The virgin 'Bachelor' meets 'Sloth Girl', contends with a dog-abandoning DJ, and makes out with contestants as his V-card gets some very special attention.
Season 23 of ABC's "The Bachelor" got off to an auspicious start Monday evening as chaste hunk and ex-N.F.L. player Colton Underwood handed out nearly two dozen roses to an assortment of eligible bachelorettes running the gamut from Southern blondes to Texas blondes to California Blondes and everything in between.
The episode featured everything Bachelor Nation could reasonably hope to expect in a season premiere, including a procession of perfectly coiffed twenty-somethings made jittery by cameras, nerves and too much champagne. There was also the unexpected emergence of both a possible season-long villain and a slow-talking, tree-climbing sloth. Unsurprisingly, there were also enough Rose Red Flags to fill a Rose Red Flag Garden.
Before taking a deeper dive into the new season and the gobs of gorgeous gals clamoring for the Bachelor's attention, though, let us reacquaint ourselves with the man, the myth, the legend himself, Mr. Colton Underwood.
Not Exactly Virgin Territory
What possesses a man to repeatedly subject himself to heartbreak in front of an audience of millions? Is he desperate to be famous? Does he enjoy crying in front of cameras, producers, microphones and whatever the heck a gaffer is? Or could it be that Colton is just truly, honestly looking for love?
It may well be door number three, considering Colton's a virgin and has vowed to remain one right up until the minute he falls in love. And in that case, what could be more important than finding that love? At 26, it's about time.
Colton's history of televised break-ups, enthusiastic love for dogs, and admitted preference for going commando all wound getting referenced on Monday's "Bachelor," but to be honest the only trait most of his suitors wanted to discuss was his virginity.
Love at First...Bag of Peanuts?
Thirty women vied for Colton's affections on the premiere and, as one might expect, they pulled out all the stops to make lasting first impressions. Sequins, as it turned out, weren't cutting it -- everyone was wearing them. Even being a beauty queen barely registered, as both Miss North Carolina 2018 and Miss Alabama 2018 were in the house.
So, how did the ladies catch Colton's eye? 31-year-old designer Tracy Shapoff, who made headlines last month for offensive Twitter behavior, arrived in a cop car while Erin, one of several blonde Texans, made a storybook entrance in a horse-drawn carriage. Several women flirted with Colton in different tongues while Erin, a 23-year-old speech pathologist taught him a bit of sign language. Alex B., meanwhile, a Cape Cod native, showed up dressed like a sloth. Seriously.
Most potential Ms. Underwoods tried winning Colton's affections by giving him a gift. Some were silly, like Erika "The Nut's" ill-advised bag of peanuts, and others were cheesy, like Cassie's box of fake butterflies, but many were just awkward excuses to joke about him being a 26-year-old who has never gone all the way.
Caitlin, a 25-year-old Canadian realtor, offered him a balloon and then pricked it so she could make a "popped cherry" joke. Katie, a medical sales rep from Sherman Oaks, Cali., pulled out a deck of cards with letters on them so she could quite literally take his "V" card. 23-year-old Atlanta caterer Courtney tempted him with fresh fruit, inviting him to take a first bite of her sweet Georgia peach.
Even the sloth got in on the shenanigans. "I. Heard. You. Like. To. Take. Things. Slow. Ly," she told him, shortly before climbing a tree. Seriously.
Then there's Catherine, a 26-year-old from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The apparent D.J. made the evening's most bizarre first impression when she gave Colton her actual, literal, living, breathing dog. Her 10-year-old Pomeranian Lucy is cute and all, but what the hell?
3 Make-Out Sessions and a Restraining Order Waiting to Happen
While it's true Colton may have never rounded all the bases, the guy isn't exactly afraid to get hands on with the ladies either. Those keeping score at home probably noticed he rubbed more hands, shoulders, and knees than a licensed massage therapist during Monday's show. One might even argue his moves are smoother than extra virgin—like, really, really virgin—olive oil.
Colton even swapped saliva with ten percent of the contestants, too. First up was 23-year-old Caelynn, a.k.a. Miss North Carolina—Colton went in for a hot kiss with her after dropping a weird line about his mom being really young when she had him. Next was 26-year-old "V" card Katie, who apparently moved to L.A. to be a dancer and instead wound up doing this with her life.
The remainder of Colton's tête-à-têtes were meh- à -bleh, with few women making much of an impression beyond the previously mentioned villain-in-making, Catherine.
Despite opening the show by giving away her damned dog—forcing Chris Harrison to dog sit—she somehow managed to grow more bizarre as the episode went along. She wasn't afraid to mix it up with the other girls, going so far as to play a rousing game of conversation interruptus whenever Colton tried talking to her competition.
Onyeka, a wonderfully sweet IT Risk Consultant from Dallas, returned the favor by throwing on a snorkel and stealing Colton back at one point, but Catherine refused to embrace the hint. The delinquent dog mom ultimately crashed four of Colton's intimate one-on-ones; it's a risky strategy but one that might well pay off considering Colton may well like a lady who calls the shots.
Interestingly, neither Catherine nor the two women Colton kissed early on earned the First Impression Rose. The first rose of the season went to 23-year-old Alabama "content creator" (i.e. wildly popular Instagram model) Hannah G. after she and Colton connected during a fascinating discussion about family, or love, or quantum mechanics, or something.
He whisked her away with his First Impression Rose and before long the two were tickling each other's tonsils like they'd known each other since middle school.
The Rose Knows What the Rose Knows
Until ABC and TLC muster up the cojones to produce a "Bachelor"-"Sister Wives" crossover, each new season will undoubtedly end with every suitor but one heading home. Colton got the ball rolling quickly this cycle, sending seven unlucky ladies home after just one night in the mansion.
Among those taking the redeye back to Whereverville, N.D., were Revian, the Mandarin speaker, Erin, the horse & carriage passenger, Devin, the broadcast journalist, and Alex D., the sloth. Fare thee well, sloth -- you'll be missed the most.
The good news is 23 ladies made the cut. Colton whipped out his next two roses for Caelynn and Katie, the other women he had kissed during his one-on-ones. After that, he walked around the room handing out the next 20.
As the pile of roses dwindled and panic crept across the faces of the remaining women, one thought penetrated everyone’s mind at once: "Colton can't be keeping Catherine the Not-So-Great, right?"
It's unclear what Colton was thinking -- maybe he was turned on by her following him around like a puppy, probably he knows a compelling villain is good for business -- but either way he gave Catherine the evening's 23rd and final rose, ensuring everyone he eliminated ahead of her will hate him for the rest of their lives.
Good luck with that, Colton. You'll need it.
Here are more quick hits and stray observations from Monday's premiere of "The Bachelor":
Biggest Let-Down: Bri's big lie.
The juiciest drama leading up to Monday's premiere was Bri and her fake Australian accent. While the 24-year-old Los Angelino model did fool Colton during the introductions by pretending to be from "Down Under," her presence was barely felt on the episode. Will her secret come out before he takes a bite of her Vegemite sandwich? Stay tuned!
Creepiest Line of the Night: Tie between Hannah B.'s "We're going to have really cute dimple babies" and Demi's "I have not dated a virgin since I was 12, but I'm excited to give it another shot."
On paper, Hannah B. seems like she should have been one of the front runners. The gorgeous, 23-year-old blonde is Miss Alabama 2018 after all, what's not to love? But as it turns out, she's not the season's only beauty queen. She shares the distinction with Caelynn, whom Colton already kissed. In fact, she's not even this season’s only blonde gal from Alabama named Hannah. Just ask Hannah G., recipient of the First Impression Rose.
Demi, meanwhile, is Season 23's wildcard. The petite Texan came in guns a-blazing' with jokes about Colton's virginity and legitimate concerns over whether someone so inexperienced could possibly know what they want in life. Her background is equally fascinating as her mom is apparently serving time in federal prison for embezzlement. How will the seemingly straight-laced Colton handle this revelation? Only time will tell.
Current Front Runner: Hannah G.
She won the First Impression Rose. At this point, she has to be the favorite.
Budding Storylines: Following Monday's episode, "The Bachelor" teased major drama from the upcoming season. While there's as much fighting, kissing, traveling, dry humping, crying, and general freakiness as you'd expect from a show of this caliber, there's also one thing we didn't see coming: Colton freaking the fudge out after apparently getting his heart broken. Again. There's even footage of the former football player sprinting away from the production crew in the dead of night and jumping over a fence, leaving a befuddled Chris Harrison to chase after him in the dark.
What the hell happened to Colton? Let's circle back next week and see if we have some clues!
"The Bachelor" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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