In the season premiere, the former ''Bachelor'' reject DeAnna Pappas gets to pick and choose among 25 hopeful guys and makes some interesting decisions
DeAnna Pappas, The Bachelorette: Trista, ...

Quite frankly, I’m not really sure why people get so angry about Brad Womack and what surely was The Bachelor‘s ”most dramatic rose ceremony ever.” (That’s no exaggeration — the series should have surrendered its dearly beloved catchphrase after that one.) In the final episode of the season, during which he was expected to offer an engagement ring to one of the two women remaining, bachelor Brad stammered around, took a break to walk it off, and then announced he couldn’t propose to DeAnna Pappas, after having already sent sweet Jenni Croft home. He very earnestly told DeAnna, as they’ve replayed for us a thousand times now, ”I can’t look you in your eye and tell you that I love you. I can’t. I have to tell you goodbye.” It doesn’t get any more honest than that, now does it? And what was the reward for his truthfulness, as painful as it was? Getting raked over the coals by an estrogen-fueled mob for leading on these women and being a commitment-phobic scoundrel. I think he’s to be applauded for not buying into the fantasy that he would meet the woman of his dreams on a TV show and be ready to get hitched after knowing her for six weeks, during which he had been constantly dating other women. I mean, the Bachelor/Bachelorette success rate isn’t an impressive one. Who’s fooling who?

But dreams die hard, fairy tales do come true, and darn it, DeAnna Marie Pappas is going to get her fairy-tale ending no matter what, all the while maintaining her painful perma-smile. So she’s back for her very own season of The Bachelorette. And last night she was introduced to 25 ”amazing” and ”spectacular” guys. Her words? No, that’s host Chris Harrison talking, and I was impressed that he’s a big enough man to give such descriptive props to other men. Truly, I think Chris Harrison deserves a better gig. He lends a sincere seriousness to every season of the show and lets loose a killer wit and probing zingers at each season’s reunion. A lesser host would make this show unwatchable, and I’ve never missed a season. (Just so you know, TV Watchers, that you’re in expert hands.)

Now down to DeAnna’s Fairy Tale, which is what this season should be subtitled, à la The Bachelor: London Calling. If last night’s episode was any indication, the word fairy tale will be used a kazillion times between now and the finale.

In a sexy dress cut down to her navel (to distract us, perhaps, from the fact that our leading lady has some impressive junk in the trunk?), DeAnna graciously greeted each of the 25 bachelors (who take their appearance very seriously — an early montage showed us that one is so devoted to manscaping that he let us watch him shave his chest). We got rapid-fire introductions before anyone even set foot outside the limos: There was a ”martial-arts master,” a guy who people say is ”the handsomest geek they’ve ever met,” an ”oyster picker,” a 28-year-old pro-football-playing virgin, and a Texas real estate attorney who sees DeAnna as his elusive ”unicorn.”

DeAnna’s just looking for someone who is caring, loves his family, respects her, can make her laugh, and stands out in a crowd. And the night’s competition was fierce. In their first introductions, some used Greek to make an impression, some used corny lines, some twirled her around, and one leered at her like a starving man would ogle a side of beef. (He himself had abs of steel that weren’t strong enough to get him a rose.) An actor from Santa Monica looked a bit like Clark Kent and had an intense stare (was he working his X-ray vision?). DeAnna should have been given blinders for the next candidate she met, a pro snowboarder with a loud, fluorescent-splashed jacket and Day-Glo shoelaces. (Lo and behold, his charm drowned out his cacophonous duds, and he received the second of the evening’s three first-impression roses.) I was expecting the barbershop owner who left his jacket in the limo because he wanted to stay ”chilly” to be trying to mask a serious sweating problem, but he seemed to keep his cool through the night and ended up with a rose. (I’m going to keep my eye on him and his potential shvitzing problem.)

NEXT: One guy gives DeAnna crabs

And then the competition really began as DeAnna went inside the mansion to mingle. Sean, the martial-arts master with the ’80s hair (like Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse), quickly declared she’s the ”perfect wife for me” and later tried to show he meant business by kicking a lemon off of snowboarder Jesse’s head. (Jesse threatened to kick him in the nuts five times if he missed, but Sean didn’t and made a big enough impact on DeAnna to get a rose.) Chef Robert whipped up a Dungeness crab cocktail (to the envy of his less talented bros, to whom he succinctly responded, ”Don’t hate. Congratulate.” No wonder he got a rose.) Luke, the sweet oyster farmer from Folly Beach, S.C., gave DeAnna a pearl necklace (but perhaps his fate was sealed when she asked him to say something funny and all the poor love-struck guy could come up with was ”You look great.” No rose.). Chicago Fred deserved a rose for his accent and bear hug alone; he went on to confess to DeAnna that he’s never cheated on anyone, so he’ll definitely be sticking around. On the other hand, so will Texan Chris, who bravely came clean and admitted he had cheated before. Brian, the 28-year-old football-playing virgin, wasn’t much of a gentleman when he hogged the blanket outside, but he nevertheless scored a rose. Twilley, a debt manager from Oklahoma who politelyl offered a handshake to the bachelorette but got a hug in return, showed off a Footloose side and signs of being the next Bob Guiney-esque cutup. Nerd science teacher Richard, who DeAnna described as ”shy,” ”sweet,” and ”genuine,” seemed very much like the Ryan who ultimately won bachelorette Trista’s heart. (Despite their awkwardness, the last two fellas both made DeAnna’s cut.) Paul, the Canadian who dove into the pool and came out to reveal black bikini briefs with ”DeAnna” across the booty (and got a rose for his daring), showed a desperation heretofore unseen in any Bachelorette episode.

A rose is a rose, except when you don’t get one, and 10 men went away empty-handed, including Donato, a South Carolina sales rep who blew it by asking DeAnna’s fellow Brad rejectee Jenni, who had come in to help DeAnna separate the wheat from the chaff, to sit in his lap. Chandler, an insurance rep from Spotsylvania, Va., learned the hard way that women are not waterfowl and will not fly to just any man with a duck call. And then there was Greg, a personal trainer from New York who had many different layers: ”compassionate,” ”poetic,” and ”wild boy,” which was the side of him that apparently doesn’t like clothing. After being let go by DeAnna, he went outside, ripped off his shirt, and started howling. Man, he would have made for some riveting drama if only DeAnna had kept him around.

So much to discuss, dear TV Watchers! I think DeAnna made some pretty solid choices, but I was genuinely sad to see oyster picker Luke depart, as well as math teacher Jeffrey and mop-topped Patrick C. I got a strong vibe out of real estate attorney Jeremy, who got the first first-impression rose. Will he come on strong and then fade like Amanda on The Bachelor: London Calling? Will geek Richard’s admitted low self-esteem take him out of the running early on? It’s clear from the coming attractions there will be plenty of tears this season (and not the crocodile ones shed by Chandler in his final moments). Do you think DeAnna will end up with her fairy-tale ending? Do you care?

Episode Recaps

The Bachelorette

One single woman searches for her future husband amid a sea of studs in this romantic reality series. Will you accept this rose?

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