If you’ve ever met someone via Match.com or a similar site and placidly thought, “Well, that was pleasant,” then get ready to share some experiences with the oh-so-lucky Bachelor contestants who survived the opening night cuts.

Ben officially enters the dating portion of his quest for love sans seven ladies, as he is apparently scared of red velvety hair, cussing cowgirls, stalkers, pajamas and chickens (apologies to Jessica … we hardly knew ye). But he clearly loves gluten, much to Breanne’s dismay.

Now it’s time for the 21 remaining women (though I’m tempted to count the Stepford Taylor Swifts as one since they’re apparently playing up the incestuous twin fantasy) to sharpen — err, paint their nails — and put their best faces forward in hopes of winning that tepid kind of long-lasting love your non-divorced friends don’t boast about.

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More Mr. Nice Guy

At this point, it’s clear that Ben just is a nice guy, like “walk a grandma across the street/be late for something because you had to let everyone walk out the door you were holding” nice. I mean, this is a dude who was going to allow himself to be kiss-raped by a drunk chick who later approached him post-rose ceremony and smacked him in the face with a red flag. And he kept her around!

While amiability is clearly a desirable trait in settling down, it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the passion and fire that producers hope will exist between Ben and whoever he un-Single Ladies. Even the word amiability is boring. I mean, maybe his fears of being unlovable come from dating 23-year-old party girls who just wanted to dance while he preferred sitting at home in the reclining chair watching old episodes of Murder She Wrote.

That’s all speculation, but damn it to hell if he isn’t the tallest glass of warm milk I’ve ever laid eyes on.

So while it remains to be seen how exciting these relationships will get, at least the chances for post-rose success should be decently higher than normal, provided he chooses wisely. It will also help to weed out those who are there for the thrill (looking at you, Olivia) rather than the man, and at least he’s the anti-Juan Pablo in that it’s incredibly easy to root for him.

To the Back of the Class

The first group date is taking the girls back to school, which is ironic considering some of them probably just graduated a few years ago. The date card arrives while the ladies are sitting around praising Ben from head to toe and he’s covering up his boxer-briefed package with a freshly ironed pair of jeans, and it invites save-the-date gerontologist Jackie, fourth Lauren LB (should her nickname be “pound”?), third-Lauren kindergarten teacher Lauren H., still-a-virgin Becca, still-a-teddy-bear-bartender Amber, rose-hat dentist Mandi, Ben’s personal unicorn JoJo, war vet Jubilee, TD&H Ben-and-Jen Jennifer and drunk first-kisser Lace to “learn how to love.”

Lace realizes she was a bit too drunk and emotional at the first cocktail party, and she’s hoping her redemption will culminate with a kiss on a beach somewhere. They sip some champagne in the limo without concern for things getting physical, even though no one likes a girl who throws up while exercising.

They head to “Bachelor High” at an area school, where they will relive some of Ben’s fondest memories. Nerd Chris Harrison pairs them up in teams of two who will compete in four classes, and the winner will be Ben’s homecoming queen. 

Science class involves making Ben’s volcano explode, followed by a lunch where one partner bobs for an apple and passes it to her partner, who then drops it on a tray. Then it’s off to geography class, where no one knows the location of Indiana on a map. It all caps off with gym, where the two remaining teams shoot free throws for Ben’s heart. Or, more accurately, throw basketballs over the backboard until two of them fulfill the law of averages and find their way to the net.

The teammates then settle things on the track, where a barefoot Mandi and her bouncing breasteses out-hurdle Amber by a mile. As a reward, she gets to wear Ben’s letter jacket and ride around the football field in a convertible. With more jellies than a PB&J, Lace vows to “do something about it.”

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Ben Opens His Heart … And His Lips

The date continues over evening drinks, and Becca gets the first alone time. They shoot hoops, and she sinks bucket after bucket southpaw style, which clearly means she is better and hotter than us righties. He didn’t expect to see her walk in, while she was nervous and wondered what she was getting herself into all over again. But now she strokes his hand and his ego without fear. 

Jennifer is next, and he thinks she’s got something special. She counters that they could be a great match, and he rewards such implied compatibility with his first dispensed kiss of the season. She runs back to her girlfriends, giddy with delight over not having to be sloppy seconds, thirds or worse, and Lace is “argavated” at the news. 

She still feels like she’s not getting any attention, so she steals him so he can learn “who is Lace and what’s she really about” because she’s “a really good girl, and you want to know [her].” 

She starts with an apology for coming off so drunk negative the first night, and he responds with an explanation that his lack of eye contact was unintentional. Because, apparently, you must explain normal human behavior to crazy people. But she’s more enthralled with all the eye contact he’s giving her now. I mean, they’re “practically eye f***ing.” 

She’s amped for a kiss, since he’s apparently no longer waiting to get to know them first, but then that bitch Jubilee interrupts. Lace can’t believe her friend would do such a thing, completely ignoring the fact that drunk Lace did the same thing to Jubilee literally one night prior. 

A Nauseating Roller Coaster of Emotions

Ben compliments Jubilee’s smile and her many, many layers, which is an invitation for her to open up about her appreciation for his volunteer work in Honduras since she was adopted and once spent time in an orphanage. 

He appreciates that because he appreciates everything, and I think I just uncovered the drinking game of season 20. You must drink every time Ben appreciates or thanks someone for something she said to him. Ben also appreciates Jubilee’s spectacular derriere, and he rewards her openness with the remnants of Jennifer’s lips. 

Lace then curses Jubilee out, and all the other ladies proceed to talk about Lace, in front of her, like she’s not there. Cause women are the best. So she goes back inside and steals Ben again because they keep getting cut off and she needs more time.  

He appreciates Lace coming over to him (drink!), while instead of making time for him, the others sit around and bitch about how much time Lace has gotten, like two times to Amber’s none. JoJo muses about being unsure if Ben even notices her, right before he pulls her up to the hotel helipad for a view and a kiss. Also, he appreciates her attitude and energy, and that equals the date rose. JoJo has never in her life been this happy before, and she 100% has developed real feelings for Ben. In 24 whole hours. 

Jubilee, however, does not take that news well. She bared her soul by telling that one fact about herself, but it’s never enough and doesn’t matter.

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Ride Along with Awkwardness

The first one-on-one date — Join me for a day of surprises — goes to possibly-crazy boyfriend-dumping Caila, who I must admit looks absolutely adorable other than the fact that she is a proud member of smile-with-your-whole-mouth-open club, along with Olivia. There’s just something unsettling about a mouth so agape that you look like a cartoon character when you’re happy.

Ben and the woman who saw him on TV and instantly got butterflies that convinced her to end her year-long relationship are having their date planned by Chris Harrison, and it starts off with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart selling out showing up in an old-school Buick convertible. It’s time for a Bachelor Ride Along because potentially terrible movies must be pimped.  

Hart aims for an inexpensive date to see if Caila will stick around when the money is gone, so they hit up a roadside flower salesman, a liquor store and a spa dealer. They backseat-comment the entire time, and you can literally see Ice Cube sadly debating what happened to his rebellious youth. 

In an effort to get to know Caila better, Ben asks her to identify her favorite color. It’s yellow, like most overly-sunny potentially-crazy people. His is blue. Clearly, it will never work.

Ben and Caila strip down and take an in-store dip in a hot tub, and after Kevin farts in the water, he and Ice get the hell out of dodge. It’s been a crazy day, and Ben is ready for an even better night.

To Love and to Be Loved

The couple heads to a pizza bar, where Ben thanks Caila for making the day relaxing and fun. He asks what she is looking for in a man, and since screaming “YOU!” would be creepy, she settles on trying to find a compliment to herself before asking about his presumed unlovability. He replies that his previous relationships have always been one-way streets where his significant other flaked on him, and he is worried that he won’t live up to expectations and that the women will want to leave once they get to know him.  

She tells the story of her chance meeting with her ex that she once deemed fate, but her heart never caught up with the story. He has her pegged as a good wife and a good friend, and as I stated earlier, this son of a bitch just wants a normal relationship and not the TV kind. He gives her the date rose, and she says she did have an idea of him beforehand that he blew out of the water. 

They cap off the date with a private concert by Amos Lee, who is apparently responsible for Ben’s all-time favorite song. Ben serenades her before they get down to business, and they’ve already got a leg up in determining their eventual wedding song.

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Passing the Sniff Test

Divorced single mom Amanda is FaceTimeing with her kids while pondering if she’s made any sort of impression on Ben when the next group date card arrives, and “Are we a perfect match?” goes to her, Stepford Swift Emily, Russian-speaking Shushanna, Madam Dimple Olivia, Stepford Swift Haley and dad-in-spirit attorney Amanda.

It’s a whole lot of blonde in that limo, with probably enough peroxide to clean the scrapes of all America’s children, and it’s going to make it even harder to tell them all apart. And I don’t just mean the twins.

They arrive at the Love Lab, where they are greeted by a robot with an iPad and a doctor guy on the screen. He’s apparently Dr. Love, and he’s going to run a series of experiments to determine who Ben is most compatible with. Because #ScienceImHidingFromMyWife. 

The future will be determined by a numerical score of 1 to 10, and it kicks off with a visual cortex test where Dr. Love shows a picture of Ben and another Bachelor in order to see where the inappropriate glances are directed. 

This is followed by a post-treadmill sniff test for pheromones, wherein five girls are sweet and Samantha is sour to draw a Chinese food comparison. 

The final experiment involves stripping down and cozying up in front of a thermal energy detector to measure the heat. Olivia is incredibly confident and tries to steal a kiss, even begging for one, but Ben shoots her down because others are watching. 

In the end, Olivia scores an off-the-charts 7.45, while poor Samantha checks in on the other end of the spectrum with a pungent 2.42.

Breaking News

Ben brings the ladies back to his living quarters for the evening part of the group date, and now it’s all about chemistry. It’s really about Olivia, but those topics aren’t mutually exclusive. She scores the first alone time, mouth ajar, and she was not surprised by her high compatibility score because she feels it. And he feels her during another makeout sesh, which starts with an Eskimo kiss.

When she heads back to the party, Amanda stares with pure daggers. One of the Stepford Swifts tells Ben she is worried because he tends to go for more outgoing personalities, Sam gets smelt again (passion fruit?) and Shushanna reveals that she actually does know English. 

Amanda finally gets to disclose her little ones, and he appreciates that her face lights up when she talks about them. Kids don’t scare him, and in fact, they earn you a kiss. 

Still, the rose again goes to Olivia, sending Amanda to Jubilee town. The former news anchor shows off her humble I’m-in-it-for-the-game cockiness with a hearty, “I don’t know what rose ceremonies are, really. Olivia Higgins. Let’s just end the show now.”

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The Women That Dates Forgot

Olivia, Caila and JoJo are safe as the cocktail party gets underway, but for everyone else, it’s do-or-die time. This is especially true for super single beach bunny flight attendant Lauren B., Canadian Kaitlyn acquaintance Jami, football- and dress-hiking Leah and jobless Rachel on a hoverboard, who were all dateless. 

Ben starts off with Leah, who worries that he forgot about her. But he hasn’t stopped thinking about her ball skills, and he appreciates that she’s excited to spend time with him. But Olivia, wanting to plant a flag in Ben’s plot of land like Tom Cruise in Far and Away, steals him with the goal of dragging him to a secret spot and kissing him until his lips fall off. Her words, not mine. 

This does not go over well with the roseless, and it only adds to the angst when she blissfully returns to the group and tells them, “I’m done. Now everybody have at it.” Amber, who hasn’t talked to Ben in a week, thanks her for permission. 

The Many Sides of Lace

The most distressed by these developments is Lace, who targets Olivia for her selfishness in only thinking about herself instead of thinking about Lace, who has literally had no time with him at all other than those five times spent freaking him out and then apologizing. Olivia tells her the rose means nothing and that she’ll never stop trying, but c’mon, Lace has been interrupted, like, three whole times.

Lace really doesn’t want Ben to think she’s crazy, so she refers to herself in the third person, tells him it’s hard because her dad used to make fun of her “devil bangs” and her brothers used to pretend not to know her, and she has a part of herself that she’s “working on.” Where do I sign up?

His eyes say, “You are terrifying,” but his mouth says, “It threw me off because it’s overwhelming for everyone. We’re on a clean slate.” She’s about to open up further, which I can only imagine would have been amazing, but then she gets interrupted for a fourth time. 

She resists the urge to toss the other woman off the balcony, but she is sure she has imploded since “insecure Lace” came out despite her best efforts. Damn alcohol. The cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.

Isn’t That Special?

Doubts are running rampant ahead of the rose ceremony, and so Ben goes out of his way to make those he hasn’t spent enough time with feel special. So he presents a picture of them on the first night to flight attendant Lauren B., a first-place ribbon to third-Lauren kindergarten teacher Lauren H. (who won the volcano challenge) and handmade hair clips to Amanda for her children. Aww.

Then it’s time for roses, and the flowers go to:

Divorced single mom Amanda

War vet Jubilee

Super single flight attendant Lauren B. 

Football- and dress-hiking Leah

Still-a-virgin Becca

Unemployed Rachel on a hoverboard

Lace (even she is surprised)

Fourth Lauren LB, who is overwhelmed by the process and decides it’s too much. So she’s leaving and her rose is back on the market. Maybe there were just too many Laurens and she was worried about the “pound” nickname?

TD&H Ben-and-Jen Jennifer

Stepford Swift Emily

Canadian Kaitlyn acquaintance Jami

Third-Lauren kindergarten teacher Lauren H.

Bilingual Shushanna

Stepford Swift Haley

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The final rose goes to…

Still-a-teddy-bear-bartender Amber, who is likely the recipient of LB’s rose. 

That means it’s the end of the line for dad-in-spirit attorney Samantha, save-the-date gerontologist Jackie and rose-hat dentist Mandi. It might be the first time that someone won the first challenge on the first group date and was then eliminated, but I don’t have the time or energy to do that type of research. At least Mandi obviously has a spot saved on Bachelor in Paradise.

Samantha cries, but she accepts that if he didn’t see it, he didn’t see it. He definitely smelled it, though, right? But poor girl. She is sad.

You can watch The Bachelor every Monday at 8pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Bill King

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order