I feel like Rachel is bound to have success this season because she’s able to start each day with a clear head. How do I know this? Because her bff Copper is by her side every step of the way, forcing her out of bed, helping her put on makeup, and joining her on her morning contemplation walks. Having a furry family member with you is the key to staying grounded and reminded of real life, which will in turn keep the fantasy-driven decisions to a minimum. Just my prediction, based off an undergrad degree in Psychology, which means basically nothing. BUT TRUST ME OKAY?

Real life question: Why do we choose majors in college when 85% of graduates don’t end up in that field? If they’d offered a major in “How to successfully load a dishwasher, analyze reality television for both a blog and production company, and not get fat,” my yearly donation to my alma mater would probably be much higher. Just saying.

I really settle into the episode once the guys are on the mansion balcony yelling “Rachel!!” in unison. Ah, the sweet sound of Bachelor tradition.

Chris Harrison then meets the guys in the living room, where he explains how the dates will work, since most of these fools have only watched an episode or two with their ex-girlfriends, who are now hate-watching the show with a serious vengeance. Luckily, they got a solid rundown from producers before filming, so they knew that fitted tees are the official mens loungewear of the Bachelor Mansion. I think it’s safe to assume they consulted with each other that morning to make sure they didn’t all wear the same color.

I get a little giddy every time I catch a glimpse of Bryan.

The first group date goes to:

Dean

Jack Stone

Jonathan the Professional Tickle Monster

Blake

Iggy

Kenny the Wrestler

Fred

Lucas Whaboom

“I’m looking for husband material. — Rachel”

The group date guys show up in a giant field to find Rachel flipping burgers the grill. Breakin’ stereotypes left and right this season, I see. She informs them that they’ll be changing diapers and vacuuming for the afternoon, after a short BBQ and a game of 500. Rachel throws the football while all the guys attempt to retrieve it, and I’m beginning to worry these guys might feel their masculinity being threatened– after all, Bachelorette contestants aren’t known for having a particularly high supply of masculinity. Testosterone, yes. Masculinity, negative. But all is saved because she’s rocking a mini dress that looks like something someone on Project Runway designed, and she has the eyes of Bambi, which she flutters expertly before their egos have time to deflate.

BACHELORETTE 13 - "Episode 1302" - Twenty-three men look to get their love story with Rachel off to a good start as they move into the mansion. Eight lucky bachelors get an amazing surprise when they learn that celebrity power couple Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are there to judge the guys' performance in a "husband material obstacle course." Next day, Peter gets the first one-one date as he, Rachel and her beloved dog Copper attend "Bark Fest" in Palm Springs. Ten men are astounded to find themselves in the company of NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar for a day of basketball. It's only the start of Rachel's journey, but deceit and treachery take center stage. The Bachelorette is challenged to remain strong and focus on her ultimate goal of finding a soul mate, on "The Bachelorette," MONDAY, MAY 29 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Michael Yada) FRED, DEAN, LUCAS, RACHEL LINDSAY, JACK

As the Husband Material challenge approaches, we learn that Dean has never held a baby, which I don’t understand. How can you reach adulthood and never hold a baby? Don’t you have family? Or at least a rando friend who got knocked up in high school?

Do you know who HAS held a baby? Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis! Hollywood’s most naturally beautiful couple joins the party to explain how this challenge will work. They’re cute and funny and Mila promises Ashton he’ll get some later because he gave her a nice compliment. Celebrities, they’re just like us!

My favorite part was when Mila tells the guys that women just wants a man with health insurance, and makes them raise their hand if they have it. HAHAHAHA. I couldn’t tell who didn’t raise their hands, but what PSYCHO goes on The Bachelorette without health insurance? You’re basically guaranteed at least one death-defying activity and an STD. Perhaps being a contestant on The Bachelorette is considered a pre-existing condition by most insurance companies, though, making it tough to get coverage. Fair enough.

The guys have to make it through an obstacle course with baby dolls, which includes changing diapers, putting on a baby bjorn, vacuuming, cleaning hair out of a drain, finding a lost engagement ring, and bringing Rachel flowers. I can’t speak for the baby aspect, but the rest of it is the most realistic picture of husbandry that’s ever been depicted on this show. Rachel just should’ve had Copper around to trip them the whole time.

group date

After drowning his baby in the kitchen sink and skipping half the stations, Lucas Whaboom wins the challenge. To celebrate, he throws the baby onto the ground like he’s dropping a mic. Dad of the year!

The #1 rule of Bachelor world is not to argue about the winner of challenges, but Blake doesn’t like rules. He complains that Lucas cheated, which I’m sure made Rachel very attracted to him.

That night, Blake reveals that he lived platonically with Lucas’ ex-girlfriend, which is how he knows Lucas is a jerk. Lucas points out that his ex-girlfriend thinks Blake is insane, which is why she moved out. The real victim here is OBVIOUSLY the poor girl who got mixed up with these two knuckleheads.

Jack Stone manages to out-awkward everyone in his red leather ankle boots, giggling uncontrollably when he talks to Rachel. The Tickle Monster shows Rachel the proper technique for wiping a baby’s butt– a real turn on. Fred, the kid she used to babysit at summer camp, continues to creep her out simply by existing.

Rachel tells the camera that she’s not feelin’ it with anyone.

Dean to the rescue! They talk about his “ready to go black, and I’m never going back” intro during the live season kick-off, and flirt lightly as if they were truly on a first date. FINALLY! Chemistry! Always a nice thing to see on a show about finding love. And as Rachel mentioned, it doesn’t hurt that Dean is hawwwtttt.

dean gif

Kenny gives Dean a slight run for his money– particularly in my book, when he told the camera that as a wrestler, he’s “used to white guys actin’ cray” like Blake and Lucas– but at the end of the night, Dean receives the group date rose.

Dean then smoothly asks Rachel if he can walk her to her car, where they share a lovely first kiss. Rachel’s red lipstick looks nice on him, but he wisely wipes it off before heading back inside.

Somewhere between Rachel zipping the 40 zippers on her black dress and Lucas Whaboom claiming he and Rachel have an “unspoken connection,” the first one-on-one date card was delivered back at the mansion.

Peter

“I’m looking for my best friend. — Rachel”

Peter’s the cutie with the matching gap in his teeth, so I fully support Rachel’s pick. He was my #2 after Bryan on the first night.

peter

Peter drives Rachel right up to a private jet, where she excitedly tells him they’re going to Palm Springs for the day! He’s not what one might call “expressive,” but you can tell he thinks this is good news. She tries to lay on some drama, telling him that even though they’re supposed to have a one-on-one date, she’d really like to bring her old friend along, because he was just in a bad accident. Peter graciously says no problem.

The limo pulls up with Rachel’s friend inside, and out pops…Copper! Copper the pup has a cast on his leg, but that doesn’t stop him from being in the BEST mood! What a champ. We don’t find out what happened to his leg, which is rude, but he takes to Peter nicely as they fly to their destination.

They flew to Palm Springs for a dog pool party!! The world needs more of these.

When I saw the ball pit, I briefly wondered if we’d get a Corinne bounce house moment, but Rachel and Peter handled themselves like adults, which was refreshing. You can tell they have natural chemistry, thought I think Rachel might be slightly more into Peter than he is into her. Either way, I’m rooting for them. They discuss the idea of moving locations for a romantic interest, and both agree that they’d have no problem moving for the right person. I take this as a lovely sign of equal selflessness, which is a crucial component to a healthy marriage.

The day ends with Peter holding Copper in one arm as though he’s a chihuahua (Copper is NOT a chihuahua), and happily sway-dancing with all the other puppy parents. Rachel beams and calls him a beautiful soul.

Copper joins them for dinner later that night, all set with his own dog bed and dinner. He eats on camera, which is SUCH a rookie mistake, but his great hair and smile really makes up for it.

bach dog 2

Peter continues to impress by wearing REAL khaki pants, not jeggings, to dinner, paired with a navy blue blazer over a classic white button down. If I wasn’t so emotionally committed to Bryan, I’d say I’m developing a lil’ crush on Peteroo.

(PSA: I’m still very much in love with my husband, but if he were home, I’m certain he’d agree that Bryan and Peter are swoonworthy. So it’s fine.)

Peter pulls out her chair gracefully, and makes a little toast to enjoying the day. Rachel can’t stop smiling. Father Judge will most certainly approve of this debonair gentleman. Speaking of Dad, Rachel asks Peter if his parents approve of his being on the show. He takes this time to remind us that his parents speak Russian, and so does he. Thank God Bryan speaks another language, too, or else I’d start to feel truly torn.

Peter’s parents approve of his reality TV stint, much to Rachel’s pleasure. They do not have that in common, but they do have the gap tooth in common! Peter says his dad’s whole side has it. They agree it gives them character, and that their future baby will look adorbs with an inevitable lil’ gap, too.

She asks Peter about his relationship history, and he explains that he’s been so brokenhearted before that he went to relationship therapy. Rachel’s jaw drops. She, too, went to relationship therapy! They both feel like it was one of the best decisions they’ve ever made, because they learned so much about themselves and what they want in a future spouse. These two are very in touch with themselves…and each other…and I think he’s going to be around for a VERY long time. I would be shocked if he didn’t make it to Hometowns. In fact, I’m calling Top 2.

Naturally, Rachel gives Peter the rose, then initiates a kiss. Girl knows what she wants. And she gets it. He seems like a solid kisser, and they take the lip party outside beneath their own personal fireworks show. She tells the camera that she’s a “smitten kitten.” Aw, Rach.

Next up, group date #2:

Will

Jamey

Diggy

Alex

Adam

Lee

Matt

Eric

Josiah

DeMario

“Swish.”

DeMario and Josiah– the two resident peacocks– are v excited because they’ve become bff bro-buds in the house, and also love basketball! Swish! They promise to be best men in their weddings with Rachel, then scurry off to change into athletic gear and poison each other’s Gatorade.

In a local high school gymnasium, Rachel is shooting hoops like a boss. She’s already “manned” the grill, thrown the football, and made some guys change poopy diapers. But producers want to make SURE we understand that she’s not a meek housewife, so more sports, it is! The good news is that Rachel is legit athletic, so it doesn’t seem too forced.

They guys walk in and marvel at her butt in spandex. Classy, boys. She then calls upon her “personal friend” to join them in the gym: Kareem Abdul-Jabar!

I can’t lie to you guys. I thought she said “King [something] Jafar!” I was slightly disappointed when I didn’t see an evil man with a goatee and a parrot on his shoulder.

Clearly I’m a HUGE basketball fan. However, I quickly came to love Kareem Abdul-Jabar, and desperately wanted him to adopt me as his granddaughter. He was super sweet, and reminded everyone that this date wasn’t about being good at basketball, it’s about having good character. <3

Rachel forgets all that, and immediately favors DeMario because he’s the best at basketball. She only gets minorly turned off when he won’t stop dunking– even on her. She finally realizes he may have a cockiness problem. YOU THINK?

After plenty of practice, the guys are split into two teams, and strangers are pulled in off the street to watch them play a full game. Everyone except the cheerleaders and marching band looks like they’re not sure why they’re there, or why their phone has been confiscated. But then in walks Chris Harrison!

I thought he was going to narrate the game, or whatever commentators do, but sadly he just watched on the sidelines with Rachel and Jafar Kareem.

kareem

The guys play. Lee the white boy from Tennessee is really bad. Eric thinks he’s good but he’s not. With the exception of I-think-I’m-in-the-NBA-DeMario, the other guys blend into the background, which is really what you want in a situation like this.

After the game, Rachel takes pictures with fans in the audience while the guys change. One of those fans is given her on mic pack, which should have clued Rachel into something. Turns out this girl is DeMario’s girlfriend.

Ruh roh.

I mean, the chick is obviously certifiably insane, but nonetheless has the texts to backup her story. Rachel goes and pulls DeMario from the locker room, leaving the other men to think that he’s getting some sort of reward. Instead, she walks him over to crazy-girl, and he says a slightly convincing “Who ‘dis?”

First red flag.

After 30 seconds, he realizes he has to admit he knows her. From there, it becomes very clear that DeMario thought crazy-chick was a hook up buddy, and tried to ghost her right before the show, but not without stringing her back in a few times because he wanted to get it in before being celibate until Fantasy Suites. So you DO know who this is? The fact that he pretended not to recognize her was his most fatal error, because from then out, Rachel couldn’t believe a word he said in his defense. Finally, after crazy girl and DeMario kept interrupting each other so much that I wanted to scream, Rachel looked at DeMario and told him to GET THE F*** OUT.

Danngggg.

Rachel tells producers that she didn’t sign up to be played or look like a joke. When she storms out, Chris Harrison waits just on the other side of the double doors to talk to her, but she breezes past him and says, “No! I don’t want to talk about it!” and heads straight into the women’s locker room.

ch gif

CH is intimidated by Rachel so he just stays as still as humanly possible.

After she cools off a bit, she tells the other guys what happened, and heads off to give Copper a good long squeeze. The other guys are SHOCKED, especially Josiah, who no longer has a best man.

That night, Josiah really turns up the charm, tearing up when he tells Rachel that he was hurt to see her so hurt. He failed to mention that DeMario was his best friend in the house. Details. He swallows Rachel with his mouth, but she seems to like it, and her mood improves drastically.

Eric kisses her during his one-on-one time, too, but his hands are in a tight cupping position on her upper back, and don’t move the entire time. It was like a Ken doll embracing her. That’s the easiest way to describe his arm position.

Josiah gets the group date rose.

Cut to the rose ceremony! Rachel wears a black dress with Gold detailing, and looks DI-VINE. She and Bryan start the night off together since he hadn’t been given a date that week. He starts things out with his signature aggressive kiss, and they both admit they’d really missed the other. He’s a chiropractor, so he wants to give Rachel a massage after her stressful week dealing with DeMario. You know it was an amazing massage given his profession.

[LADIES– Find a guy who’s a good masseuse. Then keep him. It is truly an important quality in a husband, trust me. No joke, a solid back massage can save a marriage.]

Commotion in the driveway! What could it be?! It’s DeMario, of course. He’s back and wants to say some parting words to Rachel. Bro, you met her for all of 10 mins total. You give 0 flips about Rachel. This is about more airtime, and it’s not cute.

The guys in the house catch wind that DeMario is out front. As Chris Harrison leads Rachel down to talk to him, the other guys follow behind, ready to “man up and get him out of here.”

…TO BE CONTINUED.

You know what, producers? “To be continued” really loses its affect if you put it at the end of every single episode.

Next week, we finally get to see Lee and Eric duke it out for the title of Top Villain. In the teasers, we don’t get a single glimpse of Rachel, which is interesting, because this is HER SHOW. Alas, it’s the first half of the season, so drama trumps romance.

See you next week!