The Proposal series premiere recap: 'It's nothing to be ashamed of'
Which woman will get the coveted marriage proposal from a literal stranger?
If an episode of The Bachelor got drunk on rosé and passed out in a Native American sweat lodge, this show is the fever dream it would have. Billed as a “soul mate pageant,” The Proposal features 10 singles — in this case, women — competing to get a marriage proposal from one mystery suitor. Why? Because our world has descended into dumpster-fire chaos, and nothing — including the fundamental tenets of human relationships — means anything anymore!
Also, because people like to be on TV.
Anyhow, tonight’s premiere was a delightful deep dive into an abyss of absurdity, featuring roller skates, a swimsuit competition, and a Ghost Cop!
That, of course, is The Proposal’s first mystery suitor: Mike Rowe, a police officer from Bakersfield, California. Fear not, he does have a face. (We’ll get to that later.) Mike lost part of his right leg in a motorcycle accident a few years ago, and that experience taught him you can’t take a single day on this earth for granted. And in that carpe diem spirit, Mike is ready to find his future wife — from behind the shaded screen of his “pod.”
The real stars of The Proposal, however, are the women. Actually, let me rephrase that: The real stars of The Proposal are the introductions to the women — written with deceptively cheerful mockery and delivered with jaunty, Emmy-worthy shade by announcer (and syndicated radio host) Ellen K. Some of the gems:
Morgan Maxwell, 25: “She loves the beach, and she hates parades.”
Havilah Malone, 35: “When she isn’t writing or speaking, she’s tending to her massive collection [slight pause] of dolls.”
Riona Booze, 29: “Before studying emergency room medicine, she was a flight attendant — and she’s very proud of her calves.”
What’s impressive about The Proposal is how transparent it is about its contempt for the contestants. The suitor is presented as an admirable civil servant, a goodhearted man who’s overcome adversity and deserves real happiness — but when it comes to the women, The Proposal all but elbows the viewers in the ribs and sneers, “Get a load of these losers, amirite?” Nowhere is this more apparent than with this introduction:
“Say hello to Kendal Maxwell. Kendal is a 30-year-old baton twirler from Los Angeles. She’s been twirling batons her whole life — and sometimes the batons are on fire! Kendal is also a neuropsychologist.” (Emphasis mine.)
Kendal probably went to school for at least 6 years to become a neuropsychologist, but sure, let’s lead with the flaming batons. (Next: The eliminations begin)
Unlike The Bachelor/Bachelorette, there were no gimmicky entrances here, with the exception of Kelly Gray, 40, who chose to walk down the grand staircase… on roller skates.
Shockingly, Roller Girl does not make it to the next round; that honor goes to Monica, Jessica, Morgan, Riona, Nicole, Alona, and Kendal the neuro-batonist. This means they get to “let Mike know who they really are,” all while standing on stage in their “finest beachwear.” After all, as host Jesse Palmer explains, “physical compatibility is a large part of falling in love.”
Okay, “ladies” — time to bare your souls! Jessica shows Mike some photos of her family and suggests that they could fill their own scrapbook together; Morgan talks about her battles with depression and learning to love herself; Nicole the Olympic weightlifter tells the suitor she wants a man who appreciates her muscles; Riona admits she’s never been in love; Kendal shares a little bit about her job helping stroke victims or people with traumatic brain injuries; Alona discusses her “weight-loss journey” and reads Mike a poem; and Monica gets emotional talking about how she survived a “gnarly” car accident.
The cop keeps Jessica, Monica, Morgan, and Kendal around, meaning we have to say goodbye to Nicole, Riona, and Alona… which would mean something if I remembered who any of those women were.
The “dealbreaker questions” round is upon us! Morgan’s up first, and man does she get blindsided: “I guess there’s no easy way to say this,” Mike begins. “How do you feel about dating an amputee?” Needless to say, she’s a bit caught off guard.
That said, Morgan pulls it together in time to give a solid answer. “I believe the soul is what matters, not the physical appearance.”
Meanwhile, Mike asks Jessica if she can handle that his job as a police officer is dangerous; she says her strong religious beliefs would help her cope. The “past relationships” question goes to Monica, who says her last breakup made her stronger and more independent. Poor Kendal gets the obligatory naughty question — “How physically adventurous are you when it comes to sex?” — and after the crowd stops hooting and hollering, she politely declines to answer, due to, like, having patients and stuff. Miraculously, she still makes it to the next round! (Next: Mike comes face-to-face with his potential wives)
Our final three are Jessica, Kendal, and Monica. Sorry, Morgan — but as Palmer says, getting booted off an instant-marriage show is “nothing to be ashamed of.”
We’ve reached the penultimate round, in which Mike’s best friend, Andrew, interviews the remaining three women. It’s a pretty boring round, to be honest, until Andrew asks Kendal what kind of mother she’d be. Survey says…
Twist! Kendal likes to travel and “really experience life,” so she doesn’t want kids. “It’s ended multiple relationships,” she notes sadly. Thank you, producers, for finding out that fun tidbit during Kendal’s pre-interviews and making sure Andrew got her to admit it on camera. You are truly doing the Lord’s work.
Do I even need to tell you that Kendal doesn’t make it to the final two? Mike sends her dusty womb back up the staircase, and then emerges from his “pod” to meet his potential soul mate.
“Truly, from the bottom of my heart, I never thought I’d go through something like this,” gushes Mike, adding that he’s “blessed” to have two “amazing, beautiful, stunning women” in competition to be his TV wife.
So which woman will get the coveted marriage proposal from a literal stranger? It all depends on the final, “lay it on the line” round, in which Jessica and Monica make a last-ditch plea for Mike’s temporary attention — in evening gowns, no less!
Jessica is up first, and before she begs Mike for a ring, she wants to make sure her father, who is sitting in the audience, is “okay with this.”
Great! With that out of the way, Jessica makes this incredible (in the true sense of the word) promise to Mike, the man she literally just met: “I will love you and be there for you every single day, every step of the way — through the good, the bad, I’m your person.” She finishes up with a promo for this season of The Bachelorette: “So let’s do the damn thing!”
Can Monica top that? “I feel like I’ve had such a great life,” she begins. “But there’s one thing that’s missing. [Cue tears] And that’s someone like you.” Like Jessica, Monica has someone who needs to approve of this TV transaction: Her dog Toby!
Awwww, poor little guy.
So which woman will Mike choose? Spoiler alert: He picks the prettier one!
After coming all this way, you really think she’s gonna say no? Monica is all about the follow-through, y’all! Congrats to the happy couple, I guess?
Well, dear readers, that just happened. What did you think of this Proposal? Will you be back next week, or is one instantaneous fake engagement enough for your lifetime? Post your thoughts below!
The Proposal airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC.
The Proposal (TV show)