• Alyvia Maynard

The Bachelor Premiere: Is Matt James the GOAT?

Craig Sjodin/ABC

This week, America met our new bachelor, Matt James, 29. Matt is the franchise’s first African American bachelor. He is also the first bachelor that was not previously a contestant on The Bachelorette. Matt applied to be a contestant on Clare’s season of The Bachelorette; however, due to Covid, this did not come to fruition. Though Matt was never on the show, he is still well known throughout Bachelor Nation. He is a close friend of previous contestant and runner-up on Hannah Brown’s season of The Bachelorette, Tyler Cameron. Matt, Tyler, Hannah, and some of their other friends skyrocketed to TikTok fame at the onset of the pandemic when they became known as “The Quarantine Crew.” Due to his notoriety, Bachelor production found Matt to be an appealing choice for the new bachelor, and they were not wrong considering there was a record number of applicants wanting the chance to date him.

Much like this past season of The Bachelorette, production had to call an audible in terms of filming location. Matt’s season was filmed completely at The Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Pennsylvania. All contestants were required to quarantine and be tested for COVID prior to filming. Before meeting the contestants, Matt wanted to speak to Chris Harrison about his apprehensions moving forward. He expressed that he was feeling the pressure of being the franchise’s first African American bachelor, stating, “You’ve got people cheering for you to find love, and then you’ve got people cheering for you to end up with a specific person, a specific person of a specific race. That’s something that kept me up at night.” He also revealed that his parents separated when he was very young, causing him to fear heartbreak. Once he got these reservations off his chest, he was finally ready to meet the women.

The limo entrances, as per usual, brought a lot of entertainment to the premiere. As a contestant, you want your limo entrance to be memorable so that you aren’t just a random face in a sea of thirty-two women. Khaylah chose to arrive in a pickup truck, while Kit pulled up in a Bentley. MJ delivered Matt a pizza, and Kaili showed up in her lingerie, asking Matt to choose her dress for the night. Perhaps my favorite entrance was Saneh’s. Underneath her beautiful dress, she wore a pair of goat shoes. As she showed Matt her shoes, she said, “I think you’re the greatest of all time…and I hope you’ll also think that I’m the GOAT.” Afterwards, once she got inside and was able to see the other girls, she said that all the girls looked so beautiful and, “I showed up in goat shoes.” It was corny but I found it to be so funny and relatable. I, too, often feel like a goat in the midst of other people (but hey – I bet her feet were the only ones not hurting at the end of the night). The most shocking entrance by far was Katie’s. She showed up with…an adult toy…and proceeded to carry it around all night. Even though this sounds bad, there was one contestant who was mutually disliked by the other women even more so than Katie -- Victoria. She entered by being carried on a throne with a crown on her head, introducing herself as “Queen Victoria.” She somehow managed to become more and more disliked as the night progressed.

Once Matt met all the women, he was finally able to go inside and begin having individual conversations with them. Before getting started, though, he asked all the women to join him in prayer. The women were so touched that Matt chose to start the night in that way, some even moved to tears. It really set the tone for the night and allowed everyone to feel at ease and be themselves. Everyone wanted to speak with Matt, but since there were thirty-two contestants, time is of the essence. The girls resorted to “Hunger Games” style survival methods to ensure that they made a lasting impression in Matt’s memory in order to get a rose and return next week. Women constantly interrupted other women. The woman at the top of the stats for most steals was “Queen Victoria.” She stole Matt not once, but twice, while some women hadn’t even had the chance to speak to him once. She then referred to the other women as “stupid” for not trying harder to talk to Matt. She even had the audacity to interrupt Kit by saying, “Excuse me princess, but the queen is here.” Kit, understandably, was offended, but said that if Victoria is the queen, then she is the president, CEO, and the king (shots fired). I see a rivalry forming between these two as the season progresses. I also think Victoria will be portrayed as the villain of the season.

Towards the end of the night, Chris laid the “first impression rose” on the table for Matt to hand out to the girl that he felt he had the best connection with. All eyes shifted to that rose as each girl hoped that she would be the lucky recipient. Matt immediately retrieved the rose to bring it to Abigail. Matt was instantly drawn to her sweet and gentle spirit. Abigail is the show’s very first deaf contestant, and Bachelor Nation can agree that she was very deserving of the first impression rose. She opened up to Matt on what it is like to be deaf, along with the struggles she has had to face throughout her life. In order to help her hear, Abigail has a cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is a small electronic device that can assist in giving a sense of sound to an individual who is deaf or very hard-of-hearing. The implant is comprised of an external piece that sits behind the ear and a second piece that is surgically inserted under the skin. An implant does not restore regular hearing. Rather, it can give a deaf person a helpful representation of sounds around them and help the person to understand speech (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders). Abigail’s story was able to inspire and encourage many other individuals who have been affected by hearing loss.

After Matt had a chance to talk to some of the women, he had to decide who he wanted to send home at the rose ceremony. As all the women were standing there, desperately wanting to receive a rose, I couldn’t help but notice that two women were wearing the same exact red dress. The producers conveniently placed them adjacent to one another. If that wasn’t awkward enough, the two women have similar names (Anna, who looks oddly like Hannah Brown, and Alana), and both started to walk forward when Matt called one of their names. Once Matt was finished handing out roses, the women left standing without a rose were Alicia, Emani, Saneh (goat girl), Amber, Corrine, Carolyn, Cassandra, and Kimberly.

So far, the clear frontrunner is Abigail. I hope to see her make it to the finale. She seems very sweet, mature, and like a good match for Matt. The sleeper is 10/10 Victoria. She will most likely have trouble keeping peace with the other women in the house. If she wants to make friends, she should probably stop referring to herself as “queen” every time she walks into a room. After this premiere (the best one in a while), I am very hopeful to see how Matt’s journey will play out. After the train wreck that was Peter’s season, we are due for a happy ending in the bachelor world. Tune in Monday nights at 8:00pm on ABC to see what is in store for Matt on his journey to find love.