Ladies and Gentlemen: Meet Ben Flajnik (pronounced Flah-nik): Californian, wine maker, professional Bachelor. Fans of the franchise will recognize the shell of the man left gutted by his brush with true love on The Bachelorette. When last we saw him, Ben was departing with a hailstorm of angry words after Bachelorette Ashley Hebert rejected his marriage proposal. Ben vowed he would never love again. But after several months of reflection, vocal pleas from fans and (we assume) TV producers throwing money at him, Ben has reconsidered. He is the new Bachelor — and he is just dying to break the hearts of 25 willing contestants.
He has not, however, updated his Josh Groban-inspired hairdo. Troubling.
On last night’s season premiere, we met the lucky ladies vying for a chance at love with Ben. One by one they piled out of their limos onto the always wet (seriously, always) driveway of the Bachelor/ette’s California mansion hoping to win the valuable First Impression Rose from Ben. There’s the woman in the derby hat so large Ben had to duck under it to see her face; the British diplomat’s daughter who wrote a wretched rhyme; the law student who finds Ben “guilty…of being sexy.”
As the ladies in their sequined mini skirts, pageant gowns (and, in one case, a sash) and Kardashian-inspired party frocks ply Ben with their perky best, the look on his face is all too easy to read: Holy hell. And yet, if the producers have anything to say about it, by the end of the season, Ben will be proposing to one of these lovely gals. Hopefully not the one who cried in the bathroom for half of the episode.
But more importantly, who won our first impression rose? Let’s break it down.
Villain in the making: Model Courtney, who delivered the utterly predictable and obligatory reality show line, “I’m not here to make friends.” Don’t hate her because she’s beautiful, hate her because she’s a bitch.
Smartest contestant: Emily, the epidemiology student who insisted on clean hands and a clean mouth Ben before kissing him. While this is a very a wise prophylactic move, hopefully she realizes that Purell is not strong enough to disinfect a man you are sharing with 25 other women.
Most memorable entry: We were firmly Team Lindzi after we learned that her last boyfriend dumped her via text message. Then she made us doubt our allegiance by riding up the wet driveway to meet Ben on horseback. That’s right, she doesn’t need a limo. She has a horse, with which she completely freaked out all the other contestants and won the valued First Impression rose. It will be interesting to see how future contestants attempt to one-up this entrance.
Most passive-aggressive entrance: Anna, who decided that actions speak louder than words or that mystery was the best aphrodisiac and just walked right past Ben into the house. No introduction, no flirtatious wink, nothing. Sadly she did not win a rose, so we will never know whether she has the best sense of humor on reality television or was just lost.
Best gimmick: Brittney, who brought along her grandmother (on crutches!), because who can axe a woman who brings her nana? It totally worked.
Biggest disappointment: That grandma wasn’t a contestant on the show. I mean come on show, Ben is clearly not an ageist. Plus, a little Harold and Maude action could give this show a nudge with the CBS/AARP set.
Most surprising moment: When two of the girls (Monica and Blakely, for those playing Bachelor Bingo) get very cozy on the couch. While there’s a good chance that the ladies were just drunk/tired/desperate for camera time, it was still eyebrow-raising to see this behavior during the premiere. Save it for the fantasy suites, ladies!
The one we want to stick around for a while: The girl who said this, “Whatever you gotta do, a horse or a grandma…” Please stay and say awkward and easy-to-misconstrue things for a long time. Close runner-up, the girl who said this about the competition, “This is so much more emotional than anything I ever could have anticipated. I hate it.” So say we all.
The one to watch at all times? Can someone find out if thinking you’re Carrie Bradshaw is a DSM-IV recognized illness? I’m asking on behalf of Jenna, the blogger. She is a freelance writer in New York (hmmm …that sounds vaguely familiar) who writes a dating blog, but is seemingly unable to cope with the slightest confrontation (don’t read your blog comments!), can’t handle her liquor, decides all the girls hate her, picks a weird not-fight, and ends up crying in the bathroom over how “all the girls are so evil.” Obviously the producers made Ben give her a rose so we could all watch this trainwreck go on and on.
Grossest offer: Cute little Amber with a button nose and blonde highlights wants Ben to come to her hometown and eat bull testicles with her and her daddy. Fingers crossed!
Who are we rooting for? Emily, the rapping epidemiologist, of course. She won’t win, but she is wildly entertaining. Not only did she insist on sanitizing Ben before kissing him, but she followed it by busting a flow during her one-on-one time that included the word “epidemiologist.” Suck it, Kreayshawn.
Whose team are you on? Tell us who should win in the comments below or let us know at @TimeCulture. See ya next week.