Should Emily Maynard be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old Jef Holm be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
Happy new year, Bachelor Nation! The year 2018 has arrived and, with it, yet another brutal, frigid winter. But since President Donald Trump removed climate change from the list of global threats (We did it! Take that, Mother Nature!), the only heat I'm concerned with exists in the engines of more than two dozen women. And Arie Luyendyk Jr. is about to rev them up good.
Yes, ladies and gents, The Bachelor is back! And with the former race car driver and present Snobbsdale, Arizona, real estate agent behind the wheel for the 22nd season, we can be sure of one thing: there will be no photo finish.
Arie Luyendyk Sr. may have won a pair of Indianapolis 500s, but it's no coincidence that this fact is in the lead sentence of Arie Luyendyk Jr.'s Wikipedia page
Oh, and you can also expect an unhealthy dose of puns -- and not only of the racing variety. Janu-Arie might have 29 Daisies, but Junior only has one professional career victory, and it sure didn't happen six years ago in season 8 of The Bachelorette.
Hi, My Name Is...
Many who may be relatively new to the franchise are probably wondering, "Hey, who is this goober? Why aren't I falling asleep watching Luke Pell or Chase McNary try to cram one of these females into his beige baggage? And what about Rachel? Isn't one of her rejects supposed to be at the helm?" And yes, you are all correct. This is new territory in the annals of suckiness.
Let's take a look at the Top 5 of Rachel Lindsay -- who is happily and amazingly still engaged to former The Player flunkee Bryan Abasolo -- which consisted of Peter, Eric, Dean, Adam and Matt. And if you can't remember all of them, that's because no one except Rachel knew who penguin Matt and dummy Adam were at the time they reached the Top 5.
Fan favorite Peter wasn't ready to propose to Rachel, so it would be disingenuous to think he'd be ready to marry one of 29. Eric won over audiences (and Rachel) late, but there's no chance producers were going black-to-black. And as for Dean, he somehow managed to screw always-partially-exposed Danielle L., Russian orphan Kristina and himself all in one trip to paradise.
Hostless with the Mostless
So what's a Harrison to do? The last we heard from Arie was alllllll
the way back on January 7, 2013, when the silver medalist in the Emily Maynard Olympics returned to counsel bronze recipient Sean Lowe at the start of season 17. Coincidentally, that was the first Bachelor
season I covered. The premiere was my sixth-ever BuddyTV article
. For comparison, this is number 576.
Arie was once considered a favorite to play this role a half-decade ago, and since casting men has hit new lows (let's not forget that an openly racist man was vying for an African-American woman's affections), the now-36-year-old is getting a throwback look that makes Nick's selection seem like less of a reach.
Youthful exuberance has been replaced by salt-and-pepper locks and married younger siblings, and with all his fame-f***ing out of the way, I'm hopeful that my complete lack of expectation will lead to a spectacularly entertaining season. I got married at 35, so it naturally stands to reason that he's finally ready to settle down.
It's worth noting that this is the first time a season is premiering on January 1. New year, new leaf. Let's get to it.
Race Car Backwards is Race Car
The premiere kicks off with Arie dubbing this "the most important race of my life," before zipping up his uniform and zipping around a track (which he hasn't done professionally since 2010). So brace yourself for an "On the Wings of Love" Jake Pavelka-type season, even if that relationship ended in a fiery televised crash.
After reliving his Emily heartbreak and how he chased her across the country to leave a man-diary on her doorstep in an unsuccessful effort to be the first creepy guy to change the mind of a woman who scorned him, Arie admits that he
has been elbow deep in poon hasn't been in love since.
Sean, Catherine and baby Samuel repay the visit that preceded their relationship, and Arie touts his newfound stability as the bedrock for marriage preparedness. And I can't knock the strategy. My own wife spent years in theatre, and in her mid-30s she left the Manhattan restaurant side job and found something with nights, weekends and holidays off.
As I said, I think he's ready.
A Vignette in Time
It's time for the intern-acted pre-limo vignettes. In the previous season of The Bachelor, 31-year-old Rachel, a civil litigation attorney from Dallas who loved her job and vacuumed to blasting music, was first up. This time, it's 29-year-old single mom Chelsea. She's also in real estate and abandons her son to have drinks with her hottie and childless friends, who remind her that Arie was previously interested in a single mom.
Caroline is also in real estate, but she's only 26 and hasn't yet been ruined by childbirth. She shows off a ritzy home to a lighting guy who can pull off a tucked-in shirt and a production assistant forced to strap on an occupied Baby Bjorn. She apparently does her job in a see-through dress with side cutouts offset by a black sports bra, and she's "really good at her job" because she's sold $5 million in homes in less than a year. But family is at the top of her list of priorities.
Maquel is only 23, but she's a professional photographer who has shot other weddings, including the staged one of a hot intern and a balding PA who was forced to uncomfortably kiss her on the forehead. Maquel wants to be married and share her life with someone.
D'Nysha is a 30-year-old nurse from South Carolina who thinks going skydiving once makes her an adrenaline junkie, like the guy who followed in his father's footsteps must be. If I ended up being an accountant like my pops, does that mean I'd be impressed by any gal who finished a Sudoku? The red flag flies when she discloses that, working in the medical field, "the more blood, the better." But she's sexy, even if it's in a Dexter sort of way.
Tia is a 26-year-old physical therapist from Weiner, Arkansas, and the only reason we've never heard of this town before is because it's small enough (population 716) that no one was either smart or hot enough to capitalize on it. The only other pretty girl in Weiner is now like, damn, all I had to do to be on The Bachelor was pose in front of the town sign advertising our rice festival? Tia's dad is an old Chris Soules, and she's friends with Raven. I assume all hot ladies in Arkansas know each other.
LA creative director Kendall is also 26 and has an eye for taxidermy, which means she better be awesome at nearly everything else in life. Stuffed animals (and not stuffed animals) are her only long-term relationship, and I'll be honest, I'd choose the survival of polar bears over meeting the love of my life on TV -- even if she plays the ukulele.
At first glance, 22-year-old Bekah would seem to be a short-haired single mom. But she's actually a rock-climbing nanny -- and one who sort of resembles a poor man's Morena Baccarin. So I predict this one will have more appeal than meets the eye.
Marikh also spells her name with an unexpected 'H' at the end, and the 27-year-old restaurant owner could be on the chopping block simply by being from the hometown as the above-mentioned Mormon Jef. But luckily, she's super hot and kept all her given consonants. She's apparently a fighter, since her intro is punching the hands of a trainer/cameraman. She also owns the restaurant with her mom (who actually does work there), so her entrepreneurship remains to be seen.
Coach Krystal is 30 and does fitness in San Diego, and she can't wait to take you through her full-body online workout. She's enthused about making everyone the best version of themselves, and she started volunteering for the homeless after learning that her little bro was living on the streets. She tears up talking about it, and she's an early favorite, unless she ends up being crazy. Fifty-fifty.
Nine down, 20 to go.
Arie Meets His Pit Crew
The first limo pulls up, as the vixens arrive to get this booze-fueled party started. As per the usual, I will (very) loosely rate each of the first impressions in one of five ways: memorable-good, normal, memorable-bad, forgettable and memorable-disaster. And, yes, nicknames are forthcoming.
Non-kidded real estate agent Caroline is first (and holy bosoms, Batman), and she hopes they'll "both be off the market" at the end of this. It's stupid but cute, and it's noteworthy only because she's first. Verdict: Luckily memorable.
Single-mom realtor Chelsea exits the limo all leg, and she tantalizes Arie with a mysterious "There's a lot to get to know," which probably suits her better than "I'm a 3-year-older version of the girl you just met, who has a kid." Verdict: Normal/Your fate rests on Caroline's sanity.
We only met nine up front, but already it's stuffed-animals-don't-say-no Kendall out third. She discloses none of her love for big game corpses at the outset -- and so far, so good. Verdict: Forgettable.
Seinne is a 27-year-old commercial real estate manager, which means she's pretty much Arie's boss, and she gifts him with elephant cuff links to provide good luck on his journey. Verdict: Unique look and memorable classy.
Tia the weiner king of Arkansas is up next, and apparently all the vignette chicks are in the first vehicle. She name-drops in her intro and presents him with a little wiener, imploring him to verify that he doesn't already have one. I legitimately laugh out loud. Well done, Raven. Verdict: Memorable-good.
Bibiana is a 30-year-old executive assistant from Miami who speaks Spanish, and Arie has her heart racing. Get it? Cause he's a racecar driver. Verdict: Memorable-pun-ishing.
Next up is 25-year-old Brianna, a sports reporter from Oregon, which is essentially like working for your college TV station. She tosses him a literal softball. Verdict: Memorable boom goes the dynamite.
Jenny is a 25-year-old graphic designer from Chicago. He's beautiful. She's cute. Verdict: Normal.
Indy Car Booty
Brittane is 27 and a marketing manager from LA who knows you can't put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari, but why not an Arie? It's an American flag that reads "Nice butt," so where else would she place it to show her patriotism? Verdict: Memorable-good.
New York research coordinator Jacqueline, 26, gives him a hug. Verdict: Forgettable, if not for her dress that is cut both low and high.
Coach Krystal's entry oozes chemistry, and she lets Arie know that she's dedicated to people seeing the best versions of themselves. Verdict: Memorable O + H2.
Skydiving nurse D'Nysha (billed as Nysha) gets a hug, and the girls inside are immediately intimidated by her slim-with-huge-boobs figure. Verdict: Normal.
Valerie is a 25-year-old server (i.e. waitress) in a stunning yellow dress. She's from Nashville, and Arie gives her a twirl. Verdict: Memorable-good.
V for Victory
Nanny Bekah Maccarin is too good for a limo, so she arrives in a classic fire-red Mustang convertible. She tells Arie she might be young, but she appreciates the timeless. Verdict: Deceptively sexy, and one to watch -- even though he could be her dad.
Jenna is a 28-year-old social media manager from Raleigh, but her first impression comes across as either dumb or drunk. Fingers crossed for the latter. She loves her life, but it's missing a strong, handsome man with whom to share it. Verdict: Memorable-good.
California TV host Jessica is 26, and she presents Arie with a "gratitude rock" because she's simply happy to be here. Further research (thank you, Bustle
) indicates she is a vlogger and not actually on TV, and her website bio (which no longer exists and prompted a security warning on my computer) stated: "Who is Jessica Carroll? Think PINK! More specifically, a pink Victoria Secret Sports Bra; comforting, supportive, yet willing to push you up when you're down. She's an authentic digital entrepreneur and host with a heart, who is passionate about connecting, entertaining and inspiring her audience to be beautifully happy." Verdict: Memorable-good.
Indian restaurant co-owner Marikh uses a lot of spices in her eatery, but she's ready for some salt and pepper in her life. Verdict: Memorable-observant.
Twenty-three-year-old marketing associate Olivia watched Emily's season when she was barely legal, and she adored him. Verdict: Memorable-Roy Moore approved.
Publicist Becca, 27, hands him a jewelry box, makes him drop to a knee and pretend to propose. Verdict: Memorable-creepy, if she wasn't so attractive. But red flags. Waving. In hurricane-force winds.
The Four Laurens
Lauren S. is also a social media manager, but she's 31 instead of the previous 28-year-old one. It's a good thing Facebook and Twitter know no age, as she surpasses Jenna's memorability by letting Arie do the talking. Verdict: Memorable-slightly better than Jenna.
Lauren J. is 33 and recently got her Master's degree, so there's more of a story here. She's from a small town in Louisiana, but she brought Ari some beads like she's from the Big Easy. Verdict: Memorable-I want to know more about your divorce and re-entry into academia (and this must be a record for dresses with cutouts).
Lauren B. continues the stretch of same-named ladies (which leads me to believe they don't show them on TV in the same order they arrive), and this one is a 25-year-old tech salesperson from Dallas. Verdict: Memorable-Lauren cubed.
Lauren G. is a 26-year-old executive recruiter from LA. Verdict: Normal/Memorable-black Lauren. And I take it back because apparently all four Laurens were in the same limo. They called it the Lauren Limo, as they should.
What Not to Do
This season's Ashley is 25. But don't worry, she's also a real estate agent from Florida. She presents him with a checkered flag and predicts that she'll finish first. Verdict: Memorable-cheesy, but he's the one who started off by saying this was the biggest race of his life.
Tech recruiter Brittany, 30, hails from Austin and offers a poor attempt at Dutch (Ari was born in the Netherlands and lived there until he was 3). Verdict: Memorable-bad. At worst, she'll hook up with tech salesperson Lauren B. from nearby Dallas.
Amber is 29 and billed as a girl who is "trying too hard" because she owns a tanning salon and tells Arie that she "sees a lot of dick" and hopes he isn't one. Verdict: Memorable-disaster.
Can You Smell the Love Tonight?
Ali is a 29-year-old personal stylist who requests an armpit sniff test and billing it as the best pit stop of his life. Verdict: Memorable-disaster, but probably the most underappreciated pun of the night.
Then there's 32-year-old event designer Annaliese, who exits the limo with a masquerade mask and a bag with lips on it. She's heard that he's "the kissing bandit," and even though she seems creepy, he's obviously intrigued. Verdict: Memorable-nearly the wedding dress girl who made the Top 2.
It all ends with photog Maquel, who arrives in a legit Formula One car and whips her hair like a Baywatch lifeguard upon removing her helmet. Verdict: Memorable-amazing yet emasculating if she ends up finishing first.
The Haunted Mansion
The ladies are smitten kittens, and deceptively sexy nanny Bekah Baccarin lauds the elder Arie's full head of hair. It rubs my receding scalp the wrong way, but she's not wrong.
Single mom realtor Chelsea wastes no time luring Arie away once he enters, serving notice to the rest of the bachelorettes that the game is, in fact, on. His interest was piqued by her "mystery," and she mentions passing her real estate exam but is interrupted by photog in a race car Maquel before she can mention her offspring.
Chelsea immediately starts talking trash about the interruptee, who delicately pretends she was scared for her life in such a dangerous automobile. (Can Arie comfort her in the presence of such a big bad machine?) They take a selfie, and Chelsea gets to keep her love child a secret a bit longer. Win-win, no?
The Kissing Fool
Low-cut, high-cut Jacqueline gets bonus points by asking how he is doing and what he's thinking, and he responds that he hasn't felt a connection like he did with Emily since The Bachelorette. They're both hopeful that he can recapture the magic, and she'll stick around by being real.
Arie seems particularly keen on Indian restaurant co-owner Marikh, staring directly into her eyes with seemingly unending confidence, but there's nothing noteworthy other than the ocular gazing.
Tech recruiter and poor Dutch linguist Brittany takes him outside for a race in tiny cars with a kiss on the line. She loses but scores the first smooch of the season anyway. The kissing bandit strikes again. No tongue, though, because Brittany is classier than her name.
Just Not That Into You
Stuffed-animals-don't-say-no Kendall sings Arie a ditty on her ukulele, non-kidded booberrific real estate agent Caroline gives him pizza, black Lauren feeds him pineapple (which is apparently her safe word), and dumb or drunk Jenna creepily offers a food massage. She's weird and he's "intrigued," which means she is a fortified producer pick to stay longer than she should.
Kissing bandit Annaliese, still in masquerade, takes off her eye mask and reveals that she's "not a nickname kind of person," despite applying one to both Arie and herself. But she's cute, and she has a back-and-forth conversation that scores her a small space in Arie's heart.
Fake proposal publicist Becca reveals "questions from my mom," starting with asking how the first night went. Arie confirms that she made a memorable first impression.
The Rose Cometh
As expected, the arrival of the first-impression rose turns otherwise normal-yet-fame-hungry women into wolverines, with sharpened claws despite well-coiffed manes and partially-exposed breasts -- because animals don't wear clothes.
Interruptions abound, as those who failed to get time earlier jockey for position. Single mom realtor Chelsea went first like forever ago and is now desperate, so she breaks in on coach Krystal's QT. Before she departs, he tells her she has the most soothing voice, which bodes well for her.
Chelsea is overbearing, but she earns a makeout session with persistence. Those types of moves don't work out well in the end, so don't bet your fantasy pool on Chelsea.
The Rose Taketh Away
Jenny, the graphic designer who called him beautiful only to learn she's cute, delivers a James Dean-style caricature. And Tia the Weiner Queen of Arkansas scores bonus points in their shared nerddom and love of corny jokes.
Pretend TV YouTube host Jessica plays the sympathy card by pointing out that her late father met Arie and was a Luyendyk fan. (I honestly can't wait until I know how to spell that name.) I'm not saying it's the best way, but appealing to a man's emotions and vanity isn't a bad route.
In the end, though, it's deceptively sexy nanny Bekah who wins the day (for me). She takes the bold step of asking Arie the three things that make him excited to be alive -- excitement, adrenaline and pizza (he doesn't exactly knock it out the park) -- while being hot and pulling off short hair.
Her answers are the smell of pine trees in the mountains, the feeling when you like someone but aren't sure if they like you back, and this experience. Seriously? I know she had time to prepare her answers, but I don't know if she should wait it out or kick him out of the Mustang.
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
It's a cliche that has made Bret Michaels money for decades, so it never gets old on The Bachelor. The first-impression rose somehow goes to single mom realtor and fantasy spoiler Chelsea, which doesn't usually bode well for the recipient in the long term. And I'd bet against this one. But there are other posies coming, and Arie's opening night is about to come to a close.
The roses go to...
Fake proposal publicist Becca
Indian restaurant co-owner Marikh
Black Lauren G.
Deceptively sexy nanny Bekah
Older social media manager Lauren S.
Elephant cuff link Seinne
Non-kidded booberrific real estate agent Caroline
Poor Dutch linguist and kiss racer Brittany
Kissing bandit Annaliese
Drunk or dumb Jenna
Yellow dress waitress Valerie
Low-cut, high-cut Jacqueline
Tech salesperson Lauren B.
Checkered flag Ashley
Tia the Weiner Queen of Arkansas
Photog in a race car Maquel
That means it's the end of the line for armpit sniff test Ali, tanning salon dick viewer Amber, Oregon sports reporter Brianna, nice butt bumper sticker Brittane, my dad-met-you YouTube host Jessica, 33-year-old Master's degree Lauren J., skydiving bloodlust nurse Nysha and barely legal Olivia. We hardly knew ye.
This Season on The Bachelor...
The marathon first night is in the books, sadly sans drunken fools. There are no Alexises in this bunch, meaning we're looking at only classy additions to paradise. There was also a severe lack of misguided arrivals, with the only disasters of note being Pits McGee and the peen chick.
It's difficult to pick early favorites because single mom realtor and fantasy spoiler Chelsea isn't a likable choice, despite the first-impression rose, and deceptively sexy nanny Bekah is too young for a 36-year-old man. Additionally, most of the women who stood out thus far have a fatal flaw like kids or being crazy.
So for now, I'll go with elephant cuff link Seinne and Tia the Weiner Queen of Arkansas (based solely on Raven's success). But I reserve the right to change my mind as personalities emerge. I'm not hitching my saddle to any of these horses yet.
Either way, we're off, with one lap down and 499 to go. Buckle up, racers. It's going to be a teary ride.
Who tickled your fancy and which women do you think will stick around the longest? Conversely, who was sent packing too early and deserved a longer look? Finally, who has the best chance to capture Arie's heart and do you believe a proposal is in his future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.