"The Bachelorette" Recap: Season 8 Premiere
An overwhelming air of glamour surrounds the serene Charlotte,
The combination of a teary female, several very strange potential suitors, and the host who makes inappropriately probing comments into his contestants’ love lives can only mean one thing: season 8 of The Bachelorette, ABC’s summer guilty pleasure for women everywhere, has officially begun.
This season’s Bachelorette is Emily Maynard, the stunning and sweet southern blonde who won Brad Womack’s heart on season 15 of The Bachelor. Predictably, Emily’s relationship with Brad has ended, and Emily is now vying for a second chance at love. However, as host Chris Harrison emphatically declares, this season will be different from the seven preceding it. Emily has a six-year-old daughter, Ricki, with Ricky, her racecar driver fiancée who passed away in a tragic plane crash. Thus, she is searching for a responsible man who can be her partner in parenthood as well as love.
The episode begins by introducing us to Emily and recapping both her relationships – her courtship with the deceased Ricky and her failed romance with Brad. Viewers see a clip of her breaking down in tears as she tells Chris that she and Brad have broken off their engagement. Now, however, the optimistic Emily declares that she is ready to find love once again. The show gives its audience a glimpse into her daily life as we see her playing with Ricki and rising to the challenges of single motherhood. While these moments admittedly seem very staged, they nevertheless endear Emily, who does seem like a strong and caring woman, to the viewer. In spite of the show’s cheesiness, audience members want Emily to end up with a man who will be a capable father to Ricki as well as an amorous husband.
Despite this crucial stipulation, season 8 nevertheless boasts a cast filled with several oddball men who dismiss their weirdness as “quirks” and, of course, the signature insufferable snob. Eight men, presumably the contestants whom the producers have declared most likely to win Emily’s heart, are introduced through voice-overs where they briefly tell America about themselves and their reasons for being on the show. It is disheartening that the first of these potential suitors is Kalon, a self-proclaimed “luxury brand consultant” who manages to leave a sour taste in viewers’ mouths after about a minute through his incessant bragging about his wealth. Thankfully, the other preliminarily introduced men – including Lerone, the show’s first African-American contestant – are not particularly offensive, although the warm and caring Arie gives viewers cause for concern when he announces that he, like the late Ricky, is also a racecar driver.
After America gets a sample of Emily’s men, about an hour into the program, the show is finally ready to start. Emily meets Chris at a sprawling Charlotte mansion and repeatedly voices her anxiety despite seeming perfectly at ease. Finally, it is time for her to – possibly – meet her future husband. As the men arrive in stretch limousines, they resort to ridiculous measures in order to seem memorable. Two men speak in foreign languages, a man named Randy dresses up as a grandmother in an epic failure of an attempt at humor, and a suitor named Travis inexplicably walks in carrying a large egg. As he explains that his careful treatment of the egg symbolizes the love that he will give to Emily and Ricki, America rolls its eyes and wonders why she hasn’t dismissed him yet.
All these entrances pale in comparison, however, when Kalon shows up in a helicopter. The move makes him the unquestionable villain of the season, and Stevie, a DJ who is obnoxious in his own right, rallies a crowd of men to gossip about him.
As the cocktail party commences, it becomes apparent that thankfully, not all of Emily’s men are pretentious losers. Jeff, a CEO of a Salt Lake City eco-friendly water bottle company, seems unique and sweet – a rare combination on The Bachelorette. Arie, the racecar driver, acknowledges his similarity to Ricky in a conversation with Emily, and wins points with her when he kindly asks if it bothers her (Of course, it does not). Yet, the most promising contestant by far is Doug, a fellow single father who radiates warmth and kindness, and who bonds with Emily over their children.
The cocktail party concludes with the presentation of the First Impression Rose, which ensures that its recipient will be safe from elimination for the night. In a move that instills viewer confidence in Emily, she presents the rose to Doug, with whom she seems to have a true connection.
At this point in the episode, it is time for the season’s first rose ceremony, a dramatic ritual in which men who do not receive roses are eliminated. Some of Emily’s decisions are justified, as she sends home a man with six children and an incredibly cocky fitness model. Predictably, Kalon stays for entertainment value. Emily makes a surprising and rather infuriating decision, however, when she chooses Travis, the egg boy, over Lerone, the sole African-American contestant who seemed genuinely promising.
Despite Emily’s highly questionable preference for a monochromatic cast, she appears to be a fascinating Bachelorette. Possibly due to her good-natured sweetness, she is unfailingly polite to every contestant, and her face and actions do not often betray any negative emotions. While she does not seem emotionally shallow, especially in comparison to previous Bachelorettes, her kindness makes it hard to decipher what she is truly thinking – an interesting development that should add suspense to her season. The inclusion of a few standout Bachelors, like Jef, Doug, and Arie, adds further intrigue to the competition.
For all the show's cheesiness, predictability, and superficiality, the premiere of Emily's season provides the perfect mixture of drama, glamour, and romance to hook viewers in for the remainder of the competition.
Reach reporter Lindsay Dale here.