Meet Emily Maynard. She has one of those stories that you wouldn’t believe unless it was repeated ad nauseum on television, which, luckily, it has been. She was engaged to NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick, the scion of an illustrious NASCAR family, who was killed in a plane crash on his way to a race in October 2004. A week after his death she found out she was pregnant with their daughter. She is now a brittle and beautiful 26-year-old single mother with big eyes and a sad smile. So yeah, she’s made for reality television. Enter The Bachelor‘s Brad Womack who plucked Emily from a crop of crazies to be his beloved bride. The engagement lasted a few months. Emily claims she was in love with Brad, but the guy was a tool with a chiseled jaw and she seems like a nice girl easily susceptible to suggestion. Now Emily has been coerced into being The Bachelorette, because that is the only option for single mothers, because it is the only dating service that comes with free babysitting.
Let’s meet the men soon to be ruining Emily’s life and, undoubtedly, the carpets in their mansion:
Wisest Move: The whole Bachelor operation has been moved from its natural milieu of California to Emily’s hometown of Charlotte, NC, so she can simultaneously date 25 men by day and be a good role model for her daughter by night.
The Hit Parade: Before the show really starts we meet some of the winning gentlemen who will be wooing Emily with their scented hair gel, copious amounts of body spray, whitened smiles and sob stories. There’s a guy from Beaverton, Oregon, with two thumbs, a cheating wife, an adorable kid and a soul patch, which is probably all you need to know about Beaverton. There’s the guy who has a job training kids and pro athletes to roll tires, maybe. Details are sketchy. He also loves dogs and staring at waterfalls so clearly he’s read a lot of Hallmark cards. There’s a data destruction specialist who prefers to be called Wolf, a Musical Michael from Austin who envelopes her in a hairy hug, a Jean Paul with ’80s soap opera hair and that’s not a compliment.
Guy Most Likely to Write A Song About the Experience: David is a singer/songwriter from New York City who humblebrags about his songwriting skills, but due to his severe lack of fame works at Starbucks. I”m guessing, but you know I’m right. To prove his chops, and maybe get a publicist out of this audition, he writes Emily a song with one chord to match the one lyric, “Emily.” If you see him busking in the subway, please buy him a clue.
The Hugathon: Hopefully Emily can get a Silkwood shower before she sees her daughter, because, oh man, the germs she must be collecting as she hugs every grizzled, gelled ,cologned man who walks through her door. Twice. We meet Kyle, a financial advisor from Long Beach, California, who says nothing because he’s “in awe.” Aaron performs a glasses-removing maneuver clearly learned from careful study of Clark Kent/Superman. Alessandro comes from Brazil via four years in Minnesota with the accent to prove it. (Emily speaks to him in Spanish.) Stevie, a dancer/MC/entertainer comes in wearing a bright green shirt and carrying a boombox. Then there’s Ryan, a pro-sports trainer with broad shoulders and a questionable amount of styling product.
Worst Introduction: Charlie introduced himself to us by saying, “I may have had a head injury, but…” which is clearly the best way to introduce yourself in any situation ever. Sadly he forgets that maxim when he greets Emily and mumbles something about tripping and smashing his face (again!). He makes up for it later by coming up with the second best opening line, “I’ve got a titanium plate in my face” and then pretending to bite Emily. I hope Emily marries him just so he’s not back in the dating pool.
THAT Guy: Meet the idiot (his name either is or should be Travis) carting an egg around. He shows Emily the egg and promises to take care of the egg high school biology style to show that he is a true caretaker. Even if you have seen every episode of Game of Thrones, it’s still not a dragon’s egg, dude.
Barfiest Schtick: Prince Charming (who’s real name is Tony, which they left out of the Disney version) brings Emily a Cinderella slipper on a satin pillow and slips it onto Emily’s foot. So, yeah, there’s a foot fetishist in the mix.
Least Likely To Get Customers From His Five Minutes of Fame: Randy, a marketing manager from Hermosa Beach, California, thinks the best way to sell himself is by dressing up as a little old lady with a cane and then ripping off the whole costume and hoping that he made a good impression. I think Randy is not very good at marketing.
Most Not Racist Moment: Think The Bachelorette franchise is racist? Pshaw says Lerone, the lone attractive African American man on the show. He has a very tiny dog and a career in “Full Service Real Estate,” which can mean a lot of things, but mostly that he’s suave. He proves that by telling Emily the most attractive thing about her is that she’s a single mom, which is a pretty weird thing to say.
Worst Time For a Speech Impediment: Upon seeing Emily in her silver Saran Wrap dress, Jackson drops to one knee and recites some pillow-ready aphorism, but when he says “breaths,” it sounds like breasts and then the whole speech is lost because it now sounds like he’s talking about how many breasts he’s taken.
Most Likely To Cause Flashbacks: Arie is an attractive guy who is a racecar driver, which with Emily’s past, must have skyrocketed him to the top of the producers “Must Have” contestant list. He breaks the news gently, and Emily is okay with it. For now. Let’s start placing bets on when the producers will send them on a one-on-one date to a race track.
The Only Compliment: You look beautiful! So much for Emily having a great personality. Hopefully that will come later.
Super Sniffer: Emily told two separate men that they smelled good.
Most Optimistic Contestant: Alejandro, from Medellin, Colombia, doesn’t stop speaking in Spanish despite the fact that he speaks English and Emily’s Spanish couldn’t order her a nachos bell grande at Taco Bell.
Worst Pick-Up Line: Chris pulls Emily to a quiet corner and tells her, “You have no idea what I’m about to pull out of my pocket,” which is exactly what a lady likes to hear from her new date. Luckily Chris pulls out little Chris and Emily bobblehead dolls and not anything else.
The Winner Is: Jef is a possibly Mormon entrepreneur who is a CEO of a Salt Lake City-based bottled water company that donates money to well-building charities. Maybe he should use some of those profits to buy himself an extra “f”. He rides a skateboard and has perfectly tousled hair. Emily says he makes her feel like a nerd, which is pretty much the ultimate neg (read The Game, I’ll wait.) See? Ultimate neg. Thus Jef will win. The end, goodbye.
Most OMG Moment: Brent the tech salesman has six kids. Thought it was a joke when he said it, but it wasn’t. Emily politely sits through him, which hit him like a locomotive.
The Frontrunner: Doug, a single dad from Seattle, brings a note that his 11-year-old son wrote Emily. He probably paid the kid off with an iPod, but still the sweetness of the letter made my cynicism about this show melt like a popsicle on a hot day. He owes his son a puppy or an Xbox or something because that letter earned him the valuable First Impression Rose. And another hug.
He’s Not Here For The Right Reasons: The old trope rears its ugly head early for Helicopter Guy. Kalon, the luxury brand consultant, lands his helicopter on the lawn, earning his moniker as he apologizes for being late. I don’t know what a luxury brand consultant is, but I think it’s being a professional douchebag?
The Results: Chris (a.k.a. Mr. Bobblehead) gets the first rose, followed by Ryan the trainer. Helicopter Guy gets the third rose and a lot of shaking heads. Arie the racecar driver zooms into fourth. Charlie the Bionic Man, Jef, Nate, Sean, some guy with bad hair and a guy named Kyle are all in, and there are still 10 roses left on the table. Emily starts calling out random names she chose via dartboard outback: Aaron, Alejandro the Colombian and John—who impressively looks more like a Miami Vice drug dealer than the guy from Medellin does. Alessandro the Brazilian, Michael from Austin, Stevie the massive dork with the boombox and a truly atrocious bright green shirt all get roses. Prince Charming takes his prize and the final rose of the evening goes to some guy named Travis.
Witness For The Prosecution, Number One: Emily did The Bachelor lawsuit no favors when she left Lerone standing rose-less after the first ceremony.
Best Thing to Look Forward to This Season: Dolly Parton!
Worst Post Script: As we close, the producers can’t help but show one last exit speech. One of the rose-less guys takes off his shirt in the parking lot to show what Emily is missing. Abs, Emily. You are missing abs. Yeah, why wouldn’t she want that man around her daughter? Exhibitionists make excellent role models.
Results: Advantage: Doug; Rooting for: Jef.