What's that? Ben Flajnik is supposed to be the one finding love? Oh. Well, he did seem to have nice chemistry with Sheryl. And wasn't it cute how she said she fell madly in love with him on The Bachelorette Season 7? Team Sheryl all the way!
What now? Naughty Nana is already married and just showed up to pimp her granddaughter, the pretty-but-otherwise-crickets Brittney? OK, maybe Ben's connections are going to develop a bit slower than hoped, but at least he made the smart call to give Levi the first impression rose.
What? He didn't give it to the horse, he gave it to the Dumpsville girl with the cracked voice and oddly spelled first name (Lindzi Cox?) — and then tried to insist it wasn't because she had the most memorable gimmick of the night? Why didn't he just give it to the producer who suggested the stunt in the first place? Or to Jenna Burke for being the first official Drama Girl of Season 16? Or maybe to Anna Snowball for the genius idea of blowing Ben off completely — perfect for a season premiere that basically does the same thing.
It’s pretty telling how much the women and their shenanigans are already dominating the show. The bachelorettes are always a main draw on The Bachelor, especially early in the season, but at least last year Brad Womack’s “I’m A Changed Man” transformation was the focal point of the first episode. Ben is basically an afterthought on his own premiere. He doesn’t have Brad’s romantic baggage but he also doesn’t have Brad’s alpha male (abs, arms & pecs) presence. The premiere mostly gives us the low-key Ben from early last season — the sensitive, “sincere” piano-playing winemaker who tends to hang back as bigger personalities take the spotlight.
The bachelorettes repeatedly describe Ben as “cute,” as if this is a show about sorority girls competing to adopt a puppy. Even the first kiss of the season is literally sanitized as PhD student Emily O'Brien very clinically informs Ben she’s going to spray him down and kiss him.
Romance? Drama? Emotions? Passion? That’s for the ladies alone. Let’s hope that Ben soon takes the reins on his own journey and doesn’t just let it ride away without him.
We clearly see Ben with Kacie in a couple of exotic date shots. Ben holds hand with Courtney, laughs with Lindzi and kisses Rachel. There’s also a mystery woman coming. “It’s an ex-girlfriend,” someone says. “I’m also here to date Ben,” we hear her say. Do you want to know who it is? Head here. Courtney also seems to be on everyone’s bad side. She wants to verbally assault someone. Jenna cries (imagine!), Erika seems to pass out and Jamie hates being there. Fun! At the very end, Ben says he’s in love and for the first time he feels like he’s found someone who loves him as much as he loves her.
In a cute little clip from earlier in the night, we see Ben and the ladies playing kickball. Poor Anna should’ve gotten a rose for that score.
The fight is already on inside. "I don't like the girl on the horse," Blakeley decides. "I don't either," Monica agrees. Nicki, who seems to already be drunk, tells the camera, "A girl rode in on a horse. How do you beat that? She makes us all look bad." Courtney sums up the general consensus with "Screw you and the horse you rode in on.”
Meanwhile, the girls gush over Ben as cute, adorable, beautiful, handsome, sexy and fun. He describes his background as Italian, Slovenian, German and English.
The first sit-down we see is with Rachel, also the first girl out of the limo. To his credit, Ben doesn't say he can see his wife there in the room. How could he possibly know? Rachel, a fashion sales rep, left her job to go on the show. (Yikes!) She had been there for five years and decided to just jump into this.
Nicki talks to Ben and he likes her energy, saying she seems "nicely bubbly." She says life is too short to be serious all the time. (But how about some of the time?) She says she's been through some things that have led her to this point. She doesn't mention her divorce.
Lindzi and Ben have a little chat. She talks about riding competitively since she was 6. She used to ride to make a living and now she works to ride. She said she tried to make wine once using store-bought grapes. Lindzi tells the camera, "I think he's someone I could totally fall in love with." Already? You. Just. Met. Him.
The ladies gather in a circle to diss our beloved Sheryl. Emily calls it "a cheap shot" to bring your grandma to the show. "What a great move too to, like, make yourself look better. Put yourself next to somebody who's like old and wrinkley, and you look, like, gorgeous — a young face." Grrr! Brittney said Sheryl basically raised her and that's why she brought her. But, sadly, it's time for Sheryl to leave. Ben walks her to her limo. She wants to see Ben again at Brittney's wedding. Miss you already, Naughty Nana! Ben and Brittney don't really have anything to talk about without Sheryl.
To compete with the other ladies, Shawn The Slugger breaks out a soccer ball and plays out front with Ben. Blakeley shows off her tattoos. Elyse makes Ben do some push-ups. They have a little dance party and teach Ben some moves, as Ben holds Kacie’s hand. Dianna decides her move is to, um, blindfold Ben and make him guess different types of candy. Emily decides now is the time to show Ben her "gangsta side." So Contagion Girl reads her epidemiology rap. It's better than the dorky poem Lyndsie did, but it's really long. Ben is impressed with Emily's attitude.
Courtney sits down with Ben and plays with her hair. She liked when Ben said, last season, that he was available. That's why she's there. A year ago she wouldn't have been available. She's a model and she travels the world. She says she's been single for a while, which is not what Ryan Seacrest said. "What you see is what you get with me,” Courtney tells Ben. “I'm just nice, normal. I'm Italian, Scottish and Native American. A little bit of a mutt." Me too, Ben says. "I'm Italian, Slovenian..." She cuts him off to say "I love your hair." They compliment each other's hair. She says he says that to all the girls. It's not exactly a Team Cupcake love story beginning, let's just say that. Courtney tells the camera she's better than the other girls and she's just going to be patient and let the girls shoot themselves in the foot.
CHAT WITH CHRIS HARRISON
Ben tells Chris the worst has already happened to him — except if another girl says no, like Ashley did. (Dun dun DUN!) Ben said if he leaves the show empty-handed it will be hugely disappointing. (No kidding.) His father passed away a few years ago but he knows his dad will be there with him in spirit. Remember how Bachelorette 6’s Chris Lambton had a thing connecting rainbows to his mother? Ben has a thing with hummingbirds and his dad. So hummingbirds are a sign to watch for this season.
FIRST IMPRESSION ROSE
While we hear Jenna sobbing in the bathroom, Ben goes over to give Lindzi the first impression rose. He tells Lindzi her entrance was “classic” but she’s not getting the rose for riding in on a horse. (Right.) He’s giving it to her because she said she admitted she was nervous and overwhelmed (in that case, give it to Jenna) but she was also able to make him laugh. He likes funny girls.
• Lindzi says she’s 26, but the screen says 27. She works in sales, but her passion is for horses. Her last relationship ended in the worst way. He sent her a break-up text, "Babe, welcome to Dumpsville ... population YOU." Classic! No worries. We’ve all visited Dumpsville at least once.
• On that note, Amber T., 28 or 29, of Nebraska arrives and illustrates that she’s good with a shotgun. She should team up with Lindzi and track down that Dumpsville guy, feed him some cow balls and sentence him to a life of listening to Monica’s cackle laugh. Revenge!
• Kacie Boguskie, 24, lives in Knoxville, TN. She loved watching Ben on The Bachelorette. "We're both goofy and he's hot." She's pretty cute herself. She has a bubbly charm about her that will work well on this show if she keeps out of the drama. She wants a love like her grandparents had. "I want this me to be a we," she says, doing a heart-in-the-sky thing with her hands. Telling you, this one may be a good Mrs. Sunshine for our old friend Ryan Park.
• Courtney Robertson, 28, is fine with competition. She's been modeling for the past 10 years. She's sure some girls will be intimidated by her "and they probably should be." She's been a fake bride many times as a model and she's ready to be a real bride. She thinks a diamond ring would look great on her finger. She's probably just joking around and playing up the whole Michelle Money thing, but she's going to have to do lots of damage control after this season.
• It's especially tough for a diva like Courtney when your story airs before someone like Jamie Otis, 25, from Dryden, NY — a nurse with a tough but inspirational story. She grew up without a dad and growing up her mom had dependency issues which left her unable to care for her children. So Jamie has been raising her siblings herself. They lived in a two-bedroom trailer-type shack and didn't have the nicest things. "I'm no hero, I just love my siblings and want the best for them." What a sweetheart. She works in a maternity ward and wants babies of her own. She should not lead with that when she meets Ben.
• Lyndsie J, 29, is from London, England but lives in Arizona now. She's ready for Absolutely Fabulous, but maybe not Ben. She's kind of hilarious but these zany impressions are not going to work with him. Maybe Borat would be better.• Heeeere’s Jenna! She's a 27-year-old freelancer who writes about love. She's pretty but intense. Her blog is called The Over-Analyst, because that's what she does. She reads way into everything and starts to panic. Her apartment in the background looks cool, except for that bear pelt thing on her bed. Did Amber T. shoot that for her?
• Shawn Reynolds, 28, lives in Arizona and works in finance, although she looks like Lauren Alaina's big sister. She has an adorable son named Gavin.
• Nicki Sterling, 26, is from Hurst, TX and we're seeing red flags here, Ben. Major red flags. When she was 18 she met a great guy and instantly fell for him. She got married at 21. She thought her life was going to take off but things changed over the next few years. It wasn't that exciting, passionate love anymore and now she's divorced. That is worrisome. She's only 26 so she couldn't have given it many years. And it sounds like she's in love with love. The honeymoon phase is never meant to last forever.
On that note, the foot-shooting begins. Monica has no romantic feelings for Ben. Jenna believes Monica is — wait for it — not here for the right reasons. She wonders why Monica doesn't want to just go home.
Jenna decides Monica hates her. Later she will refer to Monica as "the girl who emotionally attacked me." Monica says she's actually a nice girl but she's a fighter if you make her fight. Monica tells Blakeley that Jenna is mean and awful. Blakeley says Jenna is jealous because Monica is beautiful. Monica loves Blakeley and goes on about her beauty and her eyes. "There is something to be said about a gorgeous, real woman." Say it, sister! Everyone seems to watch as Monica and Blakeley flirt and hold hands like “a lesbian couple.” Monica wants to have friendship or an "experience" with Blakeley.
"How do you maintain sanity?" Jenna wonders. She's struggling with that. "I don't want to be drama," she adds while creating drama. Monica makes her feel inferior. They are the Melissa Schreiber vs. Raichel Goodyear of Season 16.
Rachel tries to play mediator and brings Jenna and Cackling Monica together. Jenna tells Monica she feels like Monica doesn't like her. "I don't know you," Monica just repeats. Jenna seems to think Monica is a mean girl. Somehow she ends up telling Monica, "Maybe we can share a tampon sometime.” (Way to lose the argument in one line!)
"Why does she hate me out of nowhere?" Jenna asks Rachel. "'Cause that's what girls do," Rachel says. Poor Jenna. This seems to be what happens to her everywhere she goes. Kacie hugs and comforts her. (She’s “Switzerland” about the whole fight.) Jenna may just be much, much, much, too sensitive for this experience. Ben comes over and asks if Jenna and Kacie are all good. Jenna says there are no tears there. Ben is calm and Jenna wants to know how she can be more calm. She couldn't be less calm, that's for sure. "Everything goes black," Jenna says. “It’s like where am I, what am I doing now?”
Rachel Truehart, 27, is the first lady out of the limo. She skips over to him in her red dress. She's very excited that it's him. Her middle name is Rose.
Erika Uhlig, 23, is a law student who lays this cringe-worthy line on Ben: "The verdict is in and you are guilty .. of being sexy." She can't really pull off the cheese but Ben likes the corniness.
Amber Bacon, 23, another delivery nurse, is nicknamed "The Baconator." She gives Ben a taste of bacon by having him kiss her hand. She says it's Canadian bacon since she's a Canuck from Vancouver.
Elyse Myers, 24, saunters over to Ben and says she's happy it's him. (Brad wishes he heard that this many times.) She's a personal trainer who promises to make Ben sweat a little later.
Jenna, 27, is nervous. They shut the music off as she does her thing butchering his line about how good things don’t end unless they end badly. They are giving her "crazy girl" music, poor dear.
Courtney Robertson, 28, swaggers over to Ben with "Hey, cutie pie. Do come here often?" She says she watched last season and has the biggest crush on him. She plays with his hair, since she has a thing for hair. She seems totally confident. As she goes inside, Ben tells the air "That is a pretty girl."
Emily O'Brien, 27, decides now is a good time to sanitize Ben. Well, he did just have his hair mussed with... She gives him hand sanitizer and breath spray and gives him the first kiss of the season. Where is she stashing the spray?
Samantha Levey, 26, is Miss Pacific Palisades, as illustrated on her sash. She says she doesn't really know how this happened and she doesn't have the answer to world peace. She says she's more than a pageant girl and he's more than just The Bachelor. Producer trick?
Casey Shteamer, 26, looks like Britt Billmaier from Season 15. The bottom half of her dress is sheer. Odd choice.
Amber T. is our shooter girl. She's wearing some kind of leopard print she may have shot herself. She does a cute little trick where she goes to walk inside, then loops around, telling Ben "One more thing. Just in case you don't believe in love at first sight, here's your second chance." Very nice.
Holly, 34, has a huge hat and other huge assets as well. It's hard for her to hug him with that hat. She's from Kentucky and quizzes him on how Kentucky is known for beautiful women and fast horses. (Not fast women?)
Jamie, 25, is our nurse raising her siblings. She says she doesn’t have anything cute or corny to tell him. He says it's much more nerve-wracking on the limo end. She's adorable. "I am loving the brunettes," Ben says. Good call, man!
Shira, an actress with no age, makes the unusual move of saying she knows all about wine and he should ask her anything. He keeps it personal and asks for her favorite varietal on a hot day. Then she says she knows nothing about wine except that she likes to drink it. She's not a brunette. Just sayin'.
Blakeley, 34, is a VIP cocktail waitress. She says she's the only Southerner there, even though there are several. She's from Charlotte, N.C.
Sheryl!! Sheryl, 72, hobbles over to Ben on her crutches. He notices her wedding ring. She says she watched his show all last season and fell madly in love with him. He interrupts to hug her. She's a family person and says in that limo is her granddaughter.
Brittney, 26, is the granddaughter. She's gorgeous but she doesn't show much personality, since Sheryl is dominating everything. "I love grandmas," Ben declares. Inside the house, the ladies are already getting their claws out about Sheryl. "It smelled a lot like Grandma," The Baconator says. Next time she plans to bring a sash, a hat and a grandma. She should leave the bacon at home, though.
Nicki, 26, is another beautiful brunette. She's the divorcee who wants excitement in her life. Not into her dress.
Dianna, 30, does a little Ashley Hebert-esque pose outside the limo. When she gets to Ben she tells him she had something she wanted to say but couldn't get anything out. Poor girl.
Jennifer, 28, is a redhead. She's an accountant and gives Ben a bunch of numbers. She tried on 54 (!) dresses before picking this one. She's been in love once before and hopes Ben will be #2. Lyndsie J., 29, does her high-energy British thing again. She likes to write goofy/dorky poems and reads one to Ben. It's pretty painful, but kind of cute, just not right for Ben.
Anna, 25, does a little Shayne Lamas head dip as she walks up to Ben ... then right past him, saying nothing. "That's a bold move," he says. "Oh, that's awesome. That has gotta be some kind of first." Love it.
Monica, 33, confesses that she misses her dog more than anything. He says he does too.
Jaclyn Swartz, 27, gets a hug right away to break the ice. Then she gets a second hug.
Shawn, 28, bless her heart, should've worn a different dress. She asks if she should get a unicycle and run around or will she get some time inside. She gives him a slug on the arm before going inside.
Kacie, 24, has arguably the best intro, simply saying "Hi Benjamin." She just looks so pretty and sweet. She promises not to sugar-coat anything.
The last to arrive is Lindzi on her horse. "His name's First Impression Rose," she jokes of Levi. "Saved the best for last, I suppose," Ben said.
Ready to watch the extended season preview again? Here you go:
Jenna barely gets to the rose ceremony in time. Are we sure she’s not one of the season’s actresses?
Ben has to dump seven ladies, only keeping 18 of his original 25. Lindzi already has a rose.
1. Jamie (Yay! Sweet nurse is in) 2. Rachel (She didn’t quit for nothing) 3. Blakeley (Monica’s girlfriend is in the game) 4. Emily (Gangsta epidemiologist who hates grandmas is in) 5. Kacie (Love her) 6. Casey (Change your dress) 7. Brittney (Be proud, Sheryl!) 8. Erika (Guilty of being cheesy) 9. Shawn (Single mom slugger) 10. Nicki (Divorcée) 11. Jennifer (Redhead accountant) 12. Elyse (Personal trainer) 13. Samantha (Miss Pacific Palisades) 14. Courtney (Model who loves hair … and herself) 15. Jaclyn 16. Monica (Cackle mean girl)
17. Jenna (Really?)
Going home: Dianna, Shira, both Ambers, Lyndsie, Anna who blew Ben off, and Holly.