Despite a star-studded second episode of “The Bachelor” (Mondays, 8 EST/PST), the new season of ABC’s reality dating competition continues to focus on Colton Underwood’s virginity. With three roses to offer up before the actual rose ceremony, it’s time for the 23 remaining women to get to know Colton on a more personal level.
Storytime with Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman
It’s the first group date of the season and, following the theme of Colton’s season thus far, it continues to be all about firsts. “Will and Grace” star Megan Mullally and her husband, actor Nick Offerman, join Demi, Bri, Tracy, Elyse, Hannah G., Nicole, Onyeka and Catherine at a theater where the women are scheduled to take turns telling stories about their “first time.”
As Mullally explains, the story can be about a “first kiss, first pet, first time you went to jail; anything that really stands out as something you would like to share with Colton.”
Some take a more predictable path, discussing their dating lives: Colton goes first and talks about the first time he told his football teammates he was a virgin. Elyse, 31, discloses this is her first time dating a younger man. Nicole, 25, tells the story of the first white man she dated.
And then there’s Demi, who commits her first – but not last – “Bachelor” faux pas of the episode when she kisses Colton in front of the entire crowd.
“When I want something, I’m going after it,” she says before tossing aside her notes and making her way toward Colton in the first row. She plants one on him, much to the shock of the audience. The rest of the women are outraged: “Bachelor” Rule No. 1 is that you never kiss the Bachelor in front of the other contestants.
“And that is the story of how I got the first group-date rose,” Demi says afterward. Spoiler alert: she doesn’t. Later on at the cocktail party, she frustrates the other ladies again when she interrupts Colton and Tracy’s conversation – while wearing a bathrobe – and steals him away upstairs.
“Hey ladies, I totally just had an amazing time up there with him,” she taunts afterward, unprompted. ” I gave him a little massage and was chitchatting with him; we had a good time. I feel like I definitely helped him tonight, and I feel really good about everything.”
Colton apparently didn’t feel quite as good about Demi and gives the rose to Elyse instead. The two spend their time together discussing the role age plays in relationships, and she cracks a joke about older contestants sharing a room called “Colton’s Cougar Den.”
A rocky first one-on-one
Hannah B., the 23-year-old former Miss Alabama who last week described herself as the “hot-mess express,” nabs the first one-on-one date of the season, which also falls on her birthday. Coincidence? We think not.
“We’re not necessarily the best of friends,” Caelynn shares. “We were super close and then she was not happy that I was first runner-up (at Miss USA). There were a lot of hurt feelings, for sure. With Hannah, there’s a facade and it starts to crumble. Hannah kind of snapped.”
After that foreboding intro, Colton picks up Hannah for the first part of their date: riding horses and picnicking in the desert. And suddenly the “hot-mess express” arrives.
The first one-on-one of the season is usually a softball date with someone producers know will make it pretty far in the game. But Hannah, a frontrunner, struggles to make conversation and open up to Colton. (She’s stumped when he asks her to propose a toast, and the Alabamian finally settles on toasting to her birthday before ending with a quick “Roll Tide.”)
“Coming into this date, I probably wouldn’t have had to question if I was giving Hannah a rose at the end of the night, and now I’m questioning everything,” Colton says later. “It sort of made me scared that my intuition and my gut isn’t as good as I thought it was.”
Hannah later confides that she has a hard time when people perceive her as anything less than perfect, which makes it difficult to show her real self. That’s good enough for her to nab the rose, but it seems as though the pageant queen has fallen down Colton’s power rankings.
The next group date takes place at a campground, where Colton and host Chris Harrison are joined by comedian Billy Eichner, who serves primarily to provide commentary that seems to go over the contestants’ heads.
“Oh boy,” Eichner says at one point. “I’m sorry. I wanted a guest spot on ‘The Goldbergs’ and I got this.”
Alex B., Erika, Katie, Caelynn, Sydney, Tayshia, Nina, Kirpa, Caitlin, Courtney, Cassie and Heather split into two teams for some stereotypical camp games, including duck-duck-goose, a canoe race and a wheelbarrow race.
Heather, 22, gets the group rose this time around after opening up to Colton about having never kissed anyone before.
“You know your value, you have self-worth and you’re not going to settle,” Colton tells her. “I respect the heck out of that. I really do.”
Rose ceremony: Another four gone
Caelynn remains a frontrunner. The beauty queen connects with Colton over their shared love of volunteering at children’s hospitals, and this is starting to seem like the most realistic potential relationship of the season. “Bachelor” alums tend to make a career out of celebrity appearances anyway, and when you pair that with the cystic fibrosis foundation Colton runs, this couple makes sense.
Colton says goodbye to 29-year-old dog rescuer Alex B.; 28-year-old salesperson Angelique, financial associate Annie, 23; and recruiter Erika, 25.
Next week: the virgin jokes aren’t going anywhere, and Demi’s attitude does not improve.
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