Thirty women showed up on Monday night’s Season 23 premiere of “The Bachelor” to meet Colton Underwood, but we’re going to be focused all season on the two North Carolina women: Caelynn Miller-Keyes, the 2018 Miss North Carolina USA, and Nina Bartula of Raleigh, a Cisco sales manager who graduated from Meredith. (Read more about them here.)
The show — an unforgivable three hours long, padded with silly “Bachelor” parties across the nation — started with taped intros of a few of the women (but neither of our NC contestants) and a profile of Colton, a former NFL player who was on the Becca season of “The Bachelorette” and last season’s “Bachelor in Paradise.”
Colton is known in the “Bachelor” universe for “not being over Becca” and for being a virgin, and all of that is covered in his intro.
Then the show went straight to the limo meet-and-greets.
Caelynn meets Colton
We didn’t have to wait long for Caelynn, whose hometown is listed as Charlotte (she became Miss North Carolina USA as Miss Asheville, though, so she has also lived there).
Yes, she’s wearing a pageant sash. Colton asked her about it.
“I’m Miss North Carolina, but I’m here for an even better title, and that is…” she pulled the sash down to reveal the back, which said “Miss Underwood.”
“Look at that, I love that! That’s awesome,” Colton said. When Caelynn walked away, Colton said to himself, “She’s gorgeous.”
Of note: Hannah Brown, 2018 Miss Alabama USA, rolled up and yes, she and Caelynn know each other and no, they allegedly do not really like each other. After a tight-smiled hello, Hannah B. (there’s another Hannah on the show) noted to the camera that Caelynn beat her in the Miss USA pageant.
“Caelynn, she was first runner up at Miss USA,” she said. “She beat me. It’s cool.” And then: “Coming here I didn’t want it to feel like competition in any way” (what show has she been watching!?) “but there she is, dating the same man — and I just hope we don’t have to kill each other.”
Nina meets Colton
It’s important to stand out at the limo meeting, so Nina, born in Croatia, greeted Colton in Croatian, saying: “I’m so glad that you’re the Bachelor, and you’re even more handsome in person.”
Colton responded: “I heard ‘Bachelor’ …”
Nina: “I speak English too.” Colton: “Oh, thank god!”
When she walked away, Colton, looking shell-shocked, said to himself, “That’s my third language” (he was also greeted in Spanish and Mandarin).
Cocktail party mingling
We didn’t get to see if Nina and Colton interacted at the cocktail party — there was some wonderful drama about one woman (Catherine) who monopolized Colton’s time, meaning several women didn’t get time with him — so I’m not sure if Nina missed out, or if it just didn’t make it through editing. We do see her mingling with the other women a time or two.
But Caelynn definitely did get time with Colton, and sparks flew.
She told Colton that she is from Virginia originally but moved to North Carolina about a year ago. “I love North Carolina,” she said. “But I love to travel more than anything.” She told Colton her favorite place was Thailand, but that she “got dumped in Thailand.” Colton responded: “I got dumped before Thailand (referring to the end of his relationship with Becca on ‘The Bachelorette’) so we have something in common.”
Caelynn told Colton that she knows she’s young — she was 23 at the time of the filming — but that she’s been through so much that has aged her, so she’s “more than ready for marriage.” (We’ll learn more from Caelynn about what she’s been through in a later episode.)
Colton told her she has beautiful eyes and then he moved in for a kiss — the first kiss of the night.
“He kisses very well for a virgin,” Caelynn said to the camera later, laughing. “I was shocked at how he just took the initiative and drew me in. And I was like, wow. He’s like, yeah. I was about it. So I hope I made a good impression on him.”
Caelynn also told the camera that she was worried about the inevitable troublemaker because there’s one in every season.
“I’m excited for tonight, but also I’m worried about the girl who’s gonna stir the pot, because so far everyone’s so cool, and I’m waiting for that bitch to come.”
Well, see below.
Other crazy notes
▪Catherine, who earned the hate of all the women when she hung out with Colton *four* separate times during the cocktail party, brought her tiny dog Lucy and gave it to Colton and is making him keep it during her time on the show. It’s a test, she said. She is straight-up going to be the “villain” of the season. And no way those lips are real.
▪ Onyeka won the MVP of the night for interrupting Catherine and Colton once, wearing a mask and snorkle and announcing, “Colton I heard you were drowning in some bitches!” I laughed out loud. Because he was.
▪ Alex D. met Colton dressed as a sloth — in a full sloth suit — and moved and talked veeerrrrrrry sllloooooooowwwwwwllllly. And she stayed in character almost all night, even climbing trees.
▪ Heather said in her intro at the top of the show that she has never even been kissed. In the space under her name where one’s occupation is usually listed, ABC wrote Never Been Kissed.
▪ While Nina and two other women spoke different languages (Spanish, Mandarin) to Colton, Bri pretended to be Australian, thinking the accent would make her stand out. Well, it worked — on social media, at least.
▪ Two women wore the exact same dress. You know who didn’t have to worry about that? The sloth.
The Rose Ceremony
Both Caelynn and Nina got roses (Caelynn got the very first one), so they’ll be on next week’s episode (8 p.m. Monday on ABC — and don’t worry, next week it’s just two hours).
Here’s who went home: Erin (who had a whole Cinderella shtick), Tahzjuan and Devin.