Well, well, well it's that time of year again. A time for The Bachelor's detritus to get a second chance at love AND contracting herpes. Tonight, Ashley Hebert, the charming UPenn dental student with a relentlessly bubbly personality, transforms from Bachelor Brad's trash to a Bachelorette on the prowl. Like a phoenix from the flame, or a recycled 40-ounce bottle of Olde English 800. As you are well aware, Daniel recapped The Bachelor, so I was able to spare my dwindling brain cells (The Voice takes a toll, yo) the indignity of Bachelor Brad and his Barbies.
In preparation for tonight's episode of The Bachelorette, I took the "How Well Do You Know Ashley?" quiz on ABC.com. A sampling: What was Ashley's hair color last season? A flirty blonde of course! (Which she has dyed to a dead serious marrying-type brunette for this solemn season.) What was Ashley's first date with Brad? A private carnival! What is Ashley's favorite type of flower? ROSES, duh. Wait, no? Orchids? WTF? Why is she even on this show? She obviously doesn't have her heart in the game. No wonder Brad didn't choose her. At the end of the harrowing quiz (they had a boxing glove pop out of the computer and punch you in the face every time you got a wrong answer) I scored a whopping 50%. So there are an equal number of things I know (hair color) and things I don't know, for example, Ashley's greatest fear, which is not raging STDs, but heights. One thing I do know for sure is that tonight, Ashley Hebert is going to find love. Or die trying.* (*Not really. Sadly.) She will have to wade through a Whitman's Sampler of some two dozen greasy bohunks, schlubs, dorks, frat boys, salesmen of varying degree of success, realtors, IT guys with questionable social skills, stand up comics, and god knows what other types of damaged men the producers can dig up to entertain the audience or excite the Bachelorette, and maybe a few who will do both simultaneously. Also, she will have to stomach pretending to be a pal and a confidante of Chris Harrison. Oh the horror. And so it begins.
As the era of Ashley's reign as The Bachelorette kicks off, we are reminded of the long, winding and alcohol-addled (what WAS that green thing she was drinking in the hot tub? A virgin's life spirit with a dash of Four Loko?) road she took with Brad. Then he dumped her in South Africa, but alone, away from the riff raff, because Brad is one classy dude. As she sobs in the land rover as she leaves her almost true love behind, we start to emote and remember that we heart Ashley big time. And if we don't, the producers will make us, by trotting out more tears and more hard luck tales and maybe make us spend more time in her mom's double wide up in Maine until we feel something dammit. Worst case? They'll punch a kitten until we cry. Don't underestimate these people!
Back in the U.S. of A (where love grows like a Round Up resistant weed), Ashley tells us that she is ready for love. She loves the life she has built and she is finally ready to share it with another -- perhaps someone with a less prominent jaw than Brad. As she dances on stage in her underwear (I'm thinking this is part of the 50% of things I don't know about Ashley) she reminds us that she is a dental student and she loves her life and, apparently, interpretative dancing in her underwear in an abandoned auditorium. It's very Blade Runner, but I'm guessing that's not what the producers were going for. Then Ashley fake dies (reboots?) on stage and tells us that as she was recovering from her broken heart, she threw herself into her work as a dentist who wears adorable scrubs, and into leading a Jazzercise class (??) in her spare time, and then doing the obligatory A-fighter-lives-in-Philly Rocky run up the stairs in a grey sweat suit (tighter and perkier than Stallone's, if you can imagine such a thing) and then punching the air. I am exhausted after that last sentence. Ashley, however, is ready to rumble. For love.
Ashley walks barefoot on the beach in Los Angeles showing off how spry, enthusiastic, and athletic she is. She is thrilled to be back on the West Coast trolling for love and sporting a newly brunette 'do. She promises not to let her insecurities get the best of her this time. She will tackle them down and smash them into nonexistence. I wonder, is she bringing her own therapist like Brad?
Chris Harrison rolls out of the pneumatic tube that brings him from the Cryogenic Center for Reality Show Hosts where ABC stores him during the increasingly short off-season. He strolls on to the driveway of the Bachelor Bungalow and reminds us that Ashley is ready to find love. But first she must run the gauntlet of man meat. Let's meet some of the contenders for her heart now, shall we? We shall. First up is Ryan P., a sad case who apparently doesn't own a shirt. He owns a solar energy company and soaks up the sun's rays through his skin. He needs love. Also a shirt.
Next is J.P. (no relation?) who works in construction management in New York City. I don't know what that is either, but he uses a pencil, so it must be kinda old timey. He also shops for wine at the farmer's market, so he must be both rich and not actually interested in good wine.
Following in J.P.'s footsteps is Ames. And when I tell you that you want to punch Ames in the face the second you meet him, BELIEVE ME. Ames is just one of those people. For example, when telling us that he went to Yale for undergrad, he does not think you are smart enough to know that Yale is in Connecticut. So he tells you. Then he got two masters from Columbia and a doctorate from Harvard. Want to punch him in the babymaker yet? OF COURSE YOU DO. Now sit on your hand so you don't sock your TV in the nose, because when I tell you the next bit you're going to want to: He's a portfolio manager. Yes, he's a finance guy, who has run 39 marathons, including ultra-marathons. And he wonders why he's single. Go marry a marathon and roll around in money, you schmuck! I hate you! I hate you!
Like a breath of fresh air comes Ben C., a musician and lawyer from New Orleans who lives life with hope and love. Next is Ben F. (no relation?) who is a winemaker in Sonoma. Holy shit, you guys, if Ashley marries him, she gets FREE WINE FOR LIFE. Marry him! Also, he has a dead dad, which is tragic, but also means he is going to be in the finals.
Next is a man tragically named Bentley who is a divorced father to an adorable two-year old girl tragically named Cozy. Why do you hate babies, Bentley? Why? Next up is Anthony, a fourth generation butcher from New Jersey, who is clearly there more for our entertainment and his 15 minutes of fame than for Ashley's vision quest. It's a little sad.
Or you think it is sad until a minute later when you meet West. Oh, West. He is a kindly lawyer from South Carolina, a younger Matlock perhaps. But, you see, West has a great love. His dead wife. Will Ashley ever be able to compete with the ghost of his true love who he found dead in the bathtub after an unfortunately timed seizure? And if she can't compete with the ghost of love lost, will she ever be able to break up with West on national television? What if she makes him cry? Will the nation rise against the woman who made this poor sad lonely man cry?
Next is William, a cell phone salesman from Ohio, who has had about as much luck in love as he is having a faulty umbrella in a windstorm. In his favor, William has a hard-luck back story, not just in love, but in his family life, too. His father was an alcoholic who died on the same day as William's watch. He could buy a new watch, but not a new father. The tragedies are just piling up on this show! I guess after the success of Emily, who won Brad's heart after her rich raceca