The Bachelorette Australia premier finally aired tonight, after *months* of anticipation — and it wasn’t just good, it fucking exceeded expectations, flew sky high, and left me crying like a kitten in a gutter.

For the first time ever, the Bachelorette Australia opened with an acknowledgement of Country, and then upon Brooke Blurton‘s red carpet entrance, Elders conducted a welcome to Country. Brooke cried, I cried, it seems the whole of Twitter cried, because whether or not you care about reality TV, it’s still a momentous occasion.

It feels kinda shocking that this has never happened before. But here’s hoping this is the start of something new, beautiful and long overdue.

On the red carpet, we saw an array of contestants (16 of them, in fact), and from that pool of contestants, we saw multiple people of colour. Not just your token POC placed straight into a stereotype, but a beautiful mix of people from various cultural backgrounds, including Darvid, our “Persian prince”, who (spoiler alert) ended up getting the ‘white rose’ for his first impression.

Which honestly, was special to me. I’ve written before about racism in the Bachelor series, and the way this franchise has betrayed ethnic men on the show, emasculated them, and failed to acknowledge their racial experiences.

Seeing Darvid become the star of the night, after just being himself, without any of the obviously stereotypical and icky editing we usually see men of colour subjected to, was just perfect. While watching, I desperately wanted it to be one of the ladies who received the special rose, but now that it was him, I feel how important that was.

And the premiere didn’t stop there with its groundbreaking moments — because tonight, we saw the first kiss aired this season, which was between two women. It was emotional and beautiful and not sexualised the way we are used to seeing same-sex relationships between women portrayed on reality TV. And for a lot of viewers, it was the validation and representation they were craving for years.

I think what astounds me the most about this premiere though, is the embracing of vulnerability. We’re so used to seeing vulnerability and sincerity as “cringe”, and labelling anyone who starts off with their heart on their sleeve as a stage-5-clinger, but vulnerability is what makes shows like this beautiful. It’s what makes these people feel real, and it’s how we connect and empathise with them and each other.

And more than that, it’s something that can be intensified in queer relationships, which can move faster and become intimate more quickly given the different dating contexts and mutual dating struggles.

Brooke’s openness, vulneraribility, emotional rawness and just the way she has generally embraced everyone and their various levels of  intensity isn’t just beautiful, it’s important. And despite this literally being a show about “finding love”, it feels new and rare.

I don’t know what this season of the Bachelorette Australia has in store for us, but if premiere is anything to go by, it’s going to be great.