The Bachelor Premiere Recap: What’s Ben’s Thing?

The Bachelor

Week 1
Season 20 Episode 1
Editor’s Rating 4 stars

The Bachelor

Week 1
Season 20 Episode 1
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
From left: Jami Letain and Ben Higgins. Photo: Rick Rowell/ABC

It’s that time of year again, to watch hair extensions on top of Bebe mannequins fall in love with a man with a boring job just because he was emotionally vulnerable on TV once. We are officially back, Bachelor Nation! It’s season 20.

Ben “Sexy Seth MacFarlane” Higgins is our Bachelor, and he is looking for a self-esteem boost … er … I mean, love. When Ben was announced as the Bachelor, I wondered what his thing would be. What was his hook?  He was just kinda nice to some kids once, but he wasn’t really a standout on Kaitlyn’s season. He wasn’t a jealous nightmare, so I guess he had that going for him, but I was left wondering: What’s his narrative?

Ben thinks he’s unlovable. Ben has low self-esteem, and he’s kissed as many people as he can until one makes him think he’s worthy of something. Ben thinks that finding a wife will complete him and make him “the perfect guy.” (1) Yikes. (2) This is a recipe for an amazing season: a Bachelor who thinks he’s unworthy of every woman in the room and is willing to impress them as much as they are going to try to impress him.

But if I could allow my raging misandrist side to take over for one second, I’m also praying for all of the women to collectively see through the illusion that is Ben Higgins and realize he’s the emotional equivalent of two third-graders stacked on each other’s shoulders in a tuxedo.

Before Ben heads to the Bachelor mansion, he has to make a few stops. First up: Warsaw, Indiana, his hometown. Ben thinks his hometown “is America to me.” Y’all, Warsaw went from being 70 percent white in 2000 to over 89 percent white in 2010. Warsaw is Trump’s America. The citizens of Warsaw celebrate being the only state in the union where white men’s basketball dreams can come true by making Ben the grand wizar— um … grand marshal in the homecoming parade.

Ben visits his parents, and Ben’s dad describes his over-30-year marriage to Ben’s mother as “pretty cool.” Ben also visits with three former Bachelors, Chris Soules, Jason Mesnick, and Sean Lowe. Jason and Sean both married the women they wooed on The Bachelor, and Chris … Chris wants to talk about kissing all the girlies!

There was also a baffling McDonald’s commercial where Ben has to choose between lunch and breakfast, and visions of Bachelors and Bachelorettes past haunt him. I can’t wait for the McDonald’s tie-ins all season. I hope Ben and one of the ladytestants have to share a McFlurry at intermission at the Vienna Opera on a one-on-one date.

SPEAKING OF LADYTESTANTS, let’s get to them. There are like 14 Laurens. How am I supposed to keep all these Laurens straight? I need to print out a Carrie Mathison–style wall chart complete with yarn arrows to keep all these damn Laurens in order. There’s Lauren B., the flight attendant who is SOOOOOO SINGLE. If only she were living in 1965, she’d still have the most glamorous job in America. Now she’s just a babysitter and (hopefully) a squasher of anti-Muslim sentiment in the skies. There’s Lauren R., the math teacher who shows up drunk and tells Ben she stalked him online. I went out with someone three weeks ago who Googled me before our date, saw I wrote these recaps, and ordered an extra whiskey before I arrived at the bar because I was, and I quote his words, “a published author,” and that made him nervous. So I get Lauren R., and I’m into it. There’s Lauren H., who gave him the bouquet she caught at a wedding as a portent for their relationship. There’s LAURA, an Emma Stone–Megan Hilty hybrid who insists her friends call her “Red Velvet” and has an inferiority complex about the other women. Maybe she is a good match for Ben. And finally, Lauren B., or LB, who says about three words this episode.

Okay, so there’s five Lauren/Lauras, and that’s way too many.

There’s Caila, who broke up with her boyfriend whom she met through a serendipitous encounter when she saw Ben on TV. Caila has a lot of nerve calling Lace crazy later in this episode.

There’s Lace. Oh, bless her. In a sea of Nashville stunt doubles, Lace stands out as an unstable, drunk, needy hot girl who demands constant attention. She’s Shae to Ben’s Tyrion. I’m looking forward to when she testifies in the Red Keep against Ben for a crime he was framed for, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Mandi is your standard Instagram hipster-weirdo who artfully curates her quirks to be attractive to men and alienate other women. Amanda is a single mother who hasn’t dated in two years and teaches her daughters to call out Ben’s name. Tiara is a chicken enthusiast. Sam has a tragic parental backstory. EVERYBODY DRINK.

Jubilee is flawless. Jubilee shines bright like a diamond. Jubilee can kill you with her thighs and her attitude. She’s tough, sweet, and DAT ASS THO.

Then there’s the twins: Who cares what their names are, they certainly aren’t presenting themselves as two individuals but a packaged fantasy. They’re adults who talk in unison and dress alike. Are they in a cartoon? And can we talk about the whole “twin fantasy”? The twins keep going on about how no man could turn down twins and they’re a whole lot of double trouble. We all know why twins are a male fantasy, right? Because they get to bang both of them? Right? Like … that’s the whole thing about twins: sexy incest. This feels like some weird Austin Powers running gag. Pass.

Shushanna doesn’t speak English the entire episode, so that’s a thing that’s happening. Jojo is not the pop-R&B singer-songwriter of the same name, so I’m not really interested, but she wore a unicorn head, so that’s another thing that’s happening. Mandi wears another ceremonial headdress from the white-girl tribe — the headband with a big flower on it.

Maegan brings a mini horse. I, for one, am not amused by this mini-horse business. I’m worried about that horse. That horse wants to go home and eat some oats. No one will be laughing when that horse eats Mandi’s giant rose thinking it’s real and eats most of her hair and scalp off her head. It’s all fun and games until a mini horse accidentally scalps a dentist.

After the ladytestants have all arrived and delivered their weak puns and Save the Date cards and declared gluten the devil (an actual thing that happened), it’s time for the cockt— HOLD UP, WAIT? Who is strolling up to the mansion? It’s Becca and Amber. The Bachelor has become so obsessed with recycling their ladytestants and contesticles that they’ve become that weird family in your neighborhood that saves their urine in a barrel to balance the pH of their hemp garden. Not that Becca and Amber are urine, per se …

Time for the cocktail party. Caila tells Ben that the romantic thing they have in common is that they’re both in software sales. Girl. Olivia tells Ben that she gave up her anchor job to come on The Bachelor. NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING. And Lace tries to seduce Ben into kissing her again, and throws a fit when he says no. Bless this woman. I’ll marry her if Ben doesn’t.

The mini horse stares into a mirror, asking himself, “How did you get here? Remember running in the wild? Feeling the wind in your mane? And now you’re surrounded by producers manipulating the emotions of vulnerable men and women. God, how great was UnREAL?” That mini horse is going through a lot emotionally right now.

Ben gives Olivia the first-impression rose, because what’s more appealing than a woman who will give up her livelihood to be with him?


Lace thinks Ben isn’t looking her in the eyes. If you don’t love Lace, you’re a fool who doesn’t understand joy.

It’s time for the Rose Ceremony. Ben is all shaken up by the prospect of doing the very thing he came here to do.

Lauren B., LB, Caila, Amber, Jami, Jennifer, Her Honorable Fierceness Jubilee, Amanda, Jojo, Leah, Rachel, Samantha, Jackie, Haley & Emily, Shushanna (I don’t think Ben speaks Russian), Lauren H., Mandi, [EYE ROLL] and Lace.

Unsatisfied with only a fraction of Ben’s attention, Lace takes Ben aside to tell him that he didn’t look at her enough. Ben asks her, “The issue is that I didn’t make eye contact with you during the Rose Ceremony?” YES, BEN, I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU EVEN HAD TO ASK.

Lace is our queen now. We will either thrive under her rule or die by her hand.

The Bachelor Premiere Recap: What’s Ben’s Thing?