Joey Graziadei Is Officially the Best Bachelor in Recent History

Disney/Jan Thijs
Disney/Jan Thijs

(Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Bachelor Season 28, Episode 7.)

From the moment ABC announced Joey Graziadei as our next Bachelor, many of us longtime rose watchers breathed a sigh of relief. For too long, we’ve been forced to deal with lukewarm men whose tepid feelings do little to mask their low emotional intelligence. Season after season, we’ve watched women self-eliminate as these lackluster guys fail to hold their seasons together. We’ve dealt with indecisive race car drivers and utterly boring tech executives, none of whom have delivered the easy charisma of, say, a Ben Higgins or a Sean Lowe. Finally, however, our losing streak has come to an end. After this week, I’m officially ready to declare our dreamboat Joey the best Bachelor in recent history. (His ranking among the all-time greats will have to remain pending until the end, because you never know.)

It’s not just that this teaching tennis pro has the cheekbones and gentle wavy hair of a Greco-Roman god—although that certainly doesn’t hurt. Really, it’s the genuine connections Joey has managed to make with the women he’s met throughout his season that have made him stand out. Usually, rose ceremonies are pretty predictable, but especially over the past few weeks, Joey’s have been suspenseful because he’s seemed genuinely invested in many of the women he’s met.

This week’s rose ceremony was the toughest one yet, as Joey narrowed his group down to four women ahead of his hometown visits. Daisy and Kelsey A. were both safe after their spectacular one-on-ones (Daisy got the best rural hot tub date this show has churned out in years) which left Maria, Jenn, Rachel, and Kelsey T. vulnerable to elimination. For a minute there, it looked like Maria might wind up going home after her jealousy got the better of her, either because she sent herself home or because Joey did. Throughout the season, our leading man’s only real fear has been getting to the end with someone who can’t reciprocate his devotion, so you can see how Maria’s insistence that she couldn’t do this anymore might’ve rattled him. In the end, however, she was able to reassure him that she’s in it for the long haul, and after choosing her and Rachel, Joey wound up sending Jenn and Kelsey T. home.

Is ‘The Bachelor’ Giving Maria the Bachelorette Edit?

As inevitable as it is to see women going home on The Bachelor, Jenn and Kelsey T.’s eliminations stung. Jenn, who confided in Joey about her lifelong struggle to feel worthy early on in the season, has emerged as a fan favorite, and her tearful response to being sent home was as poised as they come: As sad as she was to go home, she said, she knows what she brings to the table, and one day, the right man will be able to see it. (I know I’ve already said Maria might be getting the Bachelorette edit this season, and while I still believe she’d be the most compelling pick, Jenn could also be a solid choice.) Kelsey T., meanwhile, opened up to Joey during their last one-on-one date about her struggles with her father, who ostracized her when she chose not to live under the same religious rules that he does. Again, I say: If next season’s Bachelorette is not going to be Maria or Jenn, Kelsey T. would also be a great pick. What can I say? I really love a lot of the women this season, and whoever does not get Bachelorette should absolutely get to have the time of her life on the beaches of Bachelor in Paradise.

But for now, back to Joey: It’s truly rare to see a Bachelor who can bond with this many women in a sincere way. He has shown a genuine interest in these women, forming a unique rapport with each of them without making promises he can’t keep. Too often, our leading men in this franchise profess their feelings in ways that feel a little unfair to the women—like Golden Bachelor Gerry Turner, who made bold proclamations of love to multiple women earlier this year only to pull the rug out from under each of them. So far, Joey has managed to make his feelings clear without overstepping into icky territory. That said, we’re pulling up to Hometowns week, which is actually when the miscalculated statements of love tend to tumble out of people’s mouths.

Even putting all that aside, however, perhaps the most crucial element to Joey’s success as a Bachelor this season actually has little to do with romance. He also just seems like a very fun guy! Whether he’s goofing off and cracking self-deprecating jokes in his shirtless gladiator gear or staging a silly elimination ceremony with a wooden spoon in a HelloFresh ad, Mr. Joey Graziadei is simply a joy to watch. It’s extremely difficult to make even ad spots watchable, but there Joey is, playing “she loves me/she loves me not” with lettuce leaves and somehow making me laugh in the process.

Being a Bachelor can be a stressful job, and more often than not, these guys show the stress on their face as they try and calculate how they’re coming off. Beyond his engaging attitude with the women this season, Joey’s biggest strength has been making it all look easy, or maybe even fun. It’s been years since we’ve had a guy who is this good at laughing at himself, and beyond that perfect stubble and those perfect ocean eyes, that might be Joey’s greatest gift of all.

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