Yes, it's another season of "The Bachelor," and with boring Ben Flajnik at the helm, I wasn't expecting much. Boy, was I wrong. This may be, hands down, the weirdest, most gimmicky season opener in the series, and as for the girls, well, I don't know which mental institution the casting director hit, but some of these lovely ladies should be in restraints. Good luck, Ben! You're going to need it!
Things start off charmingly enough. We watch snippets from the season ending of "The Bachelorette," specifically the moments when Ben proposed and seemed quietly heartbroken by Ashley. We do not see, however, him being kind of pouty about it, as that would not set the mood for romance. We then watch Ben water ski, chop wood and generally act like the lumberjack in a paper towel commercial while his voice over informs us that he's ready for love. Well, if that's really the case, I would have suggested match.com or maybe a puppy, but if he wants to take the chance of a bad edit on reality TV to find that certain someone, more power to him.
Luckily, he seems to have some very nice, appropriately dull ladies to meet -- or at least it seems that way initially. Lindzi loves horses, and we can't help but root for her because her last boyfriend dumped her via text. Of course, I find the idea that she dated anyone who'd write, "Welcome to Dumpsville. Population YOU!" a big, red flag. She either has no ability to judge a-holes or she stalked an otherwise nice guy who, in a fit of desperation, had to make a point so she'd stop showing up at his work with candy and Groupon passes to midpriced restaurants.
Amber also seems sweet, except for the being good with a shotgun part. Oh, and the bow and arrow, she's good with that, too. She also wants Ben to come to her hometown and eat bull testicles. She calls then cow balls, though cows are female and don't have balls, and I have to assume she doesn't know much about her beef products or perhaps failed sex ed. She will be disappointed if he doesn't eat balls, but she shouldn't worry, as she can threaten him with superior fire power if necessary.
Kacie is goofy, just like Ben. Huh? Ben is goofy? Well, Kacie seems about as exciting as Ben, which is to say not at all, so maybe they're meant for one another.
Courtney is a model. She's sure the other girls will be intimidated by her. I think we can all hate Courtney starting... now.
Jamie is a labor and delivery nurse. She seems awfully sweet -- because her mom had "dependency issues," she had to raise her younger siblings all by herself! But she wants a baby. She really likes babies. She thinks she and Ben would make really cute babies. I think we need to keep an eye on Jamie.
Lindsie is English and has lived all over the world. How she ended up in Arizona, I don't know. But she seems wacky and can speak... what I'm assuming is one of the two languages other than English that they speak in Swaziland. Can't tell if she'll be great fun or sadly similar to one of those unfunny British sitcoms that doesn't translate at all in the U.S.
This all brings us to Jenna. Jenna thinks she's Carrie Bradshaw, because she's a freelance writer in New York, though I'm betting she lacks the fabulous apartment and wardrobe that made Carrie Bradshaw so fabulous. Jenna writes a blog about how she overanalyzes everything. She's panicked about being alone. Just another neurotic New Yorker, right? Listen to me now: KEEP AN EYE ON JENNA AT ALL TIMES. This one is a whole hella lotta cray-cray. Seriously. No one should let her have non-plastic cutlery. Ever.
Oh, and there are a few more bachelorettes who get taped intros, but they're not all that interesting (there can only be one Jenna, after all). Shawn is a single mom looking for a male authority figure for her son. Nicki got married at 21 and is now a 26-year-old divorcee. Blah, blah, blah.
We transition from lengthy introductions to the bachelorettes to the all important first meetings with Ben. We don't have a lot of time to make judgments here, but hey, I can try.
Rachel's middle name is Rose. She seems to think Rose is a very sexy name, but it just makes me think of Betty White on "The Golden Girls." Erika is a law student whose cutesy meeting involves telling Ben he's been found guilty... of being sexy. Gag. Amber's last name is Bacon, and she offers Ben a taste. Of bacon. Canadian bacon, by the way. Memorable, but not in a good way. I now think of Amber B. as smelling like fried food. Ben seems absolutely charmed by the goofy intros, which is a good thing. They're going to get much, much worse.
Elyse, a personal trainer, tells Ben she's going to make him sweat. Yeah, not as cute as she thinks it is. Jenna gets her big moment -- and ruins it by misquoting Ben. She makes a weird, pained face and wanders off to whine to her new castmates that she ruined her big chance with Ben. At this point, Jenna just seems a little awkward, but that will change. For the worse. And very soon (cue horror movie music here).
Courtney tells Ben she has a crush on him. She doesn't say anything interesting, but Ben doesn't mind.She's a MODEL! Emily tells Ben she's finishing her Ph.D. in epidemiology, gives him some hand sanitizer, a shot of breath spray and a kiss. As odd as that is, she still looks a lot more interesting than Samantha, who wears her Miss Pacific Palisades PAGEANT SASH. And doesn't bother to come the rat's nest out of her hair. Casey shows up and is boring, which is almost a relief at this point. Another Amber arrives and walks in a circle so that, if Ben doesn't believe in love at first sight, he has another chance. OH MY GOD CAN'T ANYONE JUST SAY HELLO TO THE GUY? Other than Casey, I mean.
Holly wears a silly hat because she's from Kentucky. Did I mention this was The Most Gimmicky "Bachelor" Premiere EVER? Jamie, who seems too sane to be on the show, tells Ben she's a registered nurse. I'm sure he's relieved, because he's got to be thinking someone unlocked the gates at the funny farm at this point. Shira arrives to tell Ben she knows EVERYTHING about wine. So he asks her a question... which she can't answer, because she knows NOTHING about wine. Good idea, Shira! Lead with weakness! Blakeley makes a fairly speedy entrance.
Then, we get Sheryl. Sheryl is 72-years-old, walks on crutches and has on a wedding ring. Not surprisingly, Ben figures out she's not really there for a date. She wants Ben to meet her granddaughter, Brittney. Brittney seems nice enough, and Ben reveals that he loves grandmas, so maybe this incredibly hokey introduction will actually work.
One thing it does succeed in doing, though, is in making all of the other bachelorettes HATE Brittney. Of course, they're just jealous they didn't bring their grandmas, but still, Brittney now has an enormous target on her back.
Ben tells Chris Harrison he's WOWED by the women! He doesn't smell crazy at ALL! Ben, oh Ben, you're standing on the tracks and you don't even see the train coming.
Now the introductions start coming fast and furious. Nicki thinks he's precious! Dianna can't even think or talk, she's so nervous! Jennifer has never been arrested and she's been in love once (another goofy intro stemming from her being an accountant). Lyndsie reads a poem she's written. She describes it as dorky and she's not wrong. It includes a line about "her butt chin dimple." Way to render yourself immediately unattractive, Lyndsie!
Anna's schtick is to walk past Ben, say nothing, and enter the house. Monica tells Ben she has a confession to make -- she misses her dog. What is this, the slap-and-tickle segment of the evening? Jaclyn tells Ben he looks dapper. Shawn slugs Ben in the shoulder. Very feminine. Kacie B. promises not to sugarcoat anything. Yes, a reference to Ben's last words to Ashley, but maybe not the ones I would pick, honestly.
Finally, we have the last bachelorette. Lindzi rides up on her horse, and Ben thinks they saved the best for last. So, of all the ridiculous schtick this evening, we have a winner! Next season, everyone will be bringing their dogs, their parents, their goldfish, strange children, local choir groups, you name it. The bar has been set, and it has been set both high AND weird.
Inside the house, Ben chats one-on-one with a few girls, while the rest of the nervous bachelorettes get to the important business of bashing one another. Everyone hates Brittney, who is probably relieved to have her grandma with her just so she has someone to talk to. There's lots of quiet finger pointing and eye-rolling -- and then Chris Harrison brings out The First Impression Rose. Which is the bachelorettes' cue to LOSE THEIR MINDS.
Ben thinks everyone is bringing their A-game in trying to impress him, but really this feels like we're on a cruise ship that's slowly sinking while the staff tries to distract the guests with shrimp buffets and bingo tournaments. Shawn plays soccer with Ben. Ben tries on Holly's stupid hat. Blakeley explains her massive arm tattoo to Ben. Elyse makes him do push-ups. There's even a line dancing lesson, which means it's either 1992 or this party has hit a rough patch.
But wait! There's more! Dianna blindfolds Ben and feeds him candy. Emily performs a gangsta rap about the disease of love. I am expecting someone to do magic tricks and produce a trained circus dog any minute. Courtney the model can only tell Ben she loves his hair. She's a model, so that's enough.
Finally, it's time for all the free booze of the evening to really kick in, and it's go time! Monica reveals to Jenna she doesn't really like Ben, and for Jenna, this is tantamount to Monica vomiting on her shoes or cutting up her credit cards. How can she STAY IN THE HOUSE if she doesn't like Ben? Why is she THERE? Why, why, why? Jenna is so mad at Monica! Her intentions are not sincere! Oh, lord. Monica just seems amused by Jenna, which really seems to be the only appropriate response.
Jenna only becomes more upset when she sees Monica hitting on Blakeley. Yes, hitting on. As in, Monica has decided the reason she got onto the show was to meet Blakeley, who will always be a part of her life. They cuddle up on a sofa alone together and seem dangerously close to making out. Jenna CANNOT BELIEVE THIS! She's hyperventilating! She sobs to another bachelorette that she doesn't want to be drama, but how can she NOT be drama? She's insane! It happens!
When Jenna finally does get a chance to talk to Ben, all the pressure of holding in her cray-cray leanings starts to surface, as she makes strange, pained faces and talks about being nervous and how his calmness helps her not find a quiet place to hang herself with a shoestring. Generally, she comes across as a complete lunatic, but Ben only hopes that she'll hang in there. Be careful what you hope for, Ben.
Rachel, who wants everyone to get along and be friends, tries to mediate a truce between Monica and Jenna which goes nowhere. Jenna tells Monica she feels that Monica hates her. Monica says she doesn't even know her, which doesn't mean she doesn't hate her, but point taken. This discussion does nothing to ease the tension, but it does inspire Monica to ponder cutting off Jenna's face and sends Jenna sobbing to the bathroom by herself.
In the midst of all this lunacy, Ben gives the First Impression Rose to horsey girl Lindzi. Why do so many of the bachelorettes have completely whacked spellings of otherwise conventional names?
Jenna does not show up for the rose ceremony. Because she's too busy crying. Nice.
Jamie, Rachel, Blakeley, Emily, Kacey B., Casey S., Brittney, Erika, Shawn, Nicki, Jennifer, Elyse, Samantha, Courtney, Jaclyn, Monica, and Jenna get roses. Shira, Amber B., Lyndsie J., Amber T., Dianna, Anna and Holly do not. So, feeding the bachelor candy and wearing a stupid hat, not a hit. Offering a taste of bacon, not a hit. Ignoring Ben and walking past him, no go. The woman who did not know wine probably shouldn't have lied about it! But not giving a crap about Ben and preferring women, just fine! Go figure!
What did you think of the first episode? Who do you think will last longer -- Blakeley or Monica? And do you think Ben should run for his life or not?