By Mandi Bierly
January 03, 2011 at 08:50 PM EST
  • TV Show

Image Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABCA new season of The Bachelor begins tonight (ABC, 8 p.m. ET) with an old face: After rejecting both DeAnna Pappas and Jenni Croft in 2007’s season 11 finale, Brad Womack was momentarily the most hated man in America. For some reason, the Austin bar owner — who told EW in 2009 that people only calmed down after Ellen DeGeneres, who had called him a “jerk” on her show, let him explain to her audience that he never asked producers to fly Pappas’ father in for the finale — is back for another go. In a brilliant/cruel move, producers didn’t inform the Bachelorettes that Womack was the man they were vying for — and in the promo, we see how well that turned out for him (slap!). But you know what? I think that underscores how unlikely a love connection is on this show. The priority isn’t a match; it’s making a TV show. (And that’s fine, because by now, if contestants don’t know that, they only have themselves to blame.) Even if producers are hoping Womack scores a wife this time ’round — and that’s why he starts with 30 suitors — ask yourself this: How many dating site profiles have you looked at, and how many of them did you seriously date? When the show’s producers bring back DeAnna and Jenni in the premiere, will they address how, according to Brad, he told producers two weeks before the finale that he didn’t see a future with any woman there and they told him to go ring shopping anyway? “Per my contract, there was gonna be a final ceremony — whether I picked anybody or not,” Womack told us in 2009. I wonder. If 38-year-old Brad doesn’t feel a connection with the Bachelorettes they’ve handpicked for him this time, will he be the devil again?

I can’t help but wonder why the oldest woman in the group is 32. Then there’s four 30-year-olds, and the other 25 are under 30 (three 24-year-olds; six 25-year-olds; six 26-year-olds; five 27 year-olds; four 28-year-olds; and one 29-year-old). Was that his choice or producers? That’s presumably the highest median age of any season to date, but having two-thirds of the contestants be more than 10 years younger than The Bachelor seems unnecessary. (Or are most single women over 30 too smart to add potential TV humiliation to their life plan?)

Hearing about the 30 bachelorettes, I’m 99.9 percent sure I’ll be breaking my New Year’s resolution to only have ONE drink before watching the show each week — limo night is always the most nerve-wracking for me as the women attempt to make memorable first impressions. Tell me how you’re preparing for tonight’s premiere. Are you already searching for spoilers, or do you avoid them like the plague?

P.S. Serious Bachelor fans will be happy to know that Entertainment Weekly executive editor Kristen Baldwin will once again be recapping the show for Chris Harrison will resume his weekly behind-the-scenes blog for PopWatch.

Read more: The Bachelor season preview: Brad Womack to face DeAnna and Jenni, dance lessons, and… fangs

Episode Recaps

Chris Harrison hosts the romance reality competition series in which a gaggle of women vie for the Bachelor’s heart — and a wedding proposal. Will you accept this rose?
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