Welcome back, Bachelorette fans! It’s the night we’ve all been simultaneously anticipating and dreading — the Memorial Day where Desiree Hartsock begins her second quest for love and we sign over three months worth of Monday nights to ABC. Once you start, there’s no going back.

I’m not sure if you, like me, were anxiously awaiting the fourth season of Bachelor Pad this summer, you know, just to give Desiree a little more time to get over Sean Lowe. That’s what I thought the Fall-Spring hiatus was for, didn’t you? That and a whole bunch of slutty good-looking guys and gals living together and competing for such a small sum of money compared to what the show must bring in. Where else could a guy like Kalon go from villain to the most awesomest player ever?

As Desiree gets set to meet her potential slim-to-zero-chance-of-becoming-her-spouse husband, the time lag is my biggest fear for our Knightess in Shining Armor (notice the foreshadowing). It was just two short months ago that she had to relive on live television the man she loved picking three other women over her. 

I mean, six months to get over a broken heart? Sure. But two? It took me more than a year to get over my ex of three and a half years, and Desiree knew Sean, like, 1/21st that amount of time. Which, in TV years, is like a decade. I just hope she’s had enough time to heal and prepare herself for a 25-guy firestorm. That is what I stay up nights worrying about. That and her brother. But I’m sure he’ll come up a lot this season. 

So get some wine, put on your gardening gloves and make sure you’re watching for the right reasons, because it’s going to be a thorny ride! With fist fights!! And choking!!! And man tears!!!!

Meet the Men of The Bachelorette Season 9 >>>

Catching Up with Des

Desiree grew up without much money, so much so that her brother’s bedroom was the living room. But still, that humble upbringing, combined with the fact that her parents have been together for more than 35 years, makes her appreciate everything she’s ever had and want love and connection more than cash or material things.

She was devastated when Sean let her go, as was much of the Bachelor-watching world. But she has maintained her positive outlook and the belief that love is out there. She moves into her new digs in Malibu believing in the experience and ready for her journey of love to end in fairytale happiness. The kind that, so far, three of 25 people have found on national television.

Just for kicks, she does some 1990s Malibu roller blading in a bikini top and short shorts, and sketches some in a notebook on the beach. She’s been working out in the short turnaround time as well, probably like a fiend, cause you know the guys are going to be in good shape. 

She is ready to put a ring on it. Time to step up, guys!

What a Girl Wants

Desiree has learned that she needs a good communicator who she can turn to and know he’ll be by her side. She loves companionship, cuddling and sharing her life, and when she falls, she falls hard. Sorry, suitors, but she’s describing me! Shame I’m taken. For now (and yes, she’ll read this — love you, baby!). Desiree is looking forward to weeding out the men from the boys, and if she wants to kiss someone, gosh darn it, she’s going to do it. Her heart is open, she expects an emotionally-draining experience, and it will end well for her. She’s been through the good and bad of love, but as long as you believe in it, the dream is always possible. And so it begins…

First Impression Time

Put your cringe hats on, folks, because it’s time to meet the men. The suitors can introduce themselves in one of five ways: memorable-good, normal, memorable-bad, forgettable and memorable-disaster, and we’ll rank each as we go. I’ll also come up with little nicknames for each of the guys to help you remember them at this early stage. 

‘Before the Limo’ Guys

Because there always has to be a few who are more important. The first guy we meet is 26-year-old Bryden, an Iraqi war vet from Missoula, Montana. He’s had one serious relationship when he was in his early 20s that left him heartbroken, so he joined the military, where he learned what he wants out of life. He’ll win her heart because he’s loyal, protective and sensitive. And he’s got a dog, and girls love dudes with dogs (unless they’re toy poodles or chihuahuas or anything that fits in a purse). 

Will is a 28-year-old banker from Chicago, and he loves life. He’s one of the few black guys who does bikram yoga (by his own admission), and if that sentence doesn’t inspire a nickname, I don’t know what does. I could also just call him “black guy,” because he’s the only one. He gives random high fives on the street.

Drew is a 27-year-old from Scottsdale, Arizona, and based on the pictures a friend of mine posts from there on Facebook, it is where hot people move to mingle and hook up. It’s like the Hamptons or Bachelor Pad, only year-round. He is an extremely good looking digital marketing analyst, but life hasn’t always been easy. His dad was an alcoholic and his parents divorced when he was young. He also has a sister who is severely mentally handicapped, and going through all that forced him to grow up at a very early age. He hasn’t had a lot of time to focus on love, but he’s ready and thinks Des could be the one. I’m branding him an early favorite right now. 

Nick R. is a 26-year-old douchebag tailor/magician from Chicago. That might not be fair, even though it’s my first impression, because his magic tricks are kinda impressive.

Zak W. is an elder statesman of this group at 31 (Larry from Kansas is 34 … yeah, that should end well). He is a drilling fluid engineer, which sounds like something I started doing around the age of 13. I was just an apprentice back then, though. The man is not a fan of shirts or clothes in general, which might not bode well for someone who knew he wanted to “get into gas,” but if I had those abs and pecs, I’d take my shirt off a lot more often, too.

Robert is a 30-year-old advertising entrepreneur from Arizona, so naturally he stands in the street with a giant sign that reads “Give me the rose.” He apparently invented sign spinning, has a skateboard and an awesome one-eyed dog, and also surfs. 

Mike R. is a 27-year-old dental student from Dallas. He’s also been in the Air Force, so he feels he is a Renaissance Man. He’s done the Air Force thing and the dentistry thing, so he’s just lived sooo much in 27 years. Bonus points though for being British, even though he lost the accent. Fewer bonus points for recognizing how much hotter he’d be if he still had one. 

Brandon is a 26-year-old painting contractor adrenaline junkie. You can tell because he is wakeboarding in his intro. His dad left when he was 5, and his mom was great when she wasn’t struggling with addiction. His married grandparents showed him how great love can be when you work through the hard times and come out on top. That taught him to be positive, and while their outlooks are similar, I don’t know how comfortable he’d be just lying around snuggling. (Me, I love snuggling.) We’ll see.

Limo Number 1

It’s time. Chris Harrison says these men are some of the most eligible bachelors in the country, and seriously, what makes one guy MORE eligible than another? Assuming they’re all single. (Hint: MORE foreshadowing! I’m on fire!) The belle of the ball is waiting in a long and shiny silver dress and dazzling diamond earrings, and here comes the first limo!

Early favorite Drew (with the disabled sister) is the first one out, and he tells Desiree she looks amazing and that he’s been waiting for this moment for a long time. First Impression Verdict: normal.

Brooks is a 28-year-old marketing consultant, and he’s nervous and excited and forgets to tell his name and laments it and double hugs her and they play silly music. Verdict: memorable-bad.

Accountant Brad, 27, tells her she looks amazing (been there, BRAD!), brings a wishbone to mimic her fountain toss, clearly lets her win and hopes that her wish comes true. Verdict: memorable-good (which is bad because I think he’s the villain this season).

Iraq vet Bryden tells her she’s stunning and that Sean made a huge mistake. Verdict: normal.

Michael G. is a 33-year-old federal prosecutor from Florida, and he climbs in the fountain to find Desiree’s penny so that she can have a do-over. But there’s no pennies in there, so he just gets his suit sleeves all wet before they toss pennies together. Verdict: memorable-bad.

Limo Number 2

Advertising executive Kasey is 29, and he works in social media, which makes me sad because I don’t initially like him and I also work in social media. But I would never do what he does next, which is offer the following hashtags: #ThePerfectBachelorette, #MarriageMaterial and #LetTheJourneyBegin. She says she’s excited to talk more, but I’m not so sure. Verdict: forgettable.

Black Bikram High Five (BBHF) is up next, and he high fives Desiree and says, “I give hugs.” He has nicknamed her Athena because of her wisdom and beauty. And he wants a nickname from her, as well. Verdict: memorable-BAD.

Mikey T., 30, is the best-looking plumber you’ll probably ever see outside of a porn movie, and he showers Desiree with compliments, talks about family and then defends her older brother. Verdict: normal.

Jonathan is a 26-year-old lawyer from Hickory, and he brings her a letter. He immediately invites her to forgo the other bachelors and join him in the fantasy suite, but she’s not that kind of girl. It might have been sweet, but he looks like he’s already hammered and half-expecting her to accept the offer. He doesn’t smile or change his expression and then heads inside. Backfire. Verdict: memorable-bad. 

The Shirtless Wonder Zak W. is up next, and he’s going to be topless this entire episode, I think. And it makes me sad that I don’t mind. I need to work out more, for real. And no more pizza. He asks her if she will “accept these abs.” Verdict: memorable-bad.

Limo Number 3

James is a 27-year-old ad exec from Georgia, and he looks a disturbing amount like Mr. Big from Sex and the City. Loyalty is love for him, and he’ll get fat if they get married. Verdict: memorable-bad. Can’t really play the marriage card this soon.

Larry the 34-year-old doctor is actually from Berkeley, California, according to the TV screen. So he must’ve moved. He gives her a hug and teachers her a dance move. His attempt to dip her goes horribly awry and she catches her dress. He curses on the way in. Verdict: memorable-disaster.

Magic Nick tells her she looks dazzling, then dazzles us all by burning a napkin and turning it into a white rose for her. This guy might end up pulling the wool over my eyes, too. Verdict: memorable-good.

Book publisher Zack K. is rocking the Chucks with his tux. That’s about it for him. Verdict: forgettable. 

Diogo is a ski resort manager who walks out in the full body armor you’ve been seeing in the previews. It’s amazing that people used to fight in something like that. You’d have to be insanely handsome to pull this stunt off, and he’s not. Even the Shirtless Wonder thinks it’s bad. Verdict: memorable-disaster.

Michael G. thinks all these characters are nuts. Says the guy who climbed into a penniless fountain. Sixteen down, nine to go!

Limo Number 4

Chris is a mortgage broker who says he has butterflies before dropping to one knee, dabbing his face with a hanky and asking if he can tie his shoe. I can’t decide how I feel about his purple socks. Verdict: memorable-bad.

Air Force dental student Mike R. is wearing his lab coat and says he’ll be her McDreamy and her McSteamy for the night. Verdict: memorable-bad.

Sign-spinning one-eyed dog owner Robert (who I think might be another early favorite of mine) merely asks if he can take off his tie, cause he’s not a tie guy. Verdict: normal.

Juan Pablo is a 31-year-old former professional soccer player, and he exits the limo with an I’ve-already-won swagger. He explains to her how to pronounce his name. Over and over. He brings her a chocolate from Venezuela. Verdict: normal/memorable-bad.

Adrenaline junkie Brandon rides up on a motorcycle, but with the helmet, gloves and bandana over his mouth, he just looks like a tool. Verdict: memorable-bad.

Limo Number 5

Brian is a financial adviser with a soft jacket. He’ll talk to her inside. Verdict: forgettable.

Micah is wearing a slightly disturbing stitched-together suit, but he did it just because Desiree designed the dress she wore out of the limo. It’s charming, but only because it seems like he realizes how awful it is. “Designed By This Guy” is written on the back. Verdict: memorable-good/memorable-bad.

Nick M. is an investment adviser, which is slightly different than the financial adviser. He’s 27, hugs her and reads a poem he wrote. It rhymes. That’s the best part about it. Verdict: memorable-good/forgettable.

Dan is in beverage sales in Las Vegas, she looks amazing and he looks forward to talking to her. Verdict: forgettable.

Last up is tiny, adorable Brody and his entrepreneur dad Ben, who I believe is also a villain this season. He seems like a good father, but he totally just pimps out his kid. He probably picks up girls at bars by bringing Brody along as well. As the limo pulls away, Brody says, “I wish I could go to the party. It would be so much fun.” Verdict: memorable-SUPER good.

The Bachelorette Season 9 Preview: Will Desiree Find Love Again? >>>

Let the Cocktail Party Begin

Oooookay, so now we’ve gotten brief introductions to our 25 suitors. Now let’s find out who Desiree warms up to, who fades into the background and who gets really, really drunk.

After a toast to the men, the guys immediately begin jockeying for Desiree’s time. Magic Nick starts things off with a trick, making Des disappear for about five minutes. He catches the guys off guard and gets the first alone time, explaining to the dress designer how he designed the suit he is wearing. 

Brandon doesn’t want to be a jerk, but he made a commitment to talk to Desiree as soon as possible, so he gives himself another adrenaline rush and makes Nick disappear. He presents Desiree with his mom’s 7-year-sober AA coin and makes her promise to give it back to him during hometown date week.

There’s a little montage of guys telling her where they’re from and other guys interrupting, but all they’re concerned about is the tray of roses that Desiree can give out at will, without waiting for the rose ceremony. They all want to be the first, and the competitive juices start flowing as only The Bachelorette can incite. 

Desiree loves 4-year-old Brody, who Ben had with his best friend, planned or unplanned. His parents have been married for 35-plus years, and they have a lot of childhood-related thing in common, including camping and road trips. My parents have been married for 43 years, Des!

They have an instant connection, she deems him marriage material from the start and she presents him with the first rose. If they didn’t show him in so many nasty previews, I would totally be on board with this guy. Maybe they intentionally paint him in a bad light, but he’s really just the best ever. 

The talons come out, and all the guys immediately start bashing Ben for his confidence cockiness. With one rose gone, they really need to make an impression now. Larry doesn’t like that Ben exploited his son, even going as far as to say he hates him. Easy, Unkie Larry, don’t let those old balls start any trouble. And yes, he’s only two years older than me. 

Diogo the knight in shining armor gets some time, some dude shows off his sweet dance moves and another guy names a star Desorion after her. 

The shirtless wonder Zak W. is lamenting over his lack of one-on-one time, so he decides to make a splash. (And I’m super pissed that one of the other guys just calls him the shirtless wonder. I came up with it first!) He strips down to his skivvies and jumps in the pool, because he apparently hadn’t shown enough skin so far. Social medial guy yells out “#Streakage!” and is immediately eliminated. (Not really, but he should’ve been.)

The other guys quickly lose interest as BBHF snatches her away, and Zak is devastated. No one even throws the poor guy a towel. She throws him a bone, though, giving him a rose for jumping in and pinning it to his pants. I think his abs alone earn him a second chance. He gets a rose for effort, while weird stitched-together suit guy just keeps drinking.

Iraq vet Bryden gets his time, and he nicely says that if she doesn’t like him or what he says, then he simply won’t get a rose. He calls his dog his best friend and tells her how he made friends with an Iraqi kid, and he just hopes he made a difference. That earns a rose, because it’s Memorial Day, for God’s sake. 

Desiree seeks out soccer player Juan Pablo and his accent, which she finds devastatingly handsome. He can do whatever he wants and it comes off natural, and she considers him a dream of a man. I called him cocky from the get-go, and he impresses her with his dribbling skills.

That inspires a full-on Bachelorette futbol match, with guys thinking that sweaty soccer glory will win them a rose. Plumber Mikey T. astutely establishes that his biggest competition is the remaining guys. 

My early-favorite Drew finally pulls Des aside, and he seriously looks like he’s straight out of The Great Gatsby. He asks if the butterflies will ever go away and compliments her some more, then gets caught staring at her chesticles, which is awesome. Apparently, checking our her rack earns you a rose. 

Larry the old dancing doctor screwed up the dip, but he thinks that he deserves a chance to plead his case while going down in flames (every girl’s dream!). He insists they discuss the dip, and she says, “What?” because she literally has no recollection of him until he explains further. She says nice things, but her body language says awful, mean, non-relationship-y things. Awwwkkkwarrdddddd. He is soooo gone. 

Some other dude gets a rose, but they don’t re-identify him, so I will do so later. Fantasy Suite Jonathan appears to be a little drunk, so he lights some candles, fluffs some pillows and does some one-legged push-ups before “trying to kiss Desiree on the mouth.” Larry is just happy someone is worse than him. 

Jonathan says he is more outgoing than Sean and has no filter (tip to guys: having no filter is not a good thing), but she cuts him off and ditches him before he can get her back to his homemade suite. He’s really confused, because his mom thinks he’s attractive and he has a “huge love tank.”

While another nameless man gets a rose, Jonathan vows to steal her away and talk for a second time. After all, his only other alternative is to sit back and do nothing. And something is always better than nothing. Except when it’s not. He pulls her away for a third time and tries to make her go to his fantasy suite, but she tells him he’s making her uncomfortable and sends him home on the spot. 

Social media Kasey wonders if he’s going to have to step in, because #FantasySuiteFail, Jonathan. #KaseyIsGoingHomeToo.

Time for Roses

So child-exploiting Ben, shirtless wonder Zak W., Iraq vet Brayden, front-runner-with-the-handicapped-sister Drew, fountain-climber Michael G. and poet Nick M. are already safe.

The roses go to: Adrenaline junkie Brandon, Chucks-with-his-tux book publisher Zack K., BBHF Will, double-hugger and own-name-forgetting Brooks, soccer player Juan Pablo (he might be the first one who doesn’t need a nickname), potential wishbone-villain Brad, #Kasey, “Mr. Big” James, sign-spinning front-runner with the one-eyed dog Robert, forgettable financial adviser Brian, forgettable Vegas beverage sales guy Dan, drops-to-one-knee-to-tie-his-shoe Chris and, finally, plumber Mikey T.

Joining Jonathan in the cocktail party eliminations are knight in shining armor Diogo, creepy doc Larry, crazy-suit Micah, tailor-made magician Nick R. and Air Force dental student Mike R. 

Larry is embarrassed and blames the dip, while Nick R. thinks it sucks and says nice things about Des. Diogo is lost, doesn’t know what to do and deeply regrets the suit of armor. 

What’s Next?

We’ve got a fiery season on tap, with dudes who have girlfriends, apparent double villains and actual violence. There will be kisses, fairy tale locations, heartbreak, famous musicians, dream dates, man tears, bathing suits, confrontations, crushed nuts, man tears and everything that we’ve grown to love from this franchise. 

My favorites so far are Drew and Robert, and I’d peg them for hometown dates right now (at least half the advancing guys appear to be easy throwaways at this point). Who are your early favorites? It’s all about to get very real, so follow along with BuddyTV all season as we track Desiree’s second chance for love on The Bachelorette!

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

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Compete in Fantasy TV: Make your picks on who you think will be going home. Hurry, you have until June 3 at 12pm PST to cast your vote!

(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