Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? Series-Premiere Recap: After the Final Rose

Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?

Moving On
Season 1 Episode 1
Editor’s Rating *****
Lauren Bushnell, Ben Higgins.
Lauren Bushnell, Ben Higgins. Photo: Melissa Jordan/Freeform

Have you ever seen a couple in the grocery store and just wondered, “Wow. What do those completely average, Kohl’s-wearing white people talk about at home?” Well, Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? is here to answer that question. Ben “Oatmeal” Higgins and his blushing bride, Lauren “Nickname TBD” Bushnell are back on our TV screens and back in our hearts and minds. The masterminds behind The Bachelor have determined that their foremost charisma-less Bachelor needed several more hours of exposure.

They’ve also decided to How to Get Away With Murder this episode, showing us a glimpse of Oatmeal and Lauren’s not-so-happy future as they wait to sit in the audience during JoJo’s “After the Final Rose” special. Lauren is understandably not excited to watch her former romantic rival gush about her new relationship. “This is not my idea of fun,” Lauren says. Then we flashback super-dramatically to ONE MONTH EARLIER to when she and Oatmeal were happy.

Lauren is living with Oatmeal in Denver and they’re having a great time grocery shopping for fresh fish and fruit, presumably for Lauren’s Whole30 cleanse. They’re stopped by a couple total strangers who were not placed in the grocery store by ABC executives to ask Oatmeal and Lauren if they’re really engaged and they just keep bringing up JoJo! Oh dear, how spontaneous and uncomfortable real life can be! Lauren doesn’t like being compared to another woman or being reminded that her fiancé was telling JoJo “I love you” as he was saying the same thing to her. Oh shit, this might actually be interesting. Oh wait, never mind, Oatmeal is just spinning around with the grocery cart to make Lauren laugh. I spoke too soon. Lauren also talks to him like he’s a child who doesn’t understand simple concepts.

Oatmeal also has a terrible new beard. His moustache doesn’t connect to the hair on his chin. It’s a travesty. Just like his baggy red polo. Some men just stop trying when they get coupled up, I guess. Oatmeal and Lauren entertain each other by terribly beat boxing and “rapping.” Who let white folks do this? Lauren rhymes the same word with itself about three times. This isn’t the only jokey-rap in the episode. I need answers and a drink. In the middle of their cipher, they get a call from a Bachelor producer who wants them to appear on JoJo’s AFR (After the Final Rose) episode. Oatmeal says yes and Lauren immediately says it’s a weird request because duh, it is. Thus the central conflict of the episode.

Lauren and Oatmeal binge-watch JoJo’s season to “catch up” on her life. The Bacheor(ette) might be the worst possible show to binge-watch. I guess if you have about 30 hours to spare and don’t want to contribute anything to the world, it’s a fine way to pass the time. Oatmeal and Lauren call out how every single guy on JoJo’s season has the same hair because they are us and it was really obvious. When JoJo starts talking about how Oatmeal hurt her, Oatmeal starts cringing and Lauren stares at the screen so hard it’s about to burst into flames.

Lauren goes out to lunch with the Twins who don’t order root-beer floats because they’re trying to be adults. They show Lauren headlines saying that Oatmeal is calling off the engagement. Checkov’s Reality Steve? Lauren has a particular version of vocal fry that makes everything she says sound like she’s being a little sarcastic so when the Twins ask how they’re doing, her response sounds a little off. Lauren says she just doesn’t want to be in the same room with JoJo and Oatmeal because she thinks that Oatmeal might still have feelings for JoJo or want to get back together.

Whoa. That’s not a great place to be in an engagement. It’s almost as if making people compete for one person’s love and affection can lead to insecure relationships. I’m just spitballing here.

Lauren pranks her beloved by filling an Oreo with toothpaste. I guess that’s fun. Lauren also reveals that she didn’t know street sweepers were real. How did that happen? What system failed her? I can’t possibly believe the sheer lack of knowledge on display. Plus, Oatmeal doesn’t know how to pronounce jalapeño or that cave people were smaller than people today. These folks dumb.

Lauren goes toilet shopping with the Twins for WAY too long and tries out a space toilet. The Twins also set themselves up for a real fun shot where they actually pull their pants down in the toilet store. Lauren also reveals that she crosses her legs on the toilet because femininity knows no bounds. #ChangeofThrones

JoJo calls Oatmeal and Lauren while they’re at dinner in a totally unscheduled, producer-free move and asks Oatmeal and Lauren out to dinner. Oatmeal doesn’t know why she would call him, but he’s excited to see where she’s at. Wrong move, buddy. Don’t tell your new boo-thang that you’re excited to see your old boo-thang when your new boo-thang clearly doesn’t want to see her. Also, why do we have to be friends with not only our exes but our new partners’ exes? I got enough friends. And ones that haven’t hooked up with my boyfriend in a hotel suite in Bali or whatever. There’s also a mariachi band who keeps interrupting Oatmeal when he’s trying to explain to Lauren that everything will be okay. Comedy by Freeform.

It’s finally the big day of AFR and Lauren is getting her makeup done and Oatmeal asks how she’s doing. She’s got a whole big bundle of nerves because it’s going to bring up all those negative feelings she had when Oatmeal told her about the JoJo Scenario. They have an awkward fight backstage before they go on because Lauren decided the best time to finally tell Oatmeal that she’s unhappy is two minutes before they head to their seats.

Oatmeal gives JoJo and Jordan some advice about life after The Bachelor. When he asks Lauren how it was, she answers, “Yeah,” and starts texting. That starts a fight every single couple has had: “You didn’t like it?” “I said ‘yeah,’” “But you were like ’yeah you didn’t say, “Yeah!!’” However, watching two people have it out in the audience of a television show where they’ve just been propped up as a great example of a relationship is pretty delicious (and sad). They’re short with each other in the car on the way to the JoJo lunch, too. Lauren says she doesn’t want to resent Oatmeal and he says that’s important to give the lunch a chance. Dude, why?

My two favorite moments from the “this season on” montage: Oatmeal saying, “Maybe we should slow this all down,” and Lauren replying, “Because I didn’t know you were allergic to coconut!” This is gonna be one hell of ride.

Ben & Lauren Recap: After the Final Rose