Attention, class! The Bachelorette's fall semester is in session. Our star, Michelle Young, is a teacher, a college basketball standout, and a wise woman of the world, but even she will learn a hard lesson tonight: Sometimes, reality TV contestants strategize about how to get more airtime. Shocking, I know.
We begin with a reminder that adding fractions is hard.
ABC Michelle schools her students
Did anyone else here pause and see if you could get the correct answer (8 ¼) without the help of our Bachelorette, Miss Young, or cheating off one of the fifth graders' papers? No? Just me? Okay. Moving on.
"How many boyfriends are you going to have?" asks one student. "It's weird that she's kissing, like, 30 boys," notes another. You are correct, young lady! Still, the kids are excited to see their teacher head off on this "journey" to find "love."
For those of you who have blocked out Matt's season of The Bachelor and therefore do not remember Michelle, here's a quick primer: She's a smart, sensible 28-year-old teacher from Woodbury, Minn. She's a former college basketball star (check out those arms!), and she is biracial. Look at this adorable family:
ABC Michelle and her parents
"I want you to have someone like your dad," says Michelle's mom. "Because your dad couldn't be a kinder person, a more giving person… He is my everything." Dang it, dad's getting emotional, mom's getting emotional, Michelle's getting emotional, and so am I — and we're barely 10 minutes into the stupid episode. Okay, Team Bachelorette, you had better not fail Michelle (though we all know you most likely will).
And we're off to Indian Wells Resort in Palm Springs! I did not realize this desert oasis was founded by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz — so if Michelle is hoping to find a hard-drinking womanizer, she has absolutely come to the right place. Oh, and look who's back:
ABC Michelle, Kaitlyn and Tayshia
Cheers, ladies. Let's meet the first round of men, shall we?
Chris S., 28
West Hollywood, Calif.
This New Orleans native may live in L.A. now, but he's still a "Southern Gentleman" — one who is comfortable enough with his own masculinity that he doesn't mind getting his eyebrows waxed on national television.
ABC Beauty is pain, pal.
He's an athletic "mama's boy" and thinks he and Michelle have a lot in common because they both played point guard and they both like "helping people." An altruistic commodities broker? Put this guy on the endangered species list.
Real Estate Developer
Okay, so this man actually does have several things in common with Michelle. He's also from Minnesota, he's also biracial, and he's also good at sinking a three-pointer. Plus, Joe and Michelle both have very defined arm muscles.
ABC Joe takes his shot.
Medical Sales Rep
Okay, so this is interesting, rose lovers. For the first time in the franchise's history, we know who the new Bachelor is going to be before one episode of his Bachelorette season has even aired! News leaked last month that Clayton is, in fact, the new Bachelor — and while ABC and Warner Bros. haven't officially confirmed it, his season is currently filming, as evidenced by multiple paparazzi photos.
Anyhow, it'll be fun to watch Clayton get the Golden Boy edit — because they know that we know he's already the Bachelor. I don't mean to imply he's secretly a jerk getting a nice-guy edit; they're just gonna make him look extra sweet as a lead-up to his big Bachelor reveal. Case in point: Here's Clayton with his mom, Kelly, who also happens to be a teacher.
ABC Clayton and his mom
That is one telegenic duo. On to the next!
Brandon J., 26
Traveling Nurse Recruiter
"Growing up, I had to raise my brother," says Brandon J., whose penchant for large cross necklaces seems to have started young. "I just always had to be a grown-up. My parents were always gone, working." Um, that's incredibly sad. Virtual hug through the TV screen for you, Brandon J.!
ABC Brandon on The Bachelorette
Sorry, but I missed everything this guy said because I was too busy cooing over his sweet doggie.
ABC Nayte and his cute pooch
I mean, come on. That dog is freaking adorable.
Chris G., 28
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
The chyron says "motivational speaker," but this Canuck describes his job with a little more nuance: He's "a speaker with a non-profit," who talks to kids "about where they want to take their future." Okay, I can see how that might be hard to fit on the screen.
Just as Chris G. is ironing his button-down shirt to get ready for the big night… knock knock knock! There are two former Bachelorettes at the door!
ABC Chris G. gets some surprise guests
Looks like this season, the hosts will be doing unannounced room checks as part of their "due diligence." Adds Kaitlyn, "We're going to scout out the guys and make sure they're up to Michelle's standards." And what if they're not? Are Kaitlyn and Tayshia traveling with a firing squad?
No time for questions, rose lovers! They've busted into another room.
ABC Spencer meets the hosts
Financial Crimes Analyst
Spencer is a young man who says he likes "inspiring the youth and changing the next generation," which could make him a nice fit for Michelle. But the hosts are all, Yeah, yeah, time to get out so we can rummage through your stuff. "It says a lot about someone, how their hotel room is kept," notes Kaitlyn, who likes how "organized" Spencer's bathroom is. Tayshia, meanwhile, is impressed with his St. Ives Coconut and Coffee scrub.
San Jose, Calif.
ABC Ryan likes to farm shirtless
Ryan works on his family's ranch, so naturally, the producers made him say this: "I can plow a field, ladies!" That doesn't even make sense as a sexual entendre. (Yes, I know it's supposed to be a callback to Kaitlyn's "you can plow my field any day" introduction to Chris Soules.)
Kaitlyn and Tayshia are initially impressed with Ryan's wardrobe, but as soon as they start rummaging through his suitcase…
ABC Breaking: Reality TV contestant wants more attention. News at 11
There's "research on how to actually get more screen time," says a shocked Tayshia, while Kaitlyn finds some tips for going farther in the "journey," including "make it seem like you're super interested." Oh, Ryan. You silly, silly man. Clearly, you forget the first rule of getting famous on The Bachelorette, which is "don't put anything about how you plan to get famous on The Bachelorette on paper"!!!
As for all the papers in the first picture, most of them seem pretty harmless.
ABC The "evidence" against Ryan
The one on the far left (1) appears to be a handout from producers about the best phone settings for recording footage for the show (as when the guys film themselves getting on the plane or goofing off in their rooms before meeting Michelle). The one in the middle on the right (2) is an email from someone who has either been on this show or on a reality show before. One note from that message: "There are rules but they're more like guidelines. If you have an idea, the producers will make it happen somehow." That likely refers to limo exit gags and/or "mini-date" ideas for night one.
Speaking of which, the page labeled "Ryan's Dream Girl * Dating * Date List" (3) is literally just a list of date ideas. It's possible that producers asked all the guys to provide a list of "dream dates" just in case they end up on a one-on-one down the road. And even if Ryan did have some nefarious reason for making this list, the most upsetting thing about it is that he spelled "picnic" wrong.
Fun fact: Ryan also served as "the Bachelor" in the short-lived Warner Bros. endeavor The Bachelor: Live on Stage. So of course he's deeply invested in coming across well on camera — and producers knew this, which is probably why they staged this whole "let's have Kaitlyn and Tayshia go through the guys' stuff" situation just so they could "discover" these "incriminating" papers. Not that I feel bad for Ryan. He literally signed up for humiliation — and that's just what he's gonna get.
Anyhow, we must put a pin in this scandal, because night has fallen, and the limos are about to begin arriving. Please welcome our glittering goddess in gold.
ABC Stay gold, Michelle
Say it with me, rose lovers: Let the journey begin!
Nayte is up first, and all he needs to do to impress the Bachelorette is say his full name: Babatunde Obafemi Robert Nathaniel Olukoya. And Michelle is LOVING it. "That was a good start," she murmurs as Nayte walks inside. "Holy s---!"
Romeo, 32 (Mathematician): He makes his first impression by speaking to Michelle in French. Translation: "My name's Romeo, and I hope you'll be my Juliet. But I assure you that our love story won't end in tragedy." The producers will be the judge of that, sir.
Jack, 30 (Former Army Officer): This guy has a little bit of a Milo Ventimiglia thing going on:
ABC Jack on 'The Bachelorette'
Or is it just me? Anyhow, his full name is "Jack Russell," so he goes with a dog-themed introduction: "I'm so ready to play tug-of-war for your heart."
Clayton arrives next, and he brings Michelle a yardstick… in case he steps out of line. Get it? Cuz she's a teacher? Corporal punishment is hilarious. "I plan on being on my best behavior," says Clayton. "So hopefully you don't have to use it — but this time only, I will allow one free swing."
Our future Bachelor, everybody!
Jamie, 32 (Biotech CEO): This dude is bowled over by Michelle, and he can barely form a sentence. The feeling is mutual. "Jamie's got some swag to him," says Michelle. "He definitely caught my eye."
Uh-oh, it's time for a few rapid-fire intros before the real silliness begins! Chris G. makes some corny speech about how Michelle is "the one rose in a field full of daisies"; Mollique, a normal-seeming 36-year-old, says he hopes he's Michelle's "person"; Alec, 29, is the first to use the phrase "total package"; Will the 28-year-old "academic interventionist" tells Michelle that she's very beautiful in Spanish; Pardeep the 30-year-old neuroscientist makes a joke about his dopamine levels; and Olu, 27, goes for the NBA reference by saying he hopes to become Michelle's "number one pick."
Hey look, it's Chris S. the altruistic commodities broker showing up in a school bus, and he's wearing short pants like a little British schoolboy.
ABC Chris gets a hug from Michelle
Unfortunately for Chris S., his joke about giving Michelle a D — for "diamond," you perverts! — falls pretty flat.
Garrett, 33, shows up swinging a cane — not because he's a big-time "tech CEO," but because he broke his foot before he came on the show. Next up is Casey, a 36-year-old man who still thinks "slapsies" is a good way to pick up women.
ABC Casey makes an annoying first impression
The move is so bad, Kaitlyn almost chokes on her champagne. Hang on to your gag reflex, girl — it gets worse.
Brandon K., the 29-year-old brand manager from Austin, Tex., hands Michelle some Mardi Gras beads and then makes a "show me your tits" gesture. "I'm gonna give these back," says Michelle, draping the beads around Brandon's neck. "You gotta show me your heart!" he clarifies, but the damage is done. "It's really awkward," groans Tayshia, as she and Kaitlyn watch from behind a retaining wall. "I'm uncomfortable." Well, get ready to dig a hole and bury yourself in it, honey — it gets even worse:
ABC Nope. Just nope.
Rick, 32: The medical sales rep from L.A. has a creepy entrance gimmick as well — but it's more "horror movie" creepy than "pervert" creepy.
ABC Rick's entrance gimmick is deliciously awkward
Forget James the "Bro in a Box," this is the "Tool Under a Table." And yes, he is going to stay there until Michelle pulls him for a one-on-one chat.
In keeping with the food theme, Ryan shows up in an ice cream truck… but he doesn't even bring Michelle any ice cream as part of his introduction? To me, that's worse than having a folder full of Bachelorette cheat codes.
Rodney, 29: The "teacher's pet" theme continues with this sales rep who shows up in an apple costume.
Rodney on 'The Bachelorette'
"I'm definitely a Granny Smith," says Rodney. "I'm just trying to be the apple of your eye."
Yikes. Peter, the 26-year-old "Pizzapreneur" introduces himself by screeching, "Buongiorno, Principessa!" and then hurling a slab of pizza dough into the air. I assume "pizzapreneur" means something like "manager of a pizza parlor," but this is how Peter describes his job: "I change lives one slice at a time."
Daniel, 26: This firefighter from Austin shows up in his gear, riding a teeny-tiny toy firetruck. It's cute… until he says this: "So I heard there's a fire, but it looks like it's just a smoke show." Ugh. Stop trying to make "smoke show" happen, men of America. No one wants it to happen! But it turns out Daniel has more to worry about than his tacky language. Looks like the next limo is pulling up… and it's not a limo.
ABC PJ makes a loud entrance
"I wonder how Daniel's feeling right now," says Michelle, as the big-boy fire truck pulls up to the resort. Out climbs PJ, 30, who is also a firefighter from Texas. Game on, Daniel! The devil works hard, but Bachelorette producers work harder.
Actually, it's the production staff that's doing all the work tonight. First, they had to push Rick in like a room service cart, and now this:
ABC Get your shoes off the bed, bro!
"I normally don't get in bed on the first date," says Michelle, who gamely sits down next to the traveling nurse for a chaste chat.
Time for another speed round! Spencer arrives dribbling two basketballs; a 31-year-old NFL player named Bryan shows off some of his ballroom dance moves; personal trainer JoMarri, 26, rips off the sleeves of his suit to show Michelle his buff biceps; and a wellness coach named Edward, 27, tries to calm the Bachelorette's nerves with a brief sound bath.
Just keep it simple, boys. Leroy, 27, has the right idea.
ABC A picture-perfect couple?
Martin, a 29-year-old personal trainer from Miami, does a backflip (barely) and then makes this joke: "I feel like I'm already flippin' crazy about you."
None of these antics have Michelle as intrigued as her simple introduction to Joe. "You look really familiar," she says. He's all, Maybe it's just because we're both from Minnesota? Nope, that's not it.
ABC Michelle connects the dots
Ding ding ding! As soon as Joe goes inside, Michelle gives Kaitlyn and Tayshia the full story: "We messaged back and forth about basketball briefly — and then he ghosted me." So… is she happy or annoyed to see him? "I'm kind of interested," admits the Bachelorette. "And he's good-looking." Oh girl, beware the guy who ghosted you until he found out you were gonna be on TV.
Wow, are the intros done already? I guess we're going to be spending a lot of time on Folder Guy and whatever other drama the guys whip up tonight. Michelle goes inside and kicks the night off with a toast: "My two parents have been married been 33 years, and they're still madly in love," she says. "Stay open, stay vulnerable, and show me your authentic self." Cheers to advice some of these men will definitely ignore! At least one of the men was thoughtful to include Table Guy in the toast.
ABC Rick is committed to his bit.
Jamie the biotech CEO pulls Michelle first. "You just, like, smile with your spirit," he gushes. "And that is just, like, the best." He's smitten, but he's also smooth, and Jamie makes Michelle laugh with this: "Honestly, this is just our show — they're here to watch."
Oh no, now Pizzapreneur is chatting with Michelle, and he's about to make her eat a phallic pastry.
ABC Peter and Michelle on 'The Bachelorette'
Not cool, Team Bachelorette. Not cool. Also not cool: Peter doesn't even stop to answer Michelle when she asks what is in the cannoli. For God's sake, what if had a ricotta allergy or something?
Fortunately for all involved, the Bachelorette survives her encounter with Peter's cannoli, so she heads off to track down Joe the DM ghoster. "I was surprised to get a few responses back," she tells him, "and then, you know, someone forgot to hit send." Joe explains that he had "a lot going on" back when they were chatting via DM. "I'm the head of property at George Floyd Square, three blocks away," he says. "I had a lot of shootings, murders, and a lot of things going on, and at the time, it just caused a lot of anxiety. (If my Google sleuthing is correct, Joe works in real estate with his brother Dan Coleman, who's also a former b-ball player for the Minnesota Gophers.)
Joe says he wishes that he would have handled things better rather than just ghosting Michelle, and she gets it — but she also wishes he had just been honest with her. As a woman of color living in Minneapolis, Michelle feels like she could relate to what Joe was going through. "You didn't have to be ready for a relationship," she says. "You just had to communicate that you're not in a good place right now. That's it. For me, respect is a huge thing, and my hesitation here tonight is, how do I know that you're not going to shut down again?"
That's right, Michelle! You deserve better and you know it! Joe assures her that he's "really focusing" on getting better at talking about his feelings, and he's even gone to therapy to help work on it. The Bachelorette appreciates Joe's openness, but she's not quite ready to decide whether she wants him to stick around. For now, Michelle is off to meet some other potential husbands.
She's in the middle of a chat with Spencer the financial crimes analyst — who looks very snazzy in his grey suit, I might add — when two crew members push Table Guy into the room to interrupt.
ABC Three's a crowd
Talk about a third wheel! (I'll be here all week.)
Once Spencer leaves the room, Rick initially stays under the table while chatting with Michelle — and it's very hard for her to take him seriously. "This is probably the most odd first impression that I've had," she admits. Still, the Bachelorette gamely feeds Rick some strawberries (he's hungry, and he can't reach the food right next to his face!). Eventually, she's rewarded with a full man, not just a disembodied head.
ABC This is what Rick looks like as a human, not a table.
At first, Michelle's body language is very "please don't touch me," but Rick plows ahead undaunted. "When you're with me, I want you to know, I want it to be fun," he says. "Anytime you need that, you come get me, and we can just laugh." Ultimately, Michelle walks away with a good impression of Table Guy, calling him "charming" and "charismatic."
As Michelle continues to get to know her guys, producers give Ryan what he wants more than anything in the world: Screen time. He's telling us all about his "spontaneously planned" (LOL) surprise to get some one-on-one time with the Bachelorette: "Maybe my milkshake bring all the Michelles to the yard?" Oh, so now you're going to serve her some ice cream? Took you long enough, dude.
ABC Ryan and Michelle
Honestly, that looks like sorbet. It had better not be sorbet. Promising a woman ice cream and then giving her some fruity cold mush? That's just hostile.
Still, their chat is going well. Ryan tells Michelle about his work as a farmer and how he coaches for the Special Olympics year-round. Michelle, who is also a fan of putting good out into the world, LOVES it. "I really did feel a connection with him right off the bat," she says.
Too bad, honey! Kaitlyn and Tayshia are here to throw some ice-cold water on that spark you're feeling.
ABC Kaitlyn tells it like it is
The hosts fill Michelle in on Ryan's "document," telling her all about the shocking (shocking!) details contained within: How to avoid a villain edit! How to pretend that you're interested when a woman talks about her job! And so on. The Bachelorette is understandably disappointed by this news — but she's not too upset to get the full story from Ryan himself.
Michelle marches downstairs and pulls the accused man from the group so she can grill him in private (with cameras, of course). She confronts him about his evil "notes" about "how to get the most screen time" and "how to not be the villain," and so on. "I do want to hear an explanation," she tells him. "I want this cleared up very quickly." Ryan has his cover story ready, and he tries to take Michelle's hands… but she will not reciprocate. "I'm very new to The Bachelor," says Ryan. (Lie No. 1). "I had no idea what to expect." (Lie No. 2.) "I wanted to get to know Michelle," he continues, but she begs to differ. "The notes weren't about me," she shoots back. "The notes were about how you should act… You have to write notes about how to be yourself?"
Ryan starts stammering out more excuses — I didn't write the notes! My friend's wife did! Except I did write some of them! Damn, this is not going well! — and finally, Michelle's had enough. She wants to go look at the notes with her own two eyes. Time for a field trip to Ryan's room!
The other men watch with keen interest as Michelle and Ryan head to the elevators. "She does not look very happy," notes Will, a budding Sherlock Holmes. "This definitely can't be a good thing." No, no it is not.
ABC Michelle is displeased
After kicking Ryan out of the room, Michelle sits down to peruse the papers. She reads aloud some of the more incriminating notes, including this humdinger from someone Ryan apparently knows and trusts: "Your biggest fault is that you are overconfident, arrogant, it's a massive turnoff to people. You come off as mean and demanding. It's better to just keep those thoughts to yourself and express a positive outlook to others." Dang, with friends like these…
I don't need to tell you what happens next, rose lovers.
ABC Ryan needs a ride home
Well, that was fun. Now poor Michelle has to go and give the men her "if you're not here for the Right Reasons™, GTFO" speech. Once that's done, she dives back into the cocktail party with an open mind — after all, she still hasn't given out the First Impression Rose.
Speaking of which, it's Nayte's turn to chat with Michelle. He does not hesitate to go (relatively) deep during this first conversation: Nayte tells the Bachelorette about his parents' divorce, and how his mom recently divorced his stepdad, who was his best friend. "I've never seen my parents kiss," he continues. "Little things like that, I want my kids to be able to see." This type of Opening Up™ is exactly what Michelle wants after kicking the duplicitous Ryan to the curb. "You reset the night," she tells Nayte with a smile.
Though she cycles through a few more guys after that — Martin, Clayton, Brandon J. — Michelle has her mind set on Nayte for that First Impression Rose. I'm not mad at it — after all, he does have a very cute dog.
ABC Michelle and Nayte
Aaaand we have the first kiss of the night! The rose ceremony is upon us, so we're unlikely to see any more. Michelle doesn't just give it away for free, y'all!
Rose ceremony roll-call!
Jamie, Leroy, Martin, Spencer, Rick, Clayton, Peter, PJ, Mollique, Romeo, Daniel, Brandon J., Will, Chris S., Rodney, Alec, Pardeep, Chris G., Casey, Olu, LT, and — after a nail-biting wait — Joe join Nayte in the Circle of Safety™. That means we must say goodbye to the following men: JoMarri, Jack, Garrett, Edward, Bryan, and Brandon K.
With that, rose lovers, night one is over! All except for the "this season on" preview, in which I spotted the following men smooching Michelle: Jamie, Olu, Nayte, Joe, Rick, Clayton, Brandon J., and Martin. (There were a few guys I couldn't identify — let me know if you figured them all out.)
Wait, don't leave yet! Who are you rooting for? Should Michelle have sent Joe the DM Ghoster packing? And what in the world would we do without Big Paulie? Post your thoughts below!