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'The Bachelor' premiere recap: Arie Luyendyk Jr. meets the Laurens (aka his contestants)

For The Baltimore Sun

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yes, the holidays may be over, but “The Bachelor” season has just begun.

On Monday night, we rallied through our New Year’s Eve hangovers to stay up and watch race car driver Arie Luyendyk Jr., a former contestant on Emily Maynard’s season of “The Bachelorette,” finally meet the lucky ladies who will be competing for his heart, aka a Neil Lane ring.

Like the first episode of every season, the premiere kicks off with some mundane footage of the contestants’ everyday lives. For the most part, it’s the women showing us their jobs, homes and families, but a few of them really stood out in this segment.

We met Kendall, the ukulele playing taxidermy enthusiast who sang a song about love to her stuffed seal. She is going to be great on “Bachelor in Paradise”

ABC made sure to get their Raven cameo (this franchise is obsessed with this girl) by casting one of her friends. They did a scene at Raven’s store (that boutique gets so much free press) and Raven and Raven’s friend chatted in their matching accents.

We were also introduced to Bekah, the Bachelor’s first-ever millennial hipster. The show conspicuously left her age off her name card, which means the age difference between her and 36-year-old Artie is going to be a big plotline. (We did some Googling, and the internet consensus seems to be that Bekah is 22.)

The only other woman who really caught our interest during this segment was Krystal, the online health and fitness coach. Her heartstrings-tugger is that her brother lives on the streets, so Krystal volunteers with the homeless. She never stops smiling, and her voice kind of sounds like Minnie Mouse — she’s basically Emily Maynard 2.0. She’ll definitely be the next Bachelorette.

The rest of the contestants were pretty typical, except for the fact that half of them are named Lauren, and the other half work in real estate. It’s going to be fun trying to remember who’s who this season.

The gals meet Arie

When we first meet single mom Chelsea in her scenes at home, she talks about her child and being ready to find love. But when she introduces herself to Arie, all she can muster is a bizarre half-sentence about how there is lot to get to know about her. We thought maybe she was nervous or already drunk, but in her direct-to-camera interviews we learn that she is intentionally trying to be mysterious. Does anyone else think it’s weird to purposely hide that you have a child, in an effort to play coy? We don’t know why this is a secret — everyone knows that Arie LOVES single moms.

People say “with age comes wisdom,” but when it comes to Maquel and Millenial Bekah, they’re wrong. These young ladies knew exactly how to turn Arie on — by driving up in fancy cars! This is, after all, the same guy who said “The Bachelor” would be the most important race of his life. Single mom Chelsea took every direct-to-camera opportunity to complain about how noisy Maquel and Bekah’s entrances were. Sounds like Chelsea wouldn’t be fun to bring to the race track.

And, shockingly, those weren’t the only race-car-themed introductions of the night. Brittane (yes, that’s how she spells her name) came through with a bumper sticker for Arie’s butt, saying “They say not to put a sticker on a Ferrari, but what about an Arie?” Nice.

In another memorable introduction, Raven’s friend gave Arie a little wiener and told him she hopes he didn’t have one already. Haha, she’s WILD!

Caroline, a 26-year-old real estate agent, missed the memo and thought this was the wedding, not the first date, because she wore an all-white gown.

And Seinne, ANOTHER real estate agent, because apparently they cast this season at a Long and Foster office, gave Arie a gift of elephant cuff links. She picked elephants because an elephant never forgets, and she hoped Arie would still remember her name at the end of the night. Bit of a stretch, but she’s nice.

Oh, and we had one girl, Bibiana, already start talking about how her and Arie’s baby would have nice blue eyes, because who doesn’t start talking about their future children within 10 minutes of meeting a guy they’re sharing with 29 other women!? We’re poking fun, but really she’s our FAVORITE so far. She’s funny and we hope she gets more camera time.

Cocktail party

After Arie finishes complimenting the women and laughing at their jokes that the producers wrote, we move to the cocktail party — where people stop being polite and start getting real ... whoops wrong reality show. But really, this is where everyone gets drunk and the claws come out. It’s awesome. Single mom Chelsea is anything but motherly. This girl came to play, and she’s got some BOLD moves. She was the only woman of the night to get time with Arie TWICE. And the second time, they had a full-on makeout session. (We rewound the tape — they definitely used tongue. Steamy!) The other girls already hate her. We already love her.

Brittany T. was the only other girl to get a kiss from Arie this episode after they raced, we kid you not, in little kid toy cars. God, they’re milking Arie’s former professional for everything it’s worth.

Arie connected with Annaliese, who dressed up as the Kissing Bandit, Arie’s nickname courtesy of Bachelor Nation. She was still wearing the mask during the second hour of the show, so just how many hours did she have to wear it during filming? That couldn’t have been comfortable. But it’s better than wearing a full-body shark costume.

Arie got a sweet (or was it creepy?) foot massage from social media manager Jenna. This girl had to have chugged eight cups of coffee before the rose ceremony. She literally couldn’t sit still for five seconds or speak coherently. At the end of their convo, Arie said he had no idea what she did for a living, even though she talked about it the whole time. But we know Arie’s going to keep her around because … free massages! That’s a no-brainer.

Arie seems pretty attracted to Millenial Bekah even though she’s barely legal. We think it’s a little creepy, but rumor has it the girl Arie dumped to go on the show is only 26. Some guys prefer blondes; this guy prefers women a decade younger than him. Arie has the kind of deep convo with Bekah that you can only have when you’re dating someone of a different generation: about how excitement makes him excited … and pizza … and good company. Damn, if this isn’t the start of a beautiful relationship, we don’t know what is.

At the end of the cocktail party, Arie decides to give assertive single mom Chelsea the first impression rose. She’s smug because her game-plan worked. The other girls are pissed, and Chelsea assumes her place as the perfect villain.

By now it’s nearly dawn, and the girls are drunk, tired and emotional, which means it’s the perfect time to do a rose ceremony!

Rose ceremony

A girl we’ve barely met because she got zero seconds of screen time, Becca K., is given the first rose. WHAT? Arie — who is this girl and why isn’t ABC showing her to us? We checked her bio on and found out that not only is “Sister Act 2” her favorite movie, but the soundtrack to “Sister Act 2” is her favorite music. How … ummm … interesting.

A bunch of other girls get roses. We can’t remember the order or who exactly got them, but we can guarantee that at least a few of them are named Lauren, and most of them work in real estate.

One girl who got cut, Jessica, was heartbroken because her late father had met Arie (at a race or something, we assume) and she thought this was a sign that they were meant to be. Amber, the spray tan shop owner, was also devastated. Because she was crying so much, we couldn’t quite understand what she was saying. But it was probably about “true love,” and how she’ll never know if the Kissing Bandit lives up to his nickname.The other girls who were eliminated didn’t seem to care because, TBH, they were probably cast for Peter anyway — not this old dude who's obsessed with cars.

We got a sneak peek for the rest of the season and it looks like Chelsea, Bekah and Krystal bring a ton of drama, so we’re super stoked. See y’all next week!

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