The original final rose recipient, Amanda Marsh Caldwell, watched The Bachelorette for the first time in 15 years to recap Charity Lawson’s journey on Us Weekly’s “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast.
“It was really fun to kind of reminisce because there’s so much you forget just with time. And then, yeah, it is a little bit different. I noticed there’s not as much, like, mood porn music. I mean, that’s all I could think of when my show was airing and anytime they re-air any little clip of it, I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, this just sounds like B-film or something.’ I didn’t really notice it on this season at all,” Amanda told Us, adding that she couldn’t believe how over-the-top the current Bachelor Mansion was decorated. “It was very distracting, so many colors and patterns. [And] wow, she didn’t waste time lip-smacking! … It took a long time before I even kissed [Alex] on the cheek — let [alone] at a rose ceremony, let alone with all those other people there. Not saying it’s wrong, [but it’s] different. I just was kind of like, ‘Oh, my gosh, everyone’s aggressive!’”
Longtime members of Bachelor Nation will recall Alex Michel picking Amanda over Trista Sutter on the initial season of The Bachelor in 2002. The twosome dated for nearly a year before they called it quits, realizing they weren’t compatible in the real world.
“I don’t know that [contestants] really think about all of that,” Amanda told Us. “Because it is really deceiving. I didn’t know anything about Alex ahead of time. He definitely was smart and we had chemistry, but I remember he picked me up and we went to an MTV awards show, and he had, like, this early 1980s Honda Accord. It was light blue, two-door [and] the passenger door wouldn’t open so I’d have to crawl over to the driver’s side and the hood was duct-taped down. … I don’t even know how much he got paid — if anything — back then. I know he got a terrible suit. But it was like, ‘OK, that was real.’”
After Alex and Amanda split, she welcomed daughter Chloe, now 13. She went on to get engaged to her partner of seven years, Chris.
“I swore I’d never watch this [show] again,” she added. “I mean, I had a blast back in the day, so I don’t have hard feelings, but I think it was great. I really do wish Charity well. I think she seems like a sweetheart and you get really sucked into it. It’s weird, but when you’re isolated like this, you get really sucked into where you think you have to pick someone or this is the last woman or man on earth. ‘I need to win them.’ And that’s really not the case, but psychologically these people do get that way. It’s pretty powerful. I’ll probably keep watching a few episodes — the cringe is also entertaining. I don’t know, you may have made me a new fan.”
The Bachelorette airs on ABC Mondays at 9 p.m. ET. Keep reading for more highlights from Amanda:
“She’s darling. There are some things that I think from a production standpoint, it seemed really forced and can make someone not seem real natural — not her fault, but you know, a lot of like the B-roll, the twirls, I mean, I couldn’t handle it. Thank God I was the first and we were a little bit more just maybe boring because I wouldn’t be able to put on the show like that. But she’s such a cutie.”
On Jesse Palmer taking over for Chris Harrison:
“Watching him, I guess I can’t help but compare of the forever host Harrison. And I remember [Chris] from Designers’ Challenge. I’ve always been slightly middle-aged my whole life [so] I think I knew who he was when we were filming. [With Jesse], there were some times where I think he dropped an F-bomb one time teasing [Brayden] with his earrings or his look with the scarf and I was like, ‘OK, you might be cool. Let’s see more of that. Let’s not be so stiff.’”
On the limo entrances:
“Watching [limo entrances in the premiere], I thought, ‘Sarah, I don’t know if I can do this.’ Everyone had some sort of [bit] — they wanted to stand out. Which, I mean, we just walked up and shook his hand and went inside, you know? That is super painful [to watch]. I guess, maybe, you feel like, ‘Well everyone’s doing it, I gotta do it,’ but I don’t know, I think they should ease off of that and you might be more memorable if you don’t do something painful.”
On the over-the-top dates with live performances:
“Chloe and I felt uncomfortable for [Lauren Alaina] in that awkward situation of them making out and dancing awkwardly in this, like, elaborate theater. … It’s super weird. … My one-on-one date, we were picked up in the limo, drove to a really nice restaurant, sat on the floor, had sushi, went home.”
On the upcoming ‘Golden Bachelor’:
“That sounds lovely. … And my first question is — because of my occupation — are they aging gracefully? Are they gonna look like cats ‘cause they have too much filler on their face? … My first thought is, ‘I hope [they look like] a regular person.’ Like, come on. Can we just get a little bit of real? I don’t know, [but] I probably would watch that just out of curiosity.”
The Bachelorette airs on ABC Mondays at 9 p.m. ET. For Amanda’s full thoughts on the first two episodes of Charity’s season, listen to Us Weekly’s “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast.