Joey Graziadei embarked on his first round of dates on Monday's episode of 'The Bachelor' — but as love connections sparked, so did friction between some of his suitors
Rachel, Taylor, Kelsey T., Lexi, Evalin, Erika, Maria, Lauren and Jess embarked on the first group date of the season. After receiving word that it would be a wedding-themed date, the ladies ran into another room at Bachelor Mansion to pick out wedding dresses.
When they showed up to the date, host Jesse Palmer informed the women they’d be attending their wedding to Joey and partaking in challenges inspired by a wedding reception. At the end of the date, only one woman would get to have the first dance with Joey.
“It’ll be fun to try to picture if I can see myself walking down the aisle with them,” Joey, 28, said in an on-camera interview.
First, the women played musical chairs to determine who would sit next to Joey at the sweetheart table. When the music stopped, Evalin, 29, jumped over the table in an attempt to grab the seat beside The Bachelor.
“I could talk about Evalin’s athletic ability all day,” Joey told the cameras. “Leaping over the table and landing on top of Lauren? Evalin, A+ for effort.”
Alas, Lauren, 28, and Maria, 29, ended up nabbing the seats. But Lauren couldn’t get into the date because it only reminded her about how her father, who died seven months prior, wouldn’t be there on her actual wedding day.
“I’m just salty, I think, right now,” the registered nurse told Maria.
Meanwhile, guests clinked their glasses to encourage Joey and Jess, 24, to kiss, and Rachel, 26, gave a touching speech.
“She blew me away with her toast,” Joey said in an on-camera interview.
Joey felt so blown away, in fact, that he awarded Rachel the first dance to Michael Bolton’s “When a Man Loves a Woman,” which the 70-year-old Grammy winner performed live.
At the afterparty, Maria pulled Joey first and told him she “already” felt an attraction to him. Then she stepped away to “slip into something more comfortable” than her white corseted dress. The executive assistant returned in a black lacy bra top and matching skirt.
“I’m not trying to seduce you, but if it’s working, I’ll take it,” Maria said to Joey.
Joey told Maria he wanted “to get to know more about who Maria is,” but “since you’re wearing this all I can think about is…” he said, trailing off and leaning in for a kiss.
From there, Joey chatted with Jess, who went outside to cuddle under a fuzzy white blanket because she felt she’d experienced a “setback day” with the tennis coach.
“I felt the connection, the spark, right off the bat and to have people to be like, ‘Well yeah, you should just chill,’ it sucks. It really does,” the executive assistant told Joey.
Jess explained how she “spent the last two years building myself back up from a really low place” following a relationship that included infidelity on her partner’s end.
“I can see how that kind of triggers something from the past,” Joey responded.
Joey felt like he could relate, sharing that, in a past relationship, “I felt like I was changing a lot to make them happy.”
Lauren also opened up to Joey about why she felt distant during the wedding reception portion of the date. “I think it hit me a lot that my dad’s not going to be there for my wedding,” Lauren said to Joey, adding that she wanted to push through the discomfort to keep getting to know Joey.
“I appreciate not only you opening up, but then also sharing that you’re only here because you’re interested in me,” Joey replied.
Joey ultimately chose Jess to receive the date rose.
Daisy received the first one-on-one date of the season, which turned out the be the franchise’s classic helicopter date. Joey and Daisy, 25, traveled to the BeachLife Ranch music festival, armed with all-access passes. Joey told Daisy he picked her for the date because he knew she liked music.
Daisy planned to tell him about her health journey, but the right moment didn’t come until after the festival — during which they danced on stage during Bahamas’ set. Over drinks, Daisy told Joey, “A life with me is probably going to look a little different than any other girl in the house.”
The Minnesota native proceeded to tell Joey about getting severely sick as a child and receiving treatment for Lyme disease in Germany.
“I lost like a ton of my hair, I lost like 15 pounds in five days,” Daisy said. “It’s been pretty wild. But after I did that treatment, I felt way better and I was really healthy and that’s the important thing. But my hearing kept getting worse. So, the reason I can communicate is because I have a cochlear implant.”
Daisy showed Joey the implant and explained to him how it worked.
“It’s extremely inspiring to me,” Joey responded. “And this has only made you more interesting, more impressive more for me.”
Joey extended a rose to Daisy, and she told the cameras, “I can definitely see myself falling in love with him.”
SECOND GROUP DATE
For the week’s second group date, Bachelor alums Demi Burnett and Jubliee Sharpe hosted a bootcamp to test which woman had the strength for a relationship with Joey. They split the 10 women into the Blue and Pink teams for the Paint Battle Royale, a mix of paintball and Capture the Flag, during which the teams had to retrieve a big pink heart. The winning team earned extra time with Joey.
The Blue Team ended up winning, only to learn that just one of the team members would go to spend more time with Joey. After getting cleaned up at the mansion, Lea announced game MVP Edwina would be the one going to the afterparty.
During her extra time with Joey, Edwina, 25, talked about how growing up in an African household as a woman, she had responsibilities to be “the mother of the house at a young age.”
Joey told Edwina her parents must be “extremely proud of you every day.”
“I want to continue to know more and I’m really excited about just what’s in store for us,” Joey said, offering Edwina a rose at the end of the date.
COCKTAIL PARTY AND ROSE CEREMONY
Back at the house, Madina expressed concerns about being the oldest woman in the cast. Maria, however, told another contestant that Madina, 31, shouldn’t have anything to worry about and that as one of the older ladies herself, she felt secure. Sydney, 28, overheard this conversation and reported it back to Madina because the vintage store owner found it “very condescending.”
Maria confronted Madina at the cocktail party and asked Madina why she was upset. “It made it feel like you didn’t think that that was a valid reason to be upset,” the mental health therapist told Maria.
Madina didn’t want to continue the conversation as she awaited time with Joey, and Maria tried to defend herself to the group. “I don’t think I’m old,” Maria said.
Sydney believed Maria was "belittling" Madina's feelings by saying that.
Ultimately, Maria didn’t think Joey would count Madina out because of her age. “Her age being a problem it hurt, I feel for her because I want her to own it,” Maria said.
She implored the other women to drop the subject. “For this to be a conversation is crazy,” Maria said. “Do we not all agree this is a little nuts?”
In an on-camera interview, Maria declared, “That was probably the dumbest fight on Bachelor history.”
Lauren had been waiting for her time with Joey, during which she planned to recreate the wedding date that had her in the dumps earlier in the week. But she ran out of patience, and by the time her turn rolled around, Lauren decided she wanted to leave the show.
“I don’t even want to talk to you now because now I’m just in a bad mood to do it because everyone and their mother already went,” Lauren said to Joey upon informing him of her impending exit.
Joey told Lauren he felt “terrible” about the situation. “I wish I could say or do something,” he said to Lauren, “but I can tell you’ve gotten to a point where you’re over it.”
Lauren’s choice to bail on the wedding date didn’t get communicated to production in time, though, so a server still brought over what she expected to be a red velvet wedding cake. Lauren cut into the cake only to find out it was not red velvet, so she took a handful and smashed it on the ground.
Lauren’s sister Allison cried to the cameras about her departure, but Allison received a rose at the rose ceremony, so it’d be a little while longer before she reunited with Lauren. At the rose ceremony, Joey also gave roses to Rachel, Lexy, Kelsey A., Kelsey T., Jen, Evalin, Autumn, Madina, Lea, Katelyn, Chrissa, Maria, Starr and Sydney.
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