It's chaos at Casa Bachelor as a new pack of "ladies" arrive to woo winemaker Ben -- hope he likes horses, nurses, and gangsta raps about infectious disease!
The Bachelor
Credit: ABC
4. Season 5 (Jesse Palmer)

Happy New Year, rose-lovers! Ah, the passing of time… Do you ever feel like your life is one long tangle of reality TV seasons, all unspooling endlessly before you like entrails out of a gutted deer? No? It’s just me? All right, let’s get on with it then.

In case you’re not a member of Bachelor Nation, here’s what you need to know: Last August, we watched in horror as Ben got down on bended knee to propose to some truly unfortunate hair extensions, the owner of which then squashed his manhood under her heel and whimpered, “I’m sorry.” After the requisite mourning period/negotiations with ABC, Ben headed back to San Francisco bruised but not defeated. [Cue the Self-Justification Montage] There’s wine to be made! Dirt to be sifted! Tractors to be driven! David Gray’s “This Year’s Love” to be played on an outdoor piano! And if Ben doesn’t get busy turning that sailboat crank while wearing a bright orange tank top that shows off his buff, tanned arms, who will? Plus: “personal growth,” “discovery,” “love feelings,” “clarity,” etc. Okay, Team Bachelor — that is enough talk. Release the hounds!

Lindzi C., 27: No one understands her except National Velvet. Claims her last boyfriend gave her the boot via a “Babe, welcome to dumpsville, population YOU” text message. That is either patently untrue, or she hasn’t had a boyfriend since seventh grade. Or… she ignored a LOT of warning signs.

Amber, 28 29: Those Midwest farmers’ daughters really make you feel all right… unless you don’t eat cow balls when you come on the hometown date. In which case they will shoot you in the heart with a crossbow while licking their lips in delight.

Kacie B., 24: Sweet Southern girl who wants her “me” to be a “we,” preferably a “we” like the lifelong relationship her grandparents had. Faith. Hope. Love. Delusion.

Courtney, 28: This season’s scapebitch is a model, and unlike so many “ladies” before her who’ve made that claim, she seems actually to have gotten paid for her work. She’s even dated a minor celebrity. Won’t get out of bed for a diamond smaller than two carats. Neil Lane, you have been warned.

Jamie, 25: Swinging to the opposite end of the humanity spectrum, we have this big-hearted labor and delivery nurse who fought for custody of her younger siblings when her single mother, who had “dependency issues,” couldn’t care for them. Are they still airing Chris Harrison’s feel-good game show? If so, can we kidnap Jamie from Casa Bachelor and send her to the You Deserve It set instead?

Lyndsie, 29: Oh, dear. This blond British diplomat’s daughter may speak many languages, but she’s not worldly enough to know that when a producer says, “Hey, why don’t you model some different examples of native dress that you have in your closet?” you’re about to star in your very own montage of buffoonery.

Jenna, 27: Freelance blogger based in New York City who couldn’t help but wonder: Why do none of my relationships work? Oh God, I’m starting to hyperventilate. Does anyone have a paper bag? I will not die alone in my furry bed! Help me, magical balcony owl…

Shawn, 28: Single mom living in Phoenix. She has a cute little boy. Wish she hadn’t put him on TV.

Nicki, 26: Sure, she got married at 18 and was shocked to see that relationship disintegrate. But this dental hygienist knows the next time she gets married — even if it’s after a two month, booze-soaked courtship — it’ll be forever.

NEXT: Let’s pretend, just for a moment, that the grandma was a real contestant.

As the other sixteen “ladies” who were not deemed interesting enough for a welcome package weep in their hotel showers, Ben is busy suiting up for his big night. Dress: Standard first-night dark suit. Follicular Fluffiness Factor: About a 4 (1 = flat; 5 = luscious, free-flowing curls). Harrison greets him at Casa Bachelor for a pre-arrivals debrief — “I am completely and utterly available now,” says the Bachelor — and with that, the limos begin arriving. First out is Rachel, a 27-year-old blond in a strapless red dress who coyly informs Ben that her middle name is Rose. Erika the law student caps her criminally cheesy pickup line — “The verdict is in, and you are guilty… of being sexy!” — by shooting Ben with her finger-pistol. At least she doesn’t wave her hand in front of the Bachelor’s face and demand that he take a taste, as Amber “the Baconator” Bacon does. Of course, even that is better than Jenna’s approach, which involves mangling one of Ben’s Bachelorette soundbites (“I loved what you said last season about how good things end badly!”) and stammering “yeah” six times. “I should just die,” she moans once inside the Casa.

On the opposite end of the confidence spectrum, we have Courtney, who struts out of the limo and begins fondling Ben’s hair. And he LOVES it. “That is a… pretty gurrl,” he murmurs to himself as Courtney sashays inside. Emily the epidemiologist hoses Ben down with disinfectant before planting a kiss on him; Holly from Kentucky nearly decapitates him with her Derby hat; Shira pretends to be a wine expert but then has no backup plan when Ben calls her bluff; and Blakeley the VIP cocktail waitress appears to have arrived fresh from the Candy Striper Winter Formal.

But all of them fade from memory in an instant when the limo door opens and out steps a sexy medical boot. It belongs to 72-year-old grandma Sheryl, who — as Ben is swift to realize — is already married so therefore isn’t there to win the Bachelor’s heart. It’s too bad. Can I admit to you, rose lovers, that in the split second before Sheryl revealed her real purpose I had already played out her season-long romance with Ben in my mind? From their exotic date, playing bridge under a beach umbrella in Bali, to the Fantasy Suite, where Ben would rub Icy Hot on Sheryl’s knees before they climbed into separate twin beds at 9:30… But alas, dear granny is just there to introduce her granddaughter Brittney, who is blond.

NEXT: “Love is like disease/always spreading”

Moving on, Jennifer pulls an Erin Brokovich on Ben (“What number do you want, George?”) telling him she’s traveled 1,190 miles to get to Casa Bachelor and that she tried on 54 dresses before choosing the strapless royal blue sparklefest she’s wearing now. (Well, if he wanted low maintenance I guess he wouldn’t have agreed to be the Bachelor, right?) Lyndsie scores points by making fun of her “butt-chin dimple” in her welcome poem to Ben, while Anna the blond student strolls right by Ben without giving him so much as a hello. “That’s a bold move!” the Bachelor calls to the back of her head as she disappears inside the Casa. (Well, if he didn’t want to play mind games I guess he wouldn’t have agreed to be the Bachelor, right?) And the arrivals come to a close with Lindzi, who clip-clops up the driveway atop a beautiful brown-and-white steed named Levi. “You’re beautiful,” Ben tells her, as Levi snorts derisively.

Enough small talk, pal! The “ladies” have spent hours getting their chardonnay on inside and things are starting to get a little sloppy. Rachel’s uninhibited enough to drop the “I left my job for this” bomb on Ben in their first one-on-one, and Emily’s liquored up enough to theorize that Brittney brought her gran so she’d look better sitting next to a woman who’s “old and wrinkly.” Oh, Emily — you had me with the Purell, but that was way harsh, Tai. You do know you’re on camera, right?

First impression rose is in the house! In other words, it’s time for the talent portion of our event. Shawn invites Ben to a pickup soccer game in the backyard, Blakeley decodes her extremely ladylike forearm tattoo for him, Elyse the personal trainer challenges him to drop and give her twenty, while Dianna blindfolds the Bachelor and begins shoving candy into his piehole. Amateurs, all of them! Don’t they know the key to a man’s heart is a gangsta rap that equates love to an infectious disease? Emily does. “Love is like disease/always spreading/you can get it from a friend/you can get it at a wedding/it sometimes happens when you least expect it/before you know it you’re one of the infected…” Must I go on?

NEXT: Jenna needs a hug, a hot oil treatment, and a strong cup of coffee

Meanwhile, Jenna is setting a land-speed record for a first-night implosion, because she simply cannot abide by the fact that Monica the “dental consultant” might not be there for The Right Reasons. (Unless, of course, Team Bachelor decided to change the definition of Right Reasons from “willingness to get engaged to a virtual stranger” to “desire to have vaguely defined ‘experiences’ with a VIP cocktail waitress.”) Anyhow, the more Monica enjoys herself, the more Jenna feels persecuted — a fact that she declares to anyone within earshot. “She makes me feel inferior!” For some reason, Rachel tries to arrange a truce, but things end abruptly when Jenna dismissively suggests that she and Monica share a tampon. All right, could somebody please cut Jenna off? I think her liver might spontaneously liquefy — and that stain is going to be murder to get out of those pretty outdoor couches. Unfortunately for Jenna, Ben strolls up just as she’s drying her tears on Kacie’s lush brown curls. “Are you ok?” he ventures. Honey, I think you know the answer to that question, but if you don’t, let Jenna give you a hint: “We could be more nervous — you could, we all could be more nervous — but the way you’re calm — we’re like, so nervous — it calms us down a little bit… Everything goes black.”

As Jenna bawls her wine-soaked little heart out in the bathroom, Ben bestows the first-impression rose on Lindzi. (Levi better get a few sugar cubes out of this is all I’m saying.) Clink clink clink! That sound you hear is Harrison’s Champagne Flute of Fate, which means it’s time to send some “ladies” home… as soon as Jenna drags herself out of the bathroom. One by one, Ben doles out the buds: Jamie, Rachel, Blakeley, Emily (boo hiss!), Kacie B., Casey S. (did she speak tonight?), Brittney (granny power!), Erika, Shawn, Nicki, Jennifer, Elyse, Samantha (sash power!), Courtney, Jaclyn, Monica, and Jenna all snare the coveted flowers. That means Bold Move Anna, Dianna the sugar pusher, Holly Hat, the Baconator, Butt-Chin Dimple, Shira the human stick figure, and Amber T., are forced to take a pre-dawn ride in the Reject Van. (You know what sucks worse than being rejected on TV? Staying up all night and then being rejected on TV.)

And after a sob-filled preview (they should have just called this season The Bachelor: Ugly Cry Edition) and a credit-bed kickball game (sorry that your homer wasn’t enough to save you, Anna), the first leg of our “journey” has officially come to a close. Personally I’m a little surprised that the lineup was packed with so many, how should I put this, unusual looking women… (And I was hoping Ben wouldn’t have so many crazies in his passel of bachelorettes, but if I wanted real people I wouldn’t be watching reality TV, would I?) Now, rose lovers, what say you? Is Ben the Bachelor you’ve always dreamed of? (Let’s face it, after Brad and Jake, Team Bachelor could have hired Kim Jong-Un to hand out the roses and it still would have been an improvement.) Post your thoughts below, and don’t forget to check out Chris Harrison’s exclusive blog over on PopWatch. Now put on those blindfolds and let’s talk Bachelor!

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