Just in time for anyone who’s already sick of pretending to be a better person in 2019, The Bachelor is back! Instead of lying to yourself and wasting money on a gym membership, why not watch a three-hour premiere that’s 80 percent virginity jokes and 20 percent video footage of ab condensation? Your journal can wait—this is the first virgin Bachelor we’re talking about here, people, and he might end up doing sex on national TV.
The Bachelor franchise has a reputation for being old-fashioned and out of touch. A house full of gorgeous, majority white Laurens compete over a barely sentient Ken doll with commitment issues. The series feels like an artifact from a bygone era when a 23-year-old’s main personal and professional aspiration might be marrying a stranger named Chris. To complete this anachronistic fairy-tale fantasy, Bachelor franchise architects litter the show with saccharine romantic signifiers, red roses and fantasy suites and an entire Costco’s worth of candles.
The Bachelor dates the entire mansion, getting to know each contestant by whisking her away on lavish day trips, or giving her “gifts” that are actually just ads for the series’ sponsors. This isn’t what dating is actually like, which is probably why Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants don’t actually fall in love. Given the franchise’s shit success rate, anyone on the show who insists that they are there to fall in love is blatantly lying to you. Contestants pretend to race to the altar so that they can engage in the actual, real-life challenge of becoming a reality TV star and sponsored content queen. In other words, The Bachelor is far more modern than it lets on. And this season, helmed by Bachelor Colton Underwood, is notably of the times.
The season premiere is a uniquely 2019 concoction, made up of scammers, professional content creators, and multiple aspiring reality TV villains. And in keeping with our collective hunger for content that appeals to the lowest common denominator, this season unabashedly charts one man’s journey towards vaginal intercourse. The producers are well aware that Colton Underwood’s virginity is the most interesting thing about him, and they will not let a single scene pass without mentioning the Bachelor’s unpopped cherry.
Colton Underwood is a perfect Bachelor, complete with an NFL pedigree and some vague post-football career in philanthropy. For this all-American beefcake, ABC has assembled a squad of gorgeous would-be brides. Half of the contestants seem to be amateur surfers, and the other half are reigning pageant queens. During their introductory videos, most of these aspiring Underwoods address their future fiancé’s chastity.
Miss Alabama isn’t a virgin, but she thinks “sex is a big deal,” which makes Colton’s virginity “so awesome.” Heather has never kissed anyone, but seems to lead a fulfilling life running up and down the beach. Demi, who greets America while straddling some sort of all-terrain vehicle in a full athleisure set, thinks that Underwood probably ought to try some sex. Or as she puts it, “If you only ever have a vanilla cupcake, how do you know you don’t like chocolate? How do you know you don’t like strawberry?” Demi’s mom is in federal prison for embezzlement, but she’s getting out soon! Other standouts include Kirpa, a dental hygienist who tells a patient all about her designs on Underwood while her hands are deep inside her mouth, and Nicole, who lives in Miami and loves her autistic brother and poses on a rock in espadrilles.
In a variation of the franchise theme “let’s pour some water on those abs,” Colton Underwood bursts into his season with an extended shower scene. First he’s glistening outside, although it’s hard to tell exactly where the water is coming from (God?). After an ab slow pan, Underwood moves into his shirtless workout routine before showering again, this time indoors. The Bachelor proceeds to narrate his life story, from his childhood at a Christian school—no shit—and being teased as “the fat chunky weird kid” to football semi-stardom. He talks about falling in love with Becca on The Bachelorette, and reveals that he was “ready to lose my virginity to Becca.” Unfortunately, he didn’t make it to the fantasy suite. We’re treated to footage of Colton meandering through a national park with a bunch of dogs, looking contemplative and skipping rocks.
Next, Colton sits down with host Chris Harrison to discuss his “controversial” casting. Harrison, with a stunning lack of subtlety and tact, immediately asks the star about his polarizing virginity. While Underwood is discussing the “stigma” around being a virgin (“Oh he’s not romantic, oh he’s not going to be a good Bachelor”), Harrison interjects, “He’s not a man.” Excuse me? Colton goes on to explain his personal requirements for doing the deed: “I’m not waiting for a ring, I’m not waiting for marriage, I’m waiting to be in love. I’m waiting for it to feel right.” Who among us isn’t waiting for the perfect televised opportunity to swipe their V-card?
After 26 years of not doing it, it’s finally time for Colton to meet the person he’s going to have sex with, otherwise known as his future wife. As Underwood and Harrison await the limos full of women, the Bachelor opens up about his “pregame jitters,” preparing viewers for a season full of unwelcome sports metaphors. Demi races out of the car in a lovely “banana yellow” two-piece, and tells Colton that, “I have not dated a virgin since I was 12, but I’m excited to give it another shot.” As the night goes on, Underwood will have the same response whenever anyone brings up his virginity: “Oh, boy.”
Underwood has a fairly lackluster opening night. His main moves appear to be whispering “she is gorgeous” every time he meets a hottie and complimenting women’s eyes right before he makes out with them. He also engages in Bachelor word salad bingo, praising the “strong independent women” who raised him and insisting that the scariest thing he’s ever done is “open up about who I am.” At one point, clearly beginning to spiral, he exclaims, “I’m dating six times the amount of women that I’ve dated in my entire life.”
But of course, this premiere isn’t really about Colton. It’s about the women who have flown in from across America to make a lasting first impression, whether it be great or totally deranged. One contestant dons a full sloth costume, prompting her competitor Tahzjuan to opine, “What are you gonna tell your grandchildren, I pulled up in a sloth costume? You have to think these things through.” Someone presents Underwood with a picture of their dogs Photoshopped together; another arrives in a horse-drawn carriage and proceeds to limp around the mansion all night in a single shoe while her Prince Charming makes out with Miss North Carolina (she says he “kisses very well for a virgin,” BTW).
At least three women attempt to stand out by introducing themselves to Underwood in another language. But no one succeeds quite like Bri, the model who has already gone viral with her fake Aussie accent. The perfect 30-or-so seconds of television go something like this: Bri walks up to Colton and introduces herself. He compliments her on her accent, which she explains is Australian. Cut to Bri addressing the camera, confessing, “I’m not really Australian, but you have to do what you can to stand out.” Can we please give this woman all of Green Book’s Golden Globes?
The Bachelor franchise continues to push the boundaries of what is and is not a real human job; contestants include a dog rescuer, a phlebotomist, a content creator, and the aforementioned sloth. Catherine, a DJ from Fort Lauderdale, quickly distinguishes herself as the season’s first villain. She starts out by giving Underwood her dog, announcing that, “She’s going to be living with Colton” for the duration of their stay. She then dismisses all of the other contestants as “beautiful statues,” clearly lacking the substance and intellectual acuity of a DJ from Fort Lauderdale.
Catherine commits the cardinal sin of “stealing” Colton from another contestant an unprecedented three times, talking to Underwood a total of four times over the course of the night. Obviously this doesn’t go over well with the other contestants, many of whom were patiently waiting for their first chat while Catherine was monopolizing Colton’s time. After her second steal, IT risk consultant Onyeka confronts Catherine and tells her that she “looks a little desperate.” The two girls hug it out, only for Catherine to steal Underwood yet again, officially making her the most hated woman in the house.
While he appears to have decent chemistry with a number of girls, and makes out with a handful of them, Colton ultimately gives the first impression rose to Hannah G. in a massive win for content creators across the globe. He tells her that she reminds him of home, and they make out a ton. At this rate, our first virgin Bachelor might be the horniest star in franchise history.