Another season of The Bachelorette, another entirely expected casting from ABC. This time, it’s 24-year-old Hannah Brown, last year’s Miss Alabama USA and a mid-season castoff from Colton Underwood’s Bachelor crop. Besides her perfect posture and those pearly whites, the pageant-y parallels were immediately obvious in the debut episode. Being the Bachelorette is “a dream, I’ve been waiting my whole life for this moment,” she said. Next you practically expect her to wish for world peace.
But despite the parading of her sash-and-crown sensibilities, the producers wanted us to believe otherwise. Hannah’s just a “normal human being,” a self-proclaimed “hot mess.” They practically hit us over the head with this “interesting” pick when she awkwardly stood for her B-roll shots, the audio of her saying she doesn’t know what to do with her hands suddenly interrupting the serene picture.
Even the franchise’s storied host Chris Harrison bolstered the sentiment: “(Hannah’s) sincere, totally honest and ready to tell it like it is.” But is the dimpled, sunshine-y Southern belle much different from the historical lineup of leading ladies? Only time — and the next ten dramatic episodes — will tell.
On her first evening as the Bachelorette — when we meet the deluge of potential suitors — Hannah looked jittery in her pageant-y silver-sequinned dress, and confided in Harrison that her greatest fear was “someone who wasn’t going to be real.” Thirty men vying for one woman (and a robust social-media following if that doesn’t pan out) is bound to bring out some real characters, sweet Hannah.
“Try a few different flavours,” encouraged Harrison, and boy, did a parlour’s worth of flavours step out of the limos. We welcomed a pair of pilots, an international “pro” basketball player, a server, a roller boy (?) and a slew of fresh-out-of-college salesmen (of course).
First up from the night of bottomless wine and 7 a.m. wrap times was Garrett, a forgettable, fellow Alabamian golfer who “wants to be her hole-in-one.” It’s been 127 days since the last pickup-line-filled premiere and this stuff never gets old or less cringe-y. Hannah admitted to liking Garrett’s familiar twang, but he felt a bit too hometown-y (read: expected) for the “different” Bachelorette at hand.
The first out-of-the-box arrival — you know the ones — went to Joe the “Box King,” who literally busted out of a cardboard package, with a shower of styrofoam peanuts adding to his entrance. He comes from a strong Italian family and has the Chicago accent to prove it. “You check all of my boxes,” Joe quipped to Hannah. Again, never gets old.
When the cocktail party began, Hannah faced her lineup of men and played up that can’t-be-beat authenticity once again. “I’m going to stumble over my words, I’m going to make mistakes … I’m real,” she reiterated. Cue the shady, villainous men.
“Stealing” Hannah before any of the other gents could was Luke P, a gym rat who, in his pre-roll, shared this gem of an opener: “I like to think I’m a good-looking guy.” After a college experience mostly spent sleeping with fellow students, Luke had a chance encounter with God (in the shower of all places) and has since remedied his lady-killer lifestyle. I’m dubious of the crucifix-toting 24-year-old and his washboard abs, but Hannah seemed utterly smitten.
Next, the coveted first-impression rose (often a reliable indicator of the future winner) came out, as did some hidden truth about a certain suitor with a little help from Hannah’s former Bachelor castmates Katie and Demi. The latter received a tip on social media revealing that a contestant still had a girlfriend at home whom he had pledged to be with at the end of taping — even promising her a trip after it all was said and done. Just the spark we needed to result in night one’s obligatory drama.
The culprit, the first person here for the wrong reasons, was Scott, a software sales executive who took to flaunting his life of “luxury” during his precious time with Hannah. After she learned of his deceit, the bold Bachelorette called him out with a terse tone, flexing her to-the-point attitude. This time it was Scott stumbling over his words, denying her accusation then backtracking, his every word dripping with condescension. “So you kept your girlfriend at home just to be safe,” she retorts. Boom.
When she decided enough was enough, Hannah escorted him like a little child to the front door. She definitely dodged a bullet, and on night one — attagirl!
The men are stunned, maybe even impressed, by her no-BS approach, but it leaves Hannah a little shaken. Luke P (the reformed playboy) comes to her teary side and ultimately earns the first impression rose. “I look forward to getting to know you better,” Hannah beamed as she pinned it to his lapel. “Amen,” he said, staying entirely on brand. He was already calling her his future wife.
The first night is always a mixed bag of movers-on, but here are the rose-receivers you need to know about: Peter the pilot, who has “final two” written all over him; Mike Johnson, the great-grandmama’s boy who, I have to say, was an ace listener; Connor S, a run-of-the-mill bro who earned a kiss from Hannah; buttoned-up sales manager Connor J, who wooed our Bachelorette with his French-speaking skills; a Nashville crooner named Jed; general-contractor-meets-amateur-dancer Tyler C, and lastly, John Paul Jones, whose full name serves as his job title and the impetus for his odd grandiosity — no doubt a producer pick to liven up the next few episodes.
Seven are sent home, but the only memorable one is Matt Donald, a salesman-slash-farm-boy who made his grand entrance on a tractor singing “Old MacDonald.” Er, maybe a good call.
We’re treated to highlights from the impending season, and it’s a doozy: naked bungee jumping, men in kilts, a trip to Amsterdam, the requisite ambulance call and a montage of steamy makeouts. “Damn, you could cut the sexual tension with a knife,” Hannah said exasperatedly in a future interview.
This one’s going to be fun.