The Bachelorette Season 17 Premiere Recap: The Cat’s Meow

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
A lot has happened in the world in the past couple of months since The Bachelor ended, so let's get up to speed. The Bachelorette is Katie Thurston, who was known on Matt James’ Bachelor season for hating bullying, showing up with a vibrator on night one, and being seen as more of a friend by Matt. Also, Chris Harrison? He’s out. For now. (Or for good? Unclear.) Instead, former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe are joining Katie on her season as “the ultimate girl gang,” which is slightly cringey phrase from Tayshia, but I appreciate the sentiment. What else? Well, pandemic filming protocols are still in place, so for the third season in a row, the cast is stuck at a resort. This one is the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa in New Mexico, and yes, everyone is still very sweaty.
Okay, so let’s get started. After some background on Katie: she’s from Seattle, she grew up "very poor," her parents divorced when she was a baby, she’s ready to find love and is very optimistic about a reality TV show being the way to do it. Katie is also surprised by new hosts Kaitlyn and Tayshia. They tell her their best advice is to not rule anyone out on night one. Katie says she’s excited for the guys to see her serious side, since she’s known for being so silly. Did she watch Matt’s season? Her main storyline was about her very seriously combating bullying.
When it really is time for limo arrivals, Tayshia and Kaitlyn spy on Katie from the house, which is a fun touch. Being the Bachelorette is a silly and ridiculous experience. Having Katie periodically giggle and gossip with some friends about it makes the show lighter and is a good evolution for the franchise. The self-seriousness that Chris contributed to the series was so 2002.
Now, Katie meets 30 dudes during limo arrivals, so let’s stick to the highlights.
Tre, a 26-year-old software engineer, pops out of a ball pit in the back of a pickup truck. Katie says Greg, a 27-year-old marketing sales rep, looks like her ex-boyfriend and doesn’t know if that’s good or bad. Andrew S., 26, a pro football player in Austria, pretends to have an English accent, but thankfully reveals it’s fake right away. James arrives in a giant gift wrapped box, but says she can open her gift once they get inside, so we don’t get to see him right away. There’s also the expected variety of sex jokes. For instance, Cody, 27, zipper sales manager, takes a page from Katie’s book and shows up with a blow up doll.
Katie seems most impressed by Connor B, a 29-year-old math teacher, who arrives in a cat costume and makes a bunch of cat puns. ("It’s so mice to finally meet you," you get the idea.) She loves this, and when Tayshia and Kaitlyn ask who caught her eye, she says, “I’m really focused on Connor the cat.” I love this journey for her. 
Inside the house — well, resort — Katie chats with all the guys. One standout is Greg, who teases that his very talented niece makes “specialty necklaces” and he was able to get one for Katie, but then reveals that she’s only three and it’s a pasta necklace. The joke doesn’t work at all — he’d already established that his siblings have young kids, so it wasn't going to be, like, fine jewelry — but he’s also extremely nervous in a way that’s endearing. 
Katie also talks with Justin, a 26-year-old investment sales consultant, who painted her a canvas with roses in the shape of a heart, but the middle is empty to represent “the void” in his own heart. Ugh, it's so forced and cheesy, but then suddenly they’re kissing, so it looks like it went over well enough. 
Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
In the most disturbing moment from the night, 31-year-old Jeff, a surgical skin salesman, takes Katie to the vintage RV he rolled up in and says, “Normally you shouldn’t go in vans with strangers, but tonight’s a just little different.” Once inside, he offers her a plate a vegetables and dip in a plastic supermarket tray, and an odd brown beverage, just sitting there without a lid. “It’s just iced tea,” he says. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to bring you into a RV and give you alcohol and just try to show you the bedroom.” Excuse me? In his confessional, Jeff says, “She definitely got the vibe.” The vibe of creepy RV that she will never enter again? By the way, I’m sure "surgical skin salesman" is a real thing, but the producers definitely took advantage of the added creepiness by using that job title instead of just “medical salesman." In her confessional Katie says, “I just wasn’t feeling the vibes with the RV.” Shocking.
Tre is the exact opposite of Jeff. He has a very easy, confident, calming energy. He takes Katie out to enjoy a cocktail in the truck ball pit, and suddenly blurts out, “Do you have a middle name?” Hooray for normal questions! By the way, her middle name is Lane and his is Marcel. 
Inside, Aaron, a 26-year-old insurance agent is suddenly confronting Cody. “I don’t like you, bro, and I've never liked you and that's fine. We don’t have to talk at all.” Cody, visibly confused, says he doesn’t agree with anything Aaron said and in his confessional says, “What the hell?” To which I also say, "What the hell?" and don't get an answer as that's the first and last we hear of it.
Oh, by the way, James is still inside the box he arrived in. I hope it’s the just edit that makes it seem like Katie didn’t open up the box right away, because how is that not the first thing you do? Box and Katie head into a private room for the big reveal. When James jumps out, Katie thinks “he’s super hot,” which means the reveal was worth it, I suppose. A couple of the guys are preemptively worried that Katie will give Box the first impression rose, as if not seeing him immediately means that he should be disqualified from the honour. It makes zero sense. 
Then there is Connor the cat. He gives Katie her own cat ears and mittens and they play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on a giant keyboard. Then the conversation turns more serious as she shares that she couldn’t stop thinking about him. He tells her she’s doing wonderfully as the Bachelorette already, and they start making out. “Just as cute without all the costume,” Katie declares when he takes of his cat hat. I mean, this really seems like a great match. 
Katie has a particularly interesting conversation with Michael, a 36-year-old business owner, who tells her that he has a four-year-old son. When he asks Katie if she wants kids, she says, “I definitely want kids in some way, I think.” But adds that she’d be fine if that meant being with someone who already had children and that she’s also not against being with someone who doesn’t want kids. “Really I’m just open to all scenarios,” she says. This might be a Bachelorette first. So often, there’s a big focus on the leads wanting to have children and there not being any room for discussion — whether that’s really the contestants doing or part of the edit. It’s nice to see a different take.
Eventually, it’s time for the first impression rose, which goes to awkward Greg for a clear reason. Connor the cat clearly had the biggest first impression, but Katie does like Greg and wants to boost his confidence. She even says, “Once we can get past those nerves, I think there’s a great guy under there.” As soon as she pins on the rose, he asks for a kiss. Her plan is already working! 
At the rose ceremony the following people whose names mean basically nothing at this point get roses: Tre, Michael, Thomas, Garrett, Connor B aka Cat, Andrew S, James aka Box, Justin, Quartney, Karl, Mike, John, Kyle, Andrew M, Josh, Conor C, Brendan, David, Aaron, Christian, Hunter, and Cody. The men who are eliminated are: Austin, Brandon, Gabriel, Jeff the RV guy, Landon, Marcus, and Marty. Don’t remember hearing their names? Now you know why. 
And that’s that. Overall, a really great first episode and a promising start to a season that will hopefully show off more of Katie’s quirky tastes. So far we know she likes men dressed as cats and awkward guys. I’m interested to see where that goes. 
Frontrunner to win: Connor the cat by a mile.
Frontrunner for Bachelor: Let’s go with Tre. He seems lovely so far and very comfortable on camera.
Frontrunner for drama: Aaron. What the heck was that situation with Cody? I am unnerved!

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