"I Don't Mean to Sound Anti-Colton:" Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelor Premiere!

Former contestant Sharleen Joynt shares her insider’s POV on last night’s episode

I went into this Bachelor season with fairly low expectations and, last night, I’m sorry to say those expectations were met. I’ll be straight up with you: I wasn’t 100% on the Colton train for Bachelor. I was quietly rooting for Jason, whose upstate New York edge, legit career, and famous knee-buckling kisses I think make a great catch and would have made for an entertaining season. I think it says a lot that I have several beautiful, intelligent girlfriends who confessed to having mini-crushes on Jason. One such friend actually began the application process for season 23, in case Jason were to be crowned Bachelor!

I don’t mean to sound anti-Colton. We all knew Colton would be a strong candidate the second we first saw him on Becca’s season of Bachelorette. But it was on Paradise that he began to win me over, and we finally saw some of his real personality and sense of humour peek through. I was only sad he left as early as he did, though I realize greener Bachelor pastures were beckoning. I think Colton is a fine, if not obvious choice. He’s got the all-American looks, the pro-athlete background, the requisite sob story (insecurities in his youth; an injury that ended his football career), and many good traits (he is clearly kind, charitable and respects women) that I realize make him a good candidate. And I shouldn’t be too hard on him since Night One is exhausting and infamously shows NONE of the lead’s personality. But I still can’t help feeling a bit ho-hum at this point, and so far he hasn’t dropped any zingers or witty quips to curb that feeling. Looking at things optimistically, I think Colton has the potential to be a bit similar to Chris Soules as lead, where he’s not necessarily the most eloquent or suave of Bachelors, but is ultimately more endearing for it. We’ll see if I’m right about this.

Unfortunately, tropes that feel passé were alive and well last night. OF COURSE the two pageant girls—Hannah B’s Miss Alabama and Caelynn’s Miss North Carolina—would be painted as rivals despite the fact that they appeared to have no issue with one another and got along perfectly well. OF COURSE there’s the girl who repeatedly interrupts conversations—Catherine, at the encouragement of her producer, to be sure—to get more time with the lead. The way her actions spread like wildfire throughout the house and ruffled feathers along the way no longer felt like any version of reality, but rather like a predictable series of events, methodically set in motion. OF COURSE at least one woman wore a full head-to-toe costume. OF COURSE Colton’s virginity was whacked over our heads repeatedly.

That is what I was dreading about this season: endless reminders and the obvious exploitation of Colton’s virginity. Instead of feeling like a personal decision of Colton’s that could be respected and tastefully addressed later on, perhaps during a deep 1-on-1 date conversation, it felt like a tired old lifeboat, desperately clung to and squeezed for all it was worth. (And for the record, I don’t blame Colton for this; he has explained his reasons before.) It was obvious that every woman was asked specifically about Colton’s virginity during their intro video ITMs. There were way too many virginity-related limo exit gimmicks to be coincidental, and I would bet money that women with concerns were encouraged to voice them to Colton directly during their FIRST (and possibly last) conversation with him. I completely understand a woman’s reservations about his virginity from a dating perspective, and in terms of television programming, I can respect that this is a unique and interesting facet to Colton. But, as Nicole said in an ITM, I think it’s a personal decision and not exactly Night One material. If this is only the start, I can’t imagine how much of it we’ll be force-fed later on, especially come Fantasy Suite week. If production doesn’t start showing a bit of restraint over their excitement that Colton HAS NEVER HAD SEX (you don’t say!), this is gonna be one loooong season.

On a lighter note, I’ll keep up with my tradition of singling out my favourite ladies—those who aren’t in my Top 4—based on their Night One showing. I was immediately drawn to Kirpa, who evidently understands the art of the updo (her hair was on point) and the importance of flossing. (Seriously, it IS a dealbreaker!) She may have gone home, but Alex D’s sloth was hilarious—talk about commitment!—and, sans the sloth head, she gave me major Anna Kendrick vibes. I had a good laugh over Bri’s Australian accent and, despite the fact that it was never resolved (we were never shown her 1-on-1 time), I was impressed she was able to follow through with that with a straight face. Katie spoke to me in her 1-on-1 conversation with Colton, where she touched on the importance of maintaining one’s individuality in a relationship (I couldn’t agree more). Onyeka gets all the prizes for confronting Catherine in what felt like a sincere effort to not just talk behind her back and to prevent further discord. And I’m already looking forward to Nicole’s and Erika’s funny, dry commentary throughout the season.

Sharleen Joynt’s Top 4 Following The Bachelor Premiere

The Bachelor Season 23 episode 1 review: A photo of contestant Cassie Randolph in a sleeveless taupe top

The Bachelor season 23’s Cassie Randolph (Photo: Courtesy City)

1. Cassie Randolph, 23: “I can’t help but see Cassie as the final lady standing”

While Hannah G got that First Impression Rose, I can’t help but see Cassie as the final lady standing. Based on Night One, she struck me as the kind of woman men want to marry and women want to be friends with. She is timelessly beautiful but also sweet and accomplished (LOVE that she’s a speech pathologist while in grad school). As for my scorecard, she has all the right Night One boxes ticked: intro video shown, entire limo exit and conversation shown—and we saw a good amount of her 1-on-1 time with Colton (the sign language lesson was adorable). On the music front, her soundtrack screams frontrunner. But, while consistently shown throughout the episode, she wasn’t too on the forefront. Instead, Cassie was fairly under-the-radar, exactly where winners tend to lurk during season premieres.

The Bachelor Season 23 episode 1 review: a photo of contestant Hannah G in a lavender tank top

The Bachelor season 23’s Hannah Godwin (Photo: Courtesy City)

2. Hannah Godwin, 23: “It’s safe to assume she will be going very, very far this season”

Hannah G truly seemed to take Colton’s breath away; after meeting her he said she was “gorgeous,” and later told her that she “stood out.” Their conversation felt authentic, natural and easy. She seems confident but soft-spoken and down to earth—the best combination. Most importantly, Colton bestowed her with the coveted First Impression Rose (to the tune of textbook frontrunner music), despite the fact that he’d already kissed two other women. It’s safe to assume Hannah G will be going very, very far this season.

The Bachelor Season 23 episode 1 review: A photo of Caelynn Miller-Keyes in a pink tank top

The Bachelor season 23’s Caelynn Miller-Keyes (Photo: Courtesy City)

3. Caelynn Miller-Keyes, 23: “The biggest thing here was the conversation (and kiss!)”

I don’t know much about pageants but I’m pretty sure it’s not easy to become a Miss [insert state here], so kudos to her (and Hannah B!). I would’ve slightly preferred it if Caelynn had played down the pageant title when exiting the limo and let that fabulous tidbit surface later in conversation, but I do understand the pressure to be memorable and stand out from the get-go. I loved that she had no qualms admitting she’d been dumped in Thailand—her ability to volunteer that says a lot about her confidence. The biggest thing here was the conversation (and kiss!) Caelynn and Colton shared and how much airtime it got. While I personally don’t agree that having had a lot of experiences necessarily equates to being “ready” (she said she’d been “aged” by what she’s gone through and is thus, at her age, ready for marriage), Colton was in full agreement and that’s all that matters. It gives me pause that, after having kissed her, Colton didn’t give Caelynn the First Impression Rose, but he did call her name first at the Rose Ceremony.

The Bachelor Season 23 episode 1 review: A photo of contestant Demi Burnett in a ruffly red cold shoulder top

The Bachelor season 23’s Demi Burnett (Photo: Courtesy City)

4. Demi Burnett, 23: “She has all the trappings of Night One frontrunner-ness”

Ooooh, I like Demi. She’s got the spunk someone who recognizes the ridiculousness of this show and the fact they’re on it. (Honestly, I would think she could be too fiery for Colton if it weren’t for the fact that Tia was also pretty fiery) I could even see Demi being the brutally honest type who could rub others wrong in this living situation, but at the same time I think she’s too self-aware to become a villain. (Rather, I think if she became the villain, it would be because SHE decided to.) Demi was first out the limos (check) and has all trappings of Night One frontrunner-ness: full limo exit shown to the tune of tinkly music (check), 1-on-1 conversation shown (check), and consistently being shown and featured throughout the episode (check). Beyond going far in this season, as I said with Colton back on Becca’s season, I can see Demi going far in this franchise.

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