Welcome back to Paradise, people! Never mind that it’s absolutely blasphemous that ABC would air any sort of summer-themed content after the fall equinox. The last thing I want to see as I nose dive directly into October (and any pumpkin flavored abomination within 50 feet of me) is a hot person in swimwear. It should be illegal. I’m ready to drown myself in flannel and oversized sweaters; I don’t need to be reminded of the shape of bodies by looking at Serene’s near perfect form for the next 4-6 weeks. ABC, why can’t you let us have this one nice thing?
For those of you who are new to Paradise, well then, welcome to this hedonistic den of sin that ABC calls a beach! Throw all your previous Bachelor franchise knowledge out the door, because this show is none of that. Instead, be prepared to spend four hours of your week watching a singular cold sore pass through an entire population at an alarming rate. It’s like a fun human experiment, except with less science and more tequila. Far too much tequila. Let’s jump into it!
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Very early on, I’m clued in that this season of BiP is distinctly different from the other seasons—and not just because Jesse Palmer tells us that if we listen closely enough we can still “hear the sound of crying.” No shit. The spectral energy generated from Ashley Iaconetti’s tears alone would be enough to curse the land and ensure that nothing grows above or below.
No, that stretch of beach is being haunted by something far more sinister than just human tears. It starts with the intros. Normally the intros are a time when contestants poke fun at the serious exteriors ABC crafted for them during their runs on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. Perfect examples of this are Evan Bass, the erectile dysfunction doctor, peeling a banana mockingly for the cameras, and Becca Kufrin dropping her engagement ring in a glass of champagne à la First Wives Club. Unlike when they were trying their hands at polygamy, the contestants are now fully aware of their public narratives and are playing right into them. It’s not serious; it’s all fun and games!
But there’s nothing fun about these intros. Instead, we’re assaulted with footage that makes a great case for why God should release another divine flood. Hunter, whose one memorable quality is apparently that she suffers from gastrointestinal issues, starts the episode off by taking a staged shit. Johnny, who just left Gabby and Rachel’s season minutes ago, cannot ignore the siren call of the Floridian blood running through his veins, and begins rapping. Jacob comes out wearing only a giant banana leaf. Jill packs a stuffed version of her cat and then feeds it a bowl of cream. Shanae makes out with a shrimp. Kira the “MD” (I need to see this medical license) drinks one margarita and then takes a blowtorch to her medical career with every word that comes out of her mouth. (I will never forget watching a supposed medical professional claim to treat any ailment with a “double dose” of her breasts, and then proceed to give herself a UTI by grinding into the sand).
One thing is clear: if, during past seasons of BiP, the contestants were in on the joke, this season they are the joke. They’ve lost all creative control over their own narratives and are now just dancing for our own demented entertainment.
Michael, the daddy-turned-zaddy, is the first to notice that something is amiss. He steps onto the beach and can feel the wrong-ness permeating from the other contestants. It’s like when Odysseus watched all his men be turned into pigs. Michael thought he would be surrounded by attractive, emotionally intelligent singles, and instead finds himself among circus animals.
ANDREW: First impressions of everyone?
Oh, sweetie. It will only get worse from here.
When Crazy Met Crazier
If Michael thought the first few hours of Paradise were crazy, it’s nothing compared to the cataclysmic force of Shanae and Lace meeting each other. They’re both chaos demons in their own right, and should never have been allowed to meet. In fact, I would not be surprised if their meeting is what caused the plane to go down in Lost. Their love story may not be good for mankind, but it is certainly good for my entertainment. It’s still early, but this might be my favorite love story to come out of Paradise yet.
For those who don’t remember Lace: SHAME ON YOU for forgetting such a national treasure. Lace was on Ben Higgins’ season of The Bachelor and is representative of the kind of contestant I would be on the franchise. Drunk, hateful, eyelashes askew, and probably about to cry in 2.5 margaritas? Hello, it’s me.
Then there’s Shanae, whose return to our television screens can only be the result of some dark séance gone awry. You can practically smell the sulfur in the air.
But like attracts like, and these two immediately gravitate toward one another. They become support systems for each other in the way that only two emotionally stunted barn animals can. When Lace is feeling down about the fact that she’s 32, and her Paradise debut happened when most of these girls were still learning how to use a tampon, Shanae is there to give her the pep talk she really didn’t need. It’s like when you coax your friend back out to the bars after she vomited on the street and took a nap in the bathroom stall. Perhaps we should let sleeping dogs stay passed out.
Lace has never met a one-drink minimum that she didn’t obliterate, and I’m happy to see that a six-year absence from the franchise hasn’t changed her. After Shanae trickles some flat champagne down her throat to get her to rise and shine, Lace is stumbling back toward the beach, ready to feed off the life force of some unsuspecting man. Like a black widow weaving its web, she decides to lie and tell the guys that it’s her birthday as a ploy for attention. To this I say: ONLY RESPECT FOR MY PRESIDENT. My god, I love this woman.
Does it work for her? Absolutely, if you define success as Logan calling her by the wrong name and her ending the night losing an eyelash crying in the confessionals. But it certainly worked for me and my personal enjoyment. Keep up the good work, Lace. You’re doing amazing, sweetie.
The sunscreen hasn’t even fully soaked into Jacob’s exposed ass cheeks before the hookups commence. Sparks are flying all over that beach. Well, it’s some combination of sparks and the obscene amount of tequila Wells is pouring down their throats. I’ll spare you the gory details, and instead give you my immediate reactions to these couplings (spoiler alert: I’m sickened).
Serene & Brandon: are kismet, I’m calling it now. They may have nothing in common beyond their poreless, perfect faces, but they are kismet nonetheless. The fates demand they procreate (or at least get to second on that day bed), lest an angel lose its wings.
Shanae & Jacob: I’ve never seen two people who deserved each other more. It’s wild listening to a man in a loin cloth talk about how he’s here to find his future wife and then, in the next breath, worry that feeling up Shanae’s collarbone will end in a chubby. Or, as he so eloquently put it, his palm leaf may start sprouting into a full-blown tree.
Teddi & Andrew: Guys, they ain’t it. I hate to say this of my boyfriend Andrew, but this thing he has with Teddi is not cute, it’s awkward. He gets the first date card of the season, and then spends the next seven minutes of programming fumbling the English language. I have seen more romantic finesse at an eighth grade dance, and those things were pretty much just couples aggressively dry-humping to Usher while the guy tries to hide the wet spot on his khakis. They’re two hot people. This shouldn’t be so hard for them!!
Jill & Romeo & Kira: Yes, there’s already a love triangle, but I’m using the definition of that term in the loosest way possible. A love triangle implies that those involved in said triangle are desirable in some way. That is not the case here. Let me introduce the players: Jill, a woman who won’t date you if your astrological sign isn’t compatible with her cat’s; Romeo, an average-looking man with a less than average personality; and Kira, a medical professional who definitely prescribes a finger up the butt as the cure-all treatment for any ailment (again, I would like to see proof of that license).
Romeo knows Kira from college but had a “connection” with Jill before filming. Jill is worried that Kira will ruin her chances with Romeo, though I’m not sure why she feels so threatened. She seemingly had no prior knowledge of Romeo and Kira’s shared history, but she still treats Kira like a caged animal nonetheless. I can’t even verbalize the confrontation between Kira and Jill, because it makes no sense. My roommate’s dog has better conflict management skills, and her idea of gaining the upper hand in a confrontation is to hump her opponent into submission. When they finally stop screaming at each other, Jill runs off to sob in a sand dune, and Kira rebounds with Casey by rubbing his nipples until she feels something again.
I get the impression that there is something that happened between Kira and Romeo that no one is telling Jill. There is also something that no one is telling Romeo, which is that both of these women are unhinged. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate unlikeable women (hello Lace). But Kira and Jill seem like the type who think re-enacting a Gillian Flynn novel is a fun anniversary surprise. My advice for Romeo? RUN.
Sierra & Michael; Michael may be an old dog, but you can teach him a new trick. You guys, what the fuck was Michael doing in the time between Katie’s season and Paradise? My god, that man is attractive. I did once write in a recap that Michael looks like the kind of guy whose idea of foreplay involves softly crying to Hallmark movies, and I am now walking back that statement. This is me eating crow.
Early in the episode, he seemed alarmed by all the youths on the beach. After watching Jacob try to rub his exposed ballsack on every bikini-clad woman in his general vicinity, Michael lets out a fearful “I’m too old for this shit.” This is how I know Michael is about to end up with a 21-year-old. Case in point: he hits things off with 25-year-old Sierra, and can’t stop complimenting her skin. He’s like, “it’s so… smooth… and glowing!” WE GET IT, MICHAEL. Women your own age (38) have some waning elasticity in their faces. Must you drag us old spinsters in our 30s so publicly?! And, FYI pal, the reason why Sierra’s skin is glowing is because she’s still on her parents’ insurance. Call me when she has to start paying for her own pap smear and then we’ll talk.
On that note, I’m outtie friends! See you betches next week!
Images: ABC/Craig Sjodin; Giphy (5)