Before Coronavirus shut everything down, The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart was the fourth most-anticipated Bachelor show of 2020. But now that The Bachelorette, The Bachelor: Summer Games, and Bachelor in Paradise are all stalled, us members of Bachelor Nation are taking what we can get. And what we can get is a new Bachelor spinoff in which singles find love while belting out pop songs at each other.
Going in, it’s unclear how this is actually supposed to work. The previews were very vague. Are these people going to live together? Are there dates? Are there roses? Are we to expect proposals? How does the music fit in? The premiere answered some of these questions.
The episode opens with Chris Harrison in a Bachelor mansion driveway, but not the Bachelor Mansion. It's a newer, bigger Bachelor Mansion, just for Listen To Your Heart. “We here at The Bachelor are all big fans of the movie A Star Is Born,” Chris says. “Watching Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s characters fall in love through their music was absolutely magical.” It is a great movie, Chris, but that is not a love story to look up to. “Will a shared love of music lead to a love that is shared forever?” he asks. Not if it ends like A Star Is Born! This is turning dark fast.
Speaking of dark, the first contestant we meet, Brandon Mills, was a sniper in the Marine Corps and uses music as therapy. But we move on from that quickly. The other contestants we meet through home videos include Sheridan Reed, who loves hats and his car, Bekah Purifoy, who doesn’t “exist without musical theater,” and Trevor Holmes, who was called “hot” by Katy Perry when he auditioned for American Idol.
Then it’s time for all the contestants to show up at the Bachelor mansion, and they do so in gowns and suits just like on The Bachelor and Bachelorette. Ah, the comforting familiarity. There are no stunts during these limo arrivals, but the best entrance goes to Matt Ranaudo, who says, “I’ve never seen The Bachelor, but I recognize that guy” and then can’t come up with Chris Harrison’s name. He also refers to contestant Josh Hester as a “young, jacked Mr. Clean,” so he’s one to watch for the commentary.
It becomes clear very quickly that 21-year-old Jamie Gabrielle is going to be featured heavily during the season, as she almost immediately enters a love triangle with two-time reality star Trevor and Ryan Neal, a Shawn Mendes impersonator.
After they all mingle for a while, Chris shows up to explain how this show actually works. The basic rules are the same as Bachelor in Paradise. This week, there are 12 men and eight women, so four guys are going home at the rose ceremony. It’s unclear at this point when the music aspect will start. “Later in the season, it’s the ultimate music competition,” the preview explains. Okay, but when? And how? They’re all dueting, but are they stuck with their partner at that point?
After checking out their bedrooms in the mansion they'll all share and having gender-specific gossip fests, the men and women are back to mingling. Brandon and Julia Rae have the series’ first kiss (at least according to editing). The first “hot tub action” is from Rudi (it’s just Rudi) and Matt, but they don’t kiss yet. The first rejection goes to Michael Todd, who tries to kiss Savannah McKinley by saying she has nice lips and then leaving a long pause. He also tries to invite Bri Stauss into the hot tub and she turns him down, too.
Jamie and Ryan soon join the kiss club, too. But then Jamie goes in the hot tub with Trevor and makes out with him, because “I don’t want to live with any regrets.” Meanwhile poor Ryan is in the house leading a group sing of “Stand by Me." Sing-alongs are the Listen to Your Heart version of BiP’s everyone lying in those palapas doing nothing, I guess.
The next morning, the first date card arrives. It goes to Ryan, because the producers know he’ll pick Jamie and you can’t pass up that opportunity. Their date is to Capitol Records, where they meet with a producer to record a version of John Mayer’s “Gravity." And it sounds really good! We have had to watch many instances of Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants singing badly over the years, so it’s nice to watch people who actually know what they’re doing.
Jamie finds the experience emotional. “I feel like it definitely sped up my connection with him way more than I expected,” she says. I’m sure the producers were barely stifling their excitement at her confirming the entire point of the show so succinctly. Ryan and Jamie share a kiss while watching the sunset.
The second date card goes to Matt. He is interested in both Rudi and Mel Taevin. Rudi tells him that she’d like to go, and in her interview says she regrets not kissing him the night before. But Matt chooses Mel, upsetting Rudi. Mel and Matt’s date is to a Plain White T’s show. There’s no chemistry between them. The biggest takeaway is that many of us will finally have recognized a performer on a Bachelor show.
Back at the mansion, Rudi is taking out her frustration through song. She has a good voice, too. I know this shouldn’t be a revelation on a show about singers, but it’s jarring to see a dramatic reality TV contestant break into beautiful song instead of into beautiful rage-filled confessional.
Next up is the cocktail party and rose ceremony. Sheridan explains that the solid couples are Chris Watson and Bri Stauss, Danny Padilla and Bekah (straight up never heard Danny’s name until this moment), and Brandon and Savannah. Jamie’s rose is considered up in the air. She’s clearly the star of this show.
Sheridan is into Julia, so he plays her a song he started writing. Jed Wyatt has to be losing his mind at home. Julia loves the gesture.
Matt, meanwhile, is flailing, because he and Mel didn’t have “much of a spark.” So, he decides to “circle back with Rudi.” Rudi is pissed that — as she sees it — he told her he would take her on the date and then didn’t. Matt thinks he may have just worded things poorly. Rudi goes off on him, and it seems like she’s overreacting considering this is a show about 20 people all dating each other, but, hey, overreacting is the name of the game on The Bachelor.
Elsewhere in the mansion, Trevor pulls Jamie aside to play her “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room,” which is also by John Mayer. Either Trevor is messy and made for reality TV or ABC had a deal with Mayer’s songs for this week. Jamie kisses Trevor and then sobs in her confessional about what a hard decision she has ahead of her.
At the rose ceremony, Savannah picks Brandon, Mel picks Gabe Baker, Bekah picks Danny, Bri picks Chris, Cheyenne Arnell picks Matt, Julia picks Sheridan, Jamie picks Trevor, and Rudi picks Ryan. Matt says Cheyenne is “sweet” and she tells him, “Sometimes you have to just take a chance.” Rudi says she can see herself falling for Ryan. Okay, sure! Michael Todd, Josh, Russell Johnson, and Jack Mason are sent home.
Next week, the drama continues and we will hopefully get more info about when the music competition portion begins, because this show still doesn’t totally make sense.
Most likely to have an actual relationship: Bri and Chris seem very chill and into each other.
Most likely to end up on BiP: Rudi! Rudi! Rudi!
Most likely to have a short-lived spinoff show about their life together as reality stars-slash-singers: Jamie and Trevor. I can see it now.