I had no intentions of writing a single word about Bachelor in Paradise. I still don’t really have intentions of writing about it, because I think being intentional about that type of thing is where promising young people take sharp left turns. I simply can’t help myself; last Monday I experienced two unexpectedly delightful and simultaneously cringe-inducing hours of television. I would like to tell you about them with the genuine hope that you will watch this show, bearing in mind that I do not recommend you watch anything else within The Bachelor franchise. Just this one.
I might give off the impression that I’ve been watching The Bachelor for years, but I am nothing if not a bit of a liar. The first time I ever even remotely watched any Chris-Harrison-hosted programming was Ben the Boring Bachelor’s season, and that was only because he looked like Francine from Arthur, and I’m always intrigued by women like Courtney, the Bill Belichick of Bachelorettes, who care exactly 0% about what people think of them, including the man they claim to love. Rather, I might call Courtney the Patrick Bateman of Bachelorettes (fine, the Scott Disick of Bachelorettes), but it doesn’t have as much of a ring to it. [Ed. note: I have not yet read her book and I am practicing a very low level of self-punishment every day until I do.]
All of this to say, I’m actually still somewhat of an Intermediate-level Bachelor viewer, and I was assuming Bachelor in Paradise would just be like whatever the hell Bachelor Pad was, except Chris Harrison could talk about it at dinner parties less shamefully and finally get to wear the Tommy Bahamas Formal Collection that’s just been collecting dust in his closet. Even without ever having watched Bachelor Pad, I can tell you that Bachelor in Paradise is nothing like it. Because Bachelor in Paradise is the effing best.
It takes the excellently idiotic premise of The Bachelor—finding love by competing with people for it—but adds on more individuals of each gender, and makes sure they’ve all been scorned by this exact process in the past, so as to breed extra self-consciousness, self-loathing, competiveness, and humping in open bodies of water. It is highly successful on all four fronts.
The premise, just in case you’re still not in: the premiere began with six male rejects from Bachelorette seasons, and eight female rejects from Bachelor seasons; Chris Harrison basically tells them that they have to find love each week to stay in the game, AKA, you have to pair up for a Rose Ceremony at the end of each week, and if you aren’t chosen, you have to leave Paradise (which technically means leaving a single bed and ABC-mandated celibacy, but whatever). In the premiere, the six men chose their future life partners, eliminating two women and evening up the numbers. Next week the women will choose; each week, when the numbers are evened up, new former Bachelor(ette) rejects will be brought on to ensure that at least one former reject can be rejected anew by this hateful, hateful television program.
It is demented and hilarious. Let me tell you everything about it in list format, because this show, even less than its origin stories, has5absolutely no plot. The 5 Best Things That Happened on Bachelor in Paradise:
Lacey is back and I think she just got her boobs: When I started high school in the Texas public school system, two large middle schools came together, and therefore the two groups of kids who didn’t yet skip school, and took AP classes, and very incorrectly thought we were hot shit also came together to be friends and try not to get in the middle of any cafeteria fights. I will always remember one of the boys from the other school saying a few weeks into Freshman year that one of the girls from his middle school who was my new friend had grown boobs over the summer and must not have realized it, because she was still wearing the same shirts, only they were looking a little different these days. And it was true—like Lacey’s, her boobs were not shy.
And like my friend, at 25 years old, I think Lacey has only recently discovered that she is smoking hot…if she has even realized it at all. If you are only a casual viewer of this franchise, you might not remember Lacey because she was eliminated on the first night of Juan Pablo’s season. But I remember Lacey, because she was the girl who was my age and owned a nursing home. She also had, like, 10 adopted special needs siblings, so I predicted she would make it to Hometowns no matter what, but at that time, I did not know that Juan Pablo was a dick. My mistake.
So, Lacey, who owns a nursing home, has probably spent her entire life giving to other people, and who I don’t remember being quite this hot last go-round, was clearly a little scarred by being cut loose so early in her first try at The Bachelor. And this time she has a plan: have every guy be attracted to her. But because she does not yet realize her own power, she thinks that means taking every guy she’s attracted to into the ocean and straddling them for a while. But what she doesn’t realize is that all she needs to do, at least for the first week, is look exactly the way she looks.
No matter, because her method works perfectly fine for the time being, and she immediately—as in, day one—hooks Marcus the Stripper and Robert the Guy Who Thinks He Invented Sign-Spinning Marketing that was eliminated first round in Des’ season.
Lacey doesn’t know that she “gets it,” but she is the only woman that “gets it”: My very favorite thing about Lacey’s storyline of liking two guys at the same time and making out with them all over the place, is that all of the other women can’t stop talking about how bad that makes her look; and all the men can’t stop talking about how good she looks. Because, truly, men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and every time one of these women says a variation of “men don’t like that,” or some analogy about giving the milk away for free, somewhere, a feminist gets her wings (or a new pair of Warby Parkers, or something).
I’m not saying every man is solely attracted to boobs, or even that every man there was all over Lacey just because she was down to make out; I’m definitely not saying it’s bad to be down to make out. Like, I’m pretty sure that’s what they say on these casting calls: “Will you quit your job for reality TV, do you have any STDs, and are you down to make out?” I’m saying it’s part of pack mentality to prey on the weak and this is an actual quote from sweet, sweet Lacey while deciding between two men: “I’d say I’m 80/40 right now.” Would you? Is that what you would say, Lacey? Either Lacey got injected with that Scarlett Johansson drug from Lucy where she can access more of her brain than everybody else, or she’s not exactly handling the finances at her nursing home.
I love Lacey. On her date with Robert, she wears her hair like Martha Washington and even though you can’t see it, I’m 90% positive the back is secured with one of those crusty plastic clips you use on hot rollers, and that is a joke that only a very specific subset women will understand. But you know I’m right!
Marcus is having a hard time right now: Marcus recently had his vulnerable heart shattered into a million pieces, and now he has taken his sensitive spirit to Bachelor in Paradise, where rumor has it, he gets engaged (to Lacey, not kidding), but logic would suggest, is the worst possible thing he could be doing. Marcus even says that it’s probably not his best move right now, and that he’s not over Andi, but for some reason he’s there. I have a theory that Marcus is easily coerced and the producers long ago realized they can get him to do anything. For example, remember when “he decided” a fun pre-meeting-his-family activity would be to strip for Andi at 10 AM in an empty night club. Well, on BIP, “he decided” he should take a sad solo night dip in the ocean in nothing but his bright red briefs, which might as well be made out of seasonal holiday saran wrap.
It should be noted that Marcus must be one of those people who is more attractive in real life, because he comes off perfectly handsome on TV, but these women, like Andi before them, act like he’s damn Michael Fassbender and they can hardly keep their hands off his package. And yet, they all stare on merely salivating at his heartbroken skinny dipping, only to watch Lacey shows up literally out of nowhere and mount him until he’s not sad anymore. Lacey is our queen.
BIP production might hate Clare: If you heard anything about this show, or even if you watched all two hours, exactly one thing left the biggest impression: Clare had an extended conversation with a raccoon. No, scratch that, Clare had an exteneded and tearful conversation with a producer, and the editors made it seem like she was talking to a raccoon.
It is deserving of every Reality TV Editors Are the Best Kinds of Assholes Emmy in existence (which is to say none, but the Emmys should really get to work on that for this exact moment).
AshLee still has crazy eyes, and they’ve potentially gotten crazier: I wrote a short little profile of what AshLee has been up to since she stared Sean dead in the eye, said, “Whatever,” when he broke up with her. In my head AshLee was a bit of a hero for that move, and she’s definitely still an icon, but I had forgotten just how nuts she is. She is so nuts. And so not afraid to share that fact. She straight up tells the cameras that she’s been following Graham the Nice Guy on social media and knows they would be a good match, so she decided to come on the show when she somehow figured out that he might be coming too, and her plan is to make him fall in love with her.
She locks him in with her crazy eyes pretty quickly, because her crazy eyes, along with the rest of her, are beautiful. But when Clare gets the first date card and innocently asks Graham if he might like to go with her, AshLee, um, loses her shit.
She locks herself in a bathroom to cry for a while, trash talks Clare, accuses Graham of not even being able to “stay loyal for 24 hours,” and then won’t speak to him when he tries to figure out what’s going on. She has known him for 24 hours.
After she calls Clare a slut, and Clare cries to a raccoon for a while, Clare offers to take someone else on the date so that AshLee can have the time with Graham. Clare, while still hard to listen to, is coming off like roses here, which will not be at all helpful when AshLee tries to kill her in her sleep.
Michelle K is a person I don’t know who is also terrifying: Perhaps Clare should have gotten Michelle K. on her side for protection because as Michelle Money says, “She has this look like she’s plotting to kill you and your whole family.” She most certainly does, but before any homicide gets underway, Michelle K. volunteers to leave the show during the first rose ceremony because she didn’t make a connection with anyone, then says a lot of weird stuff in the limo about maybe having already found love. None of that matters because the “Next Episode On” goes thusly:
1. Chris Harrison shows up at Michelle K.’s door.
2. Someone is in there that shouldn’t be.
3. That someone attempts to no longer be there.
Consider me intrigued.