On the premiere of The Bachelorette
last week, Desiree Hartsock met her men, and it was all about first impressions. She had a decent list of easy cuts, including Drunkie McFantasy Suite (who didn't even make it to the rose ceremony and had to leave in a van), Magic Nick, the non-Renaissance Man Renaissance Man, Larry the dippy doctor, Sir Diogo and the guy who thought it was a great idea to stitch together his own suit.
This allowed several other throwaways to slip by the first elimination, just because they weren't as bad as the people she did
have to send home. Now it's time to see who steps up, because it's first date time! That means the answers to some of our burning questions will start to emerge.
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Will Ben, who likely broke several child labor laws pimping Brody to win the first rose, be a sweetheart or a villain? How long will it take Kasey to realize that hashtags aren't cool? Will Zak ever put a shirt on? Who punches who? Are my early favorites, Drew and Robert, legit contenders? Does Juan Pablo say anything other than "I am Juan Pablo," "futbol" and "We sexy time now, yes?" Let's get on with the show!The Bachelorette Family Blogs: Predicting the Front-Runners of Season 9 >>>
The First Date Card Goes To...
Brooks, of all people. He of double hugs and own name forgetting. With his long, flowing locks, he looks like he should be a D-bag contestant on Love in the Wild. But I won't rush to judgment because he obviously made a better first impression on Des than he did on me.
He is pumped and doing the Rocky Balboa, and according to the date card, Desiree is "waiting for a sign." I wonder how much stock footage they took of her putting on lip gloss and sketching in a notepad, and I'm calling foul after every episode of The Bachelor started with Sean Lowe in the shower.
Desiree shows up in a pink beater and a baby blue Bentley, because apparently they aren't letting her drive her Honda Civic on TV anymore. She and Brooks drive off, while the other guys put on high heels and mascara and just dish about their overwhelming jealousy.
Let's Get Married
Designing wedding dresses is important to Desiree, so the first stop on the first date is, ta-da, a bridal shop! Des puts on a beautiful gown, while Brooks is forced to don tuxedos that they only wear on Gypsy Wedding. After trying on Lloyd's Dumb and Dumber tux and dressing up like the Lucky Charms leprechaun, he finally gets a classy black getup before they head to a cupcake truck and a crowd of adoring fans.
Then it's a scenic drive to the Hollywood sign, where I am distracted by the huge backpack Brooks is rocking with his formal wear. There's a little platform set up with pillows on the L (I know you're wondering -- it's the second one), and he offers his jacket while they snuggle and get to know each other a bit.
They have similar previous relationships, and they both love to love and give it their respective alls. As the sun sets over the Los Angeles smog, they share their first kiss, and the first kiss of season 9! And it's a passionate one. Get your Abreva ready, folks!
Lost in Love
Des and Books get lost driving through a graffiti-covered LA gang neighborhood in a $200,000+ car, then stop at a closed-off road. Desiree suggests they move the barricades and drive through, and Brooks is more nervous than when he forgot his own name. But of course, it's just a Bachelorette ruse, with a romantic scene set up on a bridge (complete with chandelier hanging from the trestle).
They discuss Des' family, and we hear for the 41st time that her parents have been together for 40 years. They are her model for what marriage should be, and she knows it's attainable because she's seen it. She does not mention her brother.
Brooks initially balks on discussing his parents' divorce, but if you're ever going to do it, national television is the obvious place. He says he had a very rocky relationship with his dad, to the point where he forgot what he looked like. They eventually hashed it out, and it made him realize to appreciate everything and take nothing for granted.
Concerts and Roses
They cap things off with wine and champagne before a producer drives them home for legal reasons, but first Desiree gives Brooks a rose. Their kisses are interrupted by music, so they head over for a private Andy Grammer concert, where they dance and tumble further into the throws of love.
It's the first date curse. There's chemistry and smooches, and the guy (or gal) thinks he's the frontrunner before having to wait weeks for more alone time. The first date almost never works out.
14 Dudes, One Chick, One Rapper
The group date card arrives, but before they can read it, ties-his-shoes-on-one-knee Chris laments the fact that he's been in the house for, like, seven or eight hours and he hasn't gotten a date card yet. What's up with that? He, like, totally wants one!
So "Who is here for the right reasons?" Forgettable beverage sales guy Dan, Juan Pablo (first guy who doesn't need a nickname), Chucks-with-his-tux Zack K., black bikram high five Will, forgettable financial adviser Brian, (hashtag) Kasey, front-runner Drew, looks like "Mr. Big" James, plumber Mikey T., fab ab fluid engineer Zak W. (replacing "The Shirtless Wonder"), bad poet Nick, fountain climber Michael G., adrenaline junkie Brandon and child-exploiting Ben, apparently. Or so the group date shall reveal.
Soulja Boy Sells Out
Cause nothing screams rap like 13 pretty boys and the self-proclaimed "only black guy who does hot yoga." This is just going to be bad. Soulja Boy comes out and greets the men, telling them that relationships are like hip-hop and to show him the love.
But first, they each have to do a little audition. Soulja Boy picks Brandon, Michael G., Ben and James to head into wardrobe and deems the rest as backup dancers. They very much struggle to learn the routine. Watching Will dance is like watching the newborn giraffes at the zoo trying to walk for the first time.
Mikey T. dons an "I Love Dad" T-shirt, while Michael G. wears a "No. 1 Dad" shirt. Poor Brandon has to wear a thong-type thing with no pants and rap about having a tattoo on his man parts. The lyrics are all about previous Bachelors and contestants.
Ben is up first with Des, who is ready for a good old-fashioned hoedown in her boots, jean shorts, crop-top denim vest and cowboy hat. He sits there with a guitar, "rapping" his lines while Mikey T. heckles him with a megaphone.
James is so horrible that Soulja Boy walks away laughing, and then Michael G. makes him look like Eminem. Finally, Brandon messes up his lines 143 times before jiggling his junk in Desiree's face in front of a roaring fire. In the end, everyone has fun and Brandon gets props for his, well, ballsy performance.
With the drinks flowing and a rose on the line, the guys get a little riled up at the (w)rap party. Zak W. gets the first alone time, and he not only keeps his shirt on, but he admits he looked like a buffoon walking around topless the first night. He brings her a little gift, an antique journal with a loving message from a father to a daughter written inside. It's probably the most romantic thing you could give a girl, and he earns some massive bonus points.
Ben already starts to rub guys the wrong way by being a bit overaggressive and dismissing Brandon (who actually is emerging as a good guy when not obsessing about being hooked on action sports) when he suggests they be themselves, have fun and not focus all their energy on the rose.
Ben swoops in and steals Desiree from Mikey T., prompting James to accuse him of being there for the wrong reasons. Ben claims to be the guy who goes after the girl and gets what he wants, and he peppers Desiree with more Brody talk before planting a kiss on her.
It's worth a mention that the slurpy, kissy noises are pretty disgusting, and that's more of the takeaway than the kiss itself. Also, this is all very devastating to Brandon, who has apparently already fallen head over heels.
Ben's not full-on douche yet and still seems pretty genuine, but my intuition echos James' comments. It'll be interesting to see how this pans out.
A Promise, the Claws and a Rose
Michael G. vows to step up any time a woman isn't treated with the respect she deserves, and he makes a promise to Des that he'll have her back if any of the guys show they aren't there for the right reasons.
The remaining guys focus their energy on Ben, with the movement spearheaded by Mikey T. He confronts Ben, hoping to flush out his concerns (get it, cause he's a plumber?). He calls bullsh*t on the swooping, because Mikey has apparently never watched any of the previous 25 seasons of the show.
Mikey calls him a politician and doesn't want to feel like he's not being genuine. He's like, just don't lie to me, bro, and Ben assures him he's not a backstabber. He's in it for Desiree, and if they click like he thinks they will, then it doesn't matter how on-their-game the other guys are. Still, using the word "game" is mistake number one. Watch it, Ben. Everyone knows this show is super real.
Brandon steals Desiree away from Drew to tell her his sob story about his dad leaving when he was five and moving around every two years. His mom was an addict, so he helped raise his brother and sister without going to school. He can't wait to have kids, and if all goes according to plan, he just wants to come home to Des and love Des and be with Des and have a family with Des.
She says she'd go to him if she needed cheering up, because he's just so selfless, and he didn't expect to "fall in like" with her so soon. I guess love is an adrenaline rush, and this dude doesn't know how to do "slow."
Desiree gives the rose to Ben, obviously pissing off all the other guys. Both Brandon and Mikey don't think she wants a me-first guy like Ben, who revels not only in the fact that Desiree likes him, but also that all the other guys know it. The D-Bag-Dar pings again.
Another One-On-One Date
Iraq vet Brayden gets the final date card -- "Road Trip" -- meaning Chris, Robert and Brad get no love this week. They drive from Bachelor Mansion up the California coast, chatting about travel. They stop for snacks, and Brayden calls Smartfood the best popcorn there is, before heading to Matador Beach.
There, he records Desiree on the now-defunct Flip Mino camera, and they frolic in the surf, share fish tacos and head north to Orange Grove. He tosses her oranges and doesn't know what brie is. Then they drive to Ojai, where there is something available for lease that is blurred out in the background. The Ojai Valley Inn and Spa is the last stop of the road trip.
Brayden trades his super-tight bright yellow date T-shirt for a button-down and sport coat, then he opens up about being in a really bad car accident his freshman year of college that required a couple hundred staples in his head and shoulder. He also brings pictures.
He joined the military the next winter, and the wreck taught him to enjoy life in the present, because you never know when it could end. Desiree laughs and feels like a little kid around him, and she wants to see where it's going. As for a relationship, he used the military as an excuse to avoid getting close to anyone. But now he's ready for something real, and she's down for that too, so she kisses him in the hot tub and gives him a rose (though if they showed that last part, I missed it).
My first impression of their date is that there isn't much chemistry and the things they're doing are carrying the conversation. But she seems to have a good time, so maybe there is something more there. There is also that awful moment of pre-kiss tension where the girl is just waiting for the guy to make a move, and when Brayden wusses out, Desiree flat-out says, "Just kiss me already." I was not in love with Des the way the rest of America was, but that move definitely lifts her a few notches in my book.
The War of the Roses
The Killer Bs (Brooks, Ben and Brayden) are all safe, but there are 16 other guys scrambling for attention in the cocktail party. Michael G. reveals that his pancreas doesn't work (due to Type-1 diabetes), which doesn't fall quite as high on the sob story scale as some of these other guys. Still, Ben interrupts and steals her for a quick game of hide and seek.
While Ben sweet-talks her and steals more kisses, Michael and Mikey stir up the guys with talk of behind-the-back sneakiness. Even BBHF Will joins in on the confrontation, and Michael pulls Ben aside for some guy-on-guy alone time, with another guy I don't really recognize yet as a silent mediator.
Michael tells him he's rubbing some guys the wrong way, because everyone knows that once you get a rose, you just sit back and ignore the girl while the dudes without roses jockey for her affections. And Ben's all like, "Hey goober, why you yapping at me when you could be talking to Desiree? In fact, I should still be talking to her while all you goons are busy Mean Girl-ing me." Nuff said.
Forgettable financial adviser Brian is keeping himself away from the drama and gossip, and he gets some one-on-one time in which he anticipates slam dunking a rose. His last relationship went on for longer than it should have, because he was comfortable and tried everything to make it work. He seems pretty genuine, but what's up with the constantly raised eyebrow and the one eye that is always open wider than the other?
Time for Some Roses
Who stays and who goes? Joining the Killer Bs in the safe column are:
"Mr. Big" James
Forgettable beverage sales guy Dan
Wishbone villain Brad
One-knee shoe-tier Chris
Forgettable financial adviser Brian
Fab Ab Zak W.
Plumber and drama king Mikey T.
Chucks-with-his-tux Zack K.
Diabetic fountain-climber and gossip girl Michael G.
Adrenaline junkie and already-in-love Brandon
Ouch. That means sign-spinning frontrunner Daniel, with the one-eyed dog, is out. Joining him are BBHF Will and poet Nick M. (who was the mediator outside earlier that I didn't recognize).
Will came here for love and was ready for it. Now he's back to high-fiving strangers on the street. He thinks he put himself too far into the friend zone. Hey, there's always yoga.
Robert is sad and bummed out that he's going home, and I'm sad for him. I really thought he was a good match for Desiree, but she apparently thought otherwise. Dude didn't even have a chance. You can't kick out a guy you didn't even go on a group date with. Can't believe one of my two picks is out this early. Pfft.
Nick M. feels rejected and heartbroken. Dude is intense.
Desiree raises glasses with the remaining suitors to a "right reasons" toast. I'm not even getting into the rap video that covers the end credits. If you must, you can see it at ABC.com
It's about to get real next week. We've got increasing Ben drama, a fist fight and the scandalous appearance of someone's supposed girlfriend. Who will it be??? And what's your take on Ben? Good guy being misunderstood? Or sleazeball? Comment below!
You can watch The Bachelorette every Monday at 8pm on ABC.