The season premiere of The Bachelorette is a reasonable approximation of what would happen if you attended a high school reunion to which only classmates you didn’t particularly like were invited, and you all stayed in the same garishly decorated mansion and drank for 36 hours, and everyone complied with a strict “Club Monaco Only” dress code. The forced conversation, insincere bro hugs, and open scorn for stubble-faced fellow strangers are hallmarks of every season’s kickoff, and I’m not sure it’s possible for one to begin a Journey for Love in any other way.
This time around, Aaron Rodgers’ Younger Brother Jordan Rodgers (his full, legal name) scored the coveted First Impression Rose and emerged as the frontrunner despite telling Jojo that he “retired” from pro football, which is a…delicate turn of phrase. Retirement connotes a certain level of agency that is lacking when one no longer does something because, um, no one else thinks they are good at it or wants them to do it anymore. I really should have deployed that that line at least ONE of the times I got cut from my high school basketball team.
Jordan’s (and therefore AMERICA’S) principal antagonist is Chad, the bearded embodiment of a sneer who spent the entire two hours looking like he had a homophobic slur on the tip of his tongue. The always-mesmerizing “This Season On” trailer, which I’ve already broken down like it’s the Zapruder film, reveals that Chad will perform every one of Sack Lodge’s greatest hits: punching a door, yelling at other bros, and threatening to come to Jordan’s house and kill him after filming is over. A clip of him standing shirtless and snarling while getting an intervention-style lecture from a visibly terrified Chris Harrison was delightful. I look forward to Chad getting booted in Episode 6 and immediately signing as a spokesman for some kind of nutritional supplement that appears prominently on the list of NCAA banned substances.
Few other contestants distinguished themselves. Daniel, a sentient tire fire with deltoids, provided much-needed comic relief by bombing a very bad joke (“Damn, Jojo!”) about a very bad viral video (“Damn, Daniel!”) and trying to recover by asking, and I quote, “Have you been following the Internet for the past few months?” Pro tip: if your pickup line is predicated on familiarity with a meme, stop what you are doing and never talk to a member of the opposite sex again. Derek, whose eyes softly play “Your Body Is A Wonderland” whenever a woman looks too deeply into them, turned out to be just a quiet, tan Jim Halpert. James Taylor and Luke briefly piqued Jojo’s curiosity by shamelessly exaggerating their Texas accents, but still, this competition looks like it’s Jordan’s to lose. Then again, he’s had considerable practice doing just that, so don’t count anyone (except Daniel) out just yet.
Filming of Bachelor and Bachelorette premieres notoriously runs into the wee hours of the morning, which goes a long way in explaining contestants’ dependably loopy, drunken, and wonderfully bizarre behavior. This time, the sun was up by the time the episode wrapped, which made for an even more ignominious exit for those sad bros who left the Bachelor Mansion tired, rumpled, hung over, and roseless. Let us pay tribute to the six men whose quest to win Jojo’s heart on national television flamed out so quickly and spectacularly.
It hurts me to admit this. But many years ago, when I was a younger and stupider man, I purchased a suit from Men’s Wearhouse during a 2-for-1 sale. I know. I’m ashamed, too. Here is how it works. You select the suit that you want, to the extent that you can “want” any item of menswear best used as a bathmat for a dog. Then, the salesman takes you to a certain rack in a dark corner of the store and announces, in an oddly bitter and dejected tone, that these are the suits available for free with your purchase, sir. Please. We insist. And instantly, you understand why this establishment so frantically gives away its product like a sinking ship bailing water. The Free Rack contains some of the most unappealing threads to ever grace a faceless mannequin: grey polyester suits, camel-hair blazers with labels wide enough to land an airplane on, and lots and lots of brown tweed. Hesitantly, you pick one, because you are a smart shopper, and two suits is better than one, right? No! That is not at all right! But you do it anyway, firmly pushing the vague sense of profound self-loathing from the back of your mind.
You wear the first suit, say, ten times, and then, when the stitching unravels dramatically in the middle of your big job interview, you stamp disgustedly over to Macy’s or whatever to get fitted for the big-boy suit you really should have bought in the first place. Years from now, when you die and your heirs unearth the throw-in abomination that you never removed from your closet after the day you took it home, they will sadly point to it as yet another sign of just how senile Grandpa had become. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that Peter’s suit was an unforgivable tan number straight from the George Zimmer Free Rack, and he wore it willingly on national television. In this situation, the only possible excuse Jojo would have had for giving him a rose is if the producers had been behind the camera gesticulating menacingly toward her kidnapped, forcibly restrained family members, and maybe not even then. Bye, Peter.
Jonathan made sense the moment stepped out of the limousine in a red kilt: oh sure, you thought, he’s the Kilt Guy. Aspiring contestants with nothing to offer Bachelorette producers can rest assured that if they are willing to employ a gimmick to insincerely promote their ethnic heritage, the show has a role for them, too. All of Kilt Guy’s screen time centered whether he was wearing underwear or, um, letting his bagpipes hang free. He said nothing of substance, and is now free to workshop his equal parts racist and gross jokes (“I’m half-Chinese, half Scottish, but don’t worry, I’m half-Scottish below the belt!”) at an upcoming happy hour near you.
Jake stepped out of his limousine in a killer suit, smiled handsomely, chatted with Jojo about his work as an architect, and warmly told her he looked forward to talking with her soon. Then, Jake walked into the mansion and was never heard from again. The show didn’t even afford him the dignity of showing his exit on-camera. Of the six men cut on night one, one was black, one was Hispanic, and one was Asian (above the belt, though!). I thought about cutting the section on the franchise’s casual racism from my season preview because it seemed, honestly, like a silly hill to die on. And then the show casually and unapologetically cut HALF its minorities on night one. Jake, you deserved better, and I hope you get a trip to Paradise for your troubles.
Led off with a real estate pun (“I plan on taking YOU off the market!”) that constituted sufficient legal grounds for Jojo to pepper-spray him right in his stupid face, so good on her for exercising such restraint. When Chris Harrison dramatically brought out the First Impression Rose, Coley somehow made it into the montage of men who stared longingly at it, as if he had a real shot at it or at any result other than being sent home to reconsider his ill-advised nickname choice. I hope this experience serves as his wake-up call that it’s time to embrace the “Cole” phase of his life. (Seriously, there are probably more dogs than people named “Coley” in the world.)
Nick S. was the only Token Way Too Drunk On Premiere Night Guy that Jojo actually eliminated, so he now has to live the rest of his life grappling with the fact that women think he is a tool AND is unattractive. His tenure on the show was as ill-advised as the stupid ascot-kerchief he chose to tie jauntily around his neck. Good riddance.
Oh, Sal. Perhaps we will never know the precise moment when his exit became inevitab—wait, no, it was absolutely when he suavely handed Jojo two blue stress balls and explained to her (BRACE YOURSELF) that if she became overwhelmed at any point during the night, she could feel free (SERIOUSLY, IT’S HAPPENING) to squeeze (DO NOT SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU) his balls. Sal may be off the show, but whatever happens to Jojo this week, he’s definitely a hero to seventh-grade boys everywhere, and they can never take that away from him.