Welcome to the absurd, covid-heavy season of The Bachelorette, briefly filmed at the scenic and socially distant La Quinta Resort in La Quinta, California, before some producer decided it was cool to allow everyone to make out again. Clare Crawley and her 30 prospective husbands arrived, quarantined for a few days, took coronavirus tests, waited for their negative results, and moved into the infamous mansion once it became clear it was safe to hug and kiss and do all the other formulaic fairytale stuff that feeds The Bachelor franchise.
The first 30 minutes of Tuesday night’s premiere seemed to stress how hard it is to film a TV show in the middle of the global health crisis and the comforts these future Instagram influencers had to give up in order to appear on television. (You know what else is hard? Living in a global health crisis, especially with a truly incompetent administration and a broken healthcare system.) An Army Ranger veteran made sure to compare being sequestered in a luxury hotel room to Army ranger training. A former football star did the same.
There was one particularly grueling scene when the men cried while getting their noses swabbed for the covid tests, as if being safe is a torturous experience. I’d go as far as to say it may have been irresponsible to dramatize routine testing on ABC, but when hasn’t The Bach gone a step too far for the sake of entertainment? The show UnREAL is literally based on that concept. Anyway, once the lengthy introduction made it clear that Crawley, the show’s oldest Bachelorette at a whopping 39 years old, was still on board to find her husband and sincerely say lines like, “We did everything we could to make this place covid-free, and hopefully, full of love,” the episode got good—and the arrivals took place.
There are a few opportunities for villainy this season: there’s Bennett, the 36-year-old wealth management consultant and Harvard grad who arrived in a white Rolls Royce wearing a long white scarf and a shit-eating grin. (In a livestream, Harrison described him as “50 percent Wall Street, 50 percent Greenwich, Connecticut,” which is still the same asshole to me, and so far on the show, he’s worse than I could’ve ever imagined.) There’s also Mobile, Alabama’s Yosef, who West Virginia’s Tyler C. accused of flirting with other girls during their strict no-dating pre-taping quarantine time. Tyler C. was sent home because of his accusations, but I think he was really sent home because The Bachelor franchise already has a famous Tyler C.. Were it truly up to Crawley and not the producers, I’m sure she would’ve sent both their asses packing. However, Crawley was much too distracted by Dale Moss, the man most people online believe she picks early on in the season, bringing about the arrival of a second Bachelorette, Tayshia Adams. That story is to be continued.
In fact, as soon as Dale greets Crawley and heads into the mansion, she utters to herself, “I knew it. I definitely feel like I just met my husband. I’m shaking.” Harrison approaches her for the soundbite, saying that never in the show’s history has there been a true love at first sight moment like that, probably because love at first sight doesn’t exist and it’s an insane conceit to pretend that it does—surely the two were flirting during quar and sparked a pre-show romance, but maybe that’s just my conspiratorial (and Reality Steve-esque) impulses working overtime. At any rate, later in the episode, Crawley claims that the only contestant to reach out to her—even though they were strictly prohibited from doing so—was one of the two Blake M.’s on the show, Canadian Blake Moynes, a wildlife manager, who reached out once he heard Crawley’s mom, who suffers from dementia, fell. Honestly, he’s a genuine sweetie who deserves the world, but I hear nice guys finish last.
Each episode concludes with a teaser of what’s to come, and the premiere episode has set Crawley up for disappointment: she will fall head over heels for Moss, he may be a phony—or at least, the other men want her to believe that he is a phony—and Chris Harrison will accuse her of “blowing up The Bachelorette.” The preview would be a lot juicier if, you know, the show wasn’t spoiled weeks ago, but I digress. There are many more, excruciatingly long weeks of hot people crying that lay ahead. Until next week, Bachelor Nation.