Matt James has entered the compound. 

By compound, I mean Nemacolin, the COVID-proof Pennlysvania resort the Superbowl of reality TV shows filmed at this fall. For devout members of Bachelor Nation, this is the Roman colosseum of romance. 

Let the blunder games begin! 

Matt James made history this year as the first Black bachelor ever (there’s already been a Black Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay). 

But adding to the intrigue: Matt is a Raleigh native. He’s a graduate of Sanderson High School who played football for Wake Forest University. He’s also a philanthropist with a heart of gold and abs of, well, also gold. 

Other things we know about Matt: He was in chess club and skateboards (a real renaissance man). He’s also biracial, which comes with its own unique set of pressures and expectations. 

“I don’t want to piss off Black people. I don’t want to piss off white people, but I’m both of those,” Matt said. 

On Monday Matt met 32 women vying for his heart, who ranged from your typical beauties to completely unhinged weirdos. 

All the girls have their gimmicks. Most stepped out of limos in their best shimmery dress. Victoria wore a crown and was carried in on a throne by four masked lackeys, which was pretty ick. 

Kaili stepped out in her underwear and Katie showed James her large purple vibrator, which the producers tastefully blurred out but also included in as many scenes as possible (including the intro). 

But James seemed to have the most sincere initial chemistry with Khaylah Epps, who rolled up in a pick-up truck. The 28-year-old healthcare advocate hails from Durham, a stone’s throw down I-40 away from Matt’s Raleigh stomping grounds. 

Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Nemacolin where we lay our scene. 

Are Matt and Khaylah destined to be star-crossed lovers? Gosh, we hope so.

The two shared a sweet tea toast in the back of Khaylah’s pick up.

“Let’s toast to North Carolina roots, grounding us and bringing us together on this very special journey,” Khaylah said before the two clinked glasses. 

But Khaylah’s early lead was eclipsed by Abigail, the show’s first deaf contestant who also scored the season’s first kiss (not to mention the first impression rose).

The competition, in a word, is fierce. Thirty-two girls entered the compound, but eight packed their bags on night one and went home roseless. In true form, obnoxious Queen Victoria even snagged a rose, because if there’s one thing we know about The Bachelor is there’s always got to be a villain. 

Who are you rooting for? 

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