All hail Juanuary and the return of The Bachelor! After more than four months of writing mostly about serious dramas, I'm excited to get back to my trashy reality roots. And Juan Pablo Galavis, the first contestant in all the seasons I've covered who didn't require a nickname to be remembered, is the perfect guy to get us going again. Heck, I didn't even know he had a last name!
It was allllll the way back in early August when Desiree Hartsock settled for love with Chris after Brooks broke her heart to conclude season 9 of The Bachelorette. In the process, she sent this writer's preseason favorite, Drew, home in tears. The latest rumors are that he packed his eight-pack abs into a DeLorean and traveled back to 1955 to punch Biff and ensure his parents end up together. Those are just the selfless kinds of things Drew does, in addition to being besties with his handicapped sister.
But it would appear some women prefer awful poetry and butterfly kisses. How's that framed rose-petal poem looking on your wall now, Desiree? If you're having second thoughts or if Chris finally beat down your brother, you can alway e-mail me. And I just got a puppy.
The Sexiest Bachelor Ever?
Now, before we dive into the 18th season of The Bachelor and, incredibly, the 27th of the franchise -- with pending nuptials about to push the success rate to a whopping 15% -- I have to first express my concerns about the lovable Mr. Juan Pablito. I am just not sold on what kind of dude he'll be when he's the center of attention. We only got a sneak peak of his tendencies on The Bachelorette, that his soon to be five-year-old daughter is the most important person in his life, he avoids drama and he's a dashing Latin heartthrob with a sensitive side.
He also has trouble pronouncing some words, can't yodel and gets a bit peeved if you don't say his name with the right accent.
Still, Juan Pablo comes across as a decent guy with good intentions, at least when he's competing with a group of other men or in his familiar home environment. But what happens when he's El Hombre? I don't think it's a stretch to say he probably has a bit of a womanizing streak in him, and who knows what months of national attention has done to his ego? I'm not saying he's going to be chauvinistic or shallow, but it will be interesting to see how he handles choices of beauty vs. substance.
Will he stay true to the sweet guy searching for a mate and mother to sweet Valentine's Day baby Camila? Or will his other brain do some of the thinking when desperate women throw themselves at him? I mean, what happens when a model walks around topless to get a leg up on the competition? Will he give us a distracted Ben Flajnik "Duhhhhhhh" face? Or stick to the mission?
Sean Lowe did a good job of focusing on what he wanted and not tolerating anything less, but are we even sure Juan Pablo knows what he's looking for?
The Countdown Begins
To help Bachelor Nation get reacquainted with its favorite guilty pleasure, especially since we were unceremoniously denied Bachelor Pad season 4, ABC is kicking off Juanuary with a one-hour special, The Bachelor: Countdown to Juan Pablo. To avoid recapping what is sure to be a mildly entertaining but mostly worthless hour of television that has no effect or bearing on the outcome, here are the highlights:
-- The show opens with a shot of Juan Pablo running topless. This means we're in store for more Sean Lowe shower scenes and fewer Desiree Hartsock jotting in her journal moments. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'm all for showing skin, but I'm not a fan of glorifying it with reverse discrimination. I'm not advocating he put his shirt back on, I'm just say we should get to see more sudsy Bachelorettes as well.
-- The casting process is a mess of desperation, bad decisions and diamonds in the rough. And for every hidden gem, there are 20 drunken cubic zirconium spinsters in plain sight. Half of whom will be chosen to be on television.
-- Host Chris Harrison is a danger to pedestrians and other motorists. His irresponsible driving on film includes extended periods of looking at the camera and removing his hands from the wheel.
-- The in-person rose deliveries to contestants feature a chick who wraps her legs around Chris, a girl learning Spanish who has a conversation with the host right out of a high school textbook, a lady who looks cute in glasses and one who goes up to every random stranger in a park to ask for advice. My preliminary and unscientific predictions favor the girl who danced around in her underwear. I also think blond Chelsea is going to be quite a handful.
-- I want to hang out with Juan Pablo's family. They're all hilarious, have tons of energy and seem like loads of fun. Kudos to the uncle who forgot Juan Pablo's name.
-- Juan Pablo's dad offers some advice that will hopefully keep our first Latino Bachelor grounded. He reminds his son to act like himself, be open-minded and make decisions with Camila in mind. He also reminds Juan Pablo that no matter what happens, his family will always be there for him.
-- A very touching tribute pays homage to Bachelor and Bachelor Pad alum Gia Allemand, who committed suicide last year. She was a beautiful and loving girl who seemingly had it all. It's a stark reminder of the dangers of depression and a push to seek help for anyone reeling from its effects. Rest in peace, sweet girl.
Let the Tears Flow and Love Bloom
I trust you are all now primed and prepped for Juan Pablo's quest for love to finally begin, and I hope you'll join me as the drama unfolds. I can't wait to nickname all the crazy ladies, watch the cat fights and the tears, give out name-imprinted roses, go on fantasy dream dates that don't exist in the real world and, ultimately, find out if Juan Pablo is really a man looking for love or just a hunky piece of Venezuelan eye candy. And lucky for you, I played nine years of soccer and love puns.
So sack up your balls, gentleman, you won't be needing them for this game. And remember, ladies, you can't use your hands. GOOOOAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!
The Bachelor season 18 premieres Monday at 8pm on ABC.