Spoilers are ahead. Surprise, surprise: Much like The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise is still fun, flirty, and appropriately dramatic sans that guy who used to host. The season 7 premiere had everything from campy patterned shirts to burgeoning love triangles to a contestant admitting she dated another contestant’s uncle, but the one thing that took center stage? Kissing. And lots of it.
“I think I got the first kiss in paradise,” Tahzjuan Hawkins said in a confessional, after making out with Tre Cooper. But she wasn’t alone — in fact, Wells claims this episode broke the series' all-time first night kisses record. In a montage, two other couples — Kenny Braasch and Mari Pepin, and first date card recipients Abigail Heringer and Noah Erb — mused that they might have had the season’s first kiss. Other kissers included Tammy Ly and Aaron Clancy; Connor Brennan and Maurissa Gunn; and Serena Pitt and Grocery Store Joe Amabile. After a long, depressing quarantine and an entire year without Paradise, no one is wasting any time. And why should they?
The Bachelor franchise hasn’t always been known for letting a kiss just be a kiss. (And let’s not even get started on the way these shows treat sex.) Former lead Arie Luyendyk, Jr. was aggressively called “the kissing bandit,” for some reason. Women like Kaitlyn Bristowe have been shamed by contestants and audience members for making out with multiple dudes. Recent Bachelorette Katie Thurston had to defend her choice to kiss a number of her contestants, and she might have put it best. “Time is short, and you can’t be okay with me possibly getting engaged in two months but not kissing on the first date,” she told People. “I’ve got to use my time wisely!”
If the season Bachelor in Paradise promo is any indication, we have a ton of making out ahead. Kenny and Mari. Kenny and Demi. Thomas and Becca. Riley and Maurissa. Victoria P. and James (aka Box Guy) from Katie’s season. There are also some arguments and tears in store, sure, but after back-to-back seasons edited to prioritize drama over romance, it’s nice to see that we can actually expect some love stories. What’s more, we got to see the season’s women celebrate, support, and encourage one another; bartender Wells actually got some screen time and served an emotional purpose; and David Spade, although a random surprise of a guest host, proved, once again, that the show can easily go on without Chris Harrison.
Ultimately, this is Bachelor in Paradise, and there will certainly, obviously be some cringeworthy and downright painful moments in the coming weeks. But there will also be a lot of flirty, silly, and even romantic kisses between our favorite beautiful, melodramatic members of Bachelor Nation, and isn’t that what Paradise is all about? Or at least, shouldn't it be?