By Lori Acken
First of all, just let me say that you, Jillian Harris, are my kind of girl.
I didn’t catch enough of last season’s The Bachelor to get much of an impression of the freewheeling Canadian, whom — despite having what appears to be a nimble mind, open heart and giddy willingness to do any number of things that might mess up her hair and run her makeup and not involve the bedroom — might have forever gone down in Bachelor/ette history as the cheery chick with the goofy hot dog theory and mad hot-tub-lovin’ skills.
I am glad she did not.
Because having witnessed the tongue-firmly-in-cheek aplomb with which our Jillian sassed her way through that god awful obligatory G-rated Poster Queen Montage (scoring herself some kick-ass swimsuits and a date with a sweet purple vintage convertible in the process) topped off by her accessorizing her killer white frock o’ greeting with a ton of hearty COOL!’s, RIGHT ON!’s (my favorite phrase!) and the declaration that her favorite band is the uberuntrendy Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (mine, too, Jilli-girl! Mine, too! RIGHT ON!), I knew I had found me a Bachelorette at least I could love forever. No matter what the Beef du Season ultimately think about her.
And outside of a couple who had clearly come to the party to shill their manwares to a zillion TV viewers as much, if not more so, as the bachelorette herself (I’m talking you Billbro/Greg and Second Hand Kyle), they seemed to think about her a lot and ain’t afraid to let it render them completely daft.
See, unlike some other TV bloggers, I kinda prefer The Bachelorette’s inaugural teeming pile of manflesh — they who are not afraid to flex, break dance, kick bottles off their competition’s head, allow their competition to kick a bottle off their head, grab the girl and drag her from the competition meathead-caveman-in-a-suit-and-tie style, say “toe-jam” in their first interaction with the camera, and happily shout it out loud that they will punch whoever kisses the girl first — to The Bachelor‘s preening, hair-sprayed, Miss Congeniality en masse model-pile that is far too nerved up and stressed out to strip down to it’s emotional g-string at first blush.
Who smells them some testosterone?!! I do! I do!
Anyhow. After a little more 2-hour-ep filler that this time allowed us to ogle a few of Jillian’s potential suitors — from good-lookin’ good-providers like businessmen Kiptyn, business owners Mark and Juan, a pilot named Jake, and an oil man (yes, man) named Sacha to alpha caricatures Julien and Billbro/Greg to the New York melting pot that was teacher/break-dancer Mike, menschy lawyer Steve and the afore-mentioned, best-forgotten Kyle who wore what he hoped would be Michael’s effortless artiness about as fetchingly as that Members Only jacket he chose for Jillian’s first look at him. Urp!
And then it was time for Jillian to trade her car wash cut-offs for that dazzling white dress and welcome the five limos, each bearing five suitors apiece, that rolled up like first-class delivery trucks bearing so much Grade A Prime Hunk for her consumption.
And here’s where I first started getting a little girlie.
Because girlies with any amount of dating experience under their belts know That Look — that wide-eyed, wordless, there-you-are! pause that happens when Boy Looks At Girl or Girl Looks At Boy or Boy And Girl Look At Each Other and feel a twinge of possibility. And, babies, it was there a time or two … with Ken Doll perfect Kiptyn, pilot Jake, my favorite Juan and maybe a polished gentleman or two more whom I can’t remember. Because the vast majority of the guys used their guaranteed 90 seconds of fame to:
A) Just skip that whole get-to know-you-first thing — a la Bryan With A Y, who just scooped the poor gal up right then and there, or Brian With An I, who leered at Jill and hollered “Hot Tub Harris!” like a high school quarterback at the ten year reunion who was super-pleased to see that the girl who put out showed up unattached.
B) Get so utterly flummoxed that it was hard to argue who was most uncomfortable — the man or the audience. See also, Ohio Dave who grabbed Jill’s hands and then looked like he was struggling mightily not to barf on her. Or dear, stern, Yorkshire Simon who marched up with the formality of a Buckingham Palace guard and, with the unnecessary help of subtitles for those of us at home, informed Jill in a starched Brit accent that his mum had sent tea bags from England so after all this nonsense he thought they might skip the Cock-Of-The-Walk-Tail party and have a proper spot of English tea. “Cool!” Jilli crowed, leading me to suspect that the subtitles might have come in handy for someone after all.
And finally …
C) Exit the limo and stop moving only slightly to greet the girl in the dress while tailing their frat bros into the beer party. See also, a bunch of dudes whose names just didn’t stick, but my husband helpfully thinks might have included a Richard and a Robert? Or Bill.
And then it’s time to wade into the sea of lovers, which our woman does with a hearty, ”Cheers, guys! Right on!” before getting promptly swept away by Jake the pilot who has already noted that he would die to make her dreams come true and figures he may as well get to it.
Next up is Jesse who makes wine (and whom I don’t remember seeing at all until that moment) who earns points for non-threatening creativity by pulling open his button-down Clark Kent style and displaying not a superman logo but an ”Aspiring Canadian” t-shirt, maple leaf and all. Before Tanner F. — for not long from now we will learn that there is also a Tanner P. and I will silently salute The Bad News Bears for a baby-name run about 30 years back — can make any progress at all, Jill grabs the reigns and leads Kiptyn off for some one-on-one, setting in motion a little battle of the Man Montage Guys, including Second Hand Kyle’s turn to hog the cameras yet again — an opportunity he uses to draw permanent marker mustaches on his and Jillian’s index fingers so they can they can go all insta-Groucho just by making that little, finger under the nose, prevent-a-sneeze maneuver. And Jillian can spend the rest of the episode in a designer dress and a Sharpie mustache on her pointer.
Then it’s Bryan With A Y’s turn to cement his fate by following up an encore performance of “Hot Tub Harris” with the key information that he’s not much fond of other races or cultures or you know, like, New York City, until he is mercifully — at least for us viewers — shut down by a Brian-With-An-I schtick-stealing Mathue (his mama’s typo, not mine, gentle readers) who grabs little Jillian up in his arms so he won’t miss a word of what she wants in a man.
Levity returns in the form of singing Wes, dancing Michael and throw-down issuing Billbro/Greg who gets his fitness model ass handed to him on the makeshift dance floor as I start to get fidgety for the evening’s big surprise that everyone but Jill and Co. knows about. Namely, the Five More Guys.
I’ll admit, I expected the Five More Guys to be some sort of super-speciMens. Maybe famous guys … or Bachelors from seasons past … or rejected favorites. Or Jeremy. Or something. But they were just kinda Five More Guys including one with mother issues, one who had obviously worked on his Cliche-o-riffic opening line for months, and one with — unless it’s just the editing — a deeply creepy foot fetish he felt compelled to expound upon in his finest descriptive language.
With all thirty men in place — and less than a half hour to go — we learn that poor silent Ohio Dave rebounded into such a charming conversationalist that he earns himself the First Impression Rose — for what Jill calls an amazing second First Impression. COOL!
And then it’s time to cut the 29 remaining suitors down to 20, even though the Five Other Guys have barely finished their drink.
With a virtually identical — and pretty endearing — saucy tilt of her chin, Jillian the Infinitely Patient asks Jake the pilot, Jesse the wine guy, Wes the country singer, Mathue the country fan, Michael the breakdancer, Robert (good one, husband Rik!), Ed of the Five Other, Reed Whom I Can’t Recall, Simon Of Yorkshire, Ken Doll Kiptyn, Mike, Brian the scooper-upper not the Hot-Tub-Harris-er, Sacha the Oil Man, Julien the Macho Man, Tanner P. the Toe Man, Mark the Pizza Man, Brad (where’d he come from?), Tanner F. The Not-Toe-Tanner and — finally! — my beloved Juan if they will accept this rose. And they would. And they did … sending Second Hand Kyle, Menschy Steve, Billbro/Greg, a cute guy I think should have stuck around and a couple other dudes packing, so we can do it all over again next week.
All images © 2009 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.