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ABC’s The Bachelor resumed Monday with a new prize, Ben Flajnik, and 25 potential future wives vying — and, in some cases, hysterically sobbing — for his attention.
If you tuned into The Bachelorette last season, you’ll remember Flajnik as the sensitive Sonoma Valley winemaker whose proposal was rejected by Ashley Hebert in the finale. (She picked East Coast constructrion manager J.P. Rosenbaum instead. They’re still together.)
Months after that televised rejection, Flajnik professed a newfound desire to fall in love again — and on camera, naturally.
“I’m a better more complete person because of it,” Flajnik told host Chris Harrison of his Hebert-inflicted heartbreak. “I’m still mssing ‘that person.’ … I know what I’m looking for, and I’m ready to start again. I’m ready to find that person. I’m ready to find love.”
But as viewers of this Mike Fleiss-produced dating franchise knows, singling out that special soulmate is often secondary to the drama which ensues during the course of a season — and fuels an off-camera cottage industry of tabloid gossip. Sure, we want Flajnik to meet The One; but it’s equally, if not more, fun to watch what happens when desperado women stop being polite and start getting real.
On that note, behold Monday’s 10 most ridiculous moments, courtesy of some of the most equally ridiculous contestants (warning: spoiler alerts ahead):
1. New York City-based relationship blogger Jenna Burke, 27, appeared to have some sort of nervous breakdown while meeting Flajnik and her competitors. She acted hostile toward 33-year-old dental consultant Monica for appearing not to take the game seriously enough, sniping: “You feel nothing? Nothing?… If I didn’t have the slightest attraction to him, I would be gone. I would be onto something else. What keeps you here?” When Monica laughed in her face, she went Black Swan and locked herself in a room ahead of the rose ceremony, wailing: “People here are awful. They’re mean people. .. I gave EVERYTHING!” In the end, she won a rose, against Flajnik’s better judgment. Because this show is not rigged at all.
2. Brittney, a 26-year-old medical sales rep for Colorado, proved to be the smartest contestant in the history of the franchise. Why? She played the Grandma Card. When Sheryl, 72, stepped out of the limo on crutches to introduce her granddaughter, telling Flajnik, “I watched your show all last season, and I fell madly in love with you,” Flajnik appeared visibly touched by her effort. (He later walked the elderly woman back to the car, transforming another ridiculous moment into a heart-tugging one. Shrewd move, Brittney.)
3. This quote from Courtney, a 28-year-old model from California: “I feel like I don’t need to worry about these other girls here. It’s kind of annoying. I’m better than them. I think I’ll just be patient and let them shoot themselves in the foot.”
4. This quote from blogger Jenna, whose website (“The Overanalyst“) crashed during the premiere due to apparent public interest, in response to rival Monica’s assertion that they let bygones be bygones and get along: “Maybe we can share a tampon some time?”
5. Monica ignoring Flajnik to flirt with Charlotte-based cocktail waitress, Blakely, 34, and whisper sweet, possibly staged nothings in her ear. “You’re in my life forever. I know this. … You know I need your number right?” she said, mid-cuddle on a couch.
6. Emily, a 27-year-old Ph.D student studying transmission of disease, showed her dorky colors right off the bat — and Flajnik seemed to like it. During their first encounter, she squirted Flajnik with hand sanitizer and spritzed breath spray in his mouth. Then she kissed him. Later Emily — we’ll call her Purell Girl — performed a personalized rap, with such lyrics as “heartbreak is a disease and nobody is immune.”
7. Dianna, 30, a giggly non-profit director from San Gabriel, Calif., sought to get Flajnik’s attention by blindfolding him and force-feeding him candy. (She made him guess what kind it was.)
8. There was a contestant named Amber Bacon, a 23-year-old labor and delivery nurse from Vancouver. Choice quote: “My friends call me the baconinator. Do you like bacon?”
9. The cleavage-baring green dress and skunky highlights sported by Shawn, 28, an otherwise pleasant-seeming Cincinnati financial officer. After meeting Flajnik, she playfully wacked him on the bicep. “I love a slug on the arm,” he said, drily. Despite his tepid response, whatever Shawn did worked: she scored a rose.
10: Everything that was teased this upcoming season: from a constestant’s seeming second thoughts about accepting Flajnik’s marriage proposal (not again!) to footage of him skinny-dipping with Courtney, the model. Also, it appears she will be the show’s new villain. “She’s like a black widow. She just sucks the life out of everything,” sniped one woman amid footage of Courtney.
At the end of Monday’s episode, Flajnik eliminated eight women; 17 remain in hopes of snagging that final rose, and the reality-TV man of their dreams. Besides Jenna, Shawn, Brittney, Courtney, Emily, Blakely and Monica, here are the rest of the rest: Jamie, 25, a registered nurse from Dryden, N.Y., Rachel, 27, a fashion sales rep from Massachusetts; Kacie B., 24, a Tennessee administrative assistant; Casey S., 26, a Kansas trading clerk; Erika, 23, a law student from Chicago; Nicki, 26, a Texas dental hygienist; Jennifer, 28, an Oklahoma accountant; Elyse, 24, a Chicago-based personal trainer; Samantha, 26, a Pittsburgh-based advertising account manager; and Newton, Mass., native Jaclyn, 27, another advertising account manager.
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