They filed in, one by one: Men who warmly hugged Rachel Lindsay, The Bachelorette’s latest star; men who politely kissed her; men who were awkward; men who were charming; men who were in possession of jaws that were shockingly square. One of them, a singer-songwriter, strode across the perma-wet driveway of the Bachelor mansion playing a guitar and balladeering. Another came armed with a megaphone and a catchphrase (“Whaboom!”). Another came playing drums, accompanied by a full marching band. Another came dressed as a penguin (since, he explained, they “mate for life”). And one of the men, Adam, came with a dummy—a literal one, to be clear: a stuffed doll, about three feet tall, his facial features drawn on, his wig brown, his suit blue. His name? Adam Junior.
“AJ,” as the doll would soon be nicknamed by the show, its contestants, and its viewers, was meant to resemble Adam, a 27-year-old real-estate agent from Dallas and a guy who, in his pre-show questionnaire, described his favorite actor as Jennifer Lawrence (“because she is every girl’s goal”) and the most romantic gift he’d ever received as a threesome (“it was my birthday”).
While Adam, for the most part, blended in with the other square-jaws vying for Rachel’s heart, Adam Junior quickly became the Bachelorette premiere’s guest star—and, in that, he made a show that is known largely for its tongue-in-cheek take on “reality” more directly surreal than it has ever been before. The frozen-faced dummy got more air time than Adam, and indeed more than any of the human guys Rachel met. He got his own theme music (Gothic organs mixed with bomchikawahwah synths). And he got his own plot line, too: AJ, silently pining for Rachel. AJ, whose love is deep and pure and impossible. AJ, the Montague to Rachel’s Capulet, his feelings destined to remain unrequited on account of him being made of upholstery.