We enter on a road. Winding, deserted, it plunges deep into a dark and hazy wood. We race through, the darkness getting darker, and a dank chill takes over the air. After several minutes we have reached a clearing — a tall and creaky mansion. In the air, you hear faint giggles: a curious juxtaposition to the sadness that feels the air around.
This is the story of curious female and part-time manic pixie dream cartoon, Emily Maynard. Single mom to daughter Ricki, she was won and then lost by the rogue fizzy-lifting-drink maker Brad Womack. A mysterious sprite, she was the dream of every dude from former Bachelorette Ashley Hebert’s season. Emily, of glittery blonde hair and world's most annoying voice, is a woman with a dream, though — and she's a single mom whose fiancé died in a sad, sad story, so we can't make fun of her and America must de facto love her. A Ms. Havisham of our time.
She's 26. She spoils her daughter with chocolate chips and pancakes because — ha ha! — she is a real, down-home Amurrican mom. But every night as she climbs up the stairs, she hears the creak in the steps and realizes she's alone in the house that racing built. Her castle of sadness and broken dreams. A house so sad that she cannot leave it, in fear that it will swallow her Ricki whole — or at least drain her of her childhood innocence and joy.
She thought she had found the answer in that dastardly Brad Womack. You see, he had previously proposed, but, in a shocking twist not seen on TV, their romance did not last. She's a simple, wistful girl: engaged twice, married never. But her good fortune lies in her ability to be super-logical. Third time's the charm, America! She will find love on this show or she will die trying to keep it alive. Being engaged is special. Lucky for our fair Emily, she is granted a guide for this epic quest: the noble Chris Harrison, here to navigate the murky waters of love.
NEXT: The quiet before the storm
Emily, leaving her precious diamond child Ricki at home, is nervous but sparkly. Her Bumpit is high and her worries are nigh. In this kingdom, we take a shot every time someone says tragic. We’re up to three 30 minutes in. It is going to be a good night.
Emily hears the dull hum of the approaching limousines and her heart begins to race as she feels a stirring deep within her — it warms her from her heart to her tiny, shaky wrists and ankles "Babies! A minivan full of babies!" she cries, clasping her hands to her chest, her fragile bones clanking from the force of her joy. Imagine — a future for her home at last; enough babies to keep her Ricki’s happiness safe from the house that eats happiness. She will need those babies.
Chris, ever the intuitive guide, tells her to reel that s**t in because while these dudes are "here for her," and definitely not for the cameras, it doesn't mean she should lead with her deep, dark secret.
The problem is — we’re not going to meet any princes, Emily. We're going to meet 25 DUDES. The dudiest dudes to ever dude. Let’s meet this stone cold pack of kinderbros, shall we?
- Kalon is from Houston, Texas, and you know is just a total douchebag from second one. He "used" to be a total player. Those two popped collars say otherwise though. Bro.
- Ryan is from Augusta Georgia and already is the clear frontrunner. He teaches kids and is a good Southern boy with a cute dog. He also gives her a semi-endearing sign when he gets there and she is smitten kitten over him. It’s almost as if he was… made… for Emily… curious.
- Tony is from Beaverton, Ore. He sells wood and is a dad, too! (I'm sensing a theme here.) He has a flesh-colored soul patch that he borrowed from the land of SpencerPrattia, so there’s not much we can do with him.
- Lerone is from Los Angeles. A family man with a very tiny dog that loves the s**t out of MILFs.
- David is our token singer-songwriter from NYC. OF COURSE. Walking the mean streets of Manha — OH NO NOT A SONG ABOUT EMILY THIS IS TERRIBLE PLEASE MAKE IT STOP. Secondhand Embarrassment is a first-hand killer.
- Charlie is from Nashville, and also another clear frontrunner. He was in an accident and almost died, you guys. He broke a bunch of s**t and had a brain injury — and only then realized he wanted a family. The one thing he really has going for him is that his dog freaking RULES. I have no idea how he’s going to leave that pooch, until I realize how much this head injury might be to his rational thought process; "I may have had a head injury but there's nothing wrong with my heart!” A thought that only a bitter ABC writer could craft.
- Next up is hipster Jef. NO F, because there wasn’t enough room for his pompadour and that letter "f." He’s from Salt Lake and is the CEO of a bottled water company that builds wells for impoverished communities around the world. Oh and he skateboards because that is what every mature professional adultperson does. And it is a genetic fact that ladies can’t help but love a man on a skateboard — they just roll right into your heart!
NEXT: Opening old wounds
- OH GOOD ANOTHER RACER CAR DRIVER. I mean… Arie! His name is Arie and he’s from Scottsdale, Ariz., because the producers of this show lost their souls long ago and like to bring pain and tears to national television. (Fair Emily, ever the optimist, is reminded of her long-lost love, hopes to find the ghost of her old fiancé in this man’s bucket seats.)
Next we have the actual dudes entering the scene. We’ll run through them listicle-style because 90 percent of them will be gone in 20 minutes anyway.
There’s Sean from Dallas, Doug from Seattle (another single dad!), glorious male-parody Jackson the fitness model (we’d play a drinking game every time he showed his abs if he made it past tonight), and Joe the exuberant professional yeller from Los Angeles. He probably visits oxygen bars and drinks a lot of wheat grass and went to the Chris Traeger School of Emotions.
There’s Kyle from Long Beach, who feels like a party DJ from the local bar mitzvah circuit, and Chris (aka Mr. SUPERRELIGIOUS) who is both blessed and praying to God, and I’m just uncomfortable at this point. Aaron is a biology teacher who is also from Long Beach (the production team really couldn’t be assed to look all that far outside of Los Angeles County, huh?) and he has hipster glasses and (it hurts to type this) CHEMISTRY with Emily. Alessandro is clearly the token stoner dad that’s apparently Brazilian. I’m not sure what he’s doing on this show, though, because didn’t Girls get picked up for a second season? You guys, HE IS A GRAIN MERCHANT. I can’t.
Next up we have Stevie from JERSEY. His actual profession is allegedly Party MC, and I am convinced that Hollywood is contractually obligated to only cast the worst of the worst New Jersey stereotypes on everything. I have a personal obsession with Stevie, though, because he looks like this kid I used to hate in college, so clearly I hope he falls into the pool. I'm glad he stays on because I want to see everyone hate him when he causes all sorts of weird obsessive drama that is completely of his own making.
Charlie is next and he is so completely inoffensive I have nothing else to add. We should also note at this point that Tony the lumber trader shows up and pulls out a glass slipper! Because girls only like Disney movies! Oh my cod, the cheese right now. This one really hurts my soul, though, because it’s actually a brilliant move, as Emily was stitched together from the facets of other Disney queens from the past.
Next comes OH NO a dude in granny drag. Randy is from Hermosa Beach and is totally going to Norman Bates the s**t out of Emily. Where’s Harrison?!
Some ghost named Nate walked past and disappated through the walls, so we have nothing to say here other than he is blonde.
Brent is the resident Old Balls and from Fresno. Also I am just realizing now that nearly ever dudebro on this show has Brent’s haircut. They must all go to the same Supercuts. Also he has six children because… I have no idea why. That is so many children.
Next is John, a.k.a. "Wolf," and he actually admits that this is a nickname and has people write it on the screen of a national televised program. He is very orange so I suppose he doesn’t know any better.
NEXT: Guard and protect your egg.
Okay, let’s just get right to it: eggs are the new masks, you guys! Actually, Travis just thought that Emily was actually a bird that could sit and then hatch the mutant ostrich monster baby that he created while lost in The Bush in Australia. It was a cold and lonely time, but that Ostrich — her name was Melinda — kept him warm. She looked into his soul. She was shot for steaks the next day. Emily, with her puckish demeanor and squawking voice was the obvious choice to bring his bird-monster-love-baby into the world. Of course all the dudes are like WTF, Ostrich egg? But Travis doesn’t care — he knows there’s a chance for him, and a life just waiting to horrify beneath that shell.
Next is Fabio, erm, Michael from Austin, Texas. He gives Emily a guitar pick and probably dandruff shoulder. After him struts Jean-Paul, a.k.a. baby John Mayer.
Alejandro rolls up speaking Español and is laying it on so thick that my eyes have gotten stuck in the back of my head from rolling.
And last and definitely the least is Kalon (what the hell is that name, even?), showing up in a helicopter to make sure that everyone hates him. Stevie hates him because he can’t deal with someone being more loud and obnoxious than him. I can’t wait to find out that Kalon has, like, 17 girlfriends at home. He's the game-player who clearly either has another girlfriend at home or wants to become an actor. Everyone hates him so much, I'm dying laughing.
Spoiler alert: the first impression rose is actually a horcrux of Brad Womack’s. Emily has hidden them throughout the season and the men must find them to prove themselves worthy enough of the quest to destroy him (which is actually what happens at the end of the season. Not a marriage proposal. Spoiler alert!).
Chris shows up for his one-on-one time with a pair of bobbleheads to represent the two of them. Emily turns them into Voodoo dolls and with the kiss of the bobbleheads, Chris is now bound by mystical forces to follow Emily on her quest to destroy The Womack.
JEF H8S MATERIAL THINGS, YOU GUYS. Except for his skateboard. And probably his iPad. And definitely his espresso machine (hand-pulled, none of that automated crap. Duh). He looks like an extra from the Arcade Fire.
Doug is a single dad just like 99 percent of these dudes, but this unique snowflake decided to forge a letter from his son Austin for Emily. This, of course, reheats the blood running within Emily’s veins. Babies! Children! Doug gets the first impression rose for this.
Stevie (that dude I hate) is in SALES (of course). He knows fakery, because salesmen are the world's most honest humans and can smell fakery a mile away. He makes sure to do nothing but obsessively talk about every move Kalon makes because that always goes so well for people on these shows. Go dance on some tables to LMFAO, dude.
Arie actually does the smart thing and tells Emily he's a race car driver like her dead fiancé. I’m sure the producers were waiting for some drama, but Emily — blinded by how well their features would combined to make genetically superior tiny humans — tells him it doesn’t matter.
NEXT: The rose ceremony
So the obvious ones get roses. Sent home are Lerone (even Emily finds your MILF obsession creepy, dude), David, Jackson The Fitness Model (OH NO! Devastated), Randy (duh, Emily is not trying to end up living in the Bates Motel), Baby John Mayer, and Brent. Brent being the biggest surprise as he already comes with a minivan of babies, so I’m not sure what Emily was thinking there. Look at all the babies she could’ve had automatically! So many babies. Oh well, next time (only maybe not because Brent starts crying saying he’s going to die alone because he’s Old Balls & has a small herd of children). Hang in there, bud.
I’m just glad Stevie made it through so I have someone to misplace all my anger on.
Emily whisks away towards her castle of tears and old engagements. She must check on fair Ricki. Make sure the house hasn’t eaten her soul yet. Not much longer now, dear house — and you will have your fill.
Follow Alicia on Twitter: @alicialutes
[Image Credit: ABC]