Welcome to “Here for the Wrong Reasons,” where each week I’ll be recapping all of the champagne-guzzling and petty “Can I steal you for a second?”s of Season 7 of “Bachelor in Paradise.” Nothing boosts your confidence about your own love life like watching a bunch of desperate 20-somethings competing for a stranger’s affection! Check in every Tuesday (or Wednesday, because this season is wilding) for episode recaps and updates on your favorite “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” rejects’ journeys to become Instagram influencers find love.
It’s been one week since Katie *cough* settled *cough* for Blake, and to forget that travesty of a finale, I’ve shifted my focus to the summer’s silliest, horniest and obviously, most dramatic show: “Bachelor in Paradise” (BIP). If you’re a die-hard fan like me, you’ve had “Almost paradise … we’re knocking on heaven’s door” stuck in your head for the past several days, and you’re on the edge of your seat to find out which of your favorite former contestants are going to be baring it all—I meant emotionally, you pervs—on the beach at the Playa Escondida resort in Sayulita, Mexico.
If you’re not familiar with this Bachelor franchise spin-off, it’s essentially reject headquarters. Contestants who were sent home by previous Bachelors and Bachelorettes are selected to head down to Mexico for what is more or less an all-expenses-paid vacation, except they have to, like, get emotionally f*cked over and everything. Basically, the show is full of tears, tequila and tan lines—who could complain about that? (Well, me, because that’s my job, but you get the point.) Since I was tragically not invited down to “Paradise” this summer, here are my thoughts on the Season 7 premiere.
This season, we’ve got an interesting cast of characters, ranging from fan favorites like Ivan Hall and Serena Pitt to nobodies like Deandra Kanu and Maurissa Gunn (I’m still not convinced that those two were ever on the show, but then again, I tuned out for most of Pilot Pete’s season). We’ve also got Kelsey Weier, aka Ms. Champagnegate; Kenny Braasch, the boy band manager; Brendan Morais, who didn’t deserve Tayshia; and Abigail Heringer, the sweetest person to enter this franchise. Ever the Nashville native, Connor “the bad kisser” Brennan has decided to make this season his launching pad for his music career, because f*ck the eighth grade students he teaches, am I right?
Karl, the motivational speaker, is here too, and he’s immediately a jackass to the first woman who speaks to him, because duh. I’m jealous of Noah Erb—who is sporting less of a mustache than at the beginning of Tayshia’s season, but more of one than when he left—because he tells the camera, “I have no idea who Karl is.” Enjoy that feeling while it lasts, honey.
I regret to inform you that Victoria Larson, aka “Queen Victoria” from Matt James’ season, aka someone I’d very much like to punch in the face, is also here but she’s rebranded herself as “Goddess Victoria” this time. This is honestly fitting, since she already had a god complex. She’s dyed her hair blonde, which she thinks makes her a new and much cooler person, and I think this is wonderful as a proud brunette because we do not claim her. Goddess Victoria can’t even pronounce “Mount Olympus” correctly, so she is taking the role of a blonde seriously. Kudos, I guess.
The two most exciting arrivals (for anyone who has good taste and is attracted to men, that is) are Joe Amabile, better known as Grocery Store Joe (GSJ), and Ivan. Turns out, sweetie cutie Ivan also has a banging bod which must be making Tayshia regret her life choices. I don’t care if he was using his niece for attention in his intro video; it kickstarted my ovaries all the same. We’ve also got our beloved GSJ, who is back for “Paradise” redemption. He was previously on BIP Season 5, where he began dating Kendall Long, though the two split up in January 2020. Tragically, he doesn’t own a grocery store anymore, but we love him anyway.
You didn’t think you could have a typical Bachelor franchise show in 2021, did you? With the pandemic and Chris Harrison’s departure, the past few seasons have looked a little different, and this season of BIP is no exception.
While former Bachelorettes Kaitlyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams took over hosting duties for Katie’s season of “The Bachelorette” (and will do so for Michelle’s upcoming season this fall), the higher-ups at ABC decided to throw us a much bigger curveball for “Paradise.” Comedian David Spade, rapper Lil Jon, NSYNC singer Lance Bass and actor Tituss Burgess will be splitting Chris Harrison’s former role of welcoming contestants to the beach and maybe popping in for a rose ceremony every episode or two. All I can say is … what kind of drugs are the ABC execs on? I think I speak for most of Bachelor Nation when I say that we don’t want outsiders invading our ~safe reality TV space~. Like, we don’t need to be thinking about “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” or getting “Bye Bye Bye” stuck in our heads while we’re trying to focus on all of the drama that’s going down on the beach. Clearly, they’re trying to boost ratings, but news flash, ABC: no one is thinking, “Wow, David Spade is hosting! Now I’m going to tune in to this vapid reality show just so I can watch his try-hard stand-up routines fall flat!” Not quite the enticement you think he is, guys. That’s the issue with casting “celebrity” (and I use that word very liberally) entertainers as hosts; viewers watch this show because the contestants’ drama is comedic in and of itself, not because we want to watch C-listers try to revamp their careers by turning “Paradise” into amateur hour at a shitty comedy club. Ew, David!
The case for Wells Adams
The redeeming quality of this hosting situation is that Wells, our favorite Paradise bartender and a former contestant himself, is back on the beach this summer. He’s serving in a dual bartender-host capacity, which begs the question: why isn’t Wells the main host? On last night’s episode, David Spade brought in Wells to explain the rules (because, you know, he’s been here before), and that part almost felt like normal BIP. Wells would be the ideal pick to be the next permanent Chris Harrison for several reasons: 1) he’s a Bachelor Nation insider, so he knows how the show works and what is expected; 2) he actually has, like, personality and a sense of humor, unlike Chris Harrison; and 3) since “Bachelor” fans already know and love him, they’d be far more inclined to accept him in the hosting role than, say, David F*cking Spade.
This is a minor point, but it’s an important one. The guy that I’m going to call the narrator—the dude who does the voiceovers for the promos—is different, and I am NOT cool with it. I’ll admit a gap in my BIP knowledge: I can’t quite remember the old voice … was it Chris Harrison or someone else? (It’s been two years since the last season, take it easy on me, please.) Regardless, this new narrator sounds like he’s either taken three times his daily dosage of Adderall or thinks he’s doing a voiceover for Monster energy drinks. The aggressive, guttural voice is so out of place for this show about love, drama and Instagram, and I am so not here for it.
The drama (so far)
As of the end of the episode, these are the couples: Connor and Maurissa, who won’t last; Ivan and Jessenia, who is not good enough for him; Aaron and Tammy, a match made in instigator heaven; Abigail and Noah, who is not good enough for her; Tre and Tahzjuan, who—fun fact alert!—went on a date with his uncle, who she met on a dating app and Grocery Store Joe and Serena, who have a 12-year age difference.
GSJ is going through it. He’s found love in Paradise before, and he’s super in his head reliving that experience. We see him wading in the ocean by himself, taking a depression nap on a daybed and lamenting that Brendan is a “Clooney,” which GSJ could never be. First of all, Joe, not every girl wants a Clooney, and second of all, can I please give you a hug?
Kenny’s, um, nether regions are censored out for the entire episode, because apparently he isn’t wearing pants. However, a secret for my loyal readers: an eagle-eyed TikToker exposed (pun very much intended) Kenny, who was actually just wearing really, really short swim trunks. I’m not surprised, because after the whole Corinne and DeMario debacle from BIP Season 4, full-frontal nudity can’t be kosher. We also learn that Kenny is a solid 40 years old, but something tells me he is not a virgin.
Natasha is a pick-me girl, right off the bat. Think: Gen Z TikToker sticking her tongue out of the side of her mouth and “I’m not like other girls, I’m quirky and make sex jokes” vibes. Tammy refers to our host as Dave Chappelle, which is simply not correct but an entertaining concept.
At the end of the episode, we get one last entrance: Demi Burnett from Colton’s season of “The Bachelor” and the last season of BIP. On BIP, Demi got engaged to Kristian Haggerty, making them the first LGBTQ+ couple in the Bachelor franchise. While this representation was awesome, I’ve got a controversial opinion on Demi: she sucks. Demi is there strictly for pure, unadulterated entertainment value, and not a shred of my being believes that she’s there for anything other than Insta fame. Granted, I don’t believe that any of these contestants are totally here for the right reasons, and they’ve all got their gimmicks too (see: Kelsey arriving with a bottle of champagne, because she’s gotta stay relevant somehow!). But Demi has been involved in so many shticks over the seasons—when she and Katie Morton spied on Hannah B.’s guys, for example—and I’m just so over her. I also listened to an interview with Demi’s ex-fiancée, Kristian, on Kaitlyn Bristowe’s podcast, “Off the Vine,” and let’s just say I am solidly #TeamKristian.
As always, this season of “Paradise” is sure to be chock-full of tears, makeouts, sweating and tiny swimsuits. Like I mentioned in the intro, this season is truly wilding out with its schedule—some weeks the show airs Monday, sometimes Tuesday and occasionally both days. So, make sure to check back here Tuesdays or Wednesdays (depending on the week) for all of my thoughts on this delicious, dramatic and dumb show. Cheers to finding love in paradise!