Joining The Bachelor or Bachelorette midseason isn’t easy. Often, newcomers become the targets of bullying and instant rivalries, especially if they manage to score some alone time with the lead — and even if they successfully fly under the radar, they still have to make up for several weeks’ worth of lost time. But in just one episode, 27-year-old Michelle Young did the impossible: over the course of two hours, she became both an instant fan favorite and potential frontrunner for Matt James’ heart.
“Week 4” was rife with baseless rumors, confrontations, and petty jealousy, and Michelle’s moments with Matt became a much-needed respite from all the drama. As fans pointed out, Matt seemed comfortable around Michelle in a way we hadn’t seen yet this season. (He even kissed her with his eyes closed!) Although Matt has formed connections with other contestants, what was noteworthy about his date with Michelle was that he didn’t just look like he was nervously getting to know someone. He looked like he was having fun. “This is probably the first time I’ve felt Matt have true chemistry with someone,” one viewer wrote on Twitter.
We even heard as much from Matt himself. In a confessional interview, he said that “something about her presence” put him “at ease,” and during the nighttime portion of their one-on-one, he told Michelle that time “just flies by” when he’s with her.
And then there’s everything Michelle has in common with Matt, from her background as a college athlete to her desire for three children to her work as an elementary school teacher. “From a young age, I just always wanted to help those around me,” she told him. “I’m able to go to work and I know that I’m making a difference. Some days, it doesn’t feel like that when you get home, but I’m constantly thinking about my students.” Michelle mentioned that, earlier in their date, they had discussed the achievement gap and opportunity gap, and how this impacts both the kids she teaches and the students Matt works with through his nonprofit organization.
As Bachelor sleuths know, there’s also some concrete evidence that Michelle sticks around for awhile. In the season preview, she appears in two clips that seem to be from a solo date that hasn’t happened yet, and historically speaking, contestants rarely receive a second one-on-one date until they make the top five or six.
But if this isn’t enough to convince you that Michelle could win this thing, just ask the person who might know Matt better than anyone. On The Bachelor: Greatest Seasons--Ever!, Tyler Cameron — Matt’s best friend and his initial conduit into the Bachelor universe — said that he already knew exactly who should win Matt’s season. “Someone that’s ready to get on the ground with Matt and change the world. Because that’s what Matt’s gonna do,” he said. “Matt’s gonna change the world, and someone that’s ready to take on that challenge with him.”
If that sounds familiar, it might be because it’s exactly what Michelle wants out of a relationship, too. “I’m looking for someone who will change the world with me, and it seems like you’d be a good one,” she told him during their first conversation.
Michelle’s only at the beginning of her Bachelor journey, which could go anywhere from here. But for a short moment, her easy connection with Matt almost made me forget about all the incessant bullying and slut-shaming back at the resort and believe in the magic of The Bachelor again.