Hi! My name is Arianna, and the last time I wrote about the show formerly known as The Bachelor of Provo, I was introducing it to the entire state of Utah. In the eight months since that story went live, Warner Brothers threatened a lawsuit, I changed jobs, the show’s creators renamed it Provo’s Most Eligible, and I now sit jaded and elbow deep in the first part of the first episode of season two wondering the same thing I asked the creators when I spoke to them eight months ago: why?
A lot has changed about the show since season one: it has finally moved out of its parents’ basement, there are three bachelorettes looking for love instead of one, the way the women choose the men they’re interested in is completely different, and the oldest contestant is reportedly 32 years-old. If McKenna Wright from last season was considered a grandma at 23, then by Provo’s Most Eligible standards, this man might as well be a pile of bones lying in a sarcophagus somewhere playing third wheel to a pair of canopic jars (as a single 27 year-old, I have a whole leg in the grave myself).
The show’s creators have promised more things to cringe about this season, and thus far, they’ve been true to their word: they got heat for problematic casting when episode one released and they got more heat over costuming in episode two. At the rate things are going, we’ll all have cringed this thing into a dumpster fire by the time the finale drops.
Each episode is a whopping two hours long, and with all thirty of the guys zipping around this thing, it’s blinking hard to keep track of who’s who. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s only one white guy on this show and he’s just slipping into different suits every five minutes. Almost every one of them looks like he’s going to show up on my doorstep next summer selling pest control or Living Scripture videos (no solicitors, pls).
There is A LOT to cover in episode one, so grab a drink, get comfy, pray for endurance, and let’s recap this bad boy.
It must first be said that Colin Ross truly walked (and stumbled and badly flirted) so these bachelorettes could run. Season two opens like a Downton Abbey and Real Housewives crossover with the show’s stars Lauren, Elizabeth, and Ellie drifting across a golf course in evening gowns that could murder a man. I am LIVING FOR IT.
I had my friend Chris edit the theme of The Real Housewives of Orange County over the intro for effect.
Lauren and Ellie, the brunettes, look like they’re waiting for their lovers to return from war. Elizabeth looks like a soon-to-be widowed heiress who’s just dropped arsenic into her much older husband’s wine glass. If she doesn’t win this thing, I am DONE.
Here’s a bit more about the bachelorettes (the most eligible? Idk what they’re calling them these days).
Lauren is 24 years old, and of the three girls, she’s got the most interesting relationship history--she got married at 20 and divorced 2 1/2 years later.
Lauren has lived all over the country and wants to be a marriage and family counselor. She’s also a singer and a freelance model, which I assume means she deals with crippling financial anxiety with the benefit of looking like a ten while dealing with it.
Lauren has perfect teeth and says she’d love to find someone to spray with the produce hoses at the grocery store. She reassures potential dating partners that even though she’s 24 years-old, she feels like a) “a kid at heart” b) a 21 year-old and c) someone who has never been married. First of all, it’s okay for you to feel like someone who’s been married, Lauren. That’s part of your life. Secondly: can you die from ageism, because if so, I don’t think it’s medically safe for me to watch this.
Our next bachelorette is Elizabeth, who goes by “Bee, like the bug.” Bee is a 22 year-old BYU grad who works as an ER nurse, loves dancing, has never had a boyfriend, and believes you’re not done eating until you hate yourself, which makes me really worry about her relationship with food. Bee also loves intense war movies with gore. Clearly, she’s seen some sh*t, which means she’ll fit right in on PME.
One thing we need to talk about with Bee is her love for babies, because she says she would give up the use of one arm if it meant she could hold a baby all day, which sounds like a logistical nightmare for an ER nurse and also one of the most stereotypical Provo things I think I’ve ever heard. Secretly, I’m praying she brings up babies as an icebreaker later.
(Spoiler alert: she does, and it’s more frightening than I ever imagined.)
Finally, there’s 19 year-old Ellie, the youngest of the group. Ellie went to technical college for digital media design and likes the simple things in life, like cooking and picnicking. Oh, and also having a YouTube channel with over 186,000 subscribers, which everyone somehow conveniently forgot to mention.
Ellie is “down to do whatever” as long as it’s not illegal--sorry, boys. You’ll have to find someone else to commit voter fraud with. She says she had one boyfriend in high school for three months and feels that if it were the right time and person, she’d be ready to get married. Oh, to be that young and innocent again.
Introductions aside, the show starts the way all bad dating experiences always start: on Mutual.
Lauren, Bee, and Ellie sit together and swipe through the Mutual profiles of all thirty guys, looking at each guy’s profile picture at the same time and swiping up or down based on their interest. Three girls roasting guys’ Mutual profiles would be a far better show, imo, but this ain’t that show.
The guys have already used Mutual to swipe up on the bachelorette they’re most interested in. If the girls swipe up and there’s a match, the guy comes into the room, says “hey” to the girl he matched with, then leaves, possibly never to speak to or be spoken to by that girl again. They’re really portraying the authentic Mutual experience here.
That’s one thing I don’t get. You’d think Mutual would be a critically important detail later in the show, like a match ensures a guy won’t get sent home that week, but it proves to be almost completely irrelevant. The biggest thing it does is give the guy ten extra seconds to prove he’s a standout and make me feel bad whenever someone doesn’t get matched with.
There are certainly some standouts who get matches.
There’s this guy Skyler, who comes riding out on a tandem bike launching flower petals at Lauren from a cannon like he’s the George Washington of romance. This man is as smooth as wet marble.
Provo royalty James the M*rm*n--censored for protection from Satan--also matches with Lauren and makes an appearance. He’s apparently re-branded himself as James the Connect Four Champion and a full two years younger than he actually is. Bold move.
Bee gets her first match with Keaton Hill, the bro behind the popular Basic Provo Bro Instagram account who borrows a puppy to win Bee’s love. Smart man.
Listen. I don’t want to prematurely accuse this guy of being here for the wrong reasons, but you’re going to tell me you’re obsessed with memes and then say you decided to try out for Provo’s Most Eligible one day to maybe find love? Watch this man. He’s going to be manspreading in the corner with Canva, Twitter, and Meme Generator pulled up on his phone the whole time.
Lauren snags another match with a guy named Ben, who presents her with a king-sized candy bar that he claims is her “100% love language,” whatever the heck that means. Ben will be important later when he starts acting like a complete chump for no apparent reason.
We meet Justin, who’s had “all sorts of different girlfriends,” including a “blonde girlfriend,” a “ginger girlfriend,” and a “Spanish girlfriend.” If a racist joke and a blonde joke had a baby, it would be the way Justin just described his girlfriends.
I will say the tie dye shirt was slick and Justin clearly came prepared to woo every one of these women with a grocery bag full of snacks, including an entire pineapple.
Walker Wright, brother to McKenna from last season, matches with Bee and decides to make his whole schtick Harry Potter themed. Walker says he can’t remember a single night where he hasn’t done something fun, which becomes a soft burn later when Bee asks him if he recognizes her and he says he can’t remember them even meeting. Ouch. Ten points from Gryffindor.
Lauren matches with Kwaku, a self-described basic boy from Texas who brings Lauren a vanilla bean frappuccino from Starbucks sans the coffee because she’s “a good BYU person like me.” Listen, buddy. We all read that New Era article, and we all know "good BYU people" never buy drinks at coffee shops or anything ending in -ccino, thank you very much.
At this point, I’m thinking about two things: for one, it’s almost more interesting to watch the way the other girls react to each guy in the backdrop than it is to watch each guy, and I hope those dresses have pockets, because these women are getting a heck of a lot of snacks.
Things get a little spicy when Justin’s brother Nathan makes an appearance and immediately admits to not having any post-mission dating experience. We all know how this is going to go.
Nathan says he’s excited to surpass his brother in something and immediately gets no swiped by every one of the girls. Nathan seems sweet, and I am sad at this.
Then enters Daniel, “dummy thicc big boy” and Tik Tok star hailing from Zimbabwe. I scrolled through this man’s Tik Tok account for thirty minutes the other day, and all I can say is that he must win.
Bee mentions how much she loves boys with tan [read: brown. Their skin is brown.] skin and is devastated every time they don’t match with her. Ellie likes gingers and red trucks. And Lauren seems to mostly like tall white dudes.
We’re introduced to suave Dev, who just moved to Utah and, as far as I can tell, is the only non-Latter-day Saint on this show. I am very, very concerned this show may be one of Dev’s first dating experiences in Utah. Dev, we’re not all like this. I am so sorry. Someone please protect Dev.
After Dev, we meet Jake the fanny pack wearer who owns ninety pairs of shoes. Jake says he wants a girl who’s willing to dance with him at the grocery store (I’m starting to think dating in Provo is hard because y’all think going to Costco is the best you can do).
There are a lot of men on this show who are surprised Lauren looks more beautiful than her photos, and I’m honestly not sure that compliment lands as well as they think it does.
Ellie matches with Scott, who is the Southernest Southern boy I’ve ever heard. He owns a truck and likes shouting at the TV during football games. Scott says he’s only impressed by a woman every once in awhile, and like, honestly Scott, meet more women, please.
One month after it started, the Mutual matching ceremony ends with this guy Tyler zooming in on a sparkler bedecked mini bike like he’s at the Ringling Brothers’ Circus, and then it’s time for the real circus to begin.
INTERMISSION BREAK--Go to the bathroom, go for a run, or get out of your house. Please. For your own sanity.
Okay. An hour after it started, we’re only halfway through episode one of Provo’s Most Eligible. Woof. This is where (in theory) the actual fun begins, because everyone’s moved outside and all thirty guys now get to talk to whichever girls they want and pull out all the stops to impress them. This is also the part where things get freaky.
Keaton, after sitting the appropriate distance of five triple combinations away, asks Bee what she means exactly when she says she likes being weird. Props to Bee for being honest, because she tells Keaton what is perhaps the weirdest thing that has ever come out of a person’s mouth during an introduction.
“Sometimes I lay in my bed at night and I rub my belly and I talk to my future children that are unborn. Is that weird?”
YES, BEE. IT’S WEIRD.
Walker springs another Harry Potter pickup line on Ellie and immediately seems to backpedal on his heart-winning scheme when he mumbles, “Yeah, Harry Potter, like, it’s kinda cool.” Kinda cool? At this point, we all know you’re spending your weekends drawing a Sharpie lightning bolt on your forehead and giggling over Pottermore updates, Walker.
I haven’t been a huge Lauren fan up to this point, but then she hops on that tandem bike and rides it sidesaddle in a dress that fits like a bedazzled straw, which simultaneously seems like the worst possible and most boss way to ride a tandem bike. Lauren’s also the only woman to reciprocate the snack-sharing and gift-giving, which is super classy of her. We stan Lauren.
Just when I think I’ve figured this show out, all of these random guys we’ve never seen before start emerging from the foliage, like the extra from Whip It.
Where did these guys come from? Did they get a fast pass through the Mutual round? Did the women swipe down on all of them and this was the producers’ way of being nice about it? Why was Nathan the only one who got publicly burned?
I don’t understand how this show works.
Caleb, who matched with Lauren in the Mutual round, doesn’t even bother to say hello to any of the other girls and makes sure the PME producers know it. Clearly this man doesn’t know anything about strategy.
In spite of rarely being impressed by women, Scott is the only one who even seems to know what he’s doing on this show. This man strikes with precision. While these other dudes are asking kindergarten questions like “what’s your favorite color,” he’s brought personalized gifts and handcrafted games to win the women over. The South knows how to educate a man. Well...at least about how to flirt.
Look at Ellie's face. Could this be the look of a woman in love?
Bee tries to twist a free, on-site dental consultation out of Johnny after learning he’s on his way to dental school. Johnny then starts dropping his best pickup lines, telling Bee she’s got a really nice smile, her teeth don’t look “that bad,” and he can tell she flosses. What a romantic.
Theft comes up an unusual number of times in this episode. Keaton mentions that one of the other guys has stolen some of his memes, which might be the spiciest drama we get from this episode, aside from Ben pretending to be an a-hole.
Then several of the men mention a guy who’s running around in a black turtleneck, and in the spirit of stealing other peoples’ jokes, they all compare him to an art thief. While you all think this man’s out to steal the Chalini Venus, he’s probably chilling in a garage somewhere inventing the next iPhone, or running a massively successful and fraudulent blood test startup.
We meet Austin, who immediately makes this thing as awkward as possible by giving Ellie some “fantasy sweets” since there won’t be an actual “Fantasy Suite” in the show.
Austin jokes that hopefully the treats will be as good as the actual Fantasy Suite and then they both nervously laugh together about the fact that neither of them would know. Provo’s most eligible indeed.
We meet Matt the Marine who is braver than the marines for even agreeing to be on this show. Bee thanks him for his service and they bond over war, a very unifying subject.
Finally, we get to meet the infamous turtleneck man, Niel, who looks less like an art thief and more like he just stepped off the set of Glee. Niel (friends call him Nielo Dragon) is a true Renaissance man--he’s written a fantasy novel and he goes to the gym, which he calls iron church, a phrase I didn’t realize I could hate so much until it was spoken out loud.
Mr. Steal Your Girl interrupts the show by riding in on a motorcycle, and he clearly has no regard for motor safety laws, because he hasn’t brought any helmets--the turtleneck makes him a little reckless, apparently. Bee, an ER nurse who probably sees ten smashed heads every day, is justifiably freaked out.
We meet JW, who’s dated over 100 girls in the past two years and his longest relationship has lasted one to two weeks. I am concerned about JW.
Walker starts throwing out lines about meeting Bee in the pre-existence, and Bee doesn’t take any of his crap, which I’m 100% here for. Bee does take Matthew Santos's non-consensual leg strokes, however, which I’m 100% not here for.
There’s a guy here who literally writes letters to his friends every day like he’s living in 1775.
Then there’s Ben. Ben doesn’t seem to know any of the girls’ names and makes sure to get in some toxic masculinity and a few body-shaming jabs about how real men weigh more than 110 pounds, you know, for “the cringe.”
Daniel and Bee finally get to talk, and they end up talking about wiping old men’s butts the whole time. This show is wild, man. I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying this.
One of the last guys we meet is Dalton the seminary teacher, who holds a fast and testimony meeting with Bee and will GUARANTEED have given Dev a Book of Mormon and a pass-along card by the end of this thing, mark my words.
An entire day has passed at this point (it feels like it’s been three years), and all I can focus on is James. Where the heck did James go? He promised us a rousing game of Connect Four and then he up and vanished, and I feel cheated.
Answers soon come.
We learn at the end of the show that James has social anxiety and literally didn’t talk to any of the women because he didn’t want to interrupt their conversations. This show does not end well for dear, polite James, which surprises no one.
The elimination round works like this: each girl has secretly chosen six guys that she’d like to keep dating. When each guy is called to the front of the room, the girls step forward if they’d like to keep dating him. If multiple girls step forward, the guy then gets to pick which girl’s “team” he’d like to be on. Instead of giving the men roses, the women stick what looks like a paper flower onto each man’s suit if he’s been chosen. He then goes and sits with his “team.”
Honestly, this elimination ceremony triggers major post traumatic stress for me. I feel like I’m jabbing my prom date with the corsage pin and getting picked last for kickball all over again. How is this fun for anyone?
Both Lauren and Bee give touching speeches about how great the guys are and how glad they are to have gotten to know them. Ellie, a woman of many words, gives the shortest speech any dating show has probably ever seen: “Ditto.”
At this point, I’m about to bow out like James, because the anxiety of watching two girls step forward and only one get picked in front of everyone is murder. One thing that’s interesting, though, is how many guys are only getting one girl stepping forward for them. I’m not sure how this is going to play out for the rest of the show, but it does appear that this, in addition to Ben making it past round one for some reason, might mean more manufactured drama is on the horizon. It wouldn’t be Provo’s Most Eligible without it.
A moment of silence for James, tandem guy, turtleneck, the boy on blades, Dev, the man who will introduce Dev to the missionaries, Matt the Marine, Caleb who only cares about Lauren, Justin who really did end up bested by his brother, and the other men who were sent home and will now have to go back to using Mutual again to find love. R.I.P. your dating lives.
(Design: Josh Fowlke) (Editor: Rachel Swan)