I have attended three of the last four College Football Playoff National Championship games, all featuring the University of Alabama. And I swear, even standing on the field with the Crimson Tide after they won, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the words “Roll Tide” as frequently as I did over the course of two hours during Monday night’s season premiere of The Bachelorette.
This season’s Bachelorette, Hannah, is a woman of few words. Two of the few words she does have are “roll” and “tide.” She’s a Tuscaloosa native and the former Miss Alabama USA, and seemingly every man has decided that the way to her heart is to hit her with her favorite phrase. (Not a bad strategy, to be fair.) Roll Tide is Alabama’s version of “Aloha”—it means “hello,” “goodbye,” “congratulations,” “sorry for your loss,” “bring a light jacket,” “can I have that without cilantro, please?,” and everything in between. On Monday night’s episode, it seemed to mean “I basically know only one thing about you, but still would like to have sex with you” for every guy who stepped out of a limo. They thought they had a little inside joke with her, but didn’t seem aware that the other 29 guys in the house had the same inside joke.
Hannah was an odd choice for The Bachelorette, for two main reasons. The first is her story line. While every other Bachelorette in the show’s history was a top-four finisher on a previous season of The Bachelor, Hannah finished seventh on Colton’s season. She was part of the entertainment before everybody started getting emotional—and normally, the show wants the new Bachelorette to be one of the people who got emotional. But the bigger reason is that … how do I put this… Hannah no do talk good. Hannah do talk bad! Her most infamous moment on The Bachelor came in her one-on-one date with Colton, when a simple request for a toast on her birthday turned her brain into mashed potatoes, as she struggled to find “words that sound good” and “words that are real.”
That said, I love the pick of Hannah for Bachelorette. Most leads on the Bachelor franchise tend to be blasé, even-keeled listeners who don’t stir up much trouble and provide a canvas for the colorful suitors to paint upon. Hannah will… not be that. She’s from the Michael Scott school of loudly starting sentences without being sure where they’re going, and hoping she finds it along the way. She was good in the premiere, and she’ll be a fun watch going forward. (Which is important, because my early read on the 30 men chasing her is that all of them are fairly dull. Hope that changes!)
Most Likely Plant: Scott
Hannah acquitted herself well on her first night—almost too well. One prominent accusation by Bachelor detractors is that some of the early contestants are actually actors planted by ABC with hopes of spicing up the first few episodes of the season. I don’t know whether this is true. When contestants are interviewed, they all seem to be real humans, and their foibles generally seem real too. Their over-the-top attempts at memehood can be explained by pretty standard 21st-century self-promotion; their over-the-top ridiculousness can be explained by the free-flowing booze; their over-the-top dickishness can be explained by … well, the fact that some of them are probably dicks.
But if there are plants on this show, there’s never been a more useful one than Scott (who, notably, does not have any publicly known social media.) He stands out from all the attempted memes and drunks and dicks in that every one of his actions during the premiere was not only hilariiously stupid, but played perfectly into helping portray the best Hannah possible—one the world might not have expected after her strange stint with Colton. Let’s examine Scott’s screwups.
First up, Scott gets the chance to hit on Hannah. He rolls up on her like he’s vaguely heard that women are attracted to rich people but isn’t fully sure how rich people act. He tells her that he enjoys luxury and repeatedly mentions that he lives in “a high-rise,” but doesn’t really elaborate, which leads me to believe he lives in some sort of 32-story walk-up. I suspect somebody who actually hits on women by bragging about how rich they are would, I don’t know, be better at it? His attempts were so aimless and nonspecific. If Scott was an actor trying to establish himself as a douche within 15 seconds, he would’ve said exactly what he said.
Next, Scott’s jig is hoisted skyward when it is revealed he has a girlfriend back home, whom he messaged as recently as the first day of filming with plans to continue dating if he gets kicked off the show. This is pretty standard early-season Bachelorette fare—last year, a contestant was accused of having an active girlfriend on the first episode; two years ago, DeMario’s supposed girlfriend actually showed up in the second episode. But the derivation of Scott’s girlfriend news was odd; this time, two contestants from last year, Demi and Katie, showed up with the hot gossip. Either Demi and Katie should consider a career in private investigation, or the show’s producers fed them the scoop. (Or, IDK, this is all fake.)
But Scott gets the opportunity to defend himself… and, oddly, doesn’t. Most men in his scenario deny such allegations categorically, up to and including the point where they are confronted face-to-face by witnesses to their skeeziness. But when Hannah questions Scott, he almost instantly fesses up, in spite of the fact that she has no evidence. (Objection! “My friends said they saw a screenshot” is hearsay.) In fact, he tries to justify his behavior, explaining that he wanted to keep his options open in case he was kicked off the show, pointing out that Hannah was recently on The Bachelor trying to date another guy as well. This argument is so logically sound that I refuse to believe anybody would be dumb enough to make it.
But the thing that most convinces me that Scott might not be a real person is the way he cued up his Bachelorette to make a big splash. This is Hannah, who struggles with prompts such as “make a toast!” and “how does it feel to be The Bachelorette?” And yet confronted on her big night with a chance to make a decision, Hannah didn’t falter. Without missing a beat, she told off Scott, then explained her decision and how it changed her expectations of the group at large going forward. Her convictions were clear; her words were real words, words that sounded good.
Scott quickly revealed himself as materialistic and skeezy—not unprecedented by any means. But normally, materialistic skeezeballs go to great lengths to defend themselves. Instead, Scott gracefully laid his head down on the tee so Hannah could smack him into next week. It’s quite convenient that, in just one episode, Hannah could find someone perfectly suited to help her erase criticisms. Instead of looking dumbfounded and cowed by even the simplest of tasks, she stepped up as a confident ass-kicker willing to put a weak man in his place. In the show’s parlance, Scott is a classic example of a contestant “not there for the right reasons.” But somehow, he managed to be there for all The Bachelorette’s right reasons.
Biggest Loser: Gags of Any Sort
The past few years of Bachelordom have seen increasingly desperate opening-night gags as contestants seek to catch the eye of the person they’re pursuing (or at least become famous enough to either get invited onto Bachelor in Paradise or sell weird products on Instagram). The weird thing about jokes is they become less funny the more you tell them, and Wacky Bachelor Entrances have long been developing serious Paul Blart Mall Cop 7: Miami vibes. My jaw failed to drop last season when Sloth Girl became the 37th contestant to walk in wearing an animal costume.
Hannah’s men generally eschewed the wacky. Nobody came in riding an animal or dressed up in a costume, or was escorted by a famous R&B group. In fact, there were only three entrances that I think really qualify as Wacky Bachelor Entrances.
The first was Ryan, who came in on roller blades—you know, because “Roll Tide.” The second was Joe—the self-proclaimed Box King of Chicago. Joe, whose job, I guess, is selling boxes—who came out in a box and proceeded to spew off several cringe-puns about being “the complete package” and “checking all the boxes.” (Please never confuse Box King Joe, who was irritating at every turn, with Grocery Store Joe, last season’s heavily accented Italian guy from Chicago named Joe, who was incredibly charming and a saint.) Third was Matt Donald, who for some reason decided to bypass mentioning the fact that his deaf family bonds over Alabama football. Instead, he chose to ride onto the set on a tractor and sing a version of “Old McDonald Had a Farm” where he swapped in his name, Matt Donald. He then proceeded to wear a farmer’s hat for most of the evening, hiding his genuinely nice haircut.
And guess what? All three dudes got sent home. On a night when six of 30 guys were eliminated, 100 percent of guys who did stupid gags were eliminated. The thing about drawing a lot of attention to yourself is that it’s a good thing only if you don’t suck. If you suck, you’re just drawing a lot of attention to the fact that you suck. I highly recommend that guys who suck chill and hope to coast by on the outskirts without anybody noticing—but alas, one symptom of being a guy who sucks is that you may lack the self-awareness to execute this.
Hopefully this decimation cuts down on future Wacky Bachelor Gags. And hey, Joe—maybe next time try thinking outside the box.
Greatest Drama: Chasen’s Dogfight Loss
We all universally understand that “pilot” is one of the top-five sexiest jobs a guy can have. I get it. I spend my plane rides nervously pounding complimentary Diet Cokes and convincing myself that routine engine noises mean the plane is going down. Meanwhile, pilots pop on the mic with a calm “this is your captain speaking” to let us know that they’ve got this 175,000-pound metal tube hurtling through the air at 500 miles per hour completely under control. I’m also pretty sure that in addition to the countless hours of certification pilots have to pass, there’s some sort of test ensuring that pilots are all 8s or higher. The Bachelor knows this. Just a few years ago, pilot Jake Pavelka was the Bachelor, and you better believe the promo material featured him in his pilot uniform. (The season was marketed as The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love.)
So commercial pilot Chasen assumed he had everything wrapped up when he walked on the set. “I’m a pilot,” he told Hannah with a smile, expecting her clothes to instantly evaporate at the mere mention of commercial aviation. He handed her a paper airplane, a move I get the sense he’s pulled on swooning travelers five hundred times before in airport hotel bars. “My favorite part of my job is takeoff, and our relationship’s about to take off.” (I never thought about pilots as having favorite parts of their job. I assume “taxiing” is in dead last.)
If only his favorite part of his job was sticking the landing. Because shortly after entering the house, Chasen realized he was not the only pilot in the room, and Peter, the other pilot, was flying circles around him. Peter showed up in full pilot’s uniform and handed Hannah the wings off of his lapel. Chasen walked away from Hannah with a snide “women love a man in uniform,” thinking he had this thing in the bag. But when Peter walked away from Hannah, she actually said, “I love a man in uniform!” (Side note: I kinda thought this was a thing people said about, like, military members, and not just people who wear uniforms as part of their job? Do people say this about pro athletes? Train conductors? UPS employees?)
I had hoped Peter-vs.-Chasen would develop into a budding season-long rivalry. I mainly hoped this because I am extremely passionate about pilot rivalries. I mean, I know of exactly one pilot rivalry (Maverick vs. Iceman, Top Gun) and it ABSOLUTELY RULES, so I was kinda hoping this could be a repeat. But alas, the highway of this season of The Bachelorette does not lead to the Danger Zone. While Peter flew through the first rose ceremony, Chasen was one of the unlucky few eliminated. Within a few minutes, Hannah could tell that Chasen wasn’t even the better of the two pilots at her disposal, and, well, she’s not in a position to keep the second best at anything. Note to any future pilot hopefuls: lead with “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.”
Worst Branding Move: John Paul Jones
One of the contestants this season is John Paul Jones, who explains that his friends call him John Paul Jones and says that Hannah can also call him John Paul Jones. The Bachelorette played into this by listing his job title as “John Paul Jones,” which I presume means “investment banker.” JPJ—you don’t mind if I call him JPJ, right?—truly seems to relish the ridiculous formality of his Neapolitan cake of a name, which really suits him, because he looks like he came out of the womb in a pair of baby Sperrys, referring to the nurse who delivered him as “the help.”
The one problem with building your brand around being named John Paul Jones is that there’s a line, buddy. The most famous John Paul Jones is the Revolutionary War captain, often considered the first U.S. naval hero, who famously responded, “I have not yet begun to fight!” when the British proposed he surrender. The second-most-famous John Paul Jones is the bassist from Led Zeppelin. One of the four members of the greatest rock band of all time—YES, I AM BURYING THIS EARNEST MUSIC TAKE DEEP IN MY BACHELORETTE RECAP–and he’s not even the consensus no. 1 John Paul Jones. The third-most-famous John Paul Jones is the guy who donated enough money to get the arena where the University of Virginia’s national champion basketball team plays named after him. To be honest, I had always assumed the arena was named after the Revolutionary War guy until I started writing this paragraph and learned it was not. That’s how stacked the John Paul Jones name competition is: You can have arena-naming money, and people will still assume it’s named after a more famous John Paul Jones.
Quite frankly, Bachelorette JPJ is out of his damn league. At best, he’s looking at becoming the fourth-most famous JPJ of all time, and I’m not sure he can even swing that. As a guy who also regularly loses SEO battles to an important colonial-era guy, I strongly urge JPJ to give it up.