The Bachelorette - Season 9

The Bachelorette - Season 9

There are a few important rules about viewing The Bachelor and Bachelorette, and since the shows are unchanged, an intact remnant of the reality boom, these rules are evergreen and resolute.

The Bachelor and Bachelorette can only be viewed in groups. It’s not to be done alone. And, this is sort of a blanket statement about life, but: Twitter is no substitute for the company of others. For instance, in my heart, I’ll always have one of my college roommates, noting of Vienna (Bachelor Jake’s selection), “I put my hair in a George Foreman grill for this occasion.”

It’s mostly a game of being as quick and deadpan as possible, though; these are not jokes that are going to hold up. For instance, my roommate noted at 8:04 of tonight’s two-hour season premiere, when our heroine Desiree was already weeping about love for the first time, “This is going to be a great season.” Here on the page it doesn't look so great. Its charm was in the delivery. These are jokes of the moment. You can’t live on cotton candy, and you can never recapture the fleeting essence of Bachelorette jokes.

Second, you’ll never be able to tell the suitors apart until there are only three or four left, so just give up. This season premiere offers two Zachs, two Nicks, a Michael, a Mikey, and a Mike, as well as a slew of other single syllables and hair gel. Some years it's a lot of contractors/country singers/ranchers named Ryan and Ben.

And finally, one should never think too hard about the artifice of the whole enduring enterprise. This is the danger in being left alone, watching the Bachelorette. You start to think.

“My fairytale, it’s here,” Desiree notes at one point, staring down that same old Bachelor/Bachelorette house. The Bachelorette invariably begins with that sentence or some “It’s Raining Men” variation on it. Desiree compares herself to Cinderella more than once.

Cinderella didn’t have it so great — orphaned, indentured, talking to singing mice. Is this a fairy tale? It obviously isn’t, but the show insists on frothing up its Hallmark liturgy so much that — left alone — one mulls the meaning of a fairytale, as nearly two-dozen bros execute painful bits to impress the Bachelorette.

Fairytales aren’t strangers to nightmares. Fairytales flatten and exaggerate some corner of society and introduce the unreal, and usually there’s some lesson in it, probably about pureness. Between the knight, the guy who drags Desiree’s ass into the fountain, the guy who looked like the question mark suit guy, the orthodontist wearing his white coat, the shirtless guy, the wishbone guy, the terrible poem guy, the fantasy suit guy, the hashtag guy, the fake proposal guy, and the guy pimping his young son out for the lusty glories of famed reaped from the Bachelorette, if you took the Bachelorette at face value, really at face value, staring up at that house would be one hell of a baroque prank.

“This is about you, finding the man of your dreams,” Chris Harrison tells her at this very moment.

But the Bachelorette is like fake humans, and besides, such reflection would kill the premise. Here Desiree is buying hats; here she is sketching palm trees; here she is…chasing seagulls. Desiree and her suitors give off the waxy spookiness of Disney animatronics, like if you opened up a closet, you’d always find Desiree and a Nick and a Mike tipping back drinks in tight evening attire like the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Besides the endless delights in cracking jokes, that quality — the tonal dissonance between things actual humans would do and the things that unfold before you on the Bachelorette — is what it makes it so compelling. Or maybe I assume too much. We do live in a country where teachers ask high schoolers what their “green light” is.

Hooks don’t have to change on game shows, though. Old Family Feud episodes from the 1970s are still entertaining. The Bachelor/Bachelorette promises the same: a catalogue of 2000s and 2010s era fashion and fail-safe entertainment of the bourbon-soaked tears shed by women who have picked up their lives to pick between Mike T. and Nick R.

Stray observations:

  • “This is embarrassing,” a 34-year-old emergency medicine doctor said of his early exit from the Bachelorette.
  • Also: Jesus Christ, everybody, just say, “Hey, nice to meet you,” and leave it there. 
  • Despite the sex room guy and the Knight Who Said Ni, the worst suitor is the guy who says “hashtag” in each sentence.
  • I’m not sure Desiree knows how laughter works.
  • Highlight I: The glaring woman in the fur coat in the tape of Chicago banker Will high-fiving people on the street.
  • Highlight II: As always, the direction for the introduction videos, where some generic Bradley Cooper type talks about His Past. “Here I am mournfully walking near some water.” “Here I am laughing by myself.”
  • I took notes about each suitor during their introductions and I highly recommend that strategy, so later on when you’re like, “Who’s Drew?” you have details like, “Drew - pictures, sad family situation, abs; staring at her chest” to consult.