It’s apparently not enough to have The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise. Now they’ve added a singing angle to make it The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart. What’s next, The Bachelor: Developing A COVID-19 Vaccine?
You may ask what’s new about this concept, aside from it reeking of desperation for a new ratings high. Your question is echoed by every American who craves a break from 24/7 coronavirus updates and trying to touch up their roots with lemon juice.
In this version of ABC’s squeezed-drier-than-a-matzoh franchise, 20 men and women bring their instruments (hush, you) to demonstrate a skill other than whining as they search for love with randomly selected strangers. Tone-deafness might still be an issue, though.
Each guy and gal is identified by their musical genre–rock, country, folk, maybe light opera–then proceeds to seek a romantic partner among the crowd. They go on dates with musical themes, where they probably sing about connecting, finding clarity, and being vulnerable. Paired contestants can break up with their choice, and glom onto someone else. It’s like a square dance for the emotionally unstable.
There will be an audience for orchestrated applause and reaction shots, and a revolving panel of judges you’ll recognize from previous seasons of the franchise, which has been reconfigured more often than a Kardashian’s face. Basically, the new show is the bastard child of American Idol and Guy’s Grocery Games.
The goal is for contestants to find “a duet partner for life,” or at least until casting begins for Dancing with the Stars. At the conclusion, we’ll have a spanking new Captain and Tennille, Peaches and Herb, or maybe even Milli Vanilli.
Also, just as the sun rises in the east, babies cry, and there’s insufficient COVID-19 testing, some things never change: Chris Harrison is the host.
At the premiere’s beginning, he welcomes us to the mansion. It’s a different one from the regular digs, but still features lots of cushions, long sofas, and candles. Soon enough someone will start a real estate firm that specializes in reality show houses, and then the firm will get a decorating show.
Chris goes on to tell us that this new show was inspired by the recent remake of A Star is Born, only without the Oscar-nominated songs and appealing performers. In its favor, no cast member has that appalling perm Streisand had in the 70’s remake.
Will the contestants’ passion lead to love or a top-100 single? Will the national stay-at-home order lead viewers to watch this because they’re bored with Law & Order marathons? In any case, anyone who is not given a rose by the prevailing group of contestants–tonight, it’s the women–goes home and auditions for The Voice.
This format offers the option of scoring a love affair, a recording career, or both. Throw in a movie role, and you’re the next Lady Gaga. If you get none of those, you’re Jed from Hannah Brown’s season.
Next, the contestants are introduced. As usual, they are a conglomeration of uncompelling people whom you couldn’t identify in a line-up an hour after the show ends, even though they’re all guilty. Among the characters are broken-hearted people, Christians, southerners, and a truck-driving, dog-owning construction worker. They do all share the quality of being vapid. Pre-coronavirus, that was the main reason people wanted you to stay six feet away from them.
Jamie is the first to be introduced. She greets Ryan, a Laine Hardy type with slightly higher hair, then says hello to the heavily bearded Matt. The next gal is Savannah, who is very confident in her attractiveness. To be fair, we all look better in sequins. Mel (a woman) arrives next, followed by Gabe and Rudi, then a series of other tan, toothy 20-somethings named Trevor and Cheyenne and Brandon and Bri. People stopped naming their kids John and Mary in the 80’s.
Jamie is immediately interested in Ryan. She asks him about a good memory from his childhood. He tells her he had brain surgery, so the rest of his childhood must have been like something out of Dickens. More gals and guys begin to pair off, laughing and drinking in blissful ignorance of cannabis dispensaries being considered essential services.
As the night wears on, we witness deep connections being formed based on beatboxing skills, pretty eyes, and shared experiences failing in your chosen field. Many types of musicians are represented, including pop, country, alternative, and singer-songwriter. No one plays the washboard anymore.
Then appears the official cowboy singer, sporting a gaucho hat, several chunky silver rings, and long, wavy hair, like if Jesus played Nashville. His name is Sheridan, and I am done for the evening.
Chris finally wanders in to welcome the crowd. He pontificates about love, noting the many famous couples in the music business, many of whom are divorced because they’re are the most self-centered people out there. They should have made this show about accountants: The Bachelor: Listen to Your Tax Calculator.
The cast members report to each other about who they are attracted to after chatting with them for 15 minutes. I don’t even pick a flavor at Baskin Robbins in that short a time. There are 12 guys and eight women, which means four guys go home tonight and either four women are added next week, or this show is three episodes long.
Sheridan pursues Julia. She tells him she had cystic fibrosis as a child, and now helps kids struggling with this serious condition. Learning this makes him feel like a failure, as his only contribution to humanity has been keeping Jheri Redding in the black.
Finally, a couple tries singing together, but it doesn’t sound too good. Maybe they yell more melodically in bed. Rudi and Matt hit the hot tub, where he expects some action. She isn’t interested. Jamie is talking to Trevor and Ryan the most. Ryan tells her she’s his favorite so far. What is this, a used car lot? They kiss, kicking the tires of their relationship. But she also likes Trevor, since he gets good mileage. They go into the hot tub and make out, but Jamie remains torn. Maybe she should try a third guy as a control.
The next morning, everyone has their coffee and chats about who they want to hook up with before a date card arrives. Ryan is anointed to choose someone to take on a date, and he asks Jami, who agrees. Trevor is concerned. The noticeable difference between the two is it appears Ryan cannot grow facial hair. He’s 28, but looks like he just came home from prom.
The couple go to a recording studio, where they meet a Grammy-nominated producer to help them record a John Mayer song. As the pair begins to practice, Jamie is anxious. She’s more of a country music type, unfamiliar with including a “g” at the end of a gerund. But Ryan makes her feel safe. For his part, he wants to play her like that guitar.
Back at the mansion, the gals discuss who they like among the guys. Too bad they can’t poke a hole in each one to see the filling, like with a 16-ounce box of Russell Stover.
Another date card arrives, revealing that Matt gets to choose a date. He thinks he connects with Mel, so he asks her. Rudi is dismayed. She should have agreed to kiss him in the hot tub.
Now Ryan and Jamie are ready to record. She enthuses that they will be sharing an incredibly unique and vulnerable experience, which is how I describe a visit to the gynecologist. The couple are thrilled with both their duet and each other. More importantly, why John Mayer’s publicist agree to this drivel?
Meanwhile, Chris (not Harrison) and another girl are connecting. He explains that he is working on balancing his music with a love life. She’s clearly working on balancing on his midsection.
Ryan and Jamie return in triumph, which worries Trevor. He sees their connection, either in person or the script. Rudi must resort to hoping Matt and Mel’s date is terrible. They join a concert being presented by someone apparently famous. I feel like I’m a time-traveler from 1823 witnessing a horseless carriage.
Back at the house, Rudi sings to express her grief over Matt’s rejection. He apparently prefers gals with lavender hair, but there’s no song about that. She should try wearing an itty-bitty, teen-weeny, yellow polka-dot bikini.
It’s now time for the first cocktail party of the season. The women will hand out the roses this time, so the men must improve their chances at the cocktail party. To get things started, Chris arrives for some mindless introductory chit-chat. In fact, he has that listed as a skill on his resume.
Brandon is focused on Savannah, while Julia seems to connect to Josh. Sheridan is concerned he will be left out in the cold, with only that mop of hair to keep hm warm. In a bold move, he seizes Julia from her conversation. He has written part of a song and wants her to help him finish it. Despite his leather-clad hippie-cowboy look, he sounds like a poor man’s Leo Sayer. She loves the song, though, and they kiss. The best part is they can share scrunchies.
To Matt’s distress, Mel is now connecting with Gabe. These people must go berserk in flea markets. To remain on the show, Matt must hurry to find another option, like when Shop Rite is out of Wheaties and you have to make do with cornflakes. He tries some damage control with Rudi, but she is only interested in hot cereal now.
Michael Todd is now attracted to Rudi. He sings to her in a voice reminiscent of a cartoon mouse. Meanwhile, Ryan and Jamie are kvelling over each other, making Trevor want to cut in. He draws her away to make an argument in his defense, like Clarence Darrow if he ever appeared on a cheesy reality show.
Jamie is intrigued, but can’t tell how Trevor is thinking. It probably is related to below his waist. To state his case, he sings to her with his guitar. They kiss, but afterwards Jamie remains torn. She has trouble making decisions all the time, she reports, but usually it’s just whether the red or black Skechers are prettier. This tormented moment ushers in the first sobbing of the series. Mazel tov, Jamie.
The Rose Ceremony now ensues. No suits and ties for these hipster fellas with their artsy music and $100 haircuts. It’s all denim, knit scarves, and skinny jeans for them. The gals are dolled up in the expected sparkly mini dresses, accessorized with large earrings and cocktail rings.
Each gal will offer a rose to her choice of guy. If he accepts, they leave the room together. If not, he is off the show and auditions for Bachelor in Paradise.
Savannah is up first. She gives her rose to Brandon, and he accepts. Mel is next. She awards hers to Gabe. Then two people I don’t recognize are paired up. Following them is some woman giving her rose to Chris. Then Cheyenne offers hers to Matt. What? Did they spend any time at all together? Matt is just as shocked as me, but come on, he saw the script.
Julia steps up next. She gives her rose to Sheridan, whose song won her over, or else he slipped her a twenty earlier. Jamie is last. She is anxious and uncertain, as am I, but only because I just saw my electric bill. Will she choose Trevor or Ryan? It’s Trevor, because she was thrilled with Ryan and how they connected so well. Ryan is upset, as he had put all his eggs in Jamie’s bosomy basket.
Rudi has the last rose to offer. She gives it to Ryan, which makes no sense at all. She feels she could fall for him, she explains, but first she has to work on remembering his name.
The winning group toasts to next week, when there will be much kissing in hot tubs, bickering, and for variation, singing material I’m unfamiliar with.