Welcome back, rose lovers! I hope you’re fed, well hydrated, and otherwise prepared for the first leg of our “journey.” I feel ready, perhaps because over the break I’ve successfully scrubbed almost all of the memories of Ashley and Brad from the sulci in my brain, so now I can pretend that she sprung, fully formed, from Mike Fleiss’ head like Athena, with no previous Bachelor baggage. So let The Bachelorette: Chantal Said No begin!
After a brief recap of Ashley’s crash and burn in South Africa, we cut to Philadelphia for Ashley’s Pensively Searching the Horizon for Love montage, which inexplicably includes a sequence in which she performs some modern dance in an empty theater. Maybe I did too good of a job scrubbing my brain, because I have absolutely no recollection of Ashley talking about anything except dentistry and fear of commitment. She’s a dancer? Yep, apparently she is the second coming of Tenley, folks. Even with the inevitable nod to Rocky’s training montage, things are not off to an auspicious start.
It gets worse when she arrives at Casa Bachelorette and reveals that she’s worried about “being a disappointment to the guys.” I think this is as close as Team Bachelor is ever going to get to letting her say, “I wasn’t the producers’ first choice.” We know, sweetie. And it’s OK. Because you’re about to meet 25 men who are a disappointment to self-respecting men everywhere. Let’s lay down a few snap judgments, shall we?
Ryan P., 31 His punishment for running a solar power company is being forced by Team Bachelor to make a cheesy heart sign with his hands in front of the sun’s glare.
JP, 34 Perhaps the only construction manager in New York City who gives off a gay vibe.
Ames, 31 Raging egomaniac with a passing resemblance to Harry Connick Jr. Yale, Columbia, Harvard, 39 marathons, unfortunate taste in shirts.
Ben, 28 On the romantic scale of 1 to 10, this lawyer from New Orleans gives himself a 15. Welcome home, cheeseball!
Benjamin, 28 He’s a winemaker (really? that’s a job?) with a broken heart ever since his dad passed away. Also a “total brunette guy,” which means it’s a good thing he didn’t meet Ashley in her previous follicular incarnation.
Bentley, 28 Cocky single father looking for fun and a rose (from Emily).
Anthony, 28 A “fourth-generation butcher” from New Jersey, and my momentary favorite. (I haven’t read the spoilers yet, people. Please just let me have this.)
West, 30 A widower who says his wife died after having a seizure in the bathtub. Not everyone believes that’s what happened, however.
William, 30 A real life Good Luck Chuck who can’t keep a relationship or an umbrella from falling apart. Wears a watch that stopped at the exact moment his dad died. Nope, not creepy or morbid. Not at all.
Apparently those are the only nine interesting men out of the group of 25, because Team Bachelor cuts the get-to-know-them packages short and brings in our hero, Chris Harrison, to debrief the Bachelorette, who continues to spout self-hatred in her perky voice. “I’m scared that some of the guys watched last season and coming into they’re like, ‘Eh, it’s Ashley.’… I just hope I don’t let them down.”
NEXT: The limos unleash their horrors.