I have been excited about Michelle’s season since they announced it at Matt’s finale! She’s style, she’s grace, and she’s shaping the young minds of children, a true midwestern queen!
Overall this episode left me pretty satisfied. Michelle’s men are way hotter than their photos, (they always are) they have legit jobs listed on their chyron’s and I loved how much they gassed up Michelle, even when she wasn’t around. I’m sure that last one was at least partially producer encouraged, but I’ll take it. On to the recap!
We start the episode in a classroom, as a reminder that Michelle is a working woman, ok? She teaches fifth-graders and she loves it. The kids pretend to do a math problem and then immediately go into asking questions about Michelle’s time on the show. Listen, if this ridiculous show is still on by the time I have kids, I will 100 percent be that parent signing my kid up for these types of segments.
Next, we get a montage of Michelle’s childhood. I’m really glad we got this insight into Michelle’s childhood and family. Normally this is a segment where the lead talks about how their heart got broken on the show previously, but we didn’t get any flashbacks of her time on Matt’s season. I’m thankful for that. Matt’s season was a tough watch and knowing that he dumped Michelle for a woman who still hasn’t quite explained what she’s learned since her Antebellum South party days is enough. We don’t need to relive it with flashbacks.
Anyway, I love that we got a bit about Michelle’s childhood, old photos, and her talking with her parents. Often when Black women are at the center of love stories we see tragedy before they’re able to find “the one.” Michelle says there isn’t a thing she would change about her childhood and that was so powerful to me.
We follow Michelle to the resort of the season and once again the producers try to convince us that Minessota has some flavor. I’m not saying it doesn’t, but the resort is a reminder that we are very much still living in COVID times. I miss the travel from previous seasons, but based on the previews, it looks like we’ll be getting some state-wide travel, so that’s exciting.
Next, we get a montage of self-shot videos introducing some of the men. Some white man is calling himself a “California Cajun man,” he also admits he’s a mama’s boy, so I encourage Michelle to steer clear of him. Joe’s painting an investment property, cornfed Clayton from good ol’ Columbia, Missouri is with his mom, Brandon J. is talking about how much he wants a family and we get a nice Canadian man, which leads us to a segment I did not like.
Before the night begins, hosts Kaitlyn and Tayshia knock on a few doors to check out the men’s rooms. The goal: to find some dirt on these men. It’s true you can tell a lot about a person by how they keep their home, or in this case, their hotel room, but this stunt on night one? These men have probably dealt with enough at this point. They’ve been in quarantine, they’re nervous, they don’t know what to expect, and probably unsure what they can say no to. I didn’t love the idea of their privacy being invaded and I also don’t think this would’ve gone over well if Chris Harrison was going through the luggage of twentysomething-year-old women.
Of course, the sleuthing led to some tea. Raisin farm Ryan, who I said was sus as soon as I saw him on my TV screen, was hiding notes that essentially laid out the best way to ensure he stayed from week to week. It seemed weirdly in-depth too, but more on that later.✓
Limo entrances are always so hit or miss for me. Some seasons, I love them and don’t want them to end, other times it feels like they drag on. Michelle’s were ok, the cadence was off. Some men had awkwardly long entrances, others were so quick if you blinked you missed it. Here’s the thing, there are 30 of these guys, there’s a reason some of them got the quick edit. That’s exactly what some of them are about to get in this recap too. Here were my favorites:
Nayte was the first one out of the limo and my guy said his entire name. We love to see it! Personally, I don’t trust men with this name, at least not right away, and we can thank my ex for that. However, Nayte is very cute and punny, Michelle seemed to be feeling him too.
My man Romeo came in speaking the sexist French words I’ve ever heard. Oh my goodness. Nuff said.
Rodney looked like a big teddy bear and a big apple at the same time. So cute.
Beyond that, I feel like my show notes capture my first impressions of (almost) each guy better than anything I could write for this recap, so here’s a peep inside my train of thought while watching the entrances.
- Jack—are we going to be a groomsman?
- Clayton getting whipped feels like reparations.
- Jamie is not 32, he is 52. These are facts.
- Chris G. has a great speaking voice.
- Alec, no.
- Will, a bilingual king.
- Pardeep is so cute!
- Olu, you can be my number 1 pick, my man won’t mind.
- Who is this man with an alleged broken foot?
- Bryan, what is you doing baby?
- LT, plz 🥴
- Rick, dis tew much
- Ryan 😒
- “I change lives one slice at a time.” No, you do not Peter.
- So they could get one man a school bus, but not a fire truck for Daniel?
- LMAOOOOOOO PJ GOT AN ACTUAL FIRETRUCK
- Brandon, no shoes in the bed! Not even Js.
- Edward should have gone first with that deep breathing exercise.
- Joe looks like a budget Dale with a bald fade. How did these low-down, dirty producers find a man that’s been in Michelle’s DMs?
As the cocktail party begins I couldn’t help but notice how great Michelle was at remembering names. Then I remembered she is a teacher and I just assume teachers are good at that sort of thing.
Michelle’s toast was a great challenge for the men. She encouraged them to stay open, vulnerable and show their true selves. It’s night one and I feel like she’s not just saying “I want a husband at the end of this,” she’s speaking into the room the qualities she expects in a partner and how she wants to be treated.
After her toast, Jamie goes to talk with her first and it feels like they’re vibing. Next, we see her with Peter the pizzapreneur and honestly y’all, I don’t trust a man that feels the need to remind me he’s Italian five seconds after meeting. Also, he’s the pizza guy, but fed Michelle cannolis? Feels like a missed opportunity to me.
Joe is waiting in the wings excited that Michelle remembered him. Michelle pulls him and in his ITM (in the moment, also known as the on-camera interview portion with producers) he says that them both being from Minnesota gives him a leg up. Which is true, but also not true. Them both being biracial people from the same area is a comfort factor at first, but as Michelle gets to know other men and builds deeper connections, my guess is that will matter less.
Michelle calls him out for ghosting her, which leads Joe to reveal that they were talking around the time of George Floyd’s death in May 2020. Joe says that he had a property near the area where Floyd was killed and that the protests and pure chaos in the area left him checked out of their potentially budding relationship. This explanation didn’t quite seem like enough for Michelle. She reminds him that she was experiencing difficult emotions as well and talking to her students through that moment. She says she didn’t expect him to be ready for a relationship given all that was going on, but that she did expect him to communicate what was going through his mind. Again, I appreciate that she’s holding these men to the fire, telling them exactly what she expects from them.
I appreciated how firm Michelle was with Joe. I also think it was slightly unfair. Chances are Joe ghosted around the same time Michelle was in talks with producers to go on Matt’s season (albeit beginning talks). Maybe it isn’t quite the same thing, but May of last year was a MESS. Black people were dying, white people were pretending to care about racism, most of us were stuck in the house. I could see why Michelle was let down by his lack of response. Especially since it was during a time where we all felt some sense of loneliness and confusion. I think some more empathy would’ve been nice. Just chalk it up to bad timing.
Their conversation ends with no resolution, but we know dude ain’t going nowhere.
Michelle spends time with a poet whose name I forget, Rick and Rodney. Meanwhile, Raisin Ryan (I’m calling him this because his family owns a raisin farm) is complaining about not getting any time, a play I’m sure he wrote in his playbook before coming on the show. Eventually, she pulls him and they go have ice cream, which actually isn’t ice cream at all, it’s a shaved ice truck! I know a Kona Ice truck when I see one, another lie for Raisin Ryan.
Ryan shares that he coaches a Special Olympics team (probably another lie), and says something about how hard it has been to find down-to-earth women on his own. When dudes say stuff like this, I have one question: Where are you looking? It cannot be that hard to find, maybe you’re the problem Ryan?
Kaitlyn and Tayshia interrupt Michelle’s time with the men to tell her about the fuck shit Ryan has been doing. Meanwhile, Ryan is going on and on about how great his time with Michelle was. The women share that Ryan took detailed notes about not being a villain, pretending to care about Michelle’s teaching career, etc. When the camera zoomed in on the notes earlier, there were notes about Jason Tartick and how he was a dark horse during Beeca Kufrin’s season.
Here’s the thing, if a man took all this time to take notes on the previous seasons, why would he be dumb enough to leave them out in the open? No, I did not like that Kaitlyn and Tayhsia went through the men’s things, but my assumption is they had to have known what they were looking for. This means either Ryan ran his mouth too much to a producer, producers went through his things as part of “protocol,” or somehow the women he tries to blame the notes on, tipped off production. My guess? Production found the notes during a routine room search. Contestants aren’t allowed to have phones or a few other things during their time on the show, so it wouldn’t be that crazy if their things got searched upon arriving at the hotel.
When Michelle pulls Ryan aside, he is dumbfounded and says he doesn’t know anything about the show so he was just doing basic research to know what to expect and about Michelle. He then blames it on a friend’s wife and Michelle asks if she can see the notes. They head to his room and she quickly kicks him out so she can read them. His notes contain phrases that are said often on the show, something about Ben Higgins, reminders for Ryan to not be an asshole so he can remain well-liked. It’s a mess and there’s really no talking your way out of it. I can understand doing some research on Michelle and having those notes handy, especially if you’re a nervous person, but what was being read and shown to the audience was some deep-dive, trying to rig the system shit. When will contestants learn that it’s okay to play the game, but it is not okay to be so loud about it?
Michelle says she’s not okay with starting a relationship on red flags, he asks for another chance and says “You’ll need to respect that I am going to choose to listen to my red flags,” he asks a third time if he can make it up somehow and is shot down again. Ryan, buddy, no means no, it does not mean try and convince her. Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out!
If somehow a future contestant is reading this, please know producers have the power to ruin you, at least for a moment, so act accordingly.
Michelle returns to the men who are left and explains what happened. Nayte grabs her soon after and she pushes him to be vulnerable and open up about his family. He says a bunch of random things about his family dynamics that feel disjointed and they kept speaking over one another.
Next, the first impression rose enters the chat. I was kind of surprised by how many men knew what it was. We’re definitely past the point of contestants acting as if they’ve never seen this show or know anything about it.
Michelle grabs the rose and then grabs Nayte. If you’re keeping track, Nayte was the first one out of the limo, he received the first impression rose, and the first kiss of the night. Nayte’s here to stay y’all. Not sure I trust him quite yet, but we gon’ see.
As the sun is coming up, the men take their places for the rose ceremony. A few men are worried about the lack of time they had with Michelle, per usual. The first rose goes to Jamie, which was a bit surprising to me. They definitely seemed to hit it off, but I wouldn’t have guessed their time together went that well. My faves, Romeo, Olu, Rodney, and Pardeep all get a rose along with 17 other men. Including Joe, who gets the final rose, of course. Eight men are sent home: Ryan, Edward, Ryan, JoMarri, Jack, Garrett, Bryan, and Brandon K. We see some of them tell her goodbye, but it seems like gone are the days where we get eliminated contestants outside crying while the contestants who made the cute are making toasts in the background.
The episode ends with a look at the upcoming season. Looks like we’re getting a hyper-masculine Viking date, a classroom/are you smarter than a fifth-grader date, a racing date, basketball dates, some (likely manufactured) drama, and Nayte hate which feels deserved in my opinion. Something is off about him, it’s just a feeling.
That was the episode! What did you think? Which men stick out to you? Who is there “for the wrong reasons”? I want to hear your thoughts!