The opening shot of this season's "The Bachelor" with Joey Graziadei shows him waiting on a beach, crying, as an SUV drives away. They're leading us to believe that he's perhaps left alone, but could it be that he said goodbye to the runner-up and is still waiting for his perfect match to walk his way? Just look at that lonely rose sitting there... will it be given out? We have a whole season ahead of us to find out.
He's ready for marriage! So ready in fact that he nearly proposed to Charity Lawson on "The Bachelorette." He said he was devastated and moved back to Philadelphia to be with his family. His sisters say it's cringy watching him make out with people. They should buckle up, because we know that there will be a lot of that, even on night one!
So that's my take - digital producer Jennifer Matarese. This season, we're trying something new. Gina Sirico, entertainment producer for On The Red Carpet is a "Bachelor" fan and has even had the opportunity to visit "Bachelor Mansion," attend "Golden Bachelor" Gerry Turner's wedding to Theresa, interview countless members of "Bachelor Nation," and most importantly get an inside look at this season, by attending a group date.
Gina: Happy to be here, Jen! I will share more of the group date and insights later in the season. But right now, in the words of Jesse Palmer, "Let the journey begin!"
Jesse Palmer welcomed Joey back to "Bachelor Mansion" and he says it feels great to be in the driver's seat. He's welcoming the most women to the show than any other "Bachelor" of yore. It's a long list of introductions so stay with us here - or skip ahead to the next headline!
First out of the limo was Lexi, a 30-year-old digital strategist from Atlanta. Just a reminder, Joey is 28, so she's a bit older than him! They talked about how they felt excited to be there and she said that she's originally from Toronto. She might not be able to have children, so she's worried that could be a deal breaker for Joey.
Rachel is a 26-year-old ICU nurse from Honolulu. She brought him a lei and said she hoped she could bring him to the island so they could get new ones together. She seems very sweet.
Maria is 29 and works as an executive assistant in Canada. She came out waving a Canadian flag. She's been single for five years, her parents are divorced, and she loves wearing flowers in her hair. She loves posing for the camera and seems like a bit of a character.
Erika, 25, came out dancing from North Bergen, New Jersey. Joey joined in and he was looking forward to learning some new moves from her.
Autumn, 26, threw leaves as she got out of the limo because, duh, just look at her name. She wants to be Joey's favorite season! She's an account executive from St. Louis. She was disappointed to learn that his favorite seasons were summer and spring.
Kelsey A. is 25 and from New Orleans. She works as a junior project manager. Buckle up, there's going to be more than one Kelsey... She's looking for a love like her parents had, but unfortunately, her mom passed away. She gave Joey a voodoo doll and he loved it.
Chrissa, 26, is a marketing director from British Columbia, Canada. Casting went up north this season it seems! They talked about her elegant dress and she is ready to make this her "yes" year!
Chandler, 24, works as a graphic designer in New York. She had a cute entrance. She told him because his name is Joey, "I'll be there for you." Get it "Friends" fans?
Marlena, a 26-year-old finance writer from West Palm Beach, Florida, told Joey that he's the only reason she's there.
Starr dazzled Joey with a box of surprises. She's from Delray Beach, Florida, and works as a mental health counselor. He said that he loved the butterflies that poured out.
Talyah, 23, gave Joey a save-the-date to their wedding. She's an esthetician from Huntington Beach, California.
Nat, 26, works as a professor and registered nurse in Canada.
Sandra, 26, is a cyber security consultant from Nashville. She told Joey she hopes to build a relationship based on trust.
Sam is another "senior" contestant at 31... She's a CPA from Nashville. She watched Joey on Charity's season and said she saw how excited he got after the fantasy suites so she knows he's the full package.
Allison, 26, said that she knows she has to share him but she's going to make sure her time with him is memorable. She works as a realtor in Philadelphia. She's the youngest of four siblings. And...her sister is there too!
Lauren, 28, is Allison's big sister. It will be interesting to see who gets further with Joey! She had a chugging contest with Joey and won! He let out a big burp, ha! He was a mess!
Jesse gave Joey a brief break and told him he'd met half the women but Lea (who he met at After the Final Rose back in August) would still be showing up soon with her secret envelope.
Next out of the limo was 25-year-old Katelyn, a radiochemist from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She brought a little lab on a tray where they could find out if they had any chemistry and of course, they did.
The other Kelsey, Kelsey T. was out next! She's also a senior at 31 and an actress from Los Angeles. She told him she's happy he's "The Bachelor."
A go-kart skidded in and Jenn, 25, a physician's assistant student from Miami walked out. She said when she found out he was "The Bachelor" she had to "race" over.
Then, Jess a 24-year-old executive assistant from San Diego got towed in on a boat! She called him "captain" and had him help her out of the boat. He seemed to find it fun!
It was time for a parade of food:
Lanie, 27, is a realtor from Philadelphia - and she brought some cheese whiz.
Edwina, 25, an entrepreneur from Atlanta brought him a spicy taste from home.
Samantha, a 25-year-old pro-football cheerleader from Miami, threw a ball of pizza dough at him. Joey was impressed that it was real pizza dough.
Later, Taylor, 23, a recruiter from Chicago, threw a hilarious giant bra at him because she was there to give him "massive support." Although this entrance was short, it was one of my favorites. I've never seen a bra that big before!
Kyra, 26, a paralegal from Miami screamed and he seemed a bit taken aback but still gracious. Joey is so nice!
Bring on the raunch! Zoe, 24, an artist from Atlanta, asked him which banana he resonated with. She presented him with an offering of four different sizes on a tray. He refrained from picking the largest...
Then, all we could hear were screams of ecstasy coming from the limo...it was Kayla 27, from Hamilton, Ohio. She works as a guidance counselor. Can you imagine if you saw your child's guidance counselor doing that on national television. Bold! But she claimed she was practicing her tennis grunts!
Evalin, 29, rolled in on a tennis umpire's chair. She works as a nanny in San Antonio, Texas. She used the phrase, "Game, set, match." Someone had to.
Sydney, works as a vintage store owner in Rhode Island. The 28-year-old said that there's a lot of tennis where she lives.
Senior contestant, 31-year-old Madina, rolled dozens of tennis balls out of the limo. She works as a mental health therapist in Charlotte, North Carolina. She said it "took her a lot of balls" to come there.
An adorable farm truck with a Christmas tree drove in with 25-year-old Daisy from Minnesota behind the wheel. She works as an account executive, but she grew up on a Christmas Tree farm. She lost her hearing over the last few years and got a cochlear implant in her left ear over this past year and she's so happy she can hear everyday sounds again. She hasn't dated anyone since she got her implant but she's excited to get to know Joey.
At long last, Lea, our 23-year-old account manager from Hawaii, whom we met on ATFR, showed up with the envelope in hand. Joey said, "Hello, you!" She said she hopes whatever is in that envelope will help grow their relationship.
Gina: First impressions of the first impressions? Joey seems to have an interesting and enthusiastic group of ladies. We always have over-the-top entrances and I'm glad they were kept (mostly) to a minimum. My (very) early favorites are Lexi, Katelyn, Daisy, and Jenn. Lea's edge of having met him before and having the mystery envelope keeps her name front and center as well. We'll see how that changes through the course of the night! I think our Philadelphia sisters, Allison and Lauren are going to cause some mischief, which could be fun. They can't keep it a secret for too long, and I'm interested to see how Joey handles that news.
Joey entered the mansion as the ladies talked about what on earth could be inside that envelope! He talked to them about finding love and heartbreak on the show and said that he's ready to find his wife.
Autumn got to know Joey first and she shared that her grandparents have been married for 67 years and she wants a love story like theirs, just as Joey had mentioned that he wants to model his love story after his grandparents. They ended their conversation with a hug.
Erika told Joey that he made her right at ease. They talked about dancing but never did do any more dancing, at least that they showed.
Joey boarded Jess' boat. She called him "a walking green flag." They talked about his family and she just loved that he has a big family with sisters. They were vibing and they shared their first kiss, and his first kiss of the season! She revealed that she kissed him in the huge room of women. Maybe she had too much to drink, why would she reveal that? Of course that rubbed some women the wrong way.
Gina: Did she learn nothing from Brayden on Charity's season? Bragging about kissing is frowned upon! I feel like she will be our biggest troublemaker this season, maybe even more than the sisters!
Joey and Jenn raced around Bachelor Mansion in go-karts! He found her to be super fun. "I wouldn't be there if it wasn't you," she said. As did almost every other woman there. She told him that she's been learning tennis and she's actually pretty good at it. I liked them together, they seemed to have a nice connection. Kiss #2!
As Joey made the rounds, the women had some fun talking with each other. It was tough for Daisy, though, because she has a cochlear implant and a lot of noise can be distracting for her. She took Joey to go talk and showed off the Christmas tree she brought with her and her history of growing up on a tree farm. He told her despite all the women clamoring for his attention, he was there with the purest intentions. He says he's blown away by her. He kissed her! #3! She said that he's a good kisser.
Jesse Palmer walked in with the first impression rose.
Taylor, who was annoyed by Jess's kiss, found her time with Joey being interrupted...by Jess. Taylor told Jess, "Can you wait a minute?" And she said, "Ok, I'll be over here." Jess just lurked...it ruined whatever mood was attempting to build. Taylor asked her to talk and confronted her about the rude interruption. She told Jess, well you now basically have a target on your back. "Karma is real," Taylor said. "I feel like that's backhanded," Jess responded. Awkward!
Meantime, the sisters both like Joey, and they both seem to be drunk. They decided they couldn't keep their secret for more than a day, so they decided to tell the other girls. The vibe was like, "Oh... that's weird..."
Lauren the older sister got to talk to Joey first. They talked about life in Philly and she asked to kiss him. Joey didn't seem like he wanted to or was ready to and younger sister Allison interrupted them! It's funny because as they spoke, Joey felt like he was hearing the same story he had from Lauren. But, Allison got the first kiss! Lauren came back and slid onto the other side of the couch and Joey said he was cool with it. Ew.
Gina: Joey told the audience that he was going to have to tread carefully because a lot of problems could come up with the sisters. Smart strategy on his part because, yes, that could get very messy. The jealousy is already showing and he's going to protect himself in that situation. Keep your eye on them, Joey!
Joey was feeling Kelsey A. and he loves the voodoo doll she gave him. He said that he finds her very attractive.
Did you forget about the letter? I nearly did. Lea is tormented by the card. She opened it up and it gives her the power to steal a one-on-one date from any woman before hometowns. Wow, that's huge. She said she wanted to feel excited about it, but she would never want to steal someone else's experience. Lea went up to Joey and showed him the card. She said that she wanted him to pick who he wanted for his dates and respect the other women as well, so she decided to toss the card in the fireplace! She burned it! "I would take it," Jess said. Yeah, not a shocker.
Gina: I did not forget about the letter and that was pretty shocking! Her reaction to it was also a shocker for me. She did seem truly genuine when she said she could have all the advantages but at the end of the day, if she's not Joey's person, she's not. And if she is, she is. Throwing it out there - if she is not Joey's person, could she be the next Bachelorette? (Jess saying she would take it was not a surprise to me either, she is there to mix things up!)
Katelyn and Joey talked about how she's sporty and loves playing golf in Hilton Head. She said she plays with her dad and it's gotten them through some tough times. Katelyn told him that if he ever needs someone to listen, she's there. They shared a kiss! #4!
Maria said that she thinks Joey is kissing too many girls, so she was making it her goal not to kiss him! Maria said that he was staring into her soul and that she said she can hardly look at him! She loves horror and scary movies and Joey loves, "Remember the Titans." It was funny! He likes how fiery she is. They talked about their astrological signs and they seemed to have a good time. Then... "Oops!" she kissed him. She said she didn't want to kiss him but she just couldn't help it! #5 (and that was a lot of kissing!)
Enter Joey! He's there for the rose... He picked it up and left the room, so it's not anyone sitting there. Joey said he had to go with his gut and give it to Lea! Wow! That's fantastic. It's nice that she did the right thing and still got a rose. That's not a guarantee at a one-on-one date, but it's a step on their journey. He said that her thoughts on the card spoke a lot about her character and that meant a lot to him. She happily accepted the rose and they shared a kiss! #6!
Gina: I like that Joey gave her the First Impression Rose. That card could have changed the game entirely and she did what she thought was best. I feel like Joey is a no-drama kind of guy and seeing her literally burn the drama put her in a great light for our Bachelor.
Ding, ding! It's Jesse Palmer. He told the women to go get ready for the rose ceremony because it was time for some of them to go home. Some women didn't get a chance to talk to Joey and they were upset and stressed out by the whole situation.
1) Lea (First Impression Rose)
2) Allison - the little sister
4) Kelsey T.
11) Kelsey A.
22) Lauren (the big sister) Goodness, she seems a bit awful, and was not nice to her sister when she got the first rose. It's too bad some nice girls got cut and she got to stay.
Gina: Lauren's reaction to her sister getting the rose first and her getting the final one of the night was so rude. I saw Joey breathe a heavy sigh as he handed her the rose. Was it a sigh that the ceremony was over, or was he reacting to her comment? I would love to know what was going through his mind at that moment! Also, Evalin crying hysterically before the rose ceremony even began had me stressed. I know the first night is the longest night, so it could have been nerves mixed with exhaustion. I hope that this wasn't a preview of what's to come because I am worried for her emotional well-being!
There are a lot of extravagant dates, they travel the world, and there's plenty of romance! But, cue the tears and drama. That's never far behind. The girl vs. girl drama is very heightened this season. Joey's biggest fear is giving it all he has and ending up alone. It looks like that could happen, but let's hope for the best and press on through this most dramatic season ever!
GIna: Whew, what a night! My original ones to watch stand: Lexi, Daisy, Katelyn, Jenn, and Lea. Joey told me that on the first night, he was looking for that intangible feeling, those butterflies and that if he didn't truly feel his person was in that room the first night, he would never say it. So, I am hopeful for him and his journey and I am REALLY hopeful that those tears on the beach are there to fake us out. Let's do this, Bachelor Nation!
Don't miss new episodes of Joey's season of "The Bachelor" on Monday nights on ABC and streaming the next day on Hulu.