Last night was the kickoff to Season 18 of ABC’s The Bachelor, a show in which female contestants vie for the undying love and affection of American’s most eligible dude.
So who’s America’s yummiest new male morsel? Juan Pablo Galavis, obvs. Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that Juan P. (as he will heretofore be called) first melted hearts on Desiree Hartsock’s season of The Bachelorette, where he was kept on for a decent amount of time thanks to his rugged good looks, sexy accent, and proclivity for French kissing.
Now, Juan P. is back, and he’s looking for love in just the right place: national television.
The season premiere kicks off with clips of Juan P.’s successful-yet-lonely life as a retired Venezuelan professional soccer player and single father to daughter Camilla. We hear how he’s been spurned before by femme fatales, but nonetheless is ready to take the plunge—with ABC’s production and filming team alongside—into the deep, uncharted waters of love. Cue swelling music, soulful gazing on a sandy nondescript beach, setting sun, etc.
We’re then treated to some touching father-daughter scenes so we can see that Juan P. is a wonderful, attentive dad who’s parading his child around on national television for the greater good: finding true love. At one point, Juan P. that Camilla is only four, but she looks more like seven or eight, which is a little disconcerting. Left unaddressed is where Camilla will be living throughout the show—at one point it appears that she’s kickin’ it at her grandparents’ house, but it also kind of seems like she’s going to be with Juan P. at his Bachelor residence. A “four-year-old” bunking with you on a show where you’re round-robbining among twenty-plus women… can anyone say cockblock?
We move on to a “man-to-man” chat between Juan P. and Season 17’s Bachelor extraordinaire, Sean Lowe. Sean is one of my fav bachelors, having ended up with the lovely Catherine Giudice, and he turns up here to smile beguilingly, flex his sizeable muscles (would Sean or Juan P. win in an arm wrestling match?), and essentially plug his and Cathy’s upcoming televised wedding on ABC on January 26th. Because nothing says true love like a nuptials ceremony broadcasted to millions of viewers.
Armed with Sean’s sage and well-tended advice, Juan P. arrives at The Bachelor manse to hug Chris Harrison and meet his potential future wives. Chris—who has alarmingly not aged a hair since the Season 1 premiere way back yonder—drops a GIANT surprise bomb on Juan P.’s perfect head: it turns out Juan P. is such a popular bachelor that, instead of the usual 25 female contestants, ABC is offering him TWENTY-SEVEN. ELIGIBLE. LADIES.
(Which basically means he sends two more home by the episode’s close, but whatevs—game changer!)
The limos start pulling up, and we can hear the excited squeals from inside the vehicles (how is that possible, by the way? Are they actually screeching that loudly?) as the women begin to pour out, one by one, in a sea of tightly coiffed hair, even tighter dresses, and awkward gimmicks intended to “break the ice.” Juan P. looks generally bored but then mildly intrigued by one contestant’s subtle hint of side boob, and then very intrigued by another contender’s not-so-subtle hint of full-frontal boob, so the evening is off to a promising start.
My favorite part of the show is when the women’s “job titles” are featured below their names. This season boasts an especially eclectic mix of professions: we have a former NBA dancer (hot), a “free spirit” (not), an assistant district attorney (LOL), and a “dog lover” (seriously, a professional dog lover) amidst the usual mélange of teachers and opera singers—jokes, no one is ever actually an opera singer, but contestant Sharleen is and boy, is she classy. I wish I could say the same for Crazy Amy, the “massage therapist” who just wants guys to “like it when she rubs them” (direct quote), but alas.
As always, the female contestants vary from non-entities, to potential love interests for Juan P., to flat-out perplexing. One hopeful named Clare emerges from the limo sporting a baby bump (OH NO!) which we soon find out is a fake (OH PHEW!), in a (sadly desperate) bid to demonstrate to Juan P. that she can be sexy, pregnant, and in heels, all at once. There’s nothing like the multifaceted, am I right?
We also meet “free spirit” Lucy, who comes bounding out of the limo with all of the restraint of an overexcited puppy—and none of the footwear. Yes, Luce is BAREFOOT, my friends, and where do those happy feet find themselves later on in the evening? On Juan P.’s lap, obvs. To his credit, the poor guy appears to be this close to vomiting as her toes wriggle into his lap. Gag.
There is, of course, the requisite dramatic crier, this time in the form of Lauren H. If I was Lauren H., I’d be shedding tears not over my broken engagement of several months back, but about the fact that my job title is “mineral coordinator.” Mineral. Coordinator. What the EFF is a mineral coordinator? She’s a total train wreck, wailing and moaning about how much pressure she’s under to try and squeeze in a chat with Juan P. Part of me feels bad, and the other part is like honey, no one put a gun to your head and forced you on the show—if you can’t take the martinis, get out of the cocktail party, girlfriend!
At some point during the night Lauren H. pours out her sad, sad story to Juan P., who responds with… several beats of uncomfortable silence. It seems like that pesky nuisance, communication, might be a bit of a challenge for Juan P. this season. Though he was born in the U.S. and moved to Venezuela in his childhood, it’s preeeeetty clear that English isn’t his first language (further evidenced by the fact that ABC employs subtitles within the first four minutes of the show—while he’s speaking English.) But we have a lot of blank stares and protracted silences from Juan P. in this opening episode, both with Lauren H. and others, and part of me thinks the poor guy just can’t keep up with processing the language in his head. Either that, or he’s a douche.
We also get to watch Crazy Amy LITERALLY “happen upon” a massage table during her one-on-one with Juan P., and proceed to give him the Crazy Amy special—with his suit on, so she inexplicably ends up rubbing essential oils into his jacket. What a waste of a dry-cleaning bill. Juan P. describes the encounter as “awkward.”
Renee is the only single mom on the show, and she and Juan P. bond over having kids. Speaking of kids, Nikki the pediatric nurse attempts to describe her job to Juan P. and actually ends up miming herself cradling a baby as she says, “I work with babies”—WTF? This guy doesn’t understand the word baby? Cut to me sitting on the couch, holding my (third) glass of wine aloft and screaming at the television, “BAMBINO!! BAMBINO!!” And I never even took Spanish in high school.
Sharleen the opera singer gets the coveted first impression rose, and seems underwhelmed and just sort of over it, which I love. Her take on the night is actually the only non-delusional one. She’s all, I didn’t feel a connection yet, but am willing to stay awhile and keep trying. 99.9% of the other contestants: “Juan P. looked at me, and he’s so hot, and we stared at each other some more, and I could really picture our life together!” Ugh.
Finally we arrive at the rose ceremony, and—shocker—most of the weirdos are sent home, excepting the “free spirit” who production has clearly instructed Juan P. to keep on for the entertainment value. And then, in one of the most uncomfortable moments in Bachelor rose ceremony history, Juan P. calls out the name “Kat,” only to have female contestant KYLIE step forward to claim her prize. Midway through her march to Juan P., Kylie must note his confused expression, because she freezes and says something along the lines of “Oh. You didn’t mean me? Whoopsies. Sorry. I thought you said Kylie.”
OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG.
Juan P. doesn’t even pretend to care to make it right, but just stares her down until she retreats meekly to her place in the lineup, and a relieved Kat comes forward.
OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG.
At this point I’m fairly certain Juan P. hasn’t planned to keep Kylie on—she has weirdly colored red hair unwisely paired with a pink princess frock and pink nails—but the sentimental softie in me is begging him to please, please, please throw the poor thing a bone and keep her on until next week, to compensate for the embarrassment she’s currently suffering.
Nope. Bye bye Kylie. Eight other hopefuls bite the dust, including the soggy Lauren H., who’s apparently in shock over being sent home despite the fact that she spent ¾ of the episode in a puddle of her own mascara.
Now that Juan P. is finished with the unseemly business of dispensing with the saddos, we commence the champagne toasts and general merriment. The episode ends with a sneak peek at what lies ahead: lots of kissing, crying, rabblerousing, and drama await. Blondes and bambino-talk abound.
Don’t fear—we’re going to keep you informed, every step of the way. Stay tuned for another Bachelor recap next week!