‘Boring’ Bachelor Zach Shallcross Kisses 8 Women During Premiere

As The Bachelor fans prepared Monday night to witness the beginning of Zach Shallcross’ “journey” at the mansion and beyond, one thought seemed to be on everyone’s mind: This guy?

Like many Bachelors before him, Zach has faced a cruel reality: his narrative appeared to be set long before his premiere episode even aired. The story? We’re in for a very traditional season with a sincere but boring Bachelor. It doesn’t help that producers chose Zach over a fan favorite from Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey’s Bachelorette season: the sweet, utterly swoon-worthy Ethan Kang, who would have been the franchise’s first Asian American Bachelor. Next to Ethan, it’s hard for anyone to compete—but especially someone as devoid of an on-screen identity as Zach.

Apparently, fans’ murmurings about Zach being totally dull made it all the way to the C-suite at ABC. Network exec Robert Mills went so far as to tweet a plea ahead of the episode: “If you aren’t excited about Zach or think he’s boring, please blame US! He is an awesome guy. Funny, emotional and full of personality!! Give him a chance.”

Maybe that’s why Zach—a 26-year-old who sums himself up by declaring his love for “family, football, and frozen pizza”—entered the Bachelor mansion with seemingly one mission in mind. From the moment the sequin-clad women began exiting their limos, this man was ready to smooch—and to disprove those who doubt his viability as a Bachelor.

Miraculously enough, I think he might actually be succeeding.

For the record, Zach did not set a record for most Night 1 kisses; Season 24’s notoriously messy Bachelor, Peter Weber, still holds that record with 12 snogs in one evening. At the same time, we’ve gotta hand it to him—did anyone really hit play on The Bachelor Monday night expecting our boy Zachary to kiss not one, not two, but eight women? I’ll admit it: I was shocked.

More surprising than the number, however, was the nature of these kisses—the exact manner of execution.

Zach’s first kiss, for instance, was with executive recruiter Bailey Brown. For those who might’ve forgotten, Bailey was one of the women who met Zach at the Bachelorette finale back in September, before this season officially began. At the time, she made up a rhyme so that he could remember her name: “On the daily, I’m going to be thinking of Bailey.” Moments later, when asked her name, he came up with… Bailen. This apparently embarrassed Zach so much that when they met again on Night 1, he felt compelled to kiss Bailey immediately after she exited the limo—while her fellow contestants waited in the car just down the (wet, always wet) driveway. ​​

The next kiss of the night, with travel nurse Kaitlyn “Kaity” Biggar, came under more normal circumstances, as did kisses with frontrunner Greer Blitzer, child and family therapist Charity Lawson, and 23-year-old Orlando native Jess Girod. Then there was “content creator” Christina Mandrell, the only contestant in this or any recent season to be identified by her full name. Her approach was both refreshingly direct and, ultimately, super awkward—she brought Zach onto her party bus for a compatibility quiz, which they failed, before asking for a kiss anyway. It didn’t take long from there for Christina’s competitors to crash the party.

Alas, love is a battlefield, and war is not without its casualties. Fargo native Madison Johnson tried to spark a connection with Zach multiple times throughout the evening, but she wound up going home before the first rose ceremony after a kiss that Zach called “forced.” (The two immediately burst into the Griddy dance after their dry peck—a cringey moment that sealed their fate.)

“What it came down to was, you can’t force anything that’s not there,” the Bachelor told Bustle. “There was an attempt at a kiss from her—which, hey, more power to you! Shoot your shot. But at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is waste anyone’s time.”

So far, Zach seems true to his word: He’s straightforward, focused, and relatively articulate. Does that mean he’s boring? Quite possibly! But after years of dudes who specialize in peacocking, could a boring Bachelor be just the thing Bachelor Nation needs? Alas, like so many Bachelor fans who fantasize about one day growing beyond this franchise… I’ll be tuning in next week to find out.

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