At long last, remember what true love really looks like as The Bachelorette makes its triumphant return! This season will feature the lovely Jojo Fletcher, who had her heart ruthlessly broken by Ben in the Bachelor finale (only one episode after he TOLD HER HE LOVED HER, no less), in her renewed quest for love.
The basic plot points of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette aren’t THAT different: the headliner starts with some twenty-five contestants, winnows the field down to two, and then breaks the heart of one and offers a garish Neil Lane engagement ring to the other on national television, all while Chris Harrison adjusts his fitted sport coat and nods solemnly. Whichever of the first- or second- runner-ups tests better with ABC’s focus groups takes solace in the fact that they get to assume the titular role next season. It’s sort of like the circle of life, but for the C-list celebrity careers of very good-looking white people without real jobs.
Sneakily, The Bachelorette is just a little bit better than its counterpart: you can happily watch without feeling complicit in the Perpetuation Of Antiquated Gender Roles On Network Television Industrial Complex. Instead, Bachelorette contestants spend the entire season harmlessly and hilariously confirming all of the worst stereotypes about twentysomething bros who are just unemployed enough to go on a reality dating show for six-plus weeks. There will be weightlifting montages and protein powder tubs. There will be condescending diminutive nicknames (calling someone “buddy” on this show is just a dog whistle for “Here, let’s take off our shirts so I can fight you right here in the living room of this well-appointed mansion”). There will be every imaginable color of Banana Republic henley and J. Crew heathered v-neck tee—athletic fit, of course. And, yes, there will be ugly crying. It’s just way more fun to laugh evilly when it’s a bunch of dudes shedding the tears instead.
Below, highlights from the always-delightful bios of the gentlemen who will compete for the right to quietly break off a sham engagement to Jojo three months after filming concludes. Here is what I wrote about Jojo in this space last year:
Dammit. Let’s try this again.
Strengths: Claims to have ripped the door off a burning car and pulled the unconscious driver to safety, which is actually pretty rad, I guess, even if that answer is a total fabrication and he just happened to see Crash on cable last night.
Weaknesses: Inexplicably unbuttoning his button-down collar is somehow not the most horrifying thing about Alex’s shirt, which is the color of the stuff my dog throws up after she gets excited too excited at the park and eats a bunch of grass. Also, he’s 5’7”! Hahahaha, no WONDER you could get inside that burning car so easily, little guy! You’re just ADORABLE and oh God you’re a Marine, I’m so sorry, please don’t come to my home and kill me.
Inevitable outcome: Takes every physical activity-based group date WAY too seriously, and Jojo boots him after two episodes.
Strengths: Kind of has a Vincent Chase look going, I guess? Are people still into that, or did the Entourage movie officially relegate that show to pop culture purgatory?
Weaknesses: At five-eight, he can barely outreach Alex. Lists his greatest fears as “bugs, cockroaches, and bees,” which is a fair answer, but is also obviously redundant. What are you trying to hide, Ali?
Inevitable outcome: I’ve already forgotten he was ever on the show.
Strengths: Cites his mom as the person he loves the most in this world. Awww. Brandon is a good son. Lists his occupation as “hipster,” which, if you think about it, is much more honest than “freelance cast-iron cauldron forger” or “artisanal granola chef” or whatever else most hipsters would actually offer in response to that question.
Weaknesses: His picture looks like one of those horrifying high school yearbook pictures that goes viral and gets made into a thousand memes, and then you find out years later that the kid got really depressed and tried to commit suicide a couple of times.
Inevitable outcome: Brandon’s first question to Jojo upon stepping out of the limousine is whether she has read Infinite Jest; he stares at her blankly for five to ten excruciating seconds when she replies that she has not, and then refuses her hug and walks wordlessly into the Bachelor Mansion; she sends him home at the first Rose Ceremony.
Strengths: Looks exactly what you expect “Chad” to look like, so there won’t be any issues with remembering names.
Weaknesses: A sense of self-worth apparently so powerful that it manifests itself in some kind of gently affirming speech tic (?).
Inevitable outcome: Jojo, instantly attracted to Chad’s perfectly fitted heathered v-neck tee, rewards him a coveted early one-on-one date. But the show takes a dark turn when Chad lets this success go to his head, and we endure a bunch of B-roll footage in which he struts around calling guys things like “champ” and “buddy” and clapping them on the shoulder a little too hard. Someone (probably Alex, after Chad pats him on the head one too many times) snitches to Jojo that everyone else in the house thinks Chad is fake and can’t be trusted and is not here for the Right Reasons. An emotional Jojo, BETRAYED by her instincts, dramatically dismisses him mid-episode.
Strengths: States in his questionnaire that the one thing he would would never do for love is sell his truck, which is a good card to play to Dallas-area native Jojo, probably. If he doesn’t step out of his limousine in Luccheses and a suede Stetson I’ll refund your money for this preview.
Weaknesses: Asserts a desire to be married “for the rest of forever.” Um, it’s probably a good thing for Chase that he is tall and handsome.
Inevitable outcome: Uh-oh. Chase’s bio ALSO reveals that his greatest fear is finding himself uninterested in a girl who falls in love with him. Given that subtle foreshadowing has never been a valued tenet of Bachelorette copywriters, Chase will excuse himself from the show in episode seven, as a heartbreaking wide shot shows a devastated Jojo sobbing while holding tightly to the ten-gallon hat that the producers cruelly made him hand to her before he turned to walk somberly off the set and into the night.
Strengths: Perfectly executes the wily veteran move of crossing one’s arms to maximize perceived biceps real estate, not that I’ve ever thought about that or done that or anything.
Weaknesses: The top item on his bucket list, and I quote, is to “build a relationship with Mark Cuban and earn his respect.” This goal is equal parts thirsty, sad, and doomed. Mark Cuban only wants to be your friend if you have a billion-dollar idea or can play power forward, and I’m guessing by Christian’s presence on this show that neither applies to him.
Inevitable outcome: Last four episodes before being eliminated, and appears on Shark Tank within a month.
Strengths: Cites “the Harry Potter series” as his favorite book. God bless J.K. Rowling for providing an entire generation of men an answer other than “um I don’t really like books lol” when women ask them about what they like to read. Lists his three best attributes as Honestly, Loyalty, and Ambition, which is, coincidentally, the title of Rick Ross’ forthcoming mixtape.
Weaknesses: Appears to have based his look on Lucas Goodwin from House of Cards, the hapless, hopeless Zoe Barnes admirer who tried to avenge her murder but was instead abruptly shot to death after bailing on his WITSEC cover and trying to assassinate President Underwood. Sorry, spoiler alert for all four seasons.
Inevitable outcome: Jojo can’t stop laughing at that stupid non-name and sends him home at the premiere’s conclusion, which is a bummer because visiting all 50 states is on his bucket list, and the only thing he’ll get out of this show is a few hours in a McMansion in Agoura Hills.
Strengths: God created the color blue after seeing Derek’s eyes for the first time.
Weaknesses: Lists his occupation as “commercial banker,” which means he’s a teller at a Wells Fargo branch in Tulsa. Professes odd aversions to two very benign things:
Inevitable outcome: After surviving an on-camera nervous breakdown during a group date in which he is forced to prepare fresh produce for cats at an animal shelter, Derek rides the sheer magnetism of eyes to a night in the Fantasy Suite and a third-place finish.
Strengths: If you squint your eyes just right, pound a few drinks, and are feeling particularly lonely and vulnerable, Daniel kind of looks like Adam Levine. Lists “experienced” as one of his best attributes, which is great, whatever it means. (Note: it means sex.)
Weaknesses: Wears short-sleeved button-up shirts, a decision that should be punishable by stoning. His bio makes multiple bad analogies comparing his body to a Lamborghini, which just shows how out of touch Daniel is. It’s a Tesla world we live in now, bro.
Inevitable outcome: Daniel writes that although he does not consider himself a romantic, he “can have good manners and do little things which a girl would love,” which is perfect shorthand for “I am a sociopath.” You will be unable to decide whether you hate Chad or Daniel more. Jojo eventually kicks him off in a producer-stoked fury after learning that he brags constantly to the other guys about how he TOTALLY slams hotter girls back home.
Strengths: Lists his profession as “Erectile Dysfunction Expert”; helpfully explains that he is “in touch with [his] sexual energy and it’s very powerful and beautiful.” So, he’s really going for it, I guess.
Weaknesses: Has the facial hair of a man about whom a community meeting must be held every time he moves into a new neighborhood.
Inevitable outcome: Emerges from the limousine in a boner-themed novelty costume (condom is the overwhelming favorite, but don’t rule out Giant Viagra Capsule); makes a couple of cringeworthy jokes to anyone who will listen about how much he enjoys COCKtail hour; mercifully dismissed at the premiere’s end.
Strengths: A firefighter, Grant lists his greatest achievement as “saving a life.” That’s not fair. War heroes and first responders should not be allowed to answer this question. How is a Hipster or an Erectile Dysfunction Expert supposed to compete with that?
Weaknesses: Lists his worst date memory as having a girl talk to him about Harry Potter for 20 minutes. I BET YOU WOULD NAME IT AS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK IF A WOMAN ASKED, THOUGH, GRANT.
Inevitable outcome: Sticks around long enough to deliver an earnest monologue about how, no matter how terrifying it is to enter a crumbling building engulfed in flames, nothing scares him more than [dramatic, tearful pause] the chance that he’ll never truly find love. (Also, he will not find love on this show, and is left roseless after episode four.)
Strengths: Hold up, Jake actually wears the short-sleeved button-up shirt very well, and he adds a dashing contrasting solid-color v-neck (of course) peeking out subtly from underneath. Maybe those shirts aren’t the problem after all. Maybe Daniel just sucks. [Thinking.] Yeah, go to hell, Daniel.
Weaknesses: Um. He’s, uh…listen, I don’t mean to make this uncomfortable, but…um. Come on, you get it, right?
Inevitable outcome: This past season, the Bachelor/Bachelorette powers that be once again bungled a long-overdue opportunity to address the franchise’s embarrassing diversity problem. Jubilee, born in Haiti and adopted by an American family, endeared herself to viewers by being refreshingly unafraid to voice her occasional discomfort with “dating 28 people on television and pretending like it’s normal.” Oh, she also served 4.5 years of active military duty, played the cello, and playfully called Ben “white boy” on national television. Naturally, Ben responded to her occasional trepidation with the show’s premise by unceremoniously booting her halfway through an episode. The season before last, Kupah attempted to have an honest conversation with bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe about her interest level in him given his status as one of few minority contestants on the show. But this plan (surprise) did not go well; Kaitlyn became offended and asked him to leave, and a visibly overserved Kupah became angry and belligerent when producers subsequently escorted him from the set. So instead of addressing the very fair issues of race at which Kupah hinted, the producers were able to hide behind portraying him as just another confrontational, unreasonable bro who created a generic MOMENT OF DRAMA.
I’m not suggesting that Ben or Kaitlyn are racists. Nor do I think that “equal representation in reality television” is the most pressing civil rights issue of our day. But after 33 consecutive seasons of exclusively portraying upper-middle class straight white people falling in love, the refusal to even thoughtfully consider the issue grows more insane every year. In a May 2015 interview with NPR, host Chris Harrison first blamed a lack of interested minority candidates, and then, when pressed, insinuated that viewers wouldn’t watch and advertisers wouldn’t pay for airtime if the show featured too many non-white contestants. Incredibly, Harrison went on to argue the question’s factual premise, asserting that the franchise only has a diversity problem “if you don’t count Latinos or Greek or whatever.” I can almost hear his publicist’s horrified screams from here.
Of course, Harrison might be correct in asserting that a certain, ahem, segment of the show’s viewership would be less interested in a predominantly minority cast and/or uncomfortable with something like, GASP, the prospect of an interracial relationship on network television (won’t somebody think of the children!). But blaming a decision that implicitly ratifies prejudice on ominous, vaguely defined “market forces” is a disingenuous cop-out that fails to acknowledge the show’s role in developing the very system that has so obviously failed. ABC, which has been rewarded for its recent decisions to pick up the critically acclaimed, minority-focused Fresh Off The Boat and Black-ish comedy series, somehow remains remarkably staunch in its unwillingness to break new ground with its oldest reality franchise, too.
Anyway, sorry, Jake (and Grant, while we’re at it). It’s not your fault [hugs you softly].
Strengths: A 34-year-old (ready for marriage!) boxing club owner (can beat people up!) who talks about marriage in the same cadence in which Donald Trump would talk about marriage, if Donald Trump actually gave a crap about marriage, commitment, or fidelity (“I see it as a huge, huge deal. Too many divorces are happening.”).
Weaknesses: Looks like a guy who lazily dressed up as Papa John for Halloween. Unironically notes in his bio that he follows a “carb cycling” diet. Allows his white crew-neck undershirt to peek out from under his button-down fashioned from old picnic blankets, which is the kind of faux pas that gets you beaten up off-camera by a silent band of Bachelorette contestants who want to send a message about standards that will be enforced on this show, thank you very much.
Inevitable outcome: Challenges one or both of the Marines to a boxing match. Gets his ass kicked. Responds by eating a whole pizza by himself in the middle of the night, and tearfully leaves the next day when he finds his guilt has become too much to bear.
Strengths: Just got out of a seven-year relationship after his girlfriend couldn’t bring herself to move to be with him. States in his bio that he he has been “intimate” with very few women, a fact the producers would not share unless he were a mortal lock to make the Fantasy Suite and spend a LOT of time hand-wringing on camera about what he’s going to do in there. (Spoiler: he will have sex. They all have sex.)
Weaknesses: Lists his occupation as “Bachelor Superfan,” which is an attempt to be cute that really just means means “profoundly unemployed.”
Inevitable outcome: This season’s Lauren B., James S. remains persistently perky, pretty, boring, agreeable, and entirely unobjectionable throughout the season. Ultimately wins the battle of attrition for Jojo’s heart by being alternately smart enough and dumb enough to stay out of his more self-destructive fellow contestants’ way. Congrats in advance, Jimbo. Superfandom pays off.
Strengths: Ah, the Brady Memorial Award for “person definitely looking for love who just happens to be an aspiring singer/artist/actor and is certainly not here just to generate name recognition and gin up excitement for their next demo/exhibition/cameo on Law and Order.” Bonus points to James Taylor for co-opting the name of a person who is ACTUALLY famous for doing the thing that he wants to be famous for doing, too. I plan on naming my first kid Bruce just to help him or her (yeah, either one) score some easy acting bits.
Weaknesses: In the slim-cut fashion world of The Bachelorette, his Banana Republic Classic Fit button-down makes him look like he’s wearing a plaid circus tent.
Inevitable outcome: Has a few scenes in which he strums a guitar and croons soulfully while explaining via voice-over that music remains his lifelong dream, no matter how many people in his life have tried to get him to go to college. Tries really hard to act like he cares when Jojo cuts him after two episodes in which he showed not even the slightest bit of interest in talking with her.
Strengths: By the looks of this grey polo with a contrasting collar, placket, and cuffs, Jonathan knows his way around the clearance rack at American Eagle.
Weaknesses: Lists his favorite author as “J.D. Salinger or R.L. Stine.” That’s The Grapes of Wrath on one hand, and all 9238 Goosebumps novellas on the other.* If this is a joke (please let it be a joke, Jonathan), it’s actually pretty funny. If it’s not…well, he should have cited to Harry Potter just like everyone else.
*EDIT: Jenna’s mom e-mailed to point out that J.D. Salinger wrote Catcher In The Rye, and John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath. She is right, and I am uncultured swine. I guess my favorite books are the Harry Potter series, too.
Inevitable outcome: He earns my prediction for Jojo from last season: you will look back on this season and not even remember when he got eliminated.
JORDAN RODGERS, YOUNGER BROTHER OF PACKERS QUARTERBACK AARON ROGERS
Strengths: Um, the younger brother of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers! If you pick him, you get to stage sword fights with Olivia Munn. That’s what family does for each other.
Weaknesses: Jordan, who lists his occupation as “Former Pro Quarterback,” went undrafted out of Vanderbilt in 2013 and had short practice-squad stints with the Jags, Bucs, and Dolphins (the Bad Florida NFL Teams Trifecta!) before washing out of the NFL two years ago, so he is basically the runt black sheep of the Rodgers family. Don’t settle, Jojo.
Inevitable outcome: The Bachelor franchise has long been a safe space for mediocre quarterbacks who look like Hollister models. Jordan rides his famous older brother’s fame to a top-five finish and earns just enough name recognition to get signed as a studio analyst for the SEC Network this fall.
Strengths: “Occupation: War Veteran,” fitted heathered cream henley, and flawless stubble is a tried-and-true formula for Bachelorette success.
Weaknesses: Like Christian, also wants to meet Mark Cuban; like Christian, clearly has nothing to offer in which Mark Cuban would be interested. Also, lists Step Brothers as one of his favorite movies. This is unconscionable, and I demand that the VA take immediate steps to ensure that our veterans have access to better movies while serving overseas.
Inevitable outcome: Top-three finisher and strong early candidate to headline the next Bachelor season, where Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly show up for an episode to promote Step Brothers 2 and guest-host a deeply unfunny one-on-one date.
Strengths: Electrical engineer (he’s smart!). Plays competitive rugby (he’s fit!). Lists his favorite magazine as Ducks Unlimited, which I assumed was about hunting but is actually the journal of a waterfowl conservation nonprofit, so he’s pretty fun and quirky, too!
Weaknesses: When asked about the most romantic present he’s ever received, Nick B. gives us this profoundly dark line worthy of a New Yorker cartoon caption: “I don’t think I’ve ever received a romantic present – and I’m not sure why.” Duck advocacy is a lonely life, apparently.
Inevitable outcome: Nick B. seems normal, well-rounded, and down-to-earth, so he will be cut during the first episode.
Strengths: Claims that the most outrageous thing he’s ever done is chase a mountain lion, so if for some reason a cat threatens Jojo at any point this season, and Derek panics, she can be confident that Nick S. will run TOWARD the danger, not away from it.
Weaknesses: Is going to have to answer some HARD questions about that idiotic bandana rolled up tightly and tied around his neck.
Inevitable outcome: Handsome enough to finish in the top five, even though his professed dislike of “scary cheeses” means that the standard wine-tasting group date goes very poorly for him.
Strengths: Is a human person who will appear on the show (?).
Weaknesses: Can’t decide if whether his overgrown eighth-grader mustache or his Marco Rubio ears are worse. Neither are good, though.
Inevitable outcome: I’m surprised ABC hasn’t preemptively greyed out his picture already.
Strengths: Lists “Man on Fire” as a favorite movie, which is good, because it signals to Jojo that if anyone crosses her, she can count on Robby to address the situation by packing dynamite into her enemy’s butt.
Weaknesses: The time in your life to go by “Robby” ended like 15 years ago. Grow up, Peter Pan.
Inevitable outcome: Robby, a former competitive swimmer who claims to have spent more of his life in a Speedo than in everyday clothes, impresses on some stupid obstacle course-style group date, but disappears by episode 6 when he’s mysteriously called away to complete a vague, urgent task somewhere near Mexico City.
Strengths: Claims that if he were stranded on a desert island, he would bring a cell phone, a gun, and a portable air conditioner, which is boring but also entirely correct.
Weaknesses: Lists his occupation as “Operations Manager,” but dresses a weekday afternoon shift waiter at Olive Garden.
Inevitable outcome: Since Sal seems wholly uninteresting, I assume he is the one who gets too drunk and does something outrageous during the first episode, like punching through a wall or asking producers (on a hot mic!) if they can get the bathroom re-stocked with blow. Sal will be back refreshing bowls of breadsticks after the first week.
Strengths: Bests fellow necklace wearers Brandon, Evan, and Luke by complementing his with an assortment of decorative vintage bracelets. (He bought them at J. Crew last week for $95 apiece.).
Weaknesses: Vinny’s unusual and sometimes unnecessarily specific answers to certain questions (his favorite movie is A Bronx Tale, and he loves to cook Italian food) indicate that he may have been looking for a Jersey Shore casting call and ended up at the wrong studio.
Inevitable outcome: Dismissed after two episodes after he keeps staring openly at Jojo’s chest and refuses to call her anything other than “JWoww.”
Strengths: Wells is a radio DJ, which is cool.
Weaknesses: Lest you forget at any time that Wells is a radio DJ, he stitched an “Olson Radio” patch onto his jacket alongside g with several other probably-radio-themed buttons. This is sort of like me wearing a WestLaw T-shirt to work every day.
Inevitable outcome: In five years, Olson states that he hopes to be “syndicated” (did Wells mention he is a DJ?) and also “married with a couple kids,” which is perhaps not the order in which you should share those things when you’re purporting to be on The Bachelorette for, you know, love and whatnot. Wells is gone after the premiere.
Strengths: The only contestant to list his height down to the half-inch (6’2.5”)! Will NEVER sells himself short.
Weaknesses: Lists his three worst attributes as competitive, argumentative, and stubborn. So…sounds like a really fun, chill guy to be around.
Inevitable outcome: Blows a one-on-one date with Jojo by destroying her in the date’s cutesy competition set-up (say, some kind of water-based obstacle course in which ABC reuses old sets from Wipeout), and then spending the entire dinner afterward breaking down in detail exactly how her bad form in the Slippery Stairs and Topple Towers led to her defeat.
That’s all for now (or is it?). Good luck out there, Jojo. Make you find love in this, the most hopeless of places.