Cheers to the hottest man in America!
The Bachelor is back, and with it, our greatest joy. Once again, it's time to walk the thin line between snarkin' it up at the expense of a bunch of love-starved fame-mongers and genuinely caring about a group of beautiful people on TV.
In that vein, tonight's premiere couldn't have been more perfect. It was a delicate balance of crazy and sweet, with the sweet mostly coming from Ben himself, who reacted to every curveball with adorable, small-town confusion.
The night started with Ben taking us on a little hometown tour of Warsaw, Indiana in an effort to emphasize the small-town values that are very important to him. He may live in Denver, but his heart lives in Warsaw or something.
As Ben walked through a field of tall grass, presumably on the way to his parents' house, he reflected on his past rejection, and how much that sucked. His parents helped him believe in love again, and their advice was followed by a little Bachelor pow-wow with Sean Lowe, Jason Mesnick, and still-a-bachelor Chris Soules, whose main advice involved kissing everyone.
"Two of them are married," Ben said as proof that these dudes will be helpful to him. "One of them broke up with his perfectly bird voiced fiancée after only a few months, but he's cool I guess," he didn't say. But we felt him thinking it.
Anyway, let's get to the ladies. In intro packages, we met a young mom, a chicken enthusiast, and a young woman who seemingly broke up with her boyfriend just after seeing Ben on TV.
Unfortunately, this was as much of Chicken Enthusiast Tiara we were going to get. She didn't last the night, but she'll last forever in our hearts as we continue to wonder if she has a real job that does not involve chickens named Sheila. Plus, no one can ever take away the image of Tiara surveying her framed portraits of chickens, chickens, Ben, and chickens.
We also met Samantha, who managed to effortlessly segue into a story about the death of her father when she was 13, which was sad, but out of place after we just met Tiara the Chicken Enthusiast.
Finally, limo arrivals! First to emerge was one of the Laurens, who brought Ben a pair of wings to represent her job as a flight attendant. She was quickly followed by Caila, who took a running start and jumped into a startled Ben's arms to make puns about catching things.
Another memorable entrance came from Lace, whose name is Lace, and who had Ben close his eyes so she could steal a kiss. And when we say steal, we mean steal. Ben was clearly thrown off and we started wondering what happened if a guy tried that on The Bachelorette.
Up next was Lauren R., who immediately started listing things she had learned from stalking Ben on social media, which is definitely the way to impress a person upon your first meeting. She was followed by Shushanna, who didn't utter a word of English in her introduction, and then Leah, who bent over and hiked a football so she could also make puns about catching.
JoJo arrived in a unicorn mask, Mandi showed up with a giant flower on her head and a dirty joke to go with it, Maegan brought a horse, and twins Emily and Haley showed up talking in unison while Rachel flew in on one of those blasted not-a-hoverboards.
Jackie brought an actual save the date card with its own hashtag (#tohigginsandtohold), and Olivia clearly swept him off his feet with nothing more than her "drawn on" dimples.
Once all of the girls were finally inside, Ben proved he does not know the geography of Texas and has good enough teeth to satisfy Flower Head Dentist Mandi in an actual dental exam while Jubilee revealed that she was more nervous about meeting him than she was heading to Afghanistan for actual war.
That's around when Lace began expressing her greatest fear in the world: That Ben would forget about her. She didn't quite comprehend that he was trying to tell her not to try and kiss him anymore as he smoothly explained that this was not the night for physical communication.
Ben also had to be introduced to Becca and Amber. He didn't know that the former Bachelor contestants would be coming, and pretty much all he could do was sit there in awe. We did sort of wonder if he even watched Chris Soules' season closely enough to remember who Becca and Amber were, but if he didn't know, he disguised his actual confusion with a much more mild kind of bewilderment.
Becca and Amber were really just kind of there, but the other girls were not thrilled to see them. They were threatened by their Bachelor experience, by Becca's virginity, by their faces?
"You only get one chance at this!" they all kept saying in different but similarly bitter ways, because they were all realizing the same thing we were realizing: that Becca and Ben are kind of great for each other.
Lace, who was particularly upset about the arrival of the virginal Becca, was pretty sure the first impression rose was hers. Crazypants Mandi was pretty sure herself was the first impression rose, but but in the end, that illustrious honor went to Olivia: gorgeous, composed, yet adorably nervous in a romcom kind of way Olivia, who probably did deserve it based on the fact that her limo arrival was not a cringeworthy mess.
Finally, it was time for Ben to hand out the roses. Both Lauren B's took the first two, and Lauren H. got one too. Unfortunately, Lauren R.'s social media stalking was not quite successful, so she went home empty handed, meaning Team Lauren is one down.
The twins made it through, along with non-English-speaking Shushanna, football girl, and war vet Jubilee.
Somehow, despite the fact that Lace and Mandi spent the evening whining and drunkenly interrupting everything while bitching about everyone else in the room, they both got roses! What a strange and unexpected turn of events on this television show!
Anyway, the night ended with Chris Harrison flirting with a horse and a gigantic three-minute preview of the season to come. It was filled with surprises like crying, kissing, whining about how hard it is to love a man who other women also love, while Ben just stood around by himself a lot and looked distraught.
Honestly, it could have just shown Ben and 20 women sitting around on couches not speaking to each other and we'd be excited. We're in for the long haul at this point no matter what, so bring it on, clever editors of ABC.
Vote in our poll below to tell us what you thought of Ben, and don't forget to keep track of your scores in our Bachelor Fantasy League! We'll be updating the gallery below each week with each woman's scores.
The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.