longer) say. "I'm nervous as hell to talk to you right now," admits Brandon. They both giggle and give each other goo-goo eyes, and before you know it…
ABC Brandon and Serene get to know each other.
FFS! Is this how the youth of today say hello? By smooshing their faces together within a few minutes of meeting? Pardon me while I clutch my pearls, rose lovers. The other women of Paradise, however, are transfixed. "I have a feeling they're meant to be together," says Lace.
Romeo, 32, from Michelle's season comes down the stairs next, much to Jill's delight. Apparently, she and Romeo have "hung out" in the past, though he also has some history with Kira. (They went to school together.) Right now, Romeo is interested in pursuing Jill, but he's a data scientist — so the man is smart enough to know that Kira is likely going to show up and "get in the way" of his plans.
And wouldn't you know it, Kira shows up next and sits down next to Romeo. Even worse, she takes Jill's drink! Understandably annoyed, Jill gets up and walks away. "She seems salty," sneers Kira, while Romeo sits there helplessly.
ABC Romeo is bummed.
We'll soon learn that this isn't the first time Kira and Jill have clashed over men. "Kira and I were good friends," says Jill. "But she's always gone after guys that I've liked. And now she steals my drink!"
Well, how about that, it looks like the arrivals are over for today. Palmer invites the contestants to join him in the rose palapa for a kickoff address. "You're all here because you're looking for a second shot at love," he says. "It's pretty simple: Find love, or you will be sent home."
Dude, you call that a pep talk? Sheesh. The host lightens things up by listing some of Paradise's success stories — Jade and Tanner, Jared and Ashley, etc. — and wonders aloud, "Which of you is the next Joe and Serena?" Romeo, put your hand down. That was a rhetorical question!
And now for the most important news of all: The men have the roses this week, so two women will be going home this week. (And by this week, I mean next week, because there's no elimination in tonight's episode.)
With that, the men and women break into separate groups to gossip about their options and prepare for the night's bacchanal.
ABC Wells leads a toast
Oh hey, Wells. The first date card of the season goes to Andrew, who may not know that "sarong" is a word, but he still seems like a nice guy. He chooses Teddi for the one-on-one, and they head off to dinner hand-in-hand.
Once there, though, Andrew is so nervous he can barely string two words together. Fortunately, Teddi, like most women, is an expert at filling awkward silences. "You don't give me 'playing it cool' vibes," she teases him, and soon they're giggling. "I'm so nervous," Andrew admits. "I'm never like this!"
Back on the beach, Justin leads Genevieve through the crab-covered beach to a secluded daybed. Though their earlier conversation was pretty awkward ("They make sea unicorns?"), Genevieve is hoping they can push past those nerves and form some kind of "connection" that night.
ABC Genevieve and Justin
"Obviously, I'm interested in you," says Justin, but Genevieve still gives him a hard time for acting "uninterested" when he first arrived on the beach. (Uh, what?) Justin decides to make it very clear by planting one on her, and she LOVES it. "Justin's a great kisser," she gushes. "And I'm picky about kissing, too."
Hmmm… I wonder how things are going with Andrew and Teddi?
ABC Good job on the arts and crafts, Bachelor Interns
Sorry, let me back up a few minutes. Before they climbed in the giant margarita and started making out, Andrew worked up the courage to tell Teddi that he is very attracted to her aura and her confidence. Teddi, meanwhile, loves that Andrew is "so joyful all the time" and that he seems "like a light in everyone's life." Awwww, these two are pretty cute together.
The coupling up is going well at Paradise HQ, too. Johnny and Hunter, Sierra and Michael, Romeo and Jill (and Kira), and Brandon and Serene are all feeling the "love." Even those contestants who aren't making "connections" are having a good time — except for Lace.
ABC Moping in Mexico
"This is the most boring season I've ever seen in my life," she grumbles. "I feel like I'm the prettiest I've been, ever. How am I not being pursued? It blows my mind!"
Sure, she's whining like a brat, but I also think it's pretty understandable why Lace feels out of place on the beach. When she arrived, she had to say hello about four times before anyone realized she was there, and once they did, no one recognized her or seemed remotely interested in talking to her.
To her credit, Shanae goes to find Lace in her room and encourages her to come back to the party. She agrees and begins to tell everyone at the bar that it's her birthday. (It's not.) The lie gets her the attention she craves, and it also gives her an excuse to pull Logan for a chat and some birthday cake.
Logan is happy to share some cake with her, but the look on his face when Lace tells him that he's the only guy there that she's interested in — I mean, "terrified" is a word that comes to mind.
ABC The fear in his eyes is palpable.
"Interesting," he mumbles, looking over his shoulder for an escape route. He then accidentally (or intentionally?) calls her by the wrong name — "Luce" instead of "Lace" — and she starts spiraling. "I just spent all this time talking to you and you call me Luce?" she scoffs. "You didn't even know my name?" Logan apologizes, but now he definitely wants to get as far away from Lace as possible.
I guess producers were worried that Lace wouldn't be totally mortified when she watched this back, because they segue from this "birthday" scene to Palmer reading this voiceover copy: "Considering faking your own birthday to meet men? I think we can do better! Apply to be on the next season of The Bachelor."
Eventually, Lace semi-peer pressures Casey into giving her a chaste peck on the lips… so, congrats?
Interestingly enough, Sierra and Michael seem to be hitting it off. He thinks she has an "old soul," while she says he's the only one on the beach that she's interested in. She asks him what the hardest thing about being a single parent is, and his answer is typically heartbreaking. "I can handle the tasks and the energy," he says. "I think the hard part, honestly, is creating memories and having no one to share them with."
Nope. I will not get teary watching Bachelor in Paradise. Not going to happen.
"Sierra is beautiful," says Michael, stating the obvious. "She has a presence to her that's like intoxicating and contagious. We're just comfortable next to each other. It's almost like we've known each other for years."
As the night wears on, Jill decides it's time to get to the bottom of the Romeo-Kira situation. "Romeo and I were there for each other during a time in our lives where it was very, like, tumultuous," she explains. "I do miss that friendship."
ABC Romeo and Jill
Romeo is clearly a little uncomfortable addressing the Kira issue, so Jill offers some gentle encouragement. "We've gotta communicate!" Holy cow, solid relationship advice? On Bachelor in Paradise? I never thought I'd see the day.) This emboldens Romeo to get right to the point. "I like you; I've always liked you," he says. "And I don't like that this has interfered with that. I don't have a connection with Kira, and I, uh… I want to move on and just have a clean slate."
Jill likes what she's hearing, but she wants Romeo to step up his romance game. "I want to see more action from you," she explains. "I just felt like all today you were avoiding the f--- out of me." Translation: KISS ME, YOU DUMMY! Romeo, bless him, takes the hint, and they smooch.
Well, that's all sorted. What could possibly go wrong?
ABC Of course she's not.
Oh, of course. Naturally, Kira strolls up and interrupts Jill and Romeo's little tête-à-tête — and naturally, Jill leaves the moment she arrives. Romeo does his best to let Kira down firmly but gently. "I don't want our friendship between me and you to interfere with what I'm pursuing with Jill," he says. "If you could let me pursue Jill in peace, that'd be great."
Someone give that man a round of applause! I've seen Bachelors go entire seasons without showing as much backbone as this dude, and this is just day one on Paradise. Kira does NOT love what Romeo has to say. She stares at him coolly for a minute and then lets out a sigh. "If that's what you want to do, I'll respect that," she says at last.
Of course, underneath that calm exterior is a pissed off Paradisian just itching for a fight. "I didn't do anything to deserve this," fumes Kira in her confessional. "I thought we were a good match… I was counting on his rose, and it doesn't look like I'm going to get that. I just got played, and I hate that. And I hate them." She stomps off to go find Jill and confront her.
ABC Kira gets to the point.
Jill explains that her problem is that Kira keeps intentionally butting in when she's talking to Romeo. They argue back and forth as the other contestants openly eavesdrop from the bar and the beach. "I feel very disrespected by you," huffs Kira. "You've been slut-shaming me!"
Jill is very taken aback by this out-of-nowhere accusation, and she runs sobbing into Brandon's arms. The music begins to swell, and Kira heads to the bar for some shots. "If anything, the Romeo and Jill situation, those were my shackles," she declares. "And now they're off, and I'm free to, like, really enjoy Paradise." (By that she means trying to talk Casey into heading to the Boom Boom Room.) Okay, girl, enjoy — but please enjoy responsibly.
The next morning, no one looks too hung over as they gather in the dining palapa for breakfast. Genevieve is feeling really good about her connection with Justin… so you know what that means, rose lovers:
ABC Welcome back, Victoria.
Fresh blood! And possibly a fresh face? I practically didn't recognize her from Peter's season. It should go without saying that Victoria is coming in with her sights set on Justin. But we'll have to wait until next week to see how Genevieve handles this
totally expected unexpected twist.
That was a lot to take in, and it's only the first episode. Next week, BiP will air on Monday and Tuesday, thereby making four precious hours of our life disappear. Are you going to stay on this "journey," rose lovers? If so, do you think any of these contestants are truly "ready" to find "love"? And how old were you when you had your first colonoscopy? Post your thoughts below!
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