Hooray for Season 20 of The Bachelor! I feel bad for those militia guys in Oregon, who probably don’t have TV in the federal building they forcibly seized.
Ben Higgins is our desperately womanless hero for 2016. As you likely recall, he was rejected by Kaitlyn, The Bachelorette in 2015, who ultimately preferred the troglodytic personal trainer Shawn. Reminiscent of the young Peter Brady, Ben is described on ABC-TV’s site as “a charming software salesman” who is now “capable of being in love and being loved.” Apparently, being humiliated on national television is just as effective as consulting with a licensed therapist.
Ben grew up in the Indiana town of Warsaw, “in America’s heartland.” The 6’4” 26-year-old is the “only son of loving, married parents,” so maybe his problem is having moved to Denver, a hotbed of left-wing, PC tree-huggers who relish baking cakes for gay weddings. Ben has also worked at a Peruvian zoo, traveled through the jungles of Bolivia, and hiked the craggy terrain of Machu Picchu, so dating a gaggle of fame-whorish, over-made-up tarts who’ve all had their first Botox before the age of 30 should be only a slightly daunting prospect for him.
Who are these girls, who submitted their heartfelt pleas to be allowed to make out with a complete stranger while being filmed? Let’s review:
Ombre-haired Esthetician Amanda, 25, from Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, has no tattoos, two daughters, and uses an anti-aging skincare line because she’s seen what’s happened to Desiree Hartsock.
30-year-old Chicago bartender Amber, because all bartenders are named that, can’t live without her teddy bear, Mom, and best friends.
Chiropractic Assistant Becca, 26, is from San Diego and fears most on a date that she might have stomach issues and clog up a toilet. Ben should remember to be sensitive to that, and not insist she try the refried beans. He should also be sensitive to the fact that she came in third during Chris Soules’ season.
Breanne is a 30-year-old Nutritional Therapist from Seattle whose favorite all-time book is Why Men Love Bitches, which is about “valuing yourself and letting the man pursue you.” She may not understand how this show works.
Caila, which must be Kayla for people who think odd spellings of hugely popular names is non-conformist, is a Software Sales Rep from Ohio. She further distinguishes herself as a rugged individualist with her half-inch tattoo of the Hawaiian islands. Good thing she didn’t want Alaska, or it would have extended over one buttock.
22-year-old Las Vegan Emily puts her occupation as “Twin.” She feels it’s important to “dress well and look classy and act classy.” That’s why one of the top 3 things on her bucket list is going to Six Flags and riding every single ride.
Other Twin Haley believes being married is a big deal. Surprisingly, her greatest achievement to date is making it to the semi-finals to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. She couldn’t have done it without the three of the five items she can’t live without: Cell phone, spray tan, and Chapstick.
Izzy is a 24-year-old Graphic Designer from Branford, CT whose all-time favorite movie, like every other contestant so far, is The Notebook. She doesn’t love to read, but managed to enjoy the first 150 pages of 50 Shades of Grey.
Jackie, 23, is a Gerontologist, which probably just means she drives her grandma to the Stop & Stop once a week. From San Francisco, she would impress a man by creating a piece of art for him, since it means more to spend time and effort on someone else. That’s why she worked so hard on her audition for the show.
Jami, 23, is another bartender, but from Canada, who interestingly describes herself as “inexperienced” as a lover. Is she this season’s virgin, or does that means she just lies there?
Jennifer is a 25-year-old Small Business Owner, which likely means she sells Amway in her hometown of Fort Lauderdale, FL. If she could be any animal, she would be a dolphin, because they are the “only mammals to have sex for pleasure.” Unfortunately, Ben might recall that Flipper was faster than lightning.
Jessica, who is the 12th girl in a row with hair past her shoulder blades, is 23 and an Accountant from Boca Raton, FL. She wants a man who knows what he wants and knows how to get it. That describes Ben, except for the part where he has to go on a TV show to try to decide whom he likes best among two dozen pre-selected strangers.
JoJo is a 24-year-old Real Estate Developer in Dallas. Considering she also has visibly fake hair, she could run for president in 20 years. She likes country music, Wedding Crashers, and the idea of having pizza with her grandfather, who is dead.
Jubilee is 24, a war veteran, and thinks sunflowers are a great metaphor for life. She also loves the smells, places, and people that belong to a city. I recommend she not ruin that charming concept by visiting Bayonne, NJ.
Lace (Lace? Maybe she has a brother named Leather) is a Real Estate Agent from Denver, age 25, with two tattoos of unnamed design. Her most embarrassing moment was when she had a guy over for drinks after forgetting she had pooped, and he used the bathroom and saw that she fails to flush. I think her most embarrassing moment was offering this anecdote to be posted on ABC’s website.
Account Executive Laura, 24 and from Louisville, says about being married “Bring it on!” That will be in the vows she writes herself. If she could break any law, with no repercussions, she would possibly rob a casino. Her clients ought to get their accounts audited just in case.
Lauren (aka “LB”) is a 23-year-old Fashion Buyer from Stillwater, OK, where there can’t be much fashion to buy. Following the theme set by Lace, her most embarrassing moment was seeing a doctor for constipation in Germany. “Ich bin uncomfortable, Herr Doktor!”
We can expect to be confused by another Lauren, also initial B., a 25-year-old Flight Attendant from Marina Del Rey. She especially loves dusk (her favorite time of day), and finds hot nights so amazing. She probably also enjoys clear skies with no turbulence.
Excessive Laurens clutter the landscape. Kindergarten Teacher Lauren H., 25, is from Ann Arbor, MI, and has tubed through glow-worm caves in New Zealand. That’s either an actual sporting activity or a euphemism for some really kinky sex.
Lauren R. is 26 and a Math Teacher in Houston. She would enjoy having lunch with Jesus, Michelangelo (“a talented weirdo”), and Justin Timberlake. Justin would probably be a conversation hog.
From Denver, Leah, 25, is an Event Planner who lists her height as 5’5-3/4″. I bet she thinks a loss of a quarter-pound off her weight is a triumph. She has two tattoos of doves on the back of her legs that she plans to have removed by laser, probably to lose 0.1327 mms off her calf measurements.
30-year-old Weatherford, TX resident Maegan is a Cowgirl. She’ll probably win the first impression rose on that basis alone. It also helps that she is of the opinion that ass-grabbing always works well when approaching a man whom you have never met before.
Mandi, a 28-year-old dentist who appears to have over-filled the cavities in her chest, considers “legs for days” among her best assets. Given a choice, she would be a free-range chicken, because they “do whatever they want and lay delicious eggs.” I advise potential patients to steer clear of her dental chair.
Olivia is a 23-year-old Austin, TX News Anchor who doesn’t fear much except ending up alone. She better not win then.
Unemployed and 23, Rachel is from Little Rock, AR. She loves Christmas because gift-giving is her “love language.” Ben would probably prefer it be blowjob-giving.
Samantha is 26 and an Attorney from New Smyrna Beach, FL. Her biggest date fear is being with someone with whom you do not feel a connection and there is awkward silence. Bad breath is also terrifying. She can ask Mandi about dealing with that.
Mathematician Shushanna, whom I would think was Jewish except she’s from Salt Lake City, has a serious fear of bedbugs, and believes that even if love doesn’t happen with Ben, the show will help her with her hopes and loss. Certainly not with her loss of dignity.
Finally, Tiara is a 26–year-old Redmond, WA Chicken Enthusiast. Actually, her guiltiest pleasure of any kind is chickens, fried or otherwise. If she sees one, she wants to stop and hold it. I thought this show had shrinks culling out the nutcases?
And so we begin. More lovely views, helicopter rides, and crying await us this 20th season. Ben introduces himself as a normal guy from a small town, the small town values of which have made him who he is, which is someone who goes on reality TV shows to kiss 25 women. “Warsaw feels like America,” he proclaims, which would sound authentic if I weren’t from New Jersey. He still goes back there to say “hi” and visit the movie theater where he had his first kiss and they are likely still showing the Star Wars installment from 1999. It’ll be hard for him to remember his first kiss as The Bachelor, because they’ll happen so frequently and with so many similar-looking women.
“I want someone who supports those small-town values,” Ben informs us at the start of a show populated with undernourished, spray-tanned women who can’t find dates without the help of a casting director. Maybe the one who loves chickens comes closest, since small towns often have livestock.
Ben’s parents, long wed and still “into each other,” which could well be the result of an open marriage for all Ben knows, want him to be happy. He tells them he’s ready to fall in love and meet the future Mrs. Higgins and possibly ex-Mrs. Higgins.
He needs advice before he meets his potential mate, though. Three of America’s favorite bachelors are there to help, including Chris Soules, who dumped his chosen bachelorette faster than George Pataki gave up his presidential aspirations, and has since appeared on every reality show save Face The Nation and Dr. Oz. They recommend not kissing any woman in front of another, being honest, and being open to everyone, in case someone not so pretty turns out to be slutty. “Sending girls home is way harder than you can imagine,” they counsel him, acknowledging that those poor girls lose out on the ensuing weeks’ free hotel accommodations. Grateful for their advice, Ben points out that it means more to him than anyone else’s, especially Dr. Phil.
“I’m ready to meet my wife,” he says confidently. I hope he can make her out through the glare of gaudy sequins and metallic eye shadow.
Chris tells us how everyone in Bachelor Nation, which in reality is closer to a Bachelor Small Banana Republic, just loved cuddly, darling Ben during the last Bachelorette season. They were shocked when he told Kaitlyn he felt unlovable. To compensate for her calculating, bloodless rejection of him, they made him the star of this season, so he can be unloved by many more women.
Next come the packages about each woman’s life. It’s all hair, hip-swinging, and vocal fry with some giggling interspersed. The first somber piano music-accompanied sob story is about a dad who suffered horribly before dying of ALS, but who would rest in peace if his daughter won The Bachelor.
It’s finally time for the glitzy-garbed gals to meet Ben. “It’s hard to imagine, but in just a few minutes, the limos will arrive,” Chris enthuses, as if he has not been witness for over a decade to an endless series of limos bursting with shameless, muttonheaded women clad in Nordstrom sale purchases. Ben has girded his loins, probably literally to avoid embarrassment, for the moment.
One of the Laurens is first, in a sky-blue strapless shmatta. She’s the flight attendant, so she gives him a pair of wings. Chinese-made free crap, very thoughtful.
Next is Caila, in inch-thick sequins that look like the surface of a driveway on Jupiter. She jumps into his arms. After her is Jennifer, who has enormous implants and lank hair, but she probably figures no one is looking above her shoulders. “Ben and Jen,” she observes sagely. This Ben would probably leave her for the nanny, too.
Jami is next. She’s nervous, yet wore white lace. She knows Kaitlyn because they are both from Canada, which must mean that William Shatner and Justin Beiber are tight. The blabbermouth told Jami all about Ben, yet she still came on the show. Samantha follows in ruffled red with a voice like an out-of-tune piccolo. She just passed the bar exam, a feat which required electroshock therapy.
After her is Jubilee, in too-tight white and two-inch fingernails. Next comes Amanda, with whom Ben seems impressed. She’s followed by Lace, who kisses him. So aggressive! Slinking out of the limo next is someone who won’t tell Ben her name but admits to stalking him on social media.
Shushanna talks to him in Russian and confuses him utterly. Gold-sequinned Leah brings him a football in a shameless play for his small-town high school sports sympathies, as well as his appreciation for women bending over to toss objects between their legs. Then JoJo, wearing a disturbing unicorn head, appears, and terrifies Bachelor Nation into launching nuclear missiles to protect its citizenry.
Next is Lauren H., who one-hand hugs him after giving him the bouquet she caught at a wedding. Subtlety is not her forte. Laura is next in blue velvet. Her friends call her Red Velvet because she has red hair. I guess Carrot Top was taken.
Mandi arrives now, with a giant fake rose on her head. The other girls are suspicious of her motives, while I question her sanity. Caila worries that she didn’t wear an oversized flower or a unicorn head, and may have therefore lost some advantage apparently earned by seeming deranged. Then the twins appear. Ben is flabbergasted, evidently unfamiliar with the phenomenon of a fertilized egg cell splitting into two separate embryos.
Back in the house, the other girls express their trepidation and anxiety. They drink heavily to quell it. Ben hugs both twins at once. They’re like a pair of rhinestone-covered candlesticks that squeal. Inside, everyone marvels at them as they helpfully exclaim, “We’re twins!”
Outside, a tiny pony clip-clops toward Ben, led by Maegan. The horse is the best looking one there, with the most natural-looking face. After greeting Ben, Maegan leads the little horse inside. I hope someone has a real shovel in addition to the metaphoric one usually needed for this show.
Breanne arrives next and smashes a baguette against the ground. At least it’s not on her head. Next comes Izzy, who is wearing pajamas for a reason that makes no sense. Rachel appears on a hoverboard, most likely for product placement. Everyone inside is still being annoyed by Mandi and her stupid flower.
Jessica greets Ben next and seems relatively normal. Next is Tiara, who is not wearing one, followed by LB and then Jackie, who presents Ben with a Save the Date invitation with their names on it. Even less subtle than Lauren H. The last girl, Olivia, is nervous but apparently perfectly as ease wearing a silver-sequin-encrusted dress that must be heavier than everyone’s hair extensions combined.
Ben is even more hopeful now. He readies himself to enter the bachelorette-jammed room, where they’re discussing Ben’s attributes like they’re reviews on Amazon posted under a reasonably-priced vacuum cleaner. Before joining them, Ben calls home and wakes up his dad to give a pep talk into the producer’s sound equipment.
“Now the fun begins,” Ben tells the gathering. To the other ladies’ disgust, Mandi immediately leaps forward and drags him into another room. She gets out a dental instrument and examines his mouth for kissability. Is it safe?
Olivia reveals she left her exciting local news anchor job to appear on national TV and have viewers finally see her lower body. Ben is very impressed with her. Caila bonds with him over selling really boring software. The twins sit with him together, like the opening of a girl-on-girl porno from the 70’s. The RE developer plays one-sided Pictionary with him.
And then arrives another limo. It bears two more ladies who greet Chris outside, as Ben is not expecting them. Amber was offed early on in Chris Soules’season, but did not want to pass up the chance to meet Ben and possibly last a long enough to wear all the dresses she bought for last season. Becca is the virgin from the same show who also figured why not take a shot at another guy who might be less cowed by her lack of experience.
When they enter the house, the other women are concerned. As veterans of one-on-ones, group dates, and wearing a bikini for long periods of taping, these two pose a threat to the newcomers. “They have an edge,” notes a worried Jubilee, although it’s probably just that they know which interns to ask where the bathroom is. Lace skulks around, spying on Becca as she approaches Ben and then Amber appears. Ben is overcome at the bounty of breasts, even in reruns.
Finally, Lace gets her chance. She clutches Ben’s leg and laughs maniacally as they talk. He tells her she’s gorgeous, but reminds her of the importance of talking to each woman and getting to know her along with her cleavage. Suddenly, Mandi comes back and steals him away. Lace is acrimonious, a word she’s probably unfamiliar with. “I don’t think she’s here for Ben at all,” she declares about Mandi. She has a point. A lot more people in Hollywood want expensive dental work.
Ben comes back to get Lace, explaining that he’s trying to manage his time to check the teeth of all the mares in the stable. He doesn’t want her to feel rejected, and has made room for her on his to-do list.
Chris appears with the First Impression Rose. Everyone gasps and sighs, gazing at the coveted flora with greedy expressions. “The energy has completely changed in the room,” Leah recalls breathlessly. Most likely from drunken obliviousness to drunken fear for Q-scores.
LB explains how they all want to get the rose, but no one can predict who will get it, particularly because not everyone has had a chance to share producer-edited time with Ben. He gets together with another woman who talks about their moral values being in line as her soup bowl-sized implants heave emotionally.
But next Ben leads Olivia away from the group and offers her the rose. She took that risk, left her job, and accepted a larger paycheck to be here, he points out. She’s humbled and relieved to receive the rose, which had nothing to do with her being blond and having a plunging neckline. The other girls look alternately forlorn, angry, or distrustful of the merit of the award. The same was said when Olivia won a local Daytime Emmy.
Returning with Olivia, Ben addresses the group, telling them he is more confident than ever that his wife could be in that roomful of polyester-draped dimwits. However, she might also be behind the crafts services table.
As they all await possible roses from Ben at the final ceremony, the gals are anxious, unnerved, and questioning conventional views of the human condition. The first rose goes to Lauren B., followed by LB, Caila, and Amber, the back of whose dress nearly reaches her tramp stamp. Jami is next, then Jennifer and Jubilee. Amanda follows as the remaining girls’ lips quiver under the weight of their Sephora hydrating lipstick.
JoJo gets a rose, along with Leah, Rachel, and Samantha, who looks like she knocked about seven years of her age. Next comes Jackie, Haley, and presumably her twin, but there’s a prolonged moment as the music builds before the obvious is revealed. Following them are Shushanna, who replies “da” to the rose, Lauren H., and Becca, who can feel confident that her state of virginity will be blasted across the internet yet again. Mandi is next, and then a single rose remains. The music swells dramatically as we break for commercial.
And now the final verdict. The unchosen girls express their fears and despair, but Lace gets it. Ben looks somber as Chris arrives to tell them the producers did the market research earlier and the lowest scores must say their goodbyes. Laura is sorry they did not have a connection, although it’s possible that Ben is just not into redheads. Breanne sheds tears and describes her sense of shock, which is not unlike what she feels when the sweater she wants is not available on Amazon Prime.
Lace gloats to Ben about her opportunity to stick around, which the others resent, but also complains that he didn’t make eye contact with her. He’s annoyed. Yeah, maybe his eye contact was with her boobs, but she has the damn rose.
Now we must endure the live after-party show, Bachelor Live, with celebrity fans and other delights. The Bachelor is one of the most talked-about shows on TV, Chris explains, so why not make more coin off it. You can even call them or tweet your questions instead of your usual desolation at the decline of contemporary civilization.
Diablo Cody is present, as is some actress in Jurassic World, also named Lauren. Diablo wants to see some kissing already. The other woman is wearing a giant engagement ring brooch. Olivia is described as a robot-person, but they’re both excited about the twins. They’re also content with Becca being there, even though no one ever explains why she shouldn’t be.
Everyone loves Ben. He is sincere, like previous Bachelor Sean Lowe, and the two also share feelings about faith and family that even Mike Huckabee would approve of. Using an impressive diorama that features cardboard figures of all the women, the commentators each select their choices for Ben. It’s like Wolf Blitzer on election night, only without the big-screen interactive bar charts.
Bachelor Nation is encouraged to complete their fantasy picks as Chris takes calls. Then we are treated to dramatic scenes from the premiere that we haven’t yet seen, and which are not in the least dramatic unless you think that description also includes when Gilligan eats Mary Ann’s coconut cream pie that she was saving for dinner with the others.
Chris asks about the unicorn head, and Diablo explains that a unicorn is a bisexual woman willing to sleep with a heterosexual couple. No wonder this is after hours.
Next, Ben arrives to mild applause, and joins the three on a set that looks like a condo lobby in Delaware. “What was your thought of Night One?” Chris asks him probingly. There’s no training or prep, Ben reveals to everyone’s amazement, as if there should be some kind of post-doc you could earn to be on The Bachelor.
Another super-fan is Abigail Breslin, who joins them via Skype. She has many thoughts and strong emotional reactions to the show, which indicates she needs some better scripts to consider. She likes Caila, Olivia, and JoJo, but asks Ben why he keeps calling the women “young ladies.” It probably has something to do with small-town values.
It is then revealed that Bachelor Nation is most enamored of Becca, Caila, Lauren B., and Olivia. Ben may already be engaged to one of them, and likely also has had sex with some, so he has to act impartial when they read the results. Personally, I don’t yet have a favorite, although I’d be swayed if the accountant offered to do my taxes.
We next watch as the advising former bachelors gift Ben with a pair of red underpants they claim every Bachelor has worn. If it fits all of them, that’s something for the girls to ponder.
Christine calls in with a question for Ben. How did he feel when Lace locked lips with him right after they met? He was hoping to avoid the “physical part” that first night, but figured she was just being a big show-off. Another caller, who seems high, asks if the twins scare him. Ben insists not, although it doesn’t preclude him having really filthy sexual fantasies that would scare the twins.
Next is “This Week in Bachelor History,” a great way to fill time at a low cost. Everyone chuckles appreciatively as the amusing scenes from former seasons are played behind them. It’s explained that the wacky hijinks are the result of the fear and anxiety of that first eventful night, for which you are being paid large amounts of money to shmooze young chicks and drink a lot.
In another clip, Cowgirl Maegan discusses her viewpoints on whiskey, NASCAR, Huey the horse, and her apparently checkered background, in between many bleeps. Everyone agrees the little horse is her greatest asset.
Sophie calls in to ask Ben who he would have given a second First Impression Rose to. He thinks Jennifer. No one cares, Ben. A key appears on screen measuring strong audience reaction to Mandi, the football moment, and the twins. Meanwhile, no one in Bachelor Nation read a book in 2015.
Congratulations are offered to a couple of former bachelorettes who have gotten engaged, and then Whitney, Chris Soules’ dumped fiancee, calls in to report that she is very busy in her job making babies for women who do have committted lovers. She also claims to have met a new guy, one who stands no chance of being on Dancing with the Stars and having a fling with his much younger, more flexible partner.
Caller Kristen wants to know why there were no shirtless shots of Ben. He insists he needs to work out more. I bet it’s really because he has a third nipple.
Next Kaitlyn and Shawn are brought out to try to manufacture an awkward moment. Ben and Shawn have stayed great friends, because sharing their experiences of sex with Kaitlyn makes for strong bonds. How about all those rumors about the couple? “We laugh,” asserts Kaitlyn about the four Radar Online posts claiming they’ve broken up or are having a baby. They have set no date for their wedding, though, because the show was a rush and they want to have sex off-screen for a while.
Now Brooke Skypes from Texas to ask Ben how he was able to make his decisions about who got roses so quickly tonight. Actually, they added another couple of production assistants to the staff, so Ben had an easier time with that.
Following is a sneak peek of next week’s episode, when the same things happen that did this week, just with different dresses and shoes. Everyone claps in anticipation as Chris raises the issue of Lace accepting a rose, and then being angry that Ben didn’t pay enough attention to her. He wants to give her another chance, but an overwhelming majority of viewers feels he should have rescinded the rose. Bachelor Nation is like North Korea.
Next week Chris Soules will join Kris Jenner on the after-show, as they both continue to build a body of work consisting solely of appearances on mindless TV shows that take them away from plowing.
See you next week, Nationals!