The premiere of a new season of The Bachelor—being waterboarded for two hours by workout montages and wannabe influencers professing their love for a man they haven’t even met yet—is always a bit mindfuck. Our new bachelor is Zach Shallcross, and the recurring line of the contestants’ gushing intros was that he has “kind eyes.” Several women also refer to themselves as “the future Mrs. Shallcross,” which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.
“Some people say, ‘Why me?'” Zach admits in his voiceover. It’s a fair question, one I asked. Host Jesse Palmer says they chose him because “he’s just a real man who came here looking for love and only love.” Of course, Jan. Zach is as boring and generic as most of the men who have filled the Bachelor shoes before him –the kind of guy who says “freakin'” –but he does have one line of interest (at least, of interest to me): he is related to David Puddy.
If you don’t remember this from Zach’s low profile run in that final season of The Bachelorette, I will refresh your memory. On the date in his hometown, his Uncle Pat spoke in a remarkably deep voice that made me look up from my phone and say, “Is that David Puddy?” Yes! Zach’s uncle is Patrick Warburton, who played Elaine’s on-again-off-again boyfriend in Seinfeld. This was never addressed on the show, but lives rent-free in my mind. I was hoping for a full segment with Uncle Pat in the premiere. Unfortunately, he doesn’t show up.
We do get an advice session from Sean Lowe, literally the only man in the show’s history still with his selected winner. I have to admit I’m a sucker for Sean Lowe and the blank way he smiles like a human golden retriever. His season (all the way back in 2013, yikes) was the first time I watched The Bachelor, and you will never forget your first one. Why isn’t he presenting this show now?
The producers clearly want us to connect Zach to Sean. He’s ready to settle! He wants a family! He’s a good guy™! Five minutes into the episode, my threeThe year-old got out of bed to go to the bathroom and then yelled down that he had pooped and for me to come and wipe his ass. Are you really ready to settle down, Zach? Are you ready to be responsible for wiping someone else’s ass?
Zach’s last line before we move over to meet the women: “Do I deserve this? I don’t know.” Perfect. No notes.
We then meet many nurses and content creators and medical salespeople in their mid-twenties. Zach has already met five of them After the last rosea detail I didn’t remember because my brain refuses to hold information The Bachelor longer than three months. One of them, Briana, already has a rose (referred to as “America’s rose”), so she’s safe. Another, Bailey, tried to get him to remember her name by rhyming Bailey with daily, and he then named her Bailen. For the rest of the episode, my husband called her either Balon Greyjoy (Game of Thrones) or Balin (The Hobbit).
There’s also Christina, who has a five-years old and seems like a potential villain; rodeo girl Brooklyn; and family therapist Charity. It’s hard to come across in an intro video unless you’ve survived a tragedy or worked with kids. On to the entrances of the limousine!
The first car pulls up and the girls all scream “Bag!” to the top of their lungs before chanting, “I’m beautiful.” I am confident. I’m strong.” in unison as if they were having a séance. The first is Jess, who is so cute she looks like she could play a 15-year-old on a CW show. Her lack of hair extensions and serious contouring make her I want to root for her, and that’s how the producers want me to feel. “Big smile, very nice,” Zach says to himself as she walks into the house. I know they’re making him do this for storytelling purposes, but it feels still extremely weird.
There are some normal entrances, but then we’re bothered by the usual gimmicks. Someone is making him drink maple syrup. Another looks at his crotch and says she knows everything is bigger in Texas. A girl brings a pig; Christina arrives on a party bus; Vanessa walks to New Orleans trumpets. They all melt together. Bailey (Balon/Balin) reminds him of that time he forgot her name, and it gets worse as they suffer one of the most awkward first kisses I’ve ever seen on this show. He promises to remember her name, but how funny it would have been if he had yelled, “See you later, Brenda!” when she came in?
Briana is the last to arrive and she is wearing a beautiful red dress covered in roses to match the one she already has. Good surf, Briana. Zach says he loves her confidence, not understanding how easy it is for a woman to exude confidence when she feels safe. Once she’s inside, Jesse pops up to ask Zach if he feels like he just met his wife. He says, “No, actually, do you have any more?” Just kidding. He’s basically saying, ‘My gut is telling me…I may have.”
Zach enters the mansion to address his group of 30 women and begins, “I’m just a guy who loves family, football, and frozen pizzas.” It’s made so much worse by the fact that he clearly rehearsed this speech and determined that this was a winning opening line. The rest could have been cut and pasted from any other opening Bachelor education toast, and then the night is a blur of awkward get-together gimmicks and first kisses. Zach and Katherine bond over how they’re both “weird,” and is there anything worse than two hot people insisting they’re actually massive weirdos? Christina lures him onto the party bus for a game of compatibility questions, including the critical “dinosaurs or dragons?” (Zach prefers dragons, which disappoints Christina.) A woman makes him demonstrate his father-to-be Bona marries by changing the diaper of a baby doll, who looks possessed. Put that thing in the M3GAN continuation.
His first impression Rose goes to Greer, who made the incredible game of talking about how much she wants to settle down in Austin, the city where he lives. Their kiss evolves into a kissing session that evokes the funniest moment of the night. “Who is it?” someone asks as they try to see who Zach is kissing. “It’s that girl!” calls another woman.
Since this episode has to follow the same beats from every premiere, someone has to fill the crazy part, and that someone is Madison. They have a normal conversation, but her obsession with getting the first impression of Rose causes her to pull him a second time and get into a kiss that they both instantly recognize as horrible. “I’m letting you go,” Zach says, ending their conversation the same way I would when I’m on the phone with someone I don’t want to talk to anymore. Madison spends the rest of the night spiraling until he confronts Zach right before the rose ceremony, forcing him to dump her minutes sooner than he would have anyway. “I can’t believe I gave my life for him!” she sobs to the producers in the driveway. Girl.
It is finally time for the rose ceremony and the next day it is completely noon. The sun is high in the sky as he distributes the roses. The people going home are the ones we’re not invested in, surprise! Once they’re gone, Zach says he’s here to find his best friend, which is clearly going to be the mantra of the season. I hope Zach’s real best friend…probably a guy named mike he’s known since high school…is mildly irritated every time it comes up.
- I’ll need them to stop calling him “Zach the Snack.”
- In his intro, Jesse says, “Sure, the driveway has been hosed down.” Is that what they do? Is that something people do?
- As I prepared to point out that the Bachelor is always forgettable, it took me at least 30 seconds to remember who the last Bachelor actually was. Remember Clayton?
- “What do you drink?” someone asks Madison after her bad kiss with Zach. “Not enough.” No, it’s definitely enough! Someone cut her off!
- Kimberly tries to comfort Madison by saying her makeup is “on fleek,” a term I haven’t heard anyone use since 2015.
- Jesse tells Zach, “A lot happened tonight.” Did it? At home, no one revealed a boyfriend. No one brought a script. No one even fought! It was a very normal, quiet night, Jesse!