Sunday, January 10, 2016

"The Fear of Being Unlovable", The Bachelor S20 E1 Recap

 Season 20 of the longstanding reality show begins with Bachelor Ben Higgins, a 26-year-old small-town Indiana boy, on the quest for fame true love. We quickly learn that while Ben no longer resides in the heartland, he still possesses all of the prerequisites to be America's sweetheart. Once the quarterback of his high school football team and all-around star athlete, Bachelor Ben has matriculated from big man on campus to hometown hero. Grand Marshall in the homecoming parade, Ben is king of Warsaw, Indiana, but poised for a larger stage.

 Six minutes into the episode, Ben is overwhelmed with emotion and begins to tear up. He shares his deepest insecurity with us. Ben fears that he is "unlovable." A kind, handsome, young guy from a good family, a seemingly solid social circle, with a career and even a bit of fame from the previous season of The Bachelorette. Who would possibly love a man like that? The struggle must be real for Ben Higgins as he declares that he is finally ready to fall in love. 26-years-old is very late in life for a man to embark on this type of romantic journey but I believe in Ben.

 After a brief commercial break, we're on the Pacific Coast Highway. Bachelor Ben is behind the wheel of a vintage muscle car that goes along perfectly with his old-fashioned Midwestern morals and boyish good looks. It's the sort of cliche that only The Bachelor can provide.

 Speaking of overdoing things, let's prepare our cocktail of choice for the evening and play along with The Bachelor drinking game. For every pun that is used by anyone on the show, take a drink. When an adventurous outdoor date involving repelling down a skyscraper turns into a metaphor for falling in love, sip that sweet nectar. Phrases or words getting a little too forced? How about a shot? You get the idea...

 "Never in my life did I think this moment would happen," Ben gushes as he cruises the California coastline. Never? Really? Not even when you applied to be on Kaitlyn's season of The Bachelorette? How about when the producers told you that you would be the star of the next show?

 Back at The Bachelor mansion, a few formers have showed up to give Ben advice. Chris Soules, Sean Lowe and Jason Mesnick have handed the roses out before. These guys are seasoned pros and can provide guidance unlike anyone back in Warsaw, Indiana.

 "Kiss them all!" Farmer Chris suggests, the only man of the three veterans whose foray on The Bachelor did not result in a marriage. ABC is a family friendly network and we all know what kiss is code for.

 Sean Lowe pokes fun that Ben wasn't even alive when Jason Mesnick had his season. That makes two of us. The year was 2008 and I was wrapping up my first senior year of college. Yes, you read that correctly. The five year college plan is one that I can't recommend highly enough. Anything on television or released in movie theaters between the years of 2004-2009 may as well have never existed in my timeline. I was in another dimension known as West Virginia University and that black
hole was filled with one too many amaretto sours. But I digress.

 Enter some of our hopeful bachelorettes:

  • Lauren, a very pretty flight attendant, who says that while her brown roots are in Portland, she was born to be a California blonde. 
  • Caila, an exotically attractive Boston transplant, who met her last boyfriend on a plane and by fate, ran into him a couple weeks later in the city. She questioned her fairy tale relationship when she developed butterflies for Ben after seeing him on The Bachelorette. 
  • Jubilee, a military veteran from Florida who delivers one of the first puns of the season, "All's fair in love and war." My leftover champagne from New Year's Eve is going to go fast with this drinking game.
  • Mandi, a quirky dentist from Oregon, who unlike our flight attendant Lauren, has stayed true to her hometown and is keeping Portland weird. 
  • Emily and Haley, a bubbly pair of 22-year-old identical twins from Las Vegas.
  • Tiara, a "chicken enthusiast" from who knows where. Is she trolling the coop with this story?
 Our host, Chris Harrison, stands in front of the mansion in eager anticipation. "It's hard to imagine but in just a few minutes, the first limo will arrive!" After 20 seasons, it's safe to say that I have a pretty clear visual premonition of what this might look like.

 As the chariots roll on to the set, one by one, the women introduce themselves to bachelor Ben. 

 Flight attendant Lauren, in a Cinderella blue gown, is the first to exit the limo. She gifts Ben with a pair of airline wings. I instantly have horrific flashbacks to Jake Pavelka, the allegedly closeted pilot and his "On the Wings of Love" season of the show. 

 Jennifer, an attractive Florida-based small business owner says that "Ben and Jen is kinda too cute to forget." Tell that to Ben Affleck and J.Lo or Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner.

 Sam, a raspy-voiced blonde also from Florida, claims that on the limo ride over she heard that she passed the bar exam. She is so impressed with herself to the point of reminding Ben yet again that she is now an official attorney. This whole scenario reminds me of the single doctors I know. They tell women they are plumbers. 

 Lace (real name?), a snarky brunette from Denver who channeled Pretty Woman's Vivian Ward's "classy" lace dress for the occasion. Lace wanted the first kiss from Ben so she went right in for it. At least someone is keeping this episode entertaining.

 Shushanna, an international woman of mystery joins the cast. The puzzle pieces are missing because she doesn't seem to be capable of speaking any fluent English.

 Leah, in a stunning sparkly gown that may have been previously worn at the Miss Teen USA pageant, proceeds to bend over and simulate a football hike. A pretty dress and an attempt at football. I will go easy on this event planner. 

 Laura, a redhead from Kentucky who suffers the unfortunate consequences of being a ginger (I feel your pain, girl). Ben doesn't seem too interested as she shares her nickname, "Red Velvet". "Thanks for coming. I appreciate it," says Ben dismissively. This is definitely not something you want to hear after you first meet someone you're attracted to. 

 Mandi, the wacky dentist, shows up wearing a massive rose headpiece. "Maybe if things go well later tonight, you can pollinate it." She is immediately my favorite- not as the prospect of being Ben's winner but for keeping me interested in this mess. 

 The identical blondes, Haley and Emily, step out. Ben bites his lip and obviously has impure thoughts that would have Sean Lowe inviting him to join Bible study. Ben is definitely twinterested

 Maegan shows up next with the only thing cuter than twins, a mini horse. What exactly is happening with the popularity of mini horses? They've been showing up on every reality show that I watch. There is some sort of Iluminati conspiracy happening here. I am convinced. 

 Breanne, the nutritionist in the group, who at the elderly-in-reality-show-years age of 30 proclaims, "Gluten is Satan!" I thought the Devil had more to do with the mini horse thing. 

 But enough about some of the more memorable limo exits. Inside the mansion, Lace has switched roles from Pretty Woman Vivian to Mean Girls Regina George. "I'm just sitting there judging people. But that's what you do. You gotta judge. I feel like there's some dumb ones. I feel like there's some pretty ones." At this exact moment, I spill what is left of my skunk champagne on my flannel pajamas. As I go to the kitchen to pour myself another drink (what if there are more puns? There are going to be more puns!) in my plastic glass, I ponder Lace's remarks in regards to my own existence. 

 Another girl, Izzy, has showed up to the cocktail party in a onesie. "That's really fucking special," says Lace. I instantly think of a recent tweet from comedian Nick Swardson.

 Jami, a Vancouver girl who knows Ben's ex and former Bachelorette, Kaitlyn, chimes in on Lace's outspoken personality. "I don't know if she's too intoxicated or she's just being herself." With my champagne-soaked pajamas now in the laundry machine, I wonder the same thing about myself. 

 Olivia, a young, beautiful blonde, and former news anchor from Austin is the last to enter the mansion. She instantly stands out to me and is one of my early picks as a front-runner for Ben. 

 The ladies have a toast, "Cheers to the hottest man in America!" Cute story. Ben is a good looking guy but the hottest man in America is Shia LaBeouf. 

 Ben enters the mansion and thanks the ladies for putting their lives on hold for a chance at fame true love. It was a difficult decision for the few ladies who were employed to leave their jobs and come on to the show but he's thankful that they're all there. "My wife could be in this room!" And with that magical little sentence that the producers demand of each and every bachelor, season 20 is officially 

 Crazy Mandi takes this opportunity to interrupt Ben and be the first to whisk him away for a private pollination conversation. Why does Mandi have to be a dentist? That story has already been told on this show. While the conservative career contrast is appreciated, Mandi should have been the doughnut shop pastry artist from Portland, the vinyl record shopkeeper from Portland... anything else. The flossing discussion is wilting my bloom for Mandi.

 Elsewhere, the sisters are talking about twin fantasies. "You can't not like it." Twincest is apparently legal in Las Vegas. 

 A beautiful accountant, who is a dead ringer for Olivia Munn, is talking with our bachelor. She gives Ben two chances to remember her name. "Jessica?" The producers must have revealed the correct answer through his ear piece. Had he guessed incorrectly, the name Lauren would have surely been his next choice. Every other girl this season is named Lauren. I think there are five of them including two Lauren B.'s. 

 In an all too common plot twist, two more veterans have shown up to the mansion. Becca and Amber, from farmer Chris's season of the show, are here for a second chance at love. No one seems pleased by their arrival. Lace, who is rapidly becoming the Greek chorus of the season, is among the pissed. "It's not fair. Becca has a one-up on everyone." 

 A bit later, the bachelor is seen privately chatting on a couch with one of the Laurens. Much to Ben's surprise, Becca interrupts their conversation. This particular Lauren, a sweet kindergarten teacher,
says in a thick, Midwestern accent, "It was nice talking to you. I know you need to talk to Becca." Lauren secretly wishes she had some non-toxic glue from her classroom to squirt at the more famous bachelorette contender.

 Lace is asking for more wine as she heads to the door where Ben and Becca are inside. As she eavesdrops on their conversation, she regals the other ladies with the play-by-play color commentary. "Oh, my God! Oh, he's touching her! Oh, he's so into her! Girl, they're getting touchy!"  Lace must have taken the same nonverbal communication class as me. 

 Later in the evening, Ben is chatting with Jubilee, the war veteran. Lace remembers "all's fair in love and war" and proceeds to interrupt. Lace, in her drunken stupor does what no self-respecting woman should ever do. She asks for a kiss. Ben realizes that Lace's blood alcohol content is sky-high and does what no self-respecting bachelor should ever do, he asks her about her personality. 

 Mandi sees this awkward exchange as a prime opportunity to steal more time with Ben as she skillfully takes him away into her rose garden. 

 Lace seeks consolation in our Emma Stone lookalike, Red Velvet. As Lace prepares to call Mandi out for doing exactly the same thing that she had just done to Jubilee, Ben seeks her out for a talk. At this exact moment, my third glass of champagne falls from my lap. Fortunately for my fresh pair of pajamas, the contents of the alcohol land on the floor. I head to the kitchen for a refill and thank the Lord above for magnum bottles of cheap champagne.

 As Ben chats with Lace, I ponder whether he will send her home for asking for that second kiss.  I've seen relationships end over far less embarrassing things. If Lace goes home on night one, I question if this might be my first and last recap. But alas, Ben listens to the producers and decides to assure Lace that she has no need to worry. Everything is cool between them. 

 Lace quickly forgets about the drama she was going to start with Mandi to ensure her rose for night one and boasts to Red Velvet about her time with Aaron Samuels Ben. Red Velvet is truly the Cady Heron to Lace's Regina George. "He made me feel special. I feel like I'm getting a rose tonight." With only so many candy cane grams roses to go around, I wonder who the Grethchen Weiners of the group will be.

 Chris Harrison enters with the infamous first impression rose. Tension is thick in the bachelor mansion as the ladies wonder what it takes to be the lucky recipient. If I were playing matchmaker, I might choose flight attendant Lauren for Ben. They seemed to have great chemistry with one another and Ben agrees with me. "Lauren B. takes me breath away. The girl's incredible!"  But the rose goes to Olivia, the one who left her local news job for a shot at a network position at E! News, step aside, Ali Fedotowsky love. 

 The mood in the room shifts as Chris Harrison informs Ben that dawn is approaching and it's time to send the rejects back to the airport hotel. A decision is quickly reached and the inaugural rose ceremony is underway. 

 As the names of the ladies are called out one by one (Lauren B., Lauren B. AKA LB, Caila, Amber, Jami, Jennifer, Jubilee, Amanda, JoJo, Leah, Rachel, Samantha, Jackie, Haley, Emily, Shushanna, Lauren H.), Lace grows more and more nervous. "I'm worried because I think he forgot about me." I've been there, girl. Well, not to The Bachelor mansion rose ceremony but I've certainly had those thoughts and feelings. 

 Becca's name is called next, much to Lace's chagrin. "Let's be honest, who wants a fucking virgin?" Past the age of about 20, she's pretty much right. Mandi's name is announced next leaving only the final rose on the table. Cue the dramatic music and climactic commercial break. 

 And we're back. To the surprise and awe of presumably no one viewing the show at home, the final rose is bestowed upon Lace. 

 This outcome sends the beautiful Olivia Munn lookalike home. I am deeply troubled by this decision. The girl was very attractive, had a good job, seemed nice and came across as one of the most normal girls in the batch. Yet Shushanna, the chick who doesn't speak English stayed on? 

 Also sent home was another stunningly attractive girl, one of the Laurens. I can only assume it was her admission of cyber stalking Ben and the omission of giving the bachelor her name during introductions that cost her the rose. Sometimes crazy isn't well-received. 

 Another injustice hit home in the ginger community with the dismissal of Laura, AKA Red Velvet.
"He may have not been into redheads. Honestly, some people aren't," she spoke through tears. This gingerism is entirely true and one of the reasons I have it listed in my OkCupid profile, "must be able to see yourself with a redhead." It's one of the last accepted prejudices. We are the smallest minority in the world. Where the hell was my college scholarship?

 Lastly, Breann, the pretty nutritionist with a vendetta against gluten, was sent packing. "I was completely shocked," she said through tears. I wasn't. A 26-year-old guy and a 30-year-old woman is rarely an ideal match. I only know of a few successful couples where the woman is a good amount older than the man. It can certainly work but it's unlikely. 

 Before the time to toast to the new season has a chance to occur, our heroine, Lace, feels the need for more screen time. She pulls Ben to the side and interrogates him over his lack of eye contact during the rose ceremony. It seems that we are witnessing our first lovers quarrel as the tension between the two is not of a sexual nature. If I wanted to win over the guy I had my eye on, the last thing that I would do is question his motives. But this is reality television we are dealing with.

 "I have a feeling the drama is just getting started," Ben says. And there's that word the producers love to hear. How will the sweet, good-natured Ben cope with the immature and devious Lace? Will the bad girl-good boy scenario play out or will Lace ruin her chances before they ever have a chance to develop? We shall have to tune in this season to find out!

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
I'm living life in beautiful Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I hold a journalism degree from West Virginia University. I have worked in television news, fashion marketing, PR, and cosmetic sales. My love for writing and sharing with the world my various passions is strong. One of my many ambitions is to be published and continue creating in the fields of digital and print media, literature and film. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, going to concerts, reading, following Pittsburgh sports and traveling as often as possible. Some of my favorite things include beauty, style, architecture, books, tarot and astrology, thrifting and my shih-tzu, Ireland. I’m engaged to the love of my lifetimes and we look forward to starting our next chapter together. If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you!