"This Show Has to Evolve": Sharleen Joynt's Bachelor in Paradise Episode 1 Recap

Bach alum Sharleen Joynt shares her insider POV on ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ episode one

Sharleen Joynt
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Sharleen Joynt poses against a tropical backdrop and its says "The Morning After"

Whoa. That was rough. Am I the only one who was bored to tears last night? Maybe Hannah’s exciting season spoiled me and left me with unrealistically high hopes? Don’t Bachelor in Paradise premieres usually start things off with a bang, or at least some degree of entertainment? I’ve been unabashedly looking forward to Paradise—there have been quite a few excited whisperings about this season among my Bachelor circles—but if this premiere is any indicator, I should lower my expectations a notch…or five. I suppose there is still some hope, given Chris Harrison’s promise of “more crying than ever before.”

There was a funny moment last night when Dylan declared, “I just hope we don’t have, like, any drama.” (His companions rightfully laughed at him.) Let me be crystal clear: In Season 6, I now expect drama from contestants. Those followers ain’t free, Dylan! I want to be entertained. It’s no longer even a secret that Bachelor alums can easily connect and date on their own. (Hell, I’d argue it’s a hell of a lot easier to simply DM the people you have your eye on and not re-subject yourself to the health and psyche testing, often longterm, hotel imprisonment.) The only thing this show has going for it on the Finding Love front is that folks who hadn’t had their eyes on each other might unexpectedly connect in real life. That is one of the few arguments to be made for appearing on this show,  beyond substantially beefing up Instagram followings.

Oftentimes the backstories of these real-life Bachelor hookups are tricky to keep up with. I don’t tend to mind because at least there’s the teensiest bit of mystery, a few blanks that still need filling. Unfortunately, there was evidently so little content to work with for this premiere that we were forced to hear about Blake’s sloppy Stagecoach weekend nothing short of seven times. We heard Caelynn tell the story to Chris Harrison, to us in an ITM, to Onyeka on the beach and we then heard Onyeka recap it in her ITM. Caelynn then told bartender Wells at the bar, Sydney on the beach and then Sydney recapped it in her ITM. My issue isn’t with Caelynn—she’s clearly very upset and understandably wants Blake to have his comeuppance. But did the show really need to have us hear about it this many times? Was there really so little going on?

I’ve never had the strongest opinion on Blake; if I’m honest, I’m usually too distracted trying to understand his stilted, too-fast, mumbly speech than I am deciphering the sincerity of his words. I never would have imagined he’d be Paradise’s “hot commodity”—I would have thought the obviously funny and smart men like Wills or Derek would play that role—but then again, I’ve never had traditional tastes when it comes to Bachelor men. It would appear Blake was never taught the valuable lesson of “don’t shit where you eat.” I totally understand Bachelorette rejects—with their hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers, nearly all of whom are young women—benefiting from their newfound fame and, as red-blooded males, enjoying sowing their wild oats. But to be so careless with and disrespectful of the opposite sex is reprehensible. Even in the interest of himself (his apparent MO), disregarding the feelings of the women he’s slept with—and especially fellow Bachelor alums, who can and will out him on TV—is as shortsighted as it is stupid.

Unfortunately, even last night’s supposed romantic moments were rough—there was a distinct lack of interesting, substantial or even amusing conversation. Actual soundbites from Hannah G and Dylan’s “conversation”: “Being weird is cool,” followed by “Your smile is amazing,” followed by a makeout sesh. Hearing Blake and Tayshia discuss what they were seeking in a relationship was so done, it was mind-numbing. (I’ll sum it up for you: Tayshia is seeking “a partnership,” someone with whom to “start a family” and her biggest fear in relationships is “rejection.” If you haven’t watched this yet, I just saved you 10 minutes.) I wrote “vomit” in my notes when Blake said, “If you can love the wrong person that much, how much will you be able to love the right person?” (Let me know on Twitter: Did he not say this exact thing to Becca on her season??) Don’t get me wrong: Hannah and Dylan were clearly drunk (as they should be), and Tayshia’s wants are absolutely valid. My point is, this show has to evolve. Show me contestants discussing something other than relationships and how attractive they find each other. A great example was when Derek asked Demi if she’s “into eyebrow stuff” and she responded, “LOVE eyebrow stuff.” That’s what I’m talking about! Give me the offbeat conversations that show actual compatibility between people and don’t sound like they could be taken verbatim from seasons prior.

There were some faces that stood out, even in the midst of last night’s dreadful fog of nothingness. Katie is funny, quirky and gorgeous. We’re finally getting to see a bit more of Kevin after he was more or less invisible on Hannah’s season; there was that one funny scene where he spied on Hannah and Jed’s Group Date makeout sesh, and so far his humorous commentary is the season’s best. (I have to admit I laughed when he said, “Cam has good taste in bad clothing.”) The fact that there might be a budding romance between Katie and Kevin excites me. Cam appears to have learned nothing from watching himself on Hannah’s season; he’s trying as hard as ever to somehow fit in and stand out, simultaneously. Derek is a wonderful, good-hearted, and hilarious friend of mine, and let’s be honest, watching your friends on TV never gets old. Speaking of friends, Chris Bukowski is another favourite, and while half of me wishes he’d committed to his Bachelor franchise retirement, the other half is thrilled with his return. The man is anything but boring television. From the previews it looks like Demi will once again be TV gold, and I for one am really looking forward to not only the unfolding of her relationship with a woman (the word of the episode is most definitely “fluid”!), but how the show chooses handle those uncharted waters.

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