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The Best ‘Bachelor In Paradise’ Recap You’ll Ever Read: The Way To A Man’s Heart Is His Uncle

By Hannah Chambers | August 17, 2021
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Ah, Bachelor in Paradise. ABC’s answer to the question, “What if we took the feeling of being obligated to attend an expensive brunch the morning after a particularly brutal night out just to combat FOMO, and turned that into television?” A mere week after the emotional whiplash Bachelor Nation collectively suffered during the finale of Katie Thurston’s season of The Bachelorette, the franchise is back with even more drama. 

As the producers seem to be not-so-subtly hinting, this season of BiP isn’t a regular season. It’s a cool season. After sitting through countless seasons all dubbed “the most dramatic yet,” it’s pretty refreshing to get something that actually feels… dare I say… new? In the first trip to Paradise without Chris Harrison, the series has decided to move forward with four celebrity hosts: David Spade, Lil Jon, Tituss Burgess, and Lance Bass. They’ve also given Wells Adams a promotion from bartender to “Master of Ceremonies.” (Don’t worry, he’s still pouring what I can only assume are watered-down drinks for the thirsty singles.) David Spade gets the gig for night one, and when he walks out in Chris Harrison’s Paradise uniform of a casual blue button-down with rolled-up sleeves, I was temporarily horrified that he’d been tasked with carrying on business as usual. Fortunately, it’s immediately obvious that this isn’t the case, and even if he wasn’t serving up the exact right amount of humor, we would have the pleasure of thinking of Kuzco from The Emperor’s New Groove each time he nervously laughs in response to a contestant’s awkward behavior. What a blessing. 

DAVID SPADE: This will be the most dramatic Bachelor in Paradise in history. Or at least in the top 20. 

Someone should probably tell him that this is only season 7, but other than that, I would like to muster up my best Kris Jenner impression to let David Spade know, “You’re doing amazing, sweetie.” The only letdown thus far is the absence of the BiP theme song. 

You Get a Personal Rebrand! And YOU Get a Personal Rebrand!

Bad news for anyone who historically prefers BiP because the introductions to cast members we already know aren’t as cringe as the first impressions in a regular season: the introductions to cast members we already know were just as cringe as the first impressions in a regular season. As the Bachelor franchise continues to serve as America’s top-tier influencer training program, even the most familiar faces need to put in some legwork to set themselves apart for the rest. (Not for potential suitors, but for anyone who may be willing to toss them a discount code.) This means that for anyone whom the producers dubbed relevant enough to get a full-fledged introduction instead of a sad little walk onto the beach, an elaborate rebrand was required. 

Serena P. from Matt’s season lets us know that she would like to be known as “the girl who sent the Bachelor home.” Choosing your own nickname is typically a social faux pas, but in this instance, it works, because that was truly an iconic moment in the franchise’s history and should be honored as such. 

Ivan from Tayshia’s season would like us to know that he is “fully recovered now” after experiencing heartbreak, which is perhaps less of a rebrand and more of a naive statement sprinkled with a bit of foreshadowing. Queen Victoria from Matt’s season has been reborn (which, for those curious, is a process that consists of removing a cheap tiara from one’s head and ceremoniously chucking it onto the nearest lawn), and is no longer a “queen,” but a “blonde goddess.” This means that she spends her days “manifesting,” “balancing chakras” and donning a gold headpiece. She also hopes to live on “Mount Olymptus” someday, and eerily looks like Lady Gaga from some angles now. She’s also obsessed with stating “THE QUEEN IS DEAD,” lest you were led to believe that her rebrand has calmed her down at all. 

Mari, whom you may remember as the girl Katie Thurston hit with a vibrator in one of the most memorable “Can I steal you for a second?” moments in recent history, wants us to know that her “ass is real,” and that she’s also into Kenny. She’s also set on leaving Paradise with a ring on her finger, and while I’m no relationship expert, I do suggest she adjusts her expectations, because Kenny’s introduction had no mention of anything even vaguely related to finding love. Mainly, he would like us to know that he is naked and proud to be one of the “oldest to ever be in Paradise.” 

DAVID SPADE: So, you’re the 40-year-old who doesn’t look 40.
KENNY: I never thought that I would meet David Spade naked.
DAVID SPADE: Maybe you should have someone put some sunscreen down there. 

For those who spent the entirety of the episode wondering if Kenny was truly naked (meaning his microphone pack would have been literally tucked into his butt crack), I’m pleased to announce that you can finally sleep at night with the knowledge that at one moment in the episode, editors forgot to censor Kenny’s junk, and it was revealed that he was, in fact, wearing an article of clothing. Praise be. 

We also have Conor B., the resident White Guy With an Acoustic Guitar who is here to fill our “Anyway, here’s Wonderwall” needs. 

The last noteworthy rebrand comes from Kelsey, the girl who you’ll remember from Champagne-Gate during Peter’s season. She’s still white-knuckling a bottle of champagne, but in a development we all should have seen coming, she arrives to Paradise with not one, but two schticks. In addition to her commitment to popping bottles, Kelsey has taken to rubbing a laxative on her face before applying her makeup so that she doesn’t sweat. 

While these convoluted storylines are a pain to keep up with, the good news is that it seems as though the producers are having some fun with the lower thirds this season. So, instead of including the cast member’s name and season we know them from, they’ve stepped up the shadiness and now feature the particular brand of mess each cast member is known for, so I guess we have that to look forward to all season. 

They’re Here For The Right Reasons

In standard Bachelor format, each carefully-produced gimmick is typically balanced out by a story that’s actually relevant to the purpose of the show: finding love. This is when we learn that Grocery Store Joe, who previously found love in Paradise with Kendall but has since broken up, is back because he “believes in the process.” Poor guy. He claims to be in a great headspace and ready to get married. Grocery Store Joe even proclaimed that he and Kendall should both be comfortable with each other dating other people, but the season trailer has already teased Kendall’s return to BiP, so I guess we can probably prepare to watch him eat those words later. But not before we watch him word vomit while trying to hit on Serena, who is immediately literally whisked off her feet by Brendan.

We also have Abigail, a fan-favorite from Matt’s season and the first deaf contestant in Bachelor history. She mentioned that she’s looking forward to showing the guys that she’s not “just this fragile thing,” so hopefully this means we’ll get to watch her break a zillion hearts and run off into the sunset with the man of her dreams. So far she already has one suitor: Noah, the traveling nurse who seems to have finally landed on an appropriate facial hair style after dramatically shaving his ‘70s porn star ‘stache during Tayshia’s season. 

We then learn that Natasha from Peter’s season is planning to be “festive, flirty, and fun,” and that Tammy cannot tell the difference between David Spade and Dave Chappelle. I… don’t even know what to do with that one, so I’ll just sidestep it to let you know that she has her eye on Aaron. 

Wells Lays Down the Rules

After a few more cast members make it to the beach, Wells and David Spade gather everyone up to denote the episode’s formal transition from “hiii, I’m so excited to be here!” to “I will literally kill you if you get in the way of my pursuit of fame love.” Wells breaks down the lay of the land and explains that “You find love, or you go home. That’s it.” Since there are 10 guys and 13 girls, three women will go home after the first Rose Ceremony. May the cringeworthy flirting commence!

Tahzjuan (who is struggling with the nature aspect of Paradise just as much as she was during her first BiP stint, which… is fair) makes a beeline for Tre, whose uncle she just so happened to go on a date with. I hope these two go the distance, because I’d truly love to see how the family member tasked with making a Thanksgiving seating chart will handle that mess in the future.

Kenny solidifies his status as an elder millennial by immediately asking every woman he chats with how old she is. Although he seems to hit things off with Mari (who is 25), his excitement is palpable when he learns that Natasha is 33. Kenny then royally f*cks himself when he tells her that she’s “pretty close to 40,” because in case it wasn’t common sense, the way to a 33-year-old’s heart is not to remind her of her impending mortality. 

Abigail Gets A Swing At The First Date

Abigail snatches the first date card, which is honestly the best-case scenario, because in addition to being the fan favorite, she’s a self-aware queen who knows she gets a little anxious in group settings and can most effectively lay the mack down on Noah in a one-on-one situation. The pair enter a space full of piñatas, where Noah proves to have some weird “nice guy” energy by going on an unsolicited tangent about how he’s just the kind of guy who will pull out a chair for Abigail, and that he’s not going above and beyond for her, but instead acting at a baseline that all men should strive for. This is going to be a very long season. From there, Abigail and Noah have a painful conversation about friend-zoning and moving slowly, which either means they will literally never speak to one another again after this date, or be engaged by the third episode. 

Back at the beach, the other five million contestants who are not on a first date are fully spiraling. Luckily, it appears as though the combination of hot weather and tequila is finally sinking in, and someone has started to sing the Paradise theme song. Thank god. 

VICTORIA: I’m a goddess, and I’m going to find someone. I need the guy to come to me. Did I tell you about the five second rule? You smile to initiate the guy to come over. You literally have to do it for five seconds. *Awkward blinking and posing*
ALL OF THE MALE CONTESTANTS: *Do absolutely nothing*
VICTORIA: My goddess energy didn’t kick in. 

Tahzjuan takes Victoria’s law of attraction theory but makes it actually functional by straight-up telling Tre that she needs “someone who is going to go for it.” Tre immediately kisses her, and in a confessional, she admits that it was a great kiss and that he has better skills than his uncle. You love to hear it. 

At this point, literally everyone is making out with someone, and all of them believe that they’re the first to kiss in Paradise. Honestly, a reality show in which a bunch of sweaty people hook up in sweaty cabanas can be tough to watch even in precedented times, but there’s just something about living through a pandemic that makes me want to heavily breathe into a paper bag for the entirety of the spit-swapping montage. 

There is, of course, one dude who is just not in the mood for a makeout, and it’s Grocery Store Joe, who has been nervously pacing back and forth across the beach in the most concerning footwear choice of all time: Adidas slides paired with no-show socks. (As a BiP veteran, he points out that he made that decision not because he is a serial killer, but because the floors get “sandy.” To which I would like to note that this is a dating show, not Survivor.) Wells gives Joe a pep talk that includes calling him a “beached whale,” and convinces him to stick around a little longer even though Joe is clearly planning an Irish exit behind those sad puppy dog eyes. Wells is obviously an effective life coach, as it’s only a matter of minutes before Joe is making out with Serena. 

The Cast Makes History

The next morning, David Spade laces up his Asics and Wells applauds the crew for achieving the most amount of makeouts in the history of the show. (If you lost count, on-screen makeouts included: Connor and Marissa, Mari and Kenny, Aaron and Tammy, Tahzjuan and Tre, Abigail and Noah, and Joe and Serena.) Unfortunately, not everyone was feeling the love, and Kelsey is shocked to discover that dedicating too much screen time to chatting about the bottle of champagne she brought with her is not the most effective way to snatch up a “chiverous” man. 

With approximately three minutes left of the episode, Demi Burnett saunters in to ask a serious question: “Who wants to go to the Boom Boom Room?” Although the producers have clearly set her up to be the villain, as indicated by the eerie music that plays when she’s introduced, I have to give her props for making a noteworthy entrance. From her nail art that coordinates with her bikini and sarong, to the ease with which she approaches David Spade with a “Joe Dirt… what’s good?” it’s actually kind of fun to have a seasoned veteran in the mix, who serves a purpose other than crying over a recent breakup. Dare I say I’m actually looking forward to the love triangle between Demi, Mari, and Kenny that was teed up in the preview of the season? What could go wrong?!

Images: ABC / Craig Sjodin; _laren, bachelorfantake / Twitter

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