‘The Bachelor’ season 26 premiere — yay?

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Photo courtesy of John Fleenor

“The Bachelor” is back with season 26. Clayton Echard is this season’s bachelor.

D'Juanna Lester, Senior Reporter

Bachelor Mondays are back. After non-stop content for a year, 2022 kicks off with what appears to be a drama-filled, shocking season of “The Bachelor.” In most seasons, a contestant is typically chosen from the final two or final six from the previous season to be the next lead. This time, there’s a change. With Bachelor Clayton Echard chosen over several fan favorites who were in the final four of Michelle Young’s “The Bachelorette” season — like Rodney and Brandon — fans are apprehensive about this season as a whole. 

Clayton was a controversial pick from the start. Before Michelle Young’s season premiered, Bachelor Nation found out he was the next lead, which took away the experience of watching him — not that there was much to experience, as Clayton was barely featured in any episode up until his last and has been a meme ever since. 

The episode starts off with new host Jessie Palmer introducing Clayton, who pokes fun at himself for “only having eight minutes of screentime” and talking about how he doesn’t like the spotlight. Now, he’s the Bachelor. Ok then. What do viewers learn about him? Clayton’s only two personality traits: being a football player from Missouri and wanting a family. Awesome. 

We’re then introduced to the new influencers — I mean contestants — a battalion of boisterous blondes with puns galore. We get the typical flight attendants, nurses, beauty pageant contestants and lawyers, many which you can’t tell apart. There’s even a girl who was engaged before the show, and her wedding was supposed to be tonight. Now it’s getting interesting. 

Random blonde number 12 Salley is lamenting about her almost wedding while the other girls prepare for the first limo arrivals of the season. She insists on seeing Clayton before then, and I think we all know where this is going. Break up on the first episode? Before Clayton’s even met any of the girls? Maybe this season does have its upsides.

Salley goes to his room and explains why this weekend is so hard and emotional for her. She talks about how she wants to just be home with her family (and also how good-looking he is because that’s his third personality trait). Clayton talks about how much he likes her already, and Salley talks about how much she sees in him. If she’s talking about his face or a genuine connection, we’ll never know. Either way, he’s giving out a rose. Again, he hasn’t met any of the girls yet. But that’s not all. She. Rejects. It. 

Clayton finally steps out of the limo to chat with his brother Jesse. At least they look like brothers. The thirty ladies are finally introduced to Clayton. The first one out is Sarah, who was also a fellow Tiger. The second girl is a Southern belle who makes a Northern joke, amazing Clayton. Someone shows up with her ex’s ashes. One girl shows up asking for him to touch her “nips,” then pulls out a shot. Another girl spanks him with a whip, and I’m ready for the season to be over. Bikinis, snakes and a “Mean Girls” reference in one episode? Well played ABC. 

After all the women meet Clayton, the cocktail party finally begins. Susie gets the first sit down with Clayton, while Teddi gets the first kiss of the season. Then he kisses three more girls. The drama heats up as the First Impression Rose goes to Teddi and a girl says she “hates” Clayton after talking to him. Predictions for this season? Chaotic mess. And I’m here for it.