Let me start this season off by saying it’s always good to be back. I always miss you guys as much as you miss the show. I didn’t get a chance to put up a blog after Ashley and JP’s wedding so before I dive into the new season of The Bachelor let me back up a bit and say just a few words. I was incredibly honored to be a part of that special day. The truth is that the odds of any relationship, on TV or off, making it all the way to the altar and ending in marriage are so small that it’s something that should always be cherished and celebrated. When you add to that the fact that Ashley and JP are such good people and so fantastic together it should definitely be celebrated. One thing I’m always struck by during these Bachelor weddings is how damn fun they are. At the end of the day it’s just a bunch of family and friends celebrating one of the great things life has to offer: true love. Speaking of true love, let’s talk about Sean and his search for that very thing.

I’m glad the season started with an ample amount of Sean catching us up on his life and just enough of that came with his shirt off to let you know after his heartbreak with Emily he didn’t go on a three-month ice cream and doughnut bender. Before Sean headed over to meet with me and the 25… I mean 26 women, he had a visit from his old friend, Arie. After watching these two I’ve decided there’s nothing more natural than for a couple of guys who got dumped by the same girl to sit around, have a cold one, and talk about kissing technique. After a quick lesson in love from Arie, it was time to get serious and meet the ladies, and that’s exactly what Sean did.

I never really know the best way to write about the hijinks on the wet driveway because you see it just as I do when I’m standing just off camera watching it go down live. So I’ll go over the, ummm, highlights from the arrivals on the first night. Sean was pretty nervous but I have to say the guy did great. It’s not very easy and he was pretty smooth and handled himself well. Kelly from Nashville was the female version of “guy with guitar,” deciding to serenade Sean. Not sure it’s much consolation for Kelly, who went home, but my 9-year-old daughter said she had a pretty voice. (We’ll discuss my parenting and the fact that I let my little girl watch the first episode with me later.) Ashley P. strolled out and seemed innocent enough until she pulled out the Fifty Shades of Grey tie and was ready for a little bondage. We’ll have more on Ashley P. in a bit. I felt bad for gymnast Robyn who probably could usually pull off those back handsprings any day of the week, but choked under the pressure and took a spill. The funny thing is that probably helped her stand out even more in Sean’s mind. Paige from Bachelor Pad was back, and… then she wasn’t again. I have to say I was a little surprised she didn’t make a bigger impression on Sean and at least stay the first week. Sean is very wary of those that showed up just to be on TV and whether Paige was there for that reason or not, she definitely started behind the eight ball and never made up for that in Sean’s mind.

NEXT PAGE: Sean goes rogue with the roses

Lindsay probably pulled the boldest stunt by showing up in a wedding dress. This move and Lindsay’s personality really skirted that grey area with Sean. He has a great sense of humor but Lindsay almost pushed things too far. She did end up getting a rose, but if she expects a honeymoon any time soon she has some work to do. We surprised Sean with a special 26th bachelorette this season. We all know Kacie from Ben’s season and she pleaded for permission to come back to meet Sean. These two met before the show and apparently hit it off enough in Kacie’s mind that she felt it was worth all she’d have to go through to come back and fight for Sean’s heart along with the other 25 women.

In the middle of the arrivals Sean decided he was so impressed with one of the ladies, Tierra, that he wanted to give her a rose. Turns out, that wouldn’t even be close to the last rose Sean handed out before the rose ceremony. Sean apparently had decided it was time to shake things up a little bit on that first night and since he’s The Bachelor, he can kind of do whatever he wants. If a conversation went really well and Sean felt a connection with a woman, he figured he didn’t need to wait to let her know she was safe. Sean ended up handing out 12 roses before the rose ceremony. The only problem with this strategy was that in the minds of some of the ladies, everything became about the rose. All the women could talk or think about that night was getting a rose. So the entire time they were sitting there talking to Sean they were looking at that rose and wondering if they were going to get it and, if not, what that meant. I personally liked the change as it shook things up a bit and made for a very interesting first cocktail party.

Whether it’s The Bachelor or The Bachelorette there’s always that one person who will probably not remember much of the first night, and when they see it they’ll regret most of it. This season Ashley P. was that person. I think Sean summed it up best when he said she was Fifty Shades of Drunk. Let’s take the drinking out of it, and there are definitely some good lessons to take from her first conversations with Sean: First of all, she led with bondage. This is something maybe best saved for a second or third date. When the person you’re talking to references a rape whistle, this is a sign your conversation isn’t going well and maybe you should dial it back a bit. Then she mentioned her mother and how she was going to marry him. Telling a person you’re destined to marry them and revealing that you’ve discussed this with your mother before you’ve even had a first date might be just a tad much. At that point that was strike 1 through 9, so she not only struck out… she struck out enough for an entire team.

Because Sean was so generous with the roses all night he only had seven to hand out at the actual rose ceremony. Admit it, we’ve been gone so long you missed me coming out and saying, “This is the final rose tonight.” I know — it feels so good to hear those words again. After the roses and a few tears, you got a great look at just how fantastic this season is going to be. As I said to the ladies that first night, Sean is as sincere a Bachelor as we’ve ever had. That’s obviously a good thing, as that’s what we all want, but it also means expectations are high. When you have all these ingredients you’re bound to have an explosive season. I’m so happy to be back and I look forward to watching with you each week as Sean tries to navigate his way to finding the woman of his dreams.

Before I wrap things up, I want to let you know for the third year in a row I’ll be hosting the Miss America pageant, which will air live from Las Vegas this Saturday at 9 p.m. on ABC. I always look forward to hosting this event. It’s a wild ride and I hope you’ll be there to join me crown the new Miss America. In the meantime, you can always find me on Twitter and Instagram @chrisbharrison.

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