By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Aug 17, 2021 at 7:16 AM

Beautiful people making a hot mess of themselves on a beach. The soothing sounds of Mike Reno and Ann Wilson are crooning through the air. Crabs are just ... everywhere. Yes, it must be that "Bachelor in Paradise" time of year once again – wait, where the heck was "Almost Paradise"?! You brought in David Spade but forgot the kitschy intros?! Never have I been so betrayed.

Don't worry; they typically don't bring in Reno and Wilson, the true power couple of Paradise, until the second episode – probably because the premiere has, just, so many intros to get through already as is. As with the regular "Bachelor" or "Bachelorette," the first episode of "Paradise" can be a bit of a slog because it's mostly introductions – and then reintroductions. And then a few more rounds of introductions. You'd think since we already know who all of these people are (or at least are SUPPOSED to; my apologies in advance to Victoria P.), we could skip a lot of this and jump right into the glorious mass-dating mess of it all, but as Monday night's premiere showed, apparently we cannot.

The good news: There was still plenty of mess – as you'd expect from a show featuring a naked guy and a woman humbly claiming the title of goddess. 

Serena P., aka the Canadian who survived Matt James season and actually got to give him the boot rather than the other way around, gets the first intro, happily unbothered by the drama of her past "Bachelor" go-around and eager to meet Brendan from Tayshia's season – seen here showering because he has been REBORN in the cleansing, healing waters of "Paradise." (And also because he's a model.) Most importantly, though, there's Tahzjuan, who is here a second time after literally overheating last season – and is already overheating once again. RELATABLE! The show keeps trying to frame her as miserable and goofy, but somebody who can't stop sweating and complaining about how damn hot it is while everyone else is trying to behave cool and sexy? Sounds like an audience surrogate if you ask me.

Meanwhile, we re-meet Queen Victoria, aka the toxic bully from Matt James' season – or at least ONE of the toxic bullies from that season. But don't worry: She's emerged from that experience thoughtful and humbled, arriving on the beach not as a queen anymore ... but as Goddess Victoria, resident of "Mount Olymptus" (the Red Roof Inn of deity hangouts) and owner of a $20 plastic prop sunbeam crown. Glad to see she's learned self-awareness in the interim.

Next up is Mari, allegedly famous for getting nudged by Katie's vibrator during Matt James' season and "for having a big ass." What a resume. She's interested in meeting Kenny, the boy band manager from Clare and Tayshia's season, because "he's mature." Cut to Kenny trottting around the resort butt-ass naked. Prayers up for the editor in charge of black-boxing every single shot with Kenny in it; you deserve a big enough raise to almost (but not quite actually) go to space with Bezos. Yes, Kenny is 40 and fit, and he would like everybody to know it. You'd think just going without a shirt would achieve that mission – but no, he's letting it all hang out. Gotta show off those hard-earned penis abs, I guess? All I know is God save the audio person in charge of finding a place to put his microphone pack each day.

Kelsey, aka the Peter's season contestant who lost a fight to a botttle of champagne, is here as well – and she must've angered the producers at some point, because she gets a brutal edit, with a line about how she's "not looking for someone to fill her holes" and a conversation with Wells about using a laxative as anti-sweat makeup both making the final cut. But hey, she can open and drink champagne now, so there's that. We call that character development on this silly show. And now for the opposite of that, here's Connor B. introducing himself acoustic guitar first. Please let the crabs either take that instrument into the ocean to never be found again, or take me into the deep so I never have to hear Hack Johnson ever again. You seem like a nice guy, Connor, BUT I CANNOT AND WILL NOT CHECK OUT YOUR BANDCAMP, NO SIR!

Lastly we re-meet Grocery Store Joe, who last we checked was madly in love with Kendall on this very beach. Unfortunately – and this is going to be hard to believe – reality turned out to be more complicated than a reality show on a beach, and after a solid two-year effort, the two went their separate ways. Even though he's returning to the place they met, he swears that he's in a good headspace (he is not in a good headspace) and that they've both spent enough time apart that they should be comfortable with one another dating new people. (They are not comfortable with one another dating new people. I know Kendall's not there yet – but "Bachelor" producers are always listening and always plotting.)

Anyways, it takes Joe all of ten seconds to regret coming back to "Paradise," so things are looking up for ol' Bodega Joe. As it turns out, both he and the second arrival to the beach – Ivan of Clare/Tayshia's season – are both interested in Serena P., and Joe immediatetly starts spiraling, stressing out wildly and already warning the home audience to never come on this show. Always a good sign for a dating show when one of the contestants is actively warning people to stay away. 

Alas, none of his fellow castmates got that memo, slowly making their way one by one past celeb host David Spade, providing some uncaring scuzzball energy. Unfortunately, none of the production assistants provided him in turn with notes on the cast members, so he clearly doesn't know who these people actually are or what to say to them. That's OK; Tammy doesn't know who he is either. She thought he was either JPJ from a distance and then ... Dave Chappelle. God, I hope she meets an eye doctor on this beach. In case that wasn't embarrassing enough for Spade, he also tries to open Kelsey's champagne bottle, which takes approximately a fourth of the episode as he puts the botttle between his legs and just can't get it working. He swears this never happens. 

As for the other notable arrivals, Kenny shows up. His clothes don't. Brendan speaks for us all when he politely asks if he has any plans on shorts, like, ever. It would appear the answer is a negative. Sorry, black censor box; I hope you packed a lot of Gatorade for this trip, because you're about to get a workout. The Goddess Victoria arrives to the excited fanfare of exactly one person: the Goddess Victoria. I'd say it's the most unenthusiastically received arrival ... but then Karl pops in. Yes, much to the chagrin of pretty much everyone on the beach, Karl the motivational speaker from Katie's season arrives, introducing himself to everyone but then bailing before they can say anything in response and rocking dweeby workout shoes he insists that he can't get wet. YOU WERE AWARE YOU WERE GOING TO A BEACH, RIGHT!? AND THAT A DEFINING ATTRIBUTE OF A BEACH IS PROXIMITY TO WATER!? Even the aliens from "Signs" are like, "Look at this dummy ..."

With everyone now settled, David Spade and Wells gather everyone in the main bungalow to establish the ground rules and premise of the show: Each week the guys and girls trade off who gets to hand out roses and who's at risk. If you're not in a relationship – or at least fomenting interest – by the time the rose ceremony rolls around, your ABC-supplied vacation is over, and you're gone. Wow, when you phrase it callously like that, it's hard to believe this premise has such a crappy track record of healthy, still-together relationships! You're telling me giving people an incentive beyond affection or even simply infatuation to get together doesn't result in the strongest emotional connections? I'm learning a lot here today ... 

That being said, on just day one, some relationships are beginning to form – and some of them are even a little adorable. Case in point: Abigail, another Matt James season survivor, and Noah, the mustachioed wonder boy from Clare/Tayshia's year. The two hit it off right away – which seems about right since they both seem pretty pure and precious – before Abigail earns the first date card of the season, taking Noah to what appears to be the coolest bust 'n stuff room possible: a space filled to the brim with pinatas, just begging to be clobbered. Somehow, the two have the patience and self-control to have dinner and a conversation first before smashing the hell out of some colorful candy monsters. (I, for one, would not and would instead immediately pummel everything in the room to colorful dust, because I am a 14-year-old.) But that's admirable on their part, as they chat about their relationship habits and learn what pace they prefer for their connection before smashing decorations as well as smashing faces. I'm rooting for them.

Though they think they might be the first kiss of "Paradise," there's plenty of competition back on the beach as other relationships start to form. Connor gets over his traumatic kiss from Katie's breakup and makes out with Maurissa. (Bad news, Random "Men Tell All" Crowd Lady Who Also Has A Spotify She'd Like You To Check Out.) Kenny and Mari lock lips, despite the fact that the boy band manager couldn't come up with anything interesting to say about himself beyond describing his life and personality as boring. I guess when you're butt naked with your Backstreet Boys hanging out, no one's really listening to your words though. Natasha and Brendan bond over watching a bird murder the hell out of a crab, and even poor sweaty Tahzjuan manages to have a good time, battling the heat and a bug attack to make out with Tre. One problem: She went on a date once with his uncle back in the real world. You know what this means: TRE'S UNCLE, BACK YOUR BAGS BECAUSE YOU'RE COMING TO THE BEACH!

We'll get to that hot mess later, though. In the meantime, we have poor Grocery Store Joe, who's battling a brutal case of PTSD – Paradise Traumatic Stress Disorder. The man is not having fun, feeling awkward with his interactions and feeling out of place. He doesn't even feel dressed right thanks to Kelsey, who tells him that he has a new nickname – Gym Joe – because he looks like he just finished up at the local YMCA. (He's wearing a decent t-shirt with swim trunks; I fail to see what the problem is here?) Brendan tries to cheer Joe up by saying that at least a nickname means that people are talking and thinking about him, whereas he's totally gone under the radar ... to which Kelsey quickly responds, "Oh no, we gave you a nickname: best dressed." Thanks for shooting that pick-me-up in the face, Kelsey. You may be able to open champagne now, BUT YOU CAN'T READ A ROOM! Anyways, after trying to beatbox his tears away, Joe dies on a big comfy beach chair never to be seen again. 

OR DOES HE? Just when things seem dire and Joe-dega looks resigned to quitting, Serena P. comes over to hopefully loosen him up. And the two have a sweetly awkward conversation, clumsily chatting about their fairly significant age difference (he's 34; she's just 23) and how much the "Paradise" beach actually sucks with all the wet floors and sand everywhere. It's dangerously close to Anakin Skywalker's "I don't like sand" whine from "Attack of the Clones" – but hey, that line worked on Padme and somehow it works with Serena P. too as the two end their adorably clunky chat with a kiss. Turns out Joe's staying after all – drawing a sigh of relief from the "Paradise" producers who didn't book Kendall for nothing. 

So there's some relationships forming – and a bit of drama too as the guys would seemingly rather bro out with each other than flirt with the increasingly rose-desperate ladies. But obviously there could be more, so the show teases the re-arrival of Demi, last seen getting "Paradise" to book her girlfriend back home on the show. It didn't work out (who would've guessed a relationship you fled for a reality dating show wouldn't have the strongest legs?), so now she's back – and ready to cause sassy mischief. 

The TRULY most concerning arrival made near the end of Monday's premiere, however? David Spade now has a fedora. Now THAT'S a development no one likes to see. 

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.