SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the October 19 premiere episode of “The Bachelorette.”
“The Bachelorette” began its 18th season with leading lady Michelle Young at its helm. The fifth-grade teacher from Minneapolis, Minn. returned to the reality dating franchise after appearing on Matt James’ historic season of “The Bachelor.”
Michelle, who is biracial, agreed to be the Bachelorette in hopes of finding love like her own parents. After pep talks from her mom, dad and hosts (and former Bachelorettes), Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe, she prepared to meet her men.
Several suitors were given intro packages: Chris Sutton, a Los Angeles transplant from the South; Joe Coleman – who, like Michelle, is a biracial Minneapolis resident and loves basketball; Clayton Echard, a former collegiate athlete (and likely next season’s Bachelor); and Nayte Olukoya, who loves road trips with his dog.
Before Michelle met the men, Kaitlyn and Tayshia vetted the contestants. They went room-to-room and chatted before night one of filming. During their sweep, they checked their rooms and snooped through their luggage to search for any red flags.
While the search was in jest, they found concerning behavior from Ryan Fox, a farmer from San Jose, Calif. The pair found a series of notes and folders that contained instructions on how to be successful on the show, including how to get a good edit, avoid being a villain and how to get air time.
Without that insight, Michelle met her contestants. Thirty men arrived by limo to their isolation bubble in Palm Springs, Calif. They arrived ready to impress, with gimmicks, puns and props.
Several alluded to her teaching roots, including Clayton who invited Michelle to smack him with a ruler. Chris showed up on a school bus with shorts and a backpack, and Rodney Matthews showed up in an apple costume.
Rick Leach arrived as a food cart; Ryan drove in with an ice cream truck; Daniel Tully arrived on a toy fire truck and PJ Henderson one-upped him with a real fire truck. Brandon Jones rolled up on a bed, and Martin Gelbspan flipped in for his entrance.
The last arrival was Joe, who stopped Michelle in her tracks. She said he looked familiar, then revealed the two had previously messaged on Instagram. They connected over basketball before Joe ghosted her.
After his entrance, Michelle kicked off the cocktail party with a toast and began her rounds of conversations. During the party, she pulled Joe aside and confronted him on why he joined the cast. He apologized for not responding to her and blamed a flurry of projects and anxiety amid the George Floyd protests for his lack of communication. She said she needed to think about his future, and continued conversations with other men.
A highlight was her conversation with Ryan, where he served ice cream from his entrance truck. The two hit it off, but Michelle’s feelings were stunted when Tayshia and Kaitlyn revealed the notes they had found in his hotel room. Michelle confronted him, and he said the notes were made by a friend who wanted to prepare him, as he was unfamiliar with the franchise. She accompanied him to his room and reviewed the notes herself before sending him home.
The cocktail party continued. Nayte stood out as a frontrunner and received Michelle’s coveted first impression rose after impressing her with his vulnerability. Twenty-three others received roses during the first rose ceremony, but six were ultimately sent home: Brandon Kieffer, Bryan Witzmann, Edward Naranjo, Garrett Aida, Jack Russell and JoMarri Gable.
“The Bachelorette” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.