Line the path from your refrigerator to your couch with rose petals and fill your one clean mug to the brim with champagne, because The Bachelorette is finally back.
As legend holds, on the most recent season of The Bachelor, Rachel Lindsay — a beautiful, successful, and all-around unreasonably likable woman — was rejected by Nick Viall, a trash man. To be clear, I do not mean to call Nick a sanitation worker, because that is a noble and honest profession. He is a man made of trash with some kind of rudimentary AI component.
But now, in the one kindness that 2017 has seen fit to deliver upon us, Rachel has returned. And what’s more, she’s the very first Black Bachelorette, on the most diverse season ever! Can’t wait to watch the reality franchise on which a man with his leg in a cast once fled on foot when it was discovered that he had a secret girlfriend back home engage in thoughtful, boundary-pushing conversations about race.
To remind us that Rachel is an attorney, The Bachelorette films her in a courtroom, saying things like “Objection, your honor” as if she were a lawyer-themed stock photo come to life. We learn, crucially, that Rachel has brought her dog Copper along to Los Angeles. How were all of the ads not about Copper? How have we not already greenlit a spin-off in which Bachelorette contestants must discover if their own dogs are compatible with Copper? ABC, hire me to do your marketing.
Rachel invites some of her best pals from Nick’s season over to give her generic relationship advice that does not bear repeating here, although I have to say that it’s nice to see these ladies again. Among them are runner-up Raven and New Jersey’s favorite dolphin-(shark?)-human hybrid daughter, Alexis. There’s also a woman whom I don’t recognize in the slightest and suspect may have wandered into the frame by accident, and Corinne, who needs an introduction like she needs a “multimillion-dollar” company, which is to say not at all, because she already has one.
There are an unthinkable 31 dudes for Rachel to choose from — last season, for reference, had 26 — so let’s get into it, because life is short and Chris Harrison is due to molt his skin on camera and assume his new form any minute now. First out of the limo is Peter, a hunky Wisconsinite who manages to do nothing repellant during their brief conversation. For this alone I consider him a frontrunner. They both have a slight diastema, which is very cute.
Up next is Josiah, a prosecutor who has a powerful story: He lost his oldest brother to suicide when he was 7. Then he “started getting in trouble,” but after a burglary arrest at 12, a kind judge inspired him to get his life back on track — now he works at the very same state’s attorney’s office. I am about 80% ready to track down Josiah and Rachel’s Bed, Bath & Beyond wedding registry and buy them a plastic kitchen accessory.
Flirty chiropractor Bryan speaks to Rachel in Spanish and calls himself “trouble.” There’s chemistry between them for sure, which Bryan will later capitalize on by going in for the season’s very first kiss. I suspect that the resulting wet and squishy noise may have been heightened by a foley artist wringing out a fistful of soaking paper towels. Rachel didn’t intend to smooch anyone on night one, but she likes it.
Kenny is a professional wrestler who goes by the the nom de chokeslam Pretty Boy Pitbull. He has a great smile and a 10-year-old daughter. Kenny, who I am hereby in my official journalistic capacity declaring a fan favorite (I AM A FAN AND HE IS MY FAVORITE), passes her the funk. I am already looking forward to seeing Kenny on Bachelor in Paradise.
Iggy is “genuinely and authentically really excited” to be there, and also genuinely and authentically really excited about adverbs. Bryce, in his firefighter uniform, literally sweeps her off her feet and into the thick cloud of transphobia that trails him at all times.
Will initially emerges from the limo in a nerd getup — suspenders, bowtie, and all — before running back to the car to reemerge as the Stefan Urquelle that is his regular handsome self. Diggy is also wearing a bowtie, but not as a joke. This stylish Chicago dude who can date me anytime, just putting it out there, goes by his childhood nickname. He owns 575 pairs of sneakers and, more crucially, a sweet pit bull. Blake K.’s grandparents only dated for a couple months, and they just celebrated 65th wedding anniversary, so, no pressure, Rachel.
Up next, all in a row, are the four contestants who previously met Rachel during the After the Final Rose special for Nick’s season. You might remember Dean as the “I’m ready to go Black and I’m never going to go back” guy, an ill-advised joke that still has me paralyzed in a full-body cringe two months later. She continues to be a good sport about that. Later, they play in a sandbox, an activity that, while an odd choice, is mercifully free of micro-aggressions. I was ready to call Eric the future Mr. Rachel Lindsay from their very first meeting, but the second introduction between these spontaneous dance partners is missing some of that original magic.
DeMario — who, you may remember, came to After the Final Rose packing plane tickets for them to elope in Vegas — may be cute and charming, but the self-professed “number-one seed” is also a little overconfident. (Beware: Former Bachelor contestant Whitney says she heard that DeMario’s “intentions might not be pure,” whatever that means.) A marching band approaches with “aspiring drummer” Blake E. in their midst. He seems a lot less nervous than he did on ATFR. This personal trainer says his last relationship was valuable from a “sex education standpoint,” which I assume means he and his partner spent a lot of time practicing putting condoms on bananas and carried animatronic babies around to all their classes.
Forget After the Final Rose — Fred and Rachel go back. Way, way back. They went to school together! He was in the third grade when she was in the eighth, and she even served as his camp counselor. That may sound like fate, but Rachel, who recognized him instantly, is less than into it. “He was a very bad kid,” she recalls.
Next up is Jonathan, who tickles her. I mean that literally. It is uncomfortable. I am filing a police report. Country singer Lee steps out of the limo with a guitar. He immediately, A. begins serenading her and B. fulfills the show’s legal requirement of Dude With a Guitar.
Alex, from Detroit, is a “meathead” only in appearance. We know this to be true, because he loves his Rubik’s Cube, which every intelligent person is issued by the federal government at birth. Adam has brought along Adam Jr., a terrifying doll that, even more terrifyingly, does not really bear any resemblance to Adam Sr. Also known as AJ, the doll — whose presence is never explained — poses seductively by the fire and, in a talking-head interview, waxes rhapsodic about Rachel in French. Somehow, Adam Jr. is not the least attractive man here.
Matt steps out of the limo in a penguin costume, so I have to imagine that he and Alexis will become the next Jade and Tanner of inter-season romance. An ambulance with sirens blaring pulls up and emergency doctor Grant jumps out the back. (What if this is just his elaborate way of covering up that he was running late from work?) Anthony wants Rachel to know that he’s committed to understanding her. Jamey wants the American public to know that his suit cost $2,000.
Jack — excuse me, Jack Stone — is a lawyer also from Dallas who's the same age as Rachel. Are they 100% positive they haven't already dated? Have they faced off in court? Could they be sensates? Mohit is a startup dude in San Francisco who loves Bollywood dancing with his tiny nieces and nephews, but you can feel free to forget about him immediately, because he is about to get so drunk he can’t even have a conversation with Rachel. Jedidiah quotes a Bible verse that involves weeping, which is not the fun, playful vibe I personally would have shot for, but sure. Michael presents her with a baked good, advising, “The blacker the brownie, the sweeter the dude.”
Lucas’ defining character trait is “whaboom.” What does that mean? As best I can tell, it means he wildly shakes his head to the point of both facial redness and possible brain trauma while screaming “whaboom.” Imagine a young Jim Carrey, minus the talent and charisma, or a post-modern Chad, who dispenses with the pretense that he has to pretend to be an actual person and instead embraces his identity as the human essence of a Dave & Buster’s. Someone on the production staff who deserves both a raise and intense suffering in the afterlife saw fit to equip Lucas with a megaphone. And what else could the man I’ve just described to you be wearing but a jacket over a sleeveless tee emblazoned with his own likeness and the hashtag #WhaaaBoooom? (I can’t bring myself to double-check the number of vowels, sorry.)
Now that everyone has arrived, a feeding frenzy ensues. When our guys aren’t too busy engaging in some light conversational misogyny about the lovely lady they’re all there for — Imagine, a woman who is both smart and physically attractive to me! Science said it couldn’t be done! — they queue up for time with Rachel and quibble over their spots in line. Meanwhile, a fed-up Blake E. likens an increasingly unhinged Lucas to “the guy at the family reunion who pinches your nipples.” Tell us more, Blake E.
Both Josiah and DeMario, who keeps referring to Rachel as “my wife” (in the year 2017 it should probably be beneath me to make a Borat joke, but know that I want very much want to), think they’ve got it on lock. But the first-impression rose goes to… Bryan. That bold make-out paid off, so he and Rachel go for another. This one involves the kind of extreme jaw movement that I usually associate with a snake swallowing an animal many times its size.
“Keep your mouth away,” laments Mohit, watching the pair from a distance, and having apparently graduated to the sad-drunk stage of the evening.
It’s sunrise by the time the rose ceremony finally begins. Going home are Kyle, Mohit, Rob, Michael, Milton, Jedidiah, Grant, and even cute Marine veteran Blake K. The cast is universally baffled when Whaboom takes home the last rose, as if they are familiar with neither the concept of reality TV nor the existence of reality TV producers.
I’ll see you next week, same time, same place. Until then, please consult your physician before Whabooming.
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