It’s Spring 2019, a period that will be marked in history for the emergence of Pete Buttigieg, a plummeting Dow, and the premiere of possibly the most inane Bachelorette yet.
Hannah Brown, whose very name is as boring as the music on Optimum’s channel guide, is the former Miss Alabama cast aside by Colton Underwood and, as ABC rhapsodizes, “a fun country girl who is unapologetically herself.” I’m only unapologetically my second-cousin once removed.
Hannah is also an interior decorator who probably hangs signs in handwriting fonts that say LOVE • LAUGHTER • LIFE in people’s dining rooms. She is also a fan of dancing, country music, and Martin Buber’s philosophy of dialogue. Points for her two golden retrievers, unless either is named Buddy or Bella.
Aside from representing hours better spent monitoring the news for photos of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, the “highly anticipated” Season 15 features 30 bachelors vying for Hannah’s heart. They are Brian, Cam (The Notebook is his “all-time favorite” movie), Chasen, Connor J., Connor S. (a Justin Bieber fan), Daron, Devon, Dustin (can beat anyone in a game of Jenga), Dylan, Garrett, Grant (unemployed), Hunter, Jed, Joe (once played a patient with an axe wound on Unstold Stories of the ER), Joey, John Paul Jones (what?), Jonathan, Kevin (wants to travel more, but won’t go anywhere that doesn’t have a gym), Luke P., Luke S., Matt Donald (what what?), Matteo, Matthew, Mike (wants to learn Mandarin and Parkour), Peter, Ryan, Scott (an admirer of Kris Jenner), Thomas, Tyler C., and Tyler G. (adheres to a strict Keto diet). I only made up one of those biographical items, by the way.
Every character name in Beverly Hills, 90210 is represented this season. But what if the two Connors, Lukes, or Tylers had the same last initial? What if someone’s favorite book were the German translation of Tess of the d’Urbervilles? What if one guy were bisexual or a Bernie Bro? The producers work hard to achieve this delicate balance of acceptable vacuity.
And so we begin with the dramatic premiere. I miss Chris Harrison when his voice isn’t droning in my ear like a carbon monoxide detector. We must first relive the footage of Hannah learning by phone that she is this season’s animatronic sex doll, I mean, star. She still finds this status surreal, as would anyone who’s never read Haruki Murakami.
We then visit Hannah’s hometown near Tuscaloosa, where the hardware store is the most exciting local destination. Yet her life hasn’t been all fishing holes and root beer floats. There’s some serious Bell Jar undertones, as Hannah struggled with anxiety and depression over the perfection demanded in the pageant girl world. Uneasy lies the head that wears the Miss Alabama tiara.
Before the man cavalcade begins, Hannah visits with two gals whose names I forget from her Bachelor season. One is that bitchy little chick with mad vocal fry. We also get glimpses of the various Ken Dolls as they head to California, during which the word “awesome” makes more guest appearances than Alec Baldwin on SNL. By way of introducing themselves, the guys show off their dancing skills, bid goodbye to their grandmas, and display their cardboard box inventory. Either all their homes are sets, or every bachelor’s family had a kitchen make-over in 2007.
We have one guy who had a sign from God that he should try out for The Bachelorette, which is how Joseph met Mary. Another comes from a diverse family that consists of a blond Iowan man married to a woman from Hong King; they invented General Tso’s corn on the cob. Yet another’s parents and sibling are deaf, although he is not. But most of the guys are your garden-variety mindless dweebs who whoop in lieu of uttering English.
Hannah is ready to meet the one guy who will love her unconditionally, including not minding when her Spanx is peeking out of her dress. She promises Chris that she will be “real,” which is why no Wonderbra.
First out of the limo is Garrett, who is also from The Bama. Throw in a pig wearing sunglasses, and it’s like a scene from Green Acres. Mike gives her an alliterative list of traits he purports to live by, probably cribbed from some Facebook meme. Jed is from Nashville; his family recommends shining from the inside to the outside. That’s from one of Hannah’s dining room signs.
Tyler #1 came all the way from Florida to meet her, apparently by horse and buggy since he seems so impressed by the achievement. Dylan thinks Hannah is authentic. Wordsworth has nothing to worry about.
Next is Connor S., who jumps over a fence to greet Hannah. Serenading her under her window would be a more effective schtick. Devon babbles something inane, followed by John Paul Jones, who has not yet begun to fight! Hannah keeps missing their names and having to ask again. That’s certainly authentic. Brian comes up next, clearly a nervous wreck, as is Scott. Matteo is speechless with wonder, too, possibly because he saw the ad revenue figures. Hannah is humbled by their dearth of eloquence or charm.
Tyler G. has been dreaming about Hannah. He must have found those naked pictures online. Next a mysterious cardboard box rolls forward on a dolly. Amazon Prime now delivers single guys in one day? We will learn more after the ads for Cologuard, psoriasis meds, and laundry detergent. Also, Fiji Water now has a sports cap. #MAGA
Out of the box appears Joe, the manufacturer of cartons who’s probably fabulously wealthy, based solely on the number of packages delivered weekly to my building. He tells Hannah that she checks all his boxes. I’m sure he has other thoughts about boxes that he can’t say during the family hour.
Another guy speaks French to her, completely flummoxing a girl who thinks coq au vin is a brand of suntan lotion. Luke P. talks about being the king of the jungle. He envisions Hannah as his queen. In other words, she’ll do all the work while he lies around sunning himself. Cam arrives performing a rap number, the most humiliating moment captured on tape since Ben Shapiro stalked out of that BBC interview. Unfortunately, she gave this bozo a rose at the end of After the Final Rose, so we’re stuck with him for now.
Matt Donald sings the Old MacDonald song for no other reason than his name is similar. E-I-E-I-no. Chasen is cute, but I missed what he had to say because the dog was barking at an evening delivery of one of Joe’s boxes.
The commercial airline pilot, Peter, is adorable in his snazzy uniform, and also very charming in a reserved way. He is now first on my list to resent Hannah for ignoring in favor of some muscle-bound Neanderthal who thinks Archie comics are the novelization of Riverdale. You can’t beat the combination of free miles, a Neil Lane ring, and a husband who’s rarely home.
As Hannah prepares to enter the mansion, she prays aloud for the words she needs to not present as a bumpkin who thinks curly fries are ethnic food. “I don’t want perfect, I want real,” she lectures the leering array of teeth and beard stubble. A person can be both, though. Believe me, I saw Harrison Ford walking down East 62nd Street in the 90’s.
The mundane conversations ensue. Hannah explains that she can only fall in love if she is whole as a person, which seems reasonable. But has any bunch of young men ever talked dreamily about the joy of waking up next to a woman, like these guys do? They’d actually discuss whether she’s really just a B cup, but appears larger in a low-cut dress.
There’s some enthusiastic kissing amid talk of how wonderful it is that Hannah is quirky and flawed and just a regular person, much like the IT consultant, car salesman or jobless bachelors among them. Hannah assures them she’s as flawed and quirky as they come, perhaps even as much as Season 21’s Corinne.
Chris brings in the First Impression Rose in its twee little platter. All the men fall silent, trembling before its singular power. It’s like when Carl Bernstein appears on Don Lemon’s show with reporters for The Hill. Close encounters of the weird kind continue as Hannah enjoys Jed singing to her with his guitar.
Meanwhile, the two friends from earlier in the show are seen monitoring the events from a surveillance van in the driveway, possibly under direction of Obama’s DOJ. They report a rumor on social media that one of the guys has a girlfriend. Will he reveal a possibly innocent situation to Hannah, or will they drag out the manufactured hysterics for several episodes, with lots of repetitive foreshadowing in the previews and scenes of shadowy figures approaching hotel doorways in the dead of night?
As the gals watch, Scott shares with Hannah his love of luxury items, and invites her to visit his apartment in Chicago. Cagney and Lacey think he’s the phony. They hurry to spill the beans to Hannah, destroying her dreams of hanging IKEA drapes on a window with a lake view.
Scott will likely call this a witch hunt, repeatedly @ing Bachelor Nation with tweets of “NO GIRLFRIEND, NO COLLUSION.” Hannah confronts him, but he denies, denies, denies, insisting he’s here for the right reasons. He does admit that a nameless woman messaged him as recently as Monday, and probably not just to ask about sales on TurboTax.
Hannah suspects Scott’s got a Plan B if this gig doesn’t pan out. She is acrimonious. He resents her characterization, and even accuses her of double-timing with Colton when everyone knows he was a virgin. They discuss the nature of relationships. If a girlfriend falls in the forest, do her texts make a sound? Hannah decides Scott’s a jerk who’s already cheating on her. Beam Scotty up.
With that task attended to, Hannah explains to the others why she kicked Scott’s ass to the curb. She demands that anyone else with outside interests, including a porn collection or lingering crush on an eighth-grade algebra teacher, leave now. Major drama in the first hour and a half! The producers must have figured viewers would be coming off the high of all those CNN Town Halls.
Next Hannah walks pensively beside the pool, spent by this emotional moment that forced her to re-evaluate all 29 other men she met two hours ago. The guys resent the precious time devoted to ejecting Scott, which apparently took an entire hour. Maybe they were Instagramming the conversation. Some of the men try to reassure Hannah, promising to only have meaningless sex with strangers while they date her. Connor S. is pleased with the results of his talk with the distressed damsel. He feels their relationship has progressed because he does not have a secret girlfriend.
Time to present the First Impression Rose. The room is gripped by tension as Hannah grabs the bloom and asks one of the Lukes to meet with her alone. His purple tie printed with semi-colons must have been the deciding factor. He expresses appreciation for the affirmation, then rams his tongue against her tonsils like it’s Popeye Doyle’s Pontiac in The French Connection. With the rose affixed to his lapel, Luke declares himself ready to spend the rest of his life, or least the 2010’s, with Hannah.
The other guys are anxious going into the first Rose Ceremony. Scott’s prolonged ouster lost them precious moments to gawk at Hannah’s exposed thigh while discussing being vulnerable and honest. “It’s like a bullet to the foot,” one says to describe the situation. That’s worse than a punch in the stomach or a left hook to the jaw.
The Rose Ceremony begins. Aside from the ugliness of Scottgate, Hannah is pleased with the evening’s progress. She’s almost memorized everyone’s first name. Mike gets the first rose, followed by Connor S. and Matthew. Then come Connor J., Jed, and Dustin. Joey comes forward next, then Devon, Peter the Pilot, and Dylan. If she’d jettisoned Major Tony Nelson, she’d be a bigger fool than I thought. Matteo is next, then Jonathan and Tyler C. Tyler G. follows in his wake, then Daron, Luke S., and Garrett.
The remaining men are nervous and resentful. They did not all get a chance to fondle Hannah’s bare flesh tonight. As they furrow their brows, Grant gets a rose, then Kevin, and, finally, John Paul Jones. Get out of here with that ridiculous moniker. His last name better be short, or it won’t fit on the wedding invitation with hers.
Hannah has foolishly rejected Chasen, who resembles Danno from the original Hawaii 5-0. Maybe she can only manage one 60’s TV show hero at a time.
The previews feature bungee jumping, kilts, and smooching in Amsterdam, with Hannah ascending the various guys’ torsos like Sir Edmund Hillary reaching the summit of Everest. Also, there’s crying, fighting, accusations, and yet another ambulance ride for someone. But Hannah fiercely declaring “I have had sex, and Jesus still loves me” is sure to be the fence-jumping moment of the season.