The Bachelor is back for the 20th time. That's hundreds of strange jobs, dozens of "I'm not here to make friends," and thousands of gallons of wine. This season's Bachelor, Ben Higgins, was a mere tween when the show began in 2002. The Bachelor is a true TV institution of women behaving weirdly. No other show has given us so many hours of beautiful women we had to look at through our fingers because we couldn't stand how uncomfortable they were making us.
That's why for this season, every Monday night after the show we're going to be ranking the most awkward moments from that night's episode. The premiere offered so many bad puns, misguided grabs for attention, and just general free-floating anxiety that it was hard to narrow it down to just nine. But we'll get to those in a minute.
First, though, a word on Ben Higgins, the perfect man. Ben was the third-place finisher on Season 11 of The Bachelorette, and he became a fan favorite by being super nice and thoughtful as well as All-American hot. In the intro section, we learn more about Ben. He's from the idyllic small town of Warsaw, Ind., where he was a high school quarterback. He's shown shooting hoops at a rim attached to the side of a barn like he's Larry Bird. He has a great relationship with his parents and wants a marriage like theirs. He confesses to feeling "unlovable," which is crazy, because I'm a little bit in love with him and I'm a straight man who doesn't even particularly like football. He's like Clark Kent. He even has that tall, dark, and handsome look. And he genuinely seems really nice and like he wants all the girls to be happy - just look at how he sought out Lace and made sure to finish their conversation after they were interrupted. But he's caught up in a maelstrom of lunacy. And so, without further ado, here are the nine most awkward moments of The Bachelor season 20 premiere.
9. Caila jumps into Ben's arms by way of introduction. Caila seems weird. She's performing very hard, like the whole world is a community theater production of Bye Bye Birdie. Of all the moments when she was trying too hard, none was harder than when she stepped out of the limo and jumped right into Ben's arms. He takes her leg to make sure he doesn't drop her and she's like, "Yes, thanks," as if he should have been standing with his arms open ready to catch her. Ben's a quarterback, not a wide receiver. It worked, though, because she got a rose.
8. Shushanna might not speak English? We don't learn anything about Shushanna except that she's a 27-year-old mathematician who lives in Salt Lake City, and she's from somewhere else. She speaks to Ben entirely in what sounds to me like Russian or Ukranian, but I can't say for certain because I don't speak those languages and the show doesn't tell us where she's from. After she goes inside, Ben says, "I'm either getting tired or losing my mind." She doesn't speak again for the rest of the episode, but she got a rose, so maybe next week we'll see if she and Ben can even have a conversation.
7. Joelle's unicorn mask. The most awkward part of Joelle a.k.a. Jojo getting out of the limo with a rubber unicorn mask over her face was that she couldn't see. The mask itself was a pretty effective way to make an impression, because she got a rose. It was also pretty awkward that she went inside and left Ben holding the mask. Maegan bringing the mini-horse was oddly not awkward at all, since the horse just hung out and gave everybody an animal to pet. It defused some of the tension. Nice job, Maegan. Still didn't earn her a rose, though.
6. Izzy's onesie and Breanne's baguettes. While most girls arrive wearing sexy formal dresses, Izzy went a different direction and showed up in footie pajamas. Her logic? "Because Ben's the onesie for me." This is the worst joke I've ever heard. And Breanne's a dietician who doesn't eat bread because carbs are Satan, but she brings along a picnic basket full of stale baguettes so she and Ben can "break bread" by smashing them on the curb, I guess? I know "breaking bread" is an expression, but is it a common one in the Bachelorverse? She made my head hurt. Their attempts to stand out backfired, as they both got sent home.
5. The twins. The way the twins speak in unison is truly unnerving. Serious Shining ghost girl vibes from these two. They seem nice enough, but their presence is so confusing. Someone asks "are you a package deal?" and apparently they are not, but doesn't that contradict the fantasy of dating identical twins that the show is presenting by having them on? The show will be cruel to these poor girls, and their sisterly love will be tested.
4. Lauren R. says she's been online stalking Ben. Yeesh. It's pretty normal to Google someone before a date, but it's another level entirely to give that person a report on all the ways you've been keeping tabs on them. Lauren R. seems like she could and would answer Ben's security questions to hack into his email account. Ben wasn't into it, and didn't give her a rose.
3. Mandi's flower hat, constant interrupting, and dental exam. Mandi the dentist from Portland seems to be this season's wild card. Some might call her quirky. Some might call her insane. She hops out of the limo wearing a giant flower on her head (and keeps an impressively straight face through the whole conversation - it's Ben who brings up the rosy elephant in the room). The other girls are annoyed by how weird the flower is and jealous that they didn't think of it. She aggressively interrupts Ben's introductory address to all the contestants to get him alone and give him a dental exam, complete with bib and mirror and pick. Later she interrupts again during Lace's conversation with Ben. Mandi should watch her back, because Lace might actually murder her. Lace is already demonstrating very low levels of reasonability, and I have a feeling we'll be seeing her in this countdown a lot. #50shadesofcrazy
2. Too many Laurens. There's Lauren B., Lauren H., Lauren R., Lauren "LB", and Laura. I mean, come on. That's too much Laur.
1. Tiara, the chicken enthusiast. When the Bachelor contestants were announced last month, the standout job was "chicken enthusiast." What, we all asked, is a chicken enthusiast? Well, we found out it's a person who loves chickens waaaaaaay too much. Like she has a framed picture of a chicken on her dresser (next to a framed photo of Ben...hmmm). Like she's never been away from her chickens for longer than 10 days. Like her favorite chicken lives in the house with her AND SHE KISSES IT!
You're going to get salmonella, Tiara!
Ben sent her home apparently before he even found out she's a chicken-kisser. He dodged a bullet on that one.
In the end, Olivia got the first impression rose, and Breanne, Tiara, Maegan, Lauren R., Izzy, Laura, and Jessica were sent home.
We're back in Bachelortown, baby. This is going to be a fun season.