The first "el Bachelor Latino" sets 27 hearts aflutter. Actually, make that 26 -- the woman holding the First Impression Rose is just not that into him

By Kristen Baldwin
March 13, 2015 at 07:49 PM EDT
ABC
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Hola rose lovers! ¡Feliz año nuevo! Are you ready to make some history with the first Latino Bachelor? And does anyone know how to say “ass-grab maneuver” in Spanish? Judging from that preview of the season, I’ll need to know how if I want to recap Juan Pablo’s make-out sessions accurately.

You remember Juan Pablo, don’t you? For those of you who didn’t watch Desiree’s season of The Bachelorette (and let’s be honest — a whole lot of you didn’t), here’s a quick reminder: Juan Pabs is an American-born, Venezuelan-bred former professional soccer player who managed to exhibit more sex appeal and charisma in about 12 minutes of total screen time than all the other bachelors wooing Desiree combined. After Desiree sent him home in episode six… Sorry, what’s that, Team Bachelor? We’re pretty much ignoring Juan Pablo’s Bachelorette origin story? We’re just going to pretend that you happened to find him in Miami raising his adorable 4-year-old girl Camila and thought “Hey, this hunky single dad would make a great Bachelor?” Oh… okay.

In that case, let’s join Juan Pablo’s life, already in progress: shirtless beach volleyball, hanging out with professional baseball players as part of his job as a “sports and entertainment consultant,” or something, and drawing hearts with his forever valentine, Camila. Sure, it’s nice — but duty calls! “I’m in this situation because America wanted me to be the Bachelor,” says Juan Pabs, who reminds us that he’s uniquely qualified. “I’m the first el Bachelor Latino. I speak the language of loooove.” (Congratulations, Internet — your first Juan Pablo gif of 2014 has arrived!)

So pack your bags, Camila, because you and your abuelo and abuelita are off to Los Angeles for the first few weeks of daddy’s “journey” (or “aventura,” to use the Bachelor’s chosen phrase). And don’t worry — he’s going to have plenty of time to play with you… and Bachelor No. 17 Sean Lowe! Camila, honey, run along now; daddy’s got some important, grown-up things he needs to discuss with his pink-cheeked predecessor. First and foremost, warns Sean, “All all costs, make sure if you kiss someone, the other girls don’t see.” Also, be sure to choose a woman you can have fun with whether you’re riding an elephant in Thailand or bathing skunk-sprayed dogs in tomato juice in Burbank at 2 a.m. Got that, Juan Pablo? Great. Now suit up, guapo — the limo arrivals are nigh! And I hope you’ve had your shots, sir, because Chris Harrison just informed us that Juan Pablo fever has reached “epidemic proportions.” As far as I know, there is no cure.

Speaking of things that can’t be helped, let’s meet the “ladies”! Keep in mind, Juan Pabs is looking for four things in a woman: the ability to be a good stepmother to Cameeeela, and (according to his Bachelorette questionnaire) a “fit body, good-size breasts, and a nice smile.” Wait, would that be five things? Either way, it’s pre-taped intro time.

Chelsie, 24: This perky blonde science “educator” (this apparently means she teaches at a museum) figures the way to Juan Pablo’s heart is through the recitation of rudimentary Spanish phrases, so she’s practicing diligently in an effort to “totally impress him.” Overall rating on the Juan Pablo 5-Point Mateability Scale: 2 (I’m docking her 3 points for insufficient rack exposure during her intro package.)

NEXT: I probably would have gone with “unemployed” instead of “former NBA dancer” 

Renee, 32: She and fellow contestant Claire may be the oldest contestants in the mix, but Renee also has a not-so-secret weapon: Her 8-year-old son, Ben. Single parents alone together! Juan Pablo Mateability Scale rating: 4 (Knocking off one point for her smile, which seems more “world-weary and sad” than “nice.”)

Andi, 24: An assistant district attorney in Atlanta who disarms opposing counsel with her high cheekbones and severe ponytail. Juan Pablo Mateability Scale rating: 3 (You’re already pouting about competing with 24 other women? Two-point penalty.)

Amy, 31: I can’t decide what irked me more about this LA-based massage therapist: Her weird, blissed-out facial expressions and heavy breathing while she was kneading that random dude’s muscles, or the fact that she thinks Juan Pablo wants to be fed his eggs “here comes the airplane!” style. Overall Juan-Pablo Mateability Rating: 1 (If it weren’t for your boobs, lady, you’d have gotten a big ‘ol zero.)

Nikki, 26: Sorry, I’d like to have an opinion about this effervescent blonde pediatric nurse, but I’m too distracted by the two ridiculously cute babies Team Bachelor recruited to pose as her patients. Overall Juan-Pablo Mateability Rating: 3.5 (If only her segment had even more babies…)

Lauren H., 25: It seems like Team Bachelor really has it out for this “mineral coordinator” (whatever that is). First they make her look 45 in her official portrait, and then they park a camera about 3 inches from her butt as she’s getting up from a bench during her intro package. I find both of those things far more upsetting than the fact that her fiancé dumped her after six weeks. Overall Juan-Pablo Mateability Rating: 2 (¿Como se dice “sad-sack” en Español?)

Valerie, 26: Self-described “pretty girl” personal trainer who is, in fact, not all that pretty. Overall Juan-Pablo Mateability Rating: .5 (You’re no Courtney, toots.)

Lacy, 25: Good-size boobs? Check. Pleasant smile? Check. Inspiringly selfless devotion to her special-needs relatives and the elderly, which reminds me that my life is an exercise in myopic cynicism? Check. Overall Juan-Pablo Mateability Rating: 4  (We have to dock you one point for saying your favorite snack is “hot Cheetos.” Shudder.)

Clare, 32: Oh, you know she’s gonna go far — and not just because she’s part Mexican. I think it was Chekov who said, “If you reveal in the first episode that a woman’s dead father recorded a DVD message to her future husband, by the 7th or 8th episode that DVD absolutely must be watched by the Bachelor.” Overall Juan-Pablo Mateability Rating: 4.5 (So close, Clare, but you lose half a point for imagining that Juan Pablo could ever love any woman as much as he loves Cameeeela.)

Time to hose off the flagstones at Casa Bachelor, because here comes Juan Pablo. And Harrison’s about to drop his first bomb of the night: Due to an “overwhelming” fan response, there will be 27 women competing for roses, not the usual 25. Speaking of which, I can hear the drunken lambs screaming… looks like the limos are starting to arrive! Local news reporter Amy L. exits first, and greets Juan Pabs with a wide smile and a sweetly goofy hug. Swan-necked Cassandra is next, and while you’d think a “former NBA dancer” wouldn’t get stage fright, she can barely choke out a few giggles before going completely silent. Will Christy — who was last seen jamming a pink sequined gown into her suitcase on the Countdown to Juan Pablo special — fare better? Apparently Juan Pablo thinks she did just fine: “I am liking this first leeemo,” he tells no one in particular.

NEXT: Pills, a pooch, and a fake baby bump

Side note about the Countdown to Juan Pablo special: It was entirely unremarkable, except for this moment during a montage of audition footage, which perfectly summed up the reality TV producer-contestant relationship in 12 words:

Contestant: “I can stick my fist in my mouth.”

Producer: “Oh, let’s see that!”

Anyhoo, Christy the “police support specialist” comes armed with a cute little name bracelet for Camila, and Nikki pulls out a stethoscope so Juan Pabs can hear how fast her heart is beating — which also requires him to nestle his hand in her cleavage. (Well played, missy!) Kat in limo No. 2 also manages to procure some extra physical contact with the Bachelor with her “teach me how to salsa” routine, and Chantel bucks the formal gown tradition by arriving in a skin-tight blue minidress. Her sartorial risk is overshadowed by “free spirit” Lucy, who attempts to stand out by wearing a flower headband, a dress made from an ace bandage and white satin sheets, and no shoes. (Did we mention she’s a “free spirit”?)

Come on, “ladies,” this is amateur hour — I need some abject humiliation pronto! All right, it looks like music composer Lauren S. has come to play, literally and figuratively: She opts to pedal a piano on wheels up the driveway, huffing and puffing the whole way. And if that’s not embarrassing enough, she forgets to tell Juan Pablo her name, forcing the Bachelor to chase her into the mansion, much to the surprise and delight of the other “ladies.” Judging by the Bachelor’s flummoxed expression, Chelsie’s cutesy “chemistry” experiment falls flat, but Clare’s fake pregnancy stunt doesn’t stop Juan Pablo from declaring that she’s “very cute.” And why did it take so long for somebody to play the soccer card? Thank you, Alli (though I hope you brought some heels to change into).

Other notable intros: Maggie the “personal banker”/Southern belle from South Carolina offers Juan Pablo a fishing hook (“I just really hope you’re gonna be the big catch that I’ve been waitin’ for!”); Kelly the professional “dog lover” brings her pooch Molly, which is good because if it weren’t for the little fuzzball, Kelly would probably still be wandering Casa Bachelor‘s grounds, looking for the door. Alexis smuggles in some drugs (if only! it’s candy), but it’s lawyer Andi who leaves the Bachelor feeling intoxicated. “Oh my gosh!” he marvels as she emerges from the limo. “Wow… Wow, wow.”

Okay, sir, all the “ladies” are here — it’s time to head once more unto the breech of babes. First Juan Pablo warms the room up with a little Latin-flavored flattery — “Every time you came out of the leeemo I was like, ‘What am I going to doooo? ¡Ay yi yiiii!'” — but he can’t help but feel creeped out by the hungry gazes of 27 women in their reproductive prime. “It feels like you’re a meat and they want to eat you right there,” he confesses. To break the tension, Juan Pablo borrows a sad little transistor radio from someone (really, Team Bachelor? No one on site had an iPod?) and cranks up the tunes. Once everyone’s sufficiently loosened up by the music and a few rounds in the FunTimes Foto BoothTM, it’s time for the one-on-ones to begin. Nikki the nurse giggles with glee when Juan Pablo manages to remember who she is — “Yes! Your heart, boom boom,” he says, which rates a 4.3 bazillion on the adorability scale — and Renee predictably bonds with the Bachelor over single parenthood.

NEXT: Stay tuned for the most reluctant First Impression Rose recipient… ever!

Lucy doesn’t rely on such superficial similarities to make her connection with Juan Pablo — she prefers to use her extraordinary ability to invade others’ personal space. “Do you get nervous when I get close to you?” she coos. Short answer: Yes. Also, get your bare feet off his legs — gross! Continuing on the too close for comfort theme, Amy J. leads Juan Pabs to a massage table and begins rubbing down his besuited body after anointing her hands with essential oils. (Hope you plan to pay his dry cleaning bill, toots!) Suffice it to say, neither “lady” will be receiving the First Impression Rose, which Harrison has just deposited on the table. Oops, my bad — it’s not just a rose, it’s Maggie’s future. “I came out here because, you know, I am ready to settle down and have a family,” she informs us. “To me that rose is just one step closer to finding that.”

But Maggie and several of the other bachelorettes have yet to snag any one-on-one time with the Bachelor. Time to be aggressive (b-e aggressive!), “ladies”! Oh for the love of all that’s holy — Lauren H. are you crying again? “My last relationship ended suddenly,” she whimpers as her tear ducts struggle to release yet another salty drop. “Obviously it has affected me in more ways than I realized.” I suppose we should be thankful for Lauren’s existential breakdown — I’m guessing Team Bachelor wouldn’t have spent practically an entire segment on it if they had any other cocktail night “drama” to choose from. Eventually she washes those mascara streaks right off of her face and gets it together enough to sit down with Juan Pablo. Naturally, they discuss her traumatic breakup and how completely over it she is. Ooof.

Okay, shake it off, rose lovers — the race for the First Impression Rose is in its final leg! Will it be Danielle with her teddy bear? Kylie with her “I dreamt about you” pick-up line? Lacy with her picture puzzle? No, no, and no — it’s Sharleen and her worldly pea-soup wiener who earn the first impression rose from Juan Pablo. Unfortunately for him, she’d rather he call her a cab. “I guess I thought that I would feel more of this, like, insta-chemistry than I did,” she admits to Team Bachelor. “If I’m totally honest, it just seemed a little forced.” I don’t know what I’m more surprised by: The fact that Sharleen isn’t swayed by Juan Pablo’s sex-on-a-stick charms, or that Andi’s reaction to losing out on the first impression rose is to say something nice about the woman who did get it: “She’s super, super sweet.” Way to class up the joint, counselor!

Getting back to the awkwardness at hand, Sharleen eyes Juan Pablo warily as he proffers the coveted symbol of his affection: “I think you’re very elegant, I like the way you are, and uh, Sharleen will you accept this rose?” After an uncomfortable eight-second pause — during which you can practically see the little angel on her shoulder squeaking “Do the right thing!” while the tiny devil shrieks “I wanna be on Teeeee-Veeee!” — Sharleen reluctantly agrees. “Sure. Yeah, sure.” Betch, say thank you, and for God’s sake stop calling him “sir”! Juan Pablo (poor, clueless, ridonkulously hot Juan Pablo) remains blissfully unaware that he did not just make Sharleen’s day. “I know she’s going to sleep well tonight,” he crows, “and that makes me happy.”

NEXT: Kylie, time to get your hearing checked

But there will be no sleep for anyone until all the roses are handed out. “Ladies,” please assemble in the execution chamber! You too, Molly! Juan Pablo, when you’re ready (and don’t be afraid to let out a heavy sigh between each rose if need be)… Clare gets the first rose (and a nasty side-eye from Amy J.), followed by Nikki, Renee, Andi, Alli, Chantel, Lauren S., Kelly (and Molly), Cassandra, Danielle, Chelsie, Kat… No, he said Kat. KAT. I know he’s got an accent but come on, Kylie. (And nice try.) Heaving another sigh, Juan Pablo plays through the pain of Kylie’s “whoops” moment and hands out the final five roses to Victoria, Christy, twirly flower child Lucy, Elise, and Amy “I’m a hugger” L. Sorry Kylie, Lauren H., Amy J., Christine, Ashley, Valerie, Lacy, Maggie, and Alexis — there’s nothing left to say except you simply weren’t good enough. (Especially you, Lauren H.)

Before we wrap this first leg of our “journey” (sorry, “adventure”), let’s take a moment to rank the five best sound bites from the “this season on The Bachelor” preview:

5. “I’m not here to make a fool of myself.”

4. “Her actions just make me think, like, King Kong beating on his chest.”

3. “Give me three shots of Patron and I’ll be topless.”

2. “Juan Pablo, I hope he dies!”

1. “You think I’m being loud now?”

Welp, rose lovers, we’re off! It feels good, doesn’t it? Either way, I want to hear your complaints, compliments, picks for who will “win” it all, so get to posting, won’t you? As far as awesome moments go, it’s going to be hard to top the cutaway to Molly the dog during the rose ceremony. Also, any bets on who the drunk “I want to go hooooome!” chick is? It seems like it has to be Lucy, but that also seems way too obvious. Be sure to check out Chris Harrison’s exclusive Bachelor blog over on PopWatch. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go write some slash fiction about Sean and Juan Pablo. Those two really have chemistry.

Chris Harrison hosts the veteran reality romance series. Will you accept this rose?
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