There are a lot of forgettable Bachelors, but Jake Pavelka, 38, is not one of them.
So it’s no wonder that producers for Monday night’s boozy Bachelorette premiere—the 12th season for the Sadie Hawkins spinoff—chose to include a maddening, if ultimately disappointing cameo from one of the most hated Bachelors of all time.
Pavelka, the 14th Bachelor, a square-jawed commercial airline pilot made famous for reducing his bride-to-be to tears on national television, was brought back to offer advice to this season’s Bachelorette, 25-year-old Texan Joelle “Jo Jo” Fletcher, whom he apparently knows through some Lone Star state connections.
Walking in curiously without “On the Wings of Love” playing over his entrance, Twitter collectively gasped, with long-time fans urging newer ones to never forget the shame that Pavelka had brought to the franchise. The two-dozen assembled 20-somethings vying for Jo Jo’s roses asked fair questions: “How old is that dude?” and “Is he still a bachelor?”
“I want love…” the pushing 40, reality show hanger-on tells her, “for you.”
He continued that she should follow her gut and her heart or somesuch. And that was the most dramatic thing we got for Jo Jo’s inaugural episode.
The rest was business as usual.
Jo Jo, the brunette real estate developer with the overbearing brothers, just couldn’t catch up with Lauren B. (one of four Laurens that season) in the race for Ben Higgins’ heart on last season’s Bachelor. But she became a fan favorite after Ben professed his love to both women in Jamaica—a first on the show—and before Ben could slam the limo door, ABC producers were likely framing Jo Jo’s Bachelorette run.
If the previews of next season can be believed—there are yachts, making out and popping corks, jumping off cliffs and outdoor hot tubs, fireworks and bro-fights with bloody knuckles—we are, as Jo Jo promised in her first rose ceremony toast, “in for a hell of a ride.” But because this is only the first night, and the ABC juggernaut is a series propelled by superlatives—Rose ceremonies are the “most dramatic ever,” finales are the “most shocking in Bachelor history,” and Bachelor fans are arguably the most loyal—we’ll offer her premiere a hyberbole, too.
It was the drunkest.
There were the usual gimmicks: one dude rode in on a unicorn, parroting Jo Jo’s unicorn-headed entrance on Ben’s season, a guy in a kilt made a racist penis joke at his own expense, someone named James Taylor played a guitar, and in a half-baked stratagem that was never really explained, a suitor wore a Santa suit roaring, “Jo, Jo, Jo” instead of “Ho, ho, ho.”
Then half of them got hammered.
“One fireball, two tequilas,” Canadian Daniel, who has apparently never watched the show, proudly slurs, describing his drinking plan for the all-night shoot. Santa lifts his beard to chug a beer. Someone is poking belly buttons.
“You never poke another man’s belly button,” a bro-hunk warns.
And then Daniel elects himself “that guy,” saying, “Anyone can look good in a suit, let’s see what you look like with nothing on,” before stripping to his underwear and jumping into the pool. He then stands around semi-nude, shamefully wrapping his hands around his tummy until the sun comes up and Jo Jo hands out some roses.
Surely at producers’ behest, Jo Jo takes those roses and mows right down the middle. Everyone normal and boring—some attractive, seemingly intelligent men with jobs—are out. They say their goodbyes on camera and we are painfully reminded that it is dawn, and left wondering how all of the drunk people are still standing.
Santa gets a rose. Drunk Daniel, whose big pickup line is, “Have you been following the Internet for the last couple of months?” gets a rose. And the former pastor who is somehow an owner of an erectile dysfunction clinic and won’t stop telling Jo Jo to “find her mojo” also gets to stay.
Likewise, the frontrunners have been clearly defined.
There is Chad, an asshole of galactic proportions who compliments Jo Jo in their first meeting by putting down other women who “aren’t confident,” he says. He’s at the mansion because he’s “emotionally and financially” ready to take the next step with a woman like Jo Jo. Chad says Bachelor Ben was a soft, supple man, but he is strong and has a beard. If the “this season on The Bachelorette” is to be believed, Chad will threaten to find other contestants after the show and kill them.
There’s Luke, the West Point grad and veteran, who came riding in on a horse wearing a unicorn, and gave Jo Jo cowboy boots. And Alex, a Marine—short in stature, tall in character—who steals Jo Jo away first and does a set of pushups with Jo Jo riding on his back. And Christian, a biracial telecommunications guy who wakes up at 3:30 (in the morning!) to work out and in his spare time takes care of his two brothers, will also stick around.
Then there is Jordan, the 27-year-old little brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who couldn’t get drafted into the NFL himself. There is already rumbling that hot stuff Jordan is “not here for the right reasons,” but he’s got that Bachelorette hair cut—short on the sides, blown dry, and swooped to the side—and is the hottest of the bunch, so either way, he’s here to stay.
Jo Jo’s quick attraction to Jordan might burn out, but given the paucity of men to choose from this season, it’s a relatively safe bet to imagine him at the end.
Jo Jo’s obvious thirst for Jordan calls to mind previous Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky’s advice to the new Queen Bee in the obligatory counseling scene of this episode. “The first night, figure out who you really like and ignore them for the first week,” Fedotowsky, whose own TV-relationship ended soon after the finale, tells her. “The first week, put them on the back burner.”
Instead Jo Jo made out with Jordan and gave him the first impression rose.