“Bachelorette” Recap: New Season, Same Old Thing

They don’t even care. Not a bit. The Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise, now in its 189th year, doesn’t even try to differentiate one season from the next and I marvel at this anew every time a season premieres. Different people are brought in to play the various roles, but every other detail of narrative and production always remains amazingly, relentlessly, thoroughly unchanged. The truth is this aggressive sameness is the show’s very essence, really, and while many people with brains are put off by it, I have to say I’m not one of those people.

Not only does the predictability of this show not bother me — if I’m being honest it’s a large part of what attracts me. I kind of like being hypnotized, being lulled into a kind of fugue state, a relaxing, half-obliterated trance that I can look forward to every Monday night. It’s like going on holiday to another planet, yet the planet is on my couch, where I get to enjoy savory/salty snacks and do small yet satisfying tasks like shredding bank statements, organizing my iPhoto, and just generally just feeling smug about my life choices which have not led me to be on this show. So what if this program is a scripted, mind-numbing spectacle soaked in chardonnay and shellacked in spray tan mist? It’s a comfortable, soothing, ordered world to visit.

On The Bachelorette, the boys have different mops of hair (a couple really intense bobs this year, right?) yet are otherwise more or less cut from the same mold: waxed, vaguely beige, and glistening with a little bit of moisture. The bachelorette is always some combination of hopeful (she wants to find her prince — it’s time for her fairytale and she’s ready to fall in love and is bursting with excitement that HER HUSBAND IS IN THIS ROOM), humbled (do all these incredible men really want her?) and yet also poised to fight (she’ll have to confront suitors who are “there for the wrong reasons.”). Meanwhile, there are always specific idiosyncrasies that mesmerize me. Last year, Des had odd mouth tics that I loved to hate, and she enjoyed using the phrase “that being said” to preface most any statement. Who knows what Andi’s thing will be this season but it looks like saying “at the end of the day” will be involved — plus a ton of y’alls and showing us her “softer side.” Oh and of course there are always a smattering of containable, pre-planned dramas. Monday night’s was pitch perfect, with a contestant from Emily Maynard’s season “crashing” the set. There were the murmurs of security guards, the sad bouquet of roses that got whisked away before making it to their intended target, and a great line from Chris Harrison: “He’s literally standing down by craft services right now” delivered in that tone of his that makes it unclear whether he is being earnest or just playing a comedic role, that of Chris Harrison, half-cyborg.

Though the first episode is always a snoozefest, here are a few of my quick thoughts on the events of tonight:

  • I don’t have clear-cut feelings about Andi as a person as of yet, but let’s face it, I love her look. She was one of my fashion favorites during Juan Pablo’s season (no one can rock a one-piece swimsuit like her. No one even dares!) and a few readers of my blog were kind enough to introduce me to this site last season, which made it really fun to research Andi’s and everyone’s duds. Right now I’m 9 months pregnant, and, in the words of one kind family member, “a house,” but soon I’ll be back to my regular body and you can bet that I’m going to get my hands on some of those cute lace shorts Andi wore at the end of The Bachelor season.
  • That personal trainer from Chicago looks like Sean Lowe on ‘roids – am I right or am I right?
  • I super appreciated the guy with the combination lock shtick a la Paris’ “lovers’ bridge,” the soccer player who did a symbolic kicking away of the ball (and Juan Pablo’s bad juju) and, of course, Emil, who announced that his name is pronounced “Anal with an M,” which is not how that name is usually pronounced (right?) and therefore fantastic. I’d vowed not to give a single bit of air time to Brett, the man who brought the hotel lamp as a charming welcome gift, but I will just shake my head and say he is not gone.
  • Am I the only person whose ears weep (not with happiness) at the sound of opera singing?

It’s tremendously sad, the post-filming death of Eric Hill from a paragliding accident, and rather eerie to meet him onscreen — especially as he talked about his passion for physical adventures. But I thought the show handled it all respectfully, especially in its dedicating this season to his memory.

Looking forward to seeing you here again next week as the action begins to get underway and love begins to bloom on a candlelit patio… Wear your best spacesuit.