“This is insane!” Joelle “JoJo” Fletcher and host Chris Harrison agree in a stunning back and forth, their first exchange of the season. They’re cute together, both so cheerfully chipper about the simple truth that anyone willingly associating with the Bachelor franchise at this point is bonkers. Welcome to The Bachelorette! Our girl JoJo — by far the gamest of Ben Higgins’ harem to get chased by a pig amidst dreadfully murky waters — is no longer heartbroken after last season’s boy dumped her for Ms. Generic-o. That’s ancient history. JoJo is now working on herself and writing a whole new book. (Not a real book. It’s either a metaphor or a bottomless pit of glossy hair and boob sequins; I’m not sure yet. Do not open that book.) First up: some lame advice from former Bachelorettes Kaitlyn Bristowe, Desiree Hartsock Siegfried (I just died from tongue-twisting) and Ali Fedotowsky, the last of whom provides the most fervent instructions to our budding blossom: If you like someone, definitely ignore him for the first week or two. Huh. You mean like what Ben did to Lauren B.? Maybe she has a point. Wait. No. What is Ali doing doling out advice? She’s not even a Bachelorette success story; she married outside the franchise! No one should ever listen to her. Anyway, there’s no way JoJo can pull off that tactic. It’s not form-fitting enough.
“Bring on the men!” JoJo opens the floodgates and the desperate (for camera time) guys seep in whether she likes them or not. Some of them get special hometown footage intros (Grant the firefighter looks longingly at the camera with “I just wanna stop stripping” eyes, Evan runs an erectile dysfunction clinic and can’t stop “cleverly” referring to hard-ons) while others let their antics do the talking. Well-researched yellow tie wearer, Robby, uncorks a bottle of red so the pair can swig it sans glasses in the style of famed Bachelor favorite, JoJo’s Mom. Smart! Right off the bat, JoJo really likes Aaron Rodgers’ brother Jordan, wine guy, and James F. “I didn’t come here for a rose. I came here for a relationship,” claims James. Sorry, sir! You get a rose, for now. The list goes on; the duds drag out. Some weirdo offers JoJo blue balls and the opportunity to squeeze them at any time. Pass. A radio DJ named Wells hires All-4-One to sing “I Swear,” and JoJo knows that song, so she’s down for at least a few seconds or however long production needs to do multiple takes. Overall, though, JoJo loves anyone who TOUCHES HER. She’s all about that sensory experience to the point where she’ll overlook major red flags. When Christian, the intensely motivated big brother/father figure rolls in, leans in way too close, and beams, “I want to see you stay happy and smiling,” she brushes off his emotionally manipulative vibe and replies, “The motorcycle is hot!” Once inside the mansion, he quickly catches on and grabs some side boob, sequined for her pleasure. Later, JoJo rubs up on a faceless guy in a Santa suit, and I wonder if a) it’s because his red fur was so soft and this felt more comfy in general than awkward brain probes from unsettled nerds, and b) I’ve been doing this whole dating thing wrong my whole life. Whatever. She’s just not here for the conversations, okay? JoJo wants to feel an instant connection with someone, and some of these guys are so…tense. Luckily, Jordan is there to share a mutual back/thigh caress and the first real kiss of the season (we’re just going to ignore the foppish method actor with a paper fortune teller and terrible timing). Plus, thank God, James F. has brought boxing gloves to show her more about his personality. “So many more conversations where it felt right!” JoJo gushes.
For the record, Former Pro Quarterback Jordan’s got some major competition for the best euphemism for “Unemployed” this season. We’ve also got “Former Competitive Swimmer” Robby, “Bachelor Superfan” James S., “Hipster” Brandon, “Canadian” Daniel, and of course, “Father Christmas”. (Honorable mention to “Singer/Songwriter James Taylor”.) The wine and whiskey are flowing inside, and let’s remember there are 25 guys here with nothing to do. Which of them will start gossiping, and who’s gonna get blind drunk? Mumbling alpha male Chad, who insists he’s “emotionally and financially” ready to share his life with someone during his brief interaction with JoJo (GROSS, but she loves it), spends much of the episode ruing the day the rest of the world dared to exist and building himself up. "If I wanted her, I’ll have her," he says, painfully mixing tenses. (But at least he’s not tense!) Chad refers to himself as “a manlier, more rugged version of Ben.” Dude. Who cares? Ben is so last season. Speaking of which, Chad is basically the male version of last season’s Lace: negging the other guys in the confessional, then obsessing over the levels of eye contact between him and JoJo during the rose ceremony. Except according to the previews, this guy Chad is actually dangerous, whereas Lace was a mere delicate flower of multiple, equally insecure personalities. Meanwhile, Canadian Daniel is drunk and poking people in the belly button. Evan has no erectile dysfunction jokes this time; he just genuinely doesn’t like it. Rebuffed, and suddenly naked, Daniel has no choice but to bizarrely flex all his upper body muscles and dive into the pool. Honestly, that pool looks so damn refreshing and it’s about time someone pierced its cool facade. Drunk Daniel ends up getting a rose, so there must be some upside to him. Right? Delts checked out. I guess.
So which guys have a connection with JoJo? Jordan Rodgers gets the first impression rose, and Ugh, Chad weasels into her heart as well with his condescension. James Taylor the musician is pretty dorky, but the important thing here is that he’s also tall and hot. I’m sold already. “He’s the type of person you wanna spend every day with,” JoJo confirms. Perhaps her favorite, though, is Luke, the obligatory farmhand who rides in on a unicorn and gifts JoJo some sweet cowboy boots. Luke is a war vet who has, according to him, “no reservations about what I’m looking for.” Survey says, based on the way he’s seductively rubbing up against that barn wall in his intro: a modeling contract! Or as JoJo puts it: “Luke has this, like, silent sexy confidence that just radiates when he’s in front of you.” She wants an alpha. So sue her. Stay out of it, Jake Pavelka! Apparently the former Bachelor is a longtime family friend of JoJo’s. No one cares, least of all her. He comes and goes with nary a blank stare during a not-so-special visit designed to throw off the bachelors at the start of the Rose Ceremony. "We don’t need another monster in the house," someone mutters off-camera. Probably Chad. Otherwise, the first rose ceremony goes swimmingly, with two out of three drunk bastards earning a bed in the mansion and a temporary touch-infused swelling in JoJo’s heart. From the “Coming up!” bloodbath of a montage, this promises to be an over-the-top dramatic season full of “confidence” in the form of violence. I can’t wait to be schooled more on what’s good for me and women at large. See you next week!