Ben Higgins introduces himself as “just a normal guy from a small town in Indiana” who can’t believe he’s the Bachelor! Why, it weren’t long ago he was helpin’ his Pa with a carburetor out back. Seems like only yesterday he was pushin’ a tire down the street to pass the time ‘cause Ma couldn’t afford one of them fancy handballs. He don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout these Hollywood types, his family don’t even have one of those moving picture boxes! But let me tell you, homeboy knows how to pose for the camera!
Anyway, The Bachelor tries its best to make Ben seem like he came from humble origins and not a wealthy as shit family.
Ben goes back to his hometown of Warsaw so the crew could get this artistic through-the-armpit shot.
He talks vaguely about how Warsaw has instilled “small town values” in him, though he doesn’t specify what those are beyond being good at basketball. Of his hometown, Ben also states, “Indiana to me is about a way of life” and “I think Warsaw feels like America,” so brace yourselves, folks, because we’ve got a real wordsmith on our hands.
As I mentioned in my recap of last season’s Bachelorette, Ben has a face that I want to both punch and kiss. He’s so fucking cute, it’s infuriating. He has the sort of boyishly cute face I was always drawn to as a youngster but was never able to get, as those faces often belonged to guys who were socially out of my league. So it made sense when I found out Ben was the quarterback on his high school football team.
I wasn’t especially attracted to football players in school, but there would often be a well-liked, socially-accepted-across-the-board rogue who might have laughed at my joke once and I’d think, “That’s it! I have a chance with him!” and then I’d find out he got a blow job from a girl in my gym class who was allowed to smoke occasional cigarettes from her mom’s purse, so… I guess what I’m trying to say is Ben reminds me of high school heartache.
Ben hitches a ride back home to see his folks in the little ol’ log cabin where he grew up… PSYCH! Ben’s parents live in gigantic lake house that looks like it could house multiple families.
I want to scoff so badly, but his parents are genuinely adorable and give him good old people advice that is boring, so I won’t relay it here.
Ben closes the Warsaw montage by saying, “I want to find somebody who supports those small town values that are very important to me.” Wow, the ladies in the mansion better be good at basketball!
Ben meets three previous Bachelors: Chris Soules, Sean Lowe, and Jason Mesnick. This is the first season of The Bachelor I’ve actually watched, so I’m kind of flabbergasted that women once competed for these men. They look like the Lollipop Guild.
Enter Chris Harrison, whose hairline looks about four years older and whose eyes look about dead after countless years of feigning interest in hot tub-fueled relationships between personal trainers and kindergarden teachers.
We then meet the special contestants who get a 1-minute TV spot, which means they probably will not be eliminated tonight. So here are some faces you can get used to:
We meet Lauren, who I will forget because she has long blonde hair and not much else going on like 10 of the other contestants.
There’s Caila, which is one of the more interesting spelling variations of Kayla I’ve seen. She broke up with her boyfriend after seeing Ben on the previous season of The Bachelorette, so we know she has really good judgement. Caila is also shown doing a still life painting, so we know she’s #deep.
I’m sure she has more than a few beanies in her closet and more than a few Mumford & Sons albums on vinyl.
Jubilee is a war vet, which is definitely a departure from the kindergarden teacher/nutritionist/lifestyle expert trend I’ve noticed with women on this show. I feel kinda pervy for immediately being like, “Jubilee’s body is banging!” but I mean…
Also one of her favorite movies is Newsies, so I like her.
Mandi is a dentist from Portland who I can only assume was invented by Portland. Like, she literally emerged from the earth, already predisposed to crazy hats and industrial circus music or something. There are just so many different things going on with Mandi.
Then there are Emily and Haley, whose occupations, respectively, are listed as “Twin.”
They say a lot of things in unison, they wear matching outfits, they ride tandem bicycles, they are here because the producers thought, “Why not?” These girls also have yet to encounter an inevitably huge identity crisis.
Amanda talks like a baby and HAS babies!
I actually think Amanda seems very sweet, and I wish she could bring her kids to the mansion because they’re fucking adorable. I’m sort of rooting for Amanda, even though it seems unlikely that a woman with multiple kids will make it very far in this competition.
There’s also Tiara, and no, her name is not the most interesting thing about her. It’s her chickens!
Tiara keeps many chickens and has one special chicken who is with her at all times. Could Ben be her new special chicken?
Probably, since she has a picture of him (and her chickens) on her mantle.
Then there’s Sam, an attorney and also our first obligatory “contestant with a tragic backstory.” When she was young, she lost her father to ALS. Sam has clearly been through a lot and made some tough decisions in her life, but this outfit was not one of them.
Now it’s time to meet the other girls who are less interesting and several of whom will be eliminated tonight!
Before the ladies exit the limo, Chris Harrison asks Ben if he can get him anything to calm his nerves. Ben asks for a hug, which is surprising and kind of adorable. Chris Harrison kindly obliges, but his initial reaction face is magic.
Caila with a CAI gets a running start out of the limo and leaps into Ben’s arms! A leap of love! A leap of faith! A leap that says, “I saw you on TV and left my boyfriend for you!”
Then there’s Lace, whose name is pronounced just as you’d think. My guess is her parents looked around the room and decided Paper Towel Holder didn’t quite have the right ring to it. Lace it is! Lace decides she’s going to be the first one to get in there and give Ben a smack on the lips. And that she does!
Ben seems genuinely bewildered, but is polite about it. Lace says some vaguely flirty/threatening things through gritted teeth, as she will throughout the rest of the episode, and struts away to some studio electric guitar, signifying that Lace will be our force to be reckoned with this season!
Leah, an event planner, exits the limo, football in hand. Um, “small town values” are about basketball, Leah, but you’re on the right track.
There is a girl who wears a unicorn head.
A girl in pajamas, who I actually really respect. Fuck an evening gown.
Portland wears a giant rose on her head and really commits to it for the rest of the evening.
One girl brings a miniature horse.
A ginger steps out and she’s cute as a button, but I know she’s going home because she’s a redhead. I mean, let’s be real. Gingers only make it so far in this world.
(I’m allowed to say this because I’m a fake redhead. If anything, that gives me more merit in saying it. I CHOSE this for myself!)
Haley and Emily make their entrance and once the other women realize they’re competing with twins, the general consensus seems to be, “Shit.”
Many of the contestants think the twins have an unfair advantage, but you would think more them would accept the twins since The Parent Trap was frequently listed as a favorite movie among the contestants. Other recurring favorites? The Notebook, Bridesmaids, Elf, and The Hangover. Come on, ladies! Haven’t any of you seen a Coen brothers film?
There’s also a nutritionist who hates gluten and breaks some baguettes on the ground to prove her point.
Inside, Lace is throwing shade at everyone and saying that she’s the best looking and all the other girls are ugly, dumb, and fake. But her name is still Lace, so I mean…
There’s LB, who I think resembles Kaitlyn Bristowe.
I wonder, “Will this be too much for Ben? Can he reopen the door on another big-eyed, bubbly brunette? Can he reopen the door on love?”
Enter Olivia, a news anchor in a sparkly dress with even sparklier (?) eyes.
She has the wide-set, striking facial features of a beautiful lion. She scares me a little. If I encountered her in the wild, likely as a small one-armed monkey or something equally pathetic, I would immediately lay down my life in defeat so she could make a subpar lunch out of me. She has that commanding energy about her. She’s the sort of woman that other women look at and just say, “I surrender. I give up. I don’t know why I thought I could ever be a beautiful, successful woman. Here, take all my bangles and blushes. I’m gonna go live next to that trashcan fire behind the Rite Aid like I should have done a long time ago.”
I have a feeling Olivia the jungle cat could win this thing. It’s the same feeling I had when Shawn Booth, a.k.a. Doofy Ryan Gosling, stepped onto the set of The Bachelorette last season. We shall see.
Finally all the ladies have made their entrance and Ben is ready to address his throng of admirers. But before Ben can even wrap up his spiel, before the fake laughter from the ladies has even subsided, Portland cuts in to get some alone time with our Bachelor.
It’s like Bret Michaels said, “Every rose has its thorn.”
While Ben is getting to know some of the women, Becca and Amber, contestants on the previous season of The Bachelor, arrive to get to know Ben as well.
I don’t really care, but apparently this a big deal and the other contestants lose their shit.
Lace tries to kiss Ben again. He gives a very diplomatic response about how he’d rather to talk to everyone first than be distracted by the physical, but reassures her by telling her she’s beautiful a million times. This is reassurance Lace does not need.
There are few strong contenders for the First Impression Rose this evening, but as is in the Circle of Life, the Ben predictably gives that rose to the Queen of the Jungle, the top of the food chain, Olivia.
Fine with me. I’m just ridin’ the rails with my hobo buddies, wearing a tangle of Ziploc bags as underwear, puttin’ on eyeliner with coal from the steam engine. I’m fine. Never been better. I’m free!! It’s you who’s trapped in a cage, Olivia—the cage of feminine beauty standards!
It’s time for the first Rose Ceremony! 28 women, all with the hair and makeup of a daytime Emmy-winning soap opera star, clad in gowns so eye-poppingly glitzy, they’ve gone past impressive and straight to boring. Who will stay and who will go?
Sent home are pretty much all of the blunt-featured women, including Gluten Gal, Pajama Game, and Mini Horse. Chickens is also sent home 😦 But that’s probably for the best since she’s never been away from her chickens for more than 10 days. And as I suspected, the redhead was sent away. She chalks it up to: “He may have not been into redheads. Honestly, some people aren’t.” Girl, you’ll have your day in the sun (but make sure to wear that SPF 50). And when all the redheads go to heaven and everyone else goes to hell and I get to hang out in the waiting area for eternity because I at least tried to make the switch, then Ben will be sorry.
Lace pulls Ben aside to start the premature nagging in the relationship. “You didn’t even look at me once!” she cries, and “If you want me to go home, I’ll just go home,” she mumbles.
Lace is the sort of person who says mean and accusatory things with a smile on her face, which is terrifying.
Well, in addition to Lace, it looks like we’ll have some fun things in store this season. One girl gets a black eye (ostensibly from Lace?), the twins may finally break their bond with each other, the girls cry beautiful tears, Ben cries beautiful tears, there is a lot of contemplative standing near water and views from helicopters, Jubilee gets this quote from Shakespeare wrong:
Stay tuned—it’s gonna be a good season!