Hi all! Auntie M and I were talking the other day and she noted that the Bachelorette this season is officially The Oldest Bachelorette Ever — and that it might be an interesting discussion here on Corporette about dating while older (and a fun distraction from politics!). So, let’s discuss, ladies — are you watching The Bachelorette this season? What are your thoughts? Here’s Auntie M’s recap of the first episode… – Kat
Hello everyone! Auntie M here, taking a look at the premiere of the 16th season of The Bachelorette. I don’t know about you, but I can really use a break from, oh, everything going on in the actual real world; a lot of Overachieving Chicks are working hard, either from home or on-site, and we’re facing previously-unimaginable challenges. The future is very uncertain. Let’s join Clare Crawley as she tries to find love at a beautiful resort in Palm Springs, shall we?
Clare has a longstanding career as a hairdresser/stylist/colorist and has family and friends who clearly fill out her life. She has dogs. She hikes. And yes, she’s been on the Bachelor franchise a few times (including one that ended with her getting engaged), but I still find myself really rooting for her. She’s charming, and self-aware, and pretty open about herself and her life.
Also, at 39 years old, Clare is officially The Oldest Bachelorette Ever (in the history of the franchise). This is apparently a big deal. Personally, I love it — I met my now-husband when I was 40, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who can relate to making it through her 30s without finding “the one,” right? I’m totally down to watch a woman not that much younger than me try to find her happily ever after.
Let’s dive in.
Previously, on The Bachelorette: The last time we had a new Bachelorette was May 13, 2019. Remember May 2019? We hadn’t yet seen the first Democratic presidential candidate debate, but Joe Biden was already leading the polls; Avengers: Endgame continued to dominate the box office, because apparently we used to all be totally cool with sitting next to total strangers inside somewhere; and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, had recently given birth to son Archie. Simpler times, those.
Tonight, on The Bachelorette: DRAMA, allegedly. And maybe — spoiler alert — a big twist?
Prologue: Chris Harrison, after astutely noting that we are experiencing an “extraordinary time in history,” and assuring us that there has been “plenty of testing” in order to make this Bachelorette season happen, takes us back to February, when he asks Clare over FaceTime to be the next Bachelorette. Clare gives a tearful and enthusiastic “Of course!” and at one point Chris says “You realize by this time next year, there’s a really good chance you’ll be engaged…” and honestly my mind went blank and filled with static so loud I couldn’t hear myself think, because are we ever going to escape 2020, isn’t it still really March of 2020, and what even is time, really, anyway?
Ahem. Sorry. Got lost in one of those mild-to-moderate existential crises, again. Anyway. Back to the show …
Clare was announced on Good Morning America — live, in studio — as the next Bachelorette. There are photo shoots, callbacks to epic tell-off of Bachelor Juan Pablo in 2014, and Clare telling us in a voiceover that “I would not be the strong woman I am today if it wasn’t for every experience in my life, including those past relationships,” and “I’m proud to be sitting here at 39, because I know for a fact this is my time.” (Me: YES, Clare. Yes. Get it.) During a photo shoot on the beach, she chats with some Bachelor Nation fans who are excited to see her season, and I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t have done the same thing if I ever met Clare in person. There was also a really pretty shot of Clare doing yoga at sunset.
But then, as we all know, coronavirus came to America. It’s April 2020, and Clare is subject to California’s shelter-at-home order. In a cell-phone video, Clare asks: “Quarantine day 22 … I don’t know. Should I sit on the couch today, or maybe … sit on the couch?” She talks about the challenges of dealing with coronavirus and lockdowns; she makes a funny video involving her dog, a bathrobe, and a nail file; she visits her mom, who apparently has Alzheimer’s and dementia and is living in a care facility. Clare worries that her chance to be the Bachelorette might be over.
But then! Chris Harrison calls Clare with some good news: The Bachelorette will start filming at the La Quinta Resort and Club, near Palm Springs, CA. (Disclosure: I’ve been to this resort, and it’s seriously beautiful and luxurious.) She quarantines indoors, and there’s some manufactured drama over her coronavirus test results (like, we know the results, obviously), but finally Chris Harrison gives her the good news: “You’re 100% clear to go. Free and clear. Ready to be the Bachelorette.”
My Husband: “Did he just say she’s … Clare to go?”
Clare’s so ready for this: “Bring on the men!” She talks about how grateful she is that they have this bubble keeping them safe, that she’ll be able to hug and kiss the men. The music swells, the birds chirp, and Clare walks the grounds of the resort looking super-cute in desert-appropriate shorts and tank top.
Next, we get a collection of selfie videos from the contestants, making their way to La Quinta to quarantine and get tested. I’m happy to see the guys wearing masks! But I’m less happy to see one of the guys making a video of himself, singing with his dog, while he is obviously driving. Eyes on the road, buddy! Sheesh.
Once in their individual rooms, the guys pass the time in different ways: one plays chess against himself, another meditates, another reads a book on emotional intelligence and uses a face mask. One makes a fake Clare out of towels and hangs out with her in the bathtub, one says the isolation reminds him of Army Ranger school, and one particularly athletic contestant says this is the time to make a game plan. They all get tested. They’re all negative. They’re all very excited to meet Clare and get this party started, or maybe it’s just that they’re excited to get out of their rooms and see another human face? Probably a mix of both.
Producer, off-camera, to one contestant: “You’re clear to meet Clare!”
My Husband: They didn’t just say “You’re Clare”? Seems like a missed opportunity.
Let The Games Begin: Chris greets Clare at the front of whatever is standing in for the Bachelor Mansion. They both are grateful to be able to hug each other, and they go inside for a brief catchup-slash-opportunity to collect soundbites for future episodes and drama. Clare (again) expresses her gratitude to be able to hug the “smoking-hot” men, and she acknowledges that “obviously there’s bigger things in the world happening,” but that this is something she’s wanted for a long time.
Same, Clare. Same.
Chris brings up Clare’s father, who passed away from brain cancer in 2004, because apparently we need to make Clare cry before she meets the men? Before he died, Clare’s father left a DVD for her future husband, which Clare hasn’t seen. She tells Chris that it’s special to her, and she’s not going to share that moment with just anyone, and it’s overall very bittersweet. She says her dad would be proud of her for just showing up, and it becomes clear that “showing up” will be the catchphrase of this season.
Clare, foreshadowing: “I’m a woman that knows what I want. I follow my gut. I can pick my husband out the second I meet him.”
The Men Arrive: Some contestants try to make a genuine connection with the Bachelorette. Several of them appear to be wearing nice shoes and no socks. And then others do … these things:
• Pretend to be pregnant (apparently a callback to when Clare first got out of the limo in Juan Pablo’s season, in which she, too, pretended to be pregnant)
• Make silly lawyer jokes, like: “As an attorney, my job is to help the jury find a verdict, and you are guilty as charged, looking beautiful in this dress.”
• Make silly doctor jokes while wearing a stethoscope, like: “I’m here to save your life … your love life.”
• Have jobs like “Boy Band Manager” and wear a T-shirt that literally has pictures of Clare’s dogs dressed up in old-timey military costumes
• Pull up in a fully-loaded station wagon, “Clark Griswold-style,” to show their commitment to … family values?
• Squeeze her hands so hard it leaves a mark
• Jump through a paper sign that says “Your Future Husband!”
• Literally wear a straightjacket
• Literally wear a knight’s armor and chainmail
• Literally show up in a giant bubble ball and say: “I heard your journey was taking place in a bubble and I wanted to be prepared.”
• Bring moon pies
• Bring popcorn
• Do a fake-out proposal, with a ring box and everything, except instead of a ring, it’s a … novelty toy of a man’s bare backside making farting noises? I think? I don’t know. I also don’t know why she didn’t send him home immediately.
And then, we meet Dale, 31, a former pro football player from South Dakota. The music changes. They smile at each other a lot, and honestly, it seems pretty magnetic between them. He goes inside, and Clare says: “I knew it. I just feel like I met my husband. I’m shaking.”
Chris: “Did you just say you think you may have just met your husband?”
Clare: “Every other guy I felt confident with, but with Dale, everything else went dark around me. I don’t even know what I just said. Did I sound OK? Did I say anything at all?”
For the rest of the guys, Clare says that she tries to be present, because she knows what the guys went through to participate, and this is an opportunity that she doesn’t take for granted. (More foreshadowing, perhaps?)
The Cocktail Party: This is the time for Clare to try to get to know the guys as much as possible. She kicks off the party with a glass of champagne and a nice speech about how grateful she is for the guys to be there, and she can’t wait to get to know them. Cheers!
After some initial conversations, most of which are just, like, aggressively fine, we get to see Clare and Dale have their first chat, and honestly, it felt pretty real. Clare talked about how hard it was to see her mom only through a window, because of the pandemic. Dale said he could relate — his sister has underlying health issues, and he hasn’t really been able to see her. He told Clare he’s an empath, and Clare says she’s one, too. In an interview, Clare says that “everything feels so natural with Dale. There’s those butterflies, that nervousness, but that’s because I like him. I know what I’m looking for, and I’m big on energy and vibes.” (Again, foreshadowing?)
Clare’s dog Honey joins the party! As many guys as possible try to make a good impression on Clare by trying to get Honey to like them.
Over the course of the night, Clare receives gifts, including bejeweled flip flops, a game with origami pieces, and a drawing of herself by one of the contestant’s nieces. She plays a “strongman” carnival game, and goes bowling with the guy in the giant bubble ball and a set of giant bowling pins. One contestant asks if she’s seen My Cousin Vinny and didn’t seem to know how to respond when she said she hadn’t; another said Clare was “the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen, since my mother.” The straightjacket guy manages to stay in the straightjacket the entire party, without explanation.
The commercials for the premiere episode promised a lot of drama, and I have to say, the episode didn’t actually deliver on that. The “controversy” of the night occurred when Tyler C. accused Yosef of “inappropriately” messaging a girl on Instagram. While the guys threw allegations at each other, Clare seemed pretty unbothered, and pretty quickly went back to go talk to the other guys, leaving Tyler C. and Yosef to work it out. Good low-drama conflict resolution effort, Clare!
Kiss Count: Two. Clare’s first kiss of the night was with Blake, who apparently broke show rules by reaching out to her before the show started filming. Clare said the fact that he risked being cut from the show meant everything to her, and that he reached her when she was feeling particularly low, as her mother had recently suffered a fall.
The second kiss was with Dale, after she gave him the First Impression Rose. Clare told him that she’s talked to so many men, but he was the one she wanted to keep talking to. Dale told her he felt the same, and even as they went in for a kiss, Dale said he was nervous, but then immediately said he wasn’t nervous. And then they made out for a little bit.
Rose Ceremony: This must have been a really long party, because the sun is well up by the time the Rose Ceremony starts. Clare seems to feel especially bad eliminating anyone tonight, considering all they had to go through just to get on the show. But rules are rules, and Clare hands out roses. The guys who didn’t get roses included a heavily-tattooed guy with a literal “open heart” tattoo on his chest, and Tyler C., the contestant who accused Yosef of inappropriate Instagram messaging behavior. Clare thanks the remaining men, and tells them that “it’s going to get a lot harder, and a lot better.”
Coming Up on the Bachelorette: Lots of kissing. Cliffside screaming, carnival ride riding, guys maybe stripping, guys probably fighting, and lots (and lots) of crying.
Also: Clare letting us all know, in an apparent reference to a contestant behaving badly, that she’s the oldest Bachelorette, and 39 and single, because she didn’t settle for Men. Like. THAT.
Also: Apparently Clare blows up The Bachelorette.
ALSO: A black limo pulls up to the resort, but we don’t know who’s inside. Could it be … this person?
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to finding out!