Last night was the big season finale of Smash, wherein America found out, finally, who was going to play Marilyn in the big Marilyn Musical and probably other things happened like intrigue and romance and maybe Debra Messing took her shirt off again and stood in a dance studio wearing sweatpants, sneakers, and no top, because it's such a good look for her, and who knows what else. The point is: We didn't watch. Why? Because we were watching the motherfreakin' Bachelorette instead. Yes, it's back.
Well, it's "back" for those of you who consistently watch this show. For some, like us, it's all started for the first time. We've seen scattered episodes of Bachelor/ette seasons past, but it's never been anything you could call a career. And it's certainly been a long time since we've seen the first episode of a season, which is easily one of the most uncomfortable hour-and-a-half-long stretches on television all year. Oh god is it a nightmare.
The setup for this season: Emily Maynard is a jilted former Bachelor winner. She was engaged to two-time Bachelor dude Brad Womack but that fell apart, shockingly, so now the 26-year-old and her daughter are on the hunt for a new man. And the best place for an attractive 26-year-old woman (albeit one with a kid) to find a mate is on a national television competition in which 25 cheeseheads stumble over their Men's Wearhouse loafers in a race to the top of buffoonery. Good luck, Emily!
The first episode is such a particular nightmare because it is when the men try with sweaty desperation to make a good first impression, and in doing so basically confirm that men are the worst — or at least these men are; it's no great surprise that they're still single. Though, of course, the real problem with these shows is that clearly nobody on the show is actually trying to meet someone they'll love forever. They just want to be famous and on the cover of Us Weekly. Look how well things worked out for suspected psychopath (suspected by me, at least) Jake Pavelka! So yeah, they're all there trying to appeal to Emily so they can stick around and they're all jostling and competing with one another because they're idiots, but they're also trying to get the cameras to like them because that's their real ticket to big, bold American success.
So they pull stunts of various cleverness as soon as they first lurch into frame. Basically the episode is Emily standing on the porch of a house and greeting the dudes one by one. They all have an opening shtick and say things like "Hi, the name's Charming. Prince Charming," while holding a clear shoe on a pillow. Or they surreally totter up dressed as an old grandma. Yeah that actually happened last night for some horrific reason. We were reminded at that moment, and at many others, why we choose to not regularly watch this program. It is so embarrassing to behold that we had to mute it at least ten times last night lest we suffer the mortification of whatever the idiot on screen just said. How do people watch this season after season??
That said, we might be hooked now? We just need to find out what happens with Kalon, the smooth playboy who showed up in a helicopter, much to the other dudes' displeasure (and secret awe). What will become of the well-coiffed skateboarder dude who has caught young Emily's eye? And what terrible beast will hatch from the enormous egg that another guy is carrying around as a sign of... something? (Something about taking care of things? Does he know this is not a health class assignment from a show set in the 1970s?) He says it's an ostrich egg, but as Game of Thrones has taught us, it could be something much more interesting. Really this is why we don't watch the first episode of this muck. Because then we're hooked and need to find out all the answers. We may give up halfway through the season, but for now we're committed. We've taken the plunge, we've said a vow, and it's sure not forever, but it's at least for right now.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.