Despite the new and predictably unpredictable cast of high-heeled characters that populate the world of The Bachelor every season, a few truths about the first night manage to stand up against the fickle pursuit of love on TV:
-There will be a premature kiss.
-There will be premature tears.
-There will be a final rose tonight.
-There will be puns.
Ah, yes: puns. The lingua franca between those who have nothing to say to each other—and yet, everything to say to each other—since the beginning of time (or puns). The clichéd instigator of many a-forced chuckle. The meat of the cheesy pick-up line which, while frowned upon in real life, finds currency in the craven desire of suitors desperate to distinguish themselves in the shameless visual medium of reality TV dating shows. The weapon of choice for those who dare to go big with the lowest hanging fruit—aka, those who would dare to go on The Bachelor.
Last night’s premiere, with former racecar driver and current adult real estate person, Arie Luyendyk Jr. as the show’s soft-spoken protagonist, proved no different. There were puns. And there were lots of them. As a means of recapping the first episode, I’ve ranked them here, from worst to best.
9. The Fraudulent Gratitude Rock Pun
Jessica, a very emotional 26-year-old television host, gives Arie what she claims is a “gratitude rock,” because she is so grateful to share this experience with him. Do not be fooled by this exchange: while it follows the predictable trajectory of a standard pun, it is not actually a pun. It’d be one thing if the rock was a gem, and she gave it to Arie and said “You’re a gem.” But there is no such thing as a “gratitude rock.” I’m fairly certain Jessica found that rock on the ground on the way to the limo and, desperate for any competitive edge, tricked herself into believing it contained or otherwise represented the feeling of gratitude. The only thing worse than using a cheesy pun is making up what you think is a cheesy pun and delivering it like it’s a cheesy pun, only to realize later that, wait a minute, what you said bore little semblance to a real cheesy pun, and—fuck, no, you couldn’t have—you just called a plain old rock a “gratitude rock.”
8. The Pit Stop Pun
Ali, in a failed attempt at adorable self-deprecation, lifts her armpits and asks Arie for a smell check. He reluctantly obliges. Then she says: “Was that not the best pit stop of your life?” This is a truly cringe-worthy pun, so painfully juvenile in its conception as to de-sexualize Ali in the eyes of her potential husband. It doesn’t even come close to passing the all-important tell-your-friends-how-you-met test: can Arie possibly imagine telling his boys that the first time he met his wife, she lifted your arms for him to smell her pits? Even Arie’s probably fake best friend and known cheeseball, Sean Lowe, couldn't handle that shit.
7. The Real Estate Pun
Caroline is a real estate agent; Arie is a real estate agent. Oh my god, wait: they’re both real estate agents! This must be love. Or, better yet, the basis for a great pun! Caroline, by way of introducing herself, explains her occupation. Then she says—and I’m paraphrasing—that she hopes that by the end of this, they’ll both be “off-the-market.” Safe play by a bachelorette whose mindset must’ve been: just don’t frickin’ lose this thing on the first night. Look for Caroline to slow play her relationship with Arie straight into a Paradise bid and an aborted handjob in a jacuzzi.
6. The Spice Pun
Marikh owns an Indian restaurant with her mother, she tells Arie, and hopes he’s ready for her “spice.” Interesting choice from Marikh here, to choose a play on “spice” versus the potentially sexier play on “hot” or “heat.” She earns points for not going with the most obvious Indian food pun; she loses points, however, for going with an Indian food pun at all.
5. The Heart Race Pun
Bibiana, who looks weirdly like a Bibiana, confesses that Arie makes her heart race, which is perhaps the most precise use of the belabored “race” pun in the entire episode. And there were a LOT of "race" puns.
4. The Little Weiner Pun
Tia is from the small town of Weiner, Arkansas. A casting scout must’ve seen this detail on her application and immediately started to foam at the mouth, thinking about all the wonderful punditry opportunities. Thankfully, Tia cashes in. She tells Arie where she’s from and presents him with a little plastic Weiner dog, saying, “I hope you don’t already have one of these.” To which Arie replies in the negative. This is a quality pun—a play on her town and hot dogs and her thinly veiled disdain of tiny cocks—not least because it makes Arie consider all the big-dicked guys Tia must’ve been with in the past. Way to put him on the ropes right out of the gate, Tia.
3. The Classic Car Pun
Bekah, whose age is mysteriously absent from her chyron, and who I think may in fact be an alien sent from a hostile planet to colonize Arie’s heart, rolls up in old school convertible, looking like a badass. She gets out and, with what seems like a perfectly rehearsed line, confesses that while she may be young, she can still appreciate something classic. This is actually a really good pun: sexy, smart, unexpected. I for one am suspicious of Bekah’s apparent intelligence, a trait that has little to no purpose on The Bachelor.
2. The “This is the most important race of my life” Pun
Arie declares this straight away in the show’s opening voice over, as he gets suited up in his racing attire. Of all the metaphors ABC has used to describe its protagonists’ journey to find love, this might actually be the most apt, in that it acknowledges both the speed and competitiveness upon which the show relies. Screw fairy tales. The Bachelor is a race to love—a test of who can get from A (not love) to B (everlasting love) faster than everyone else, complete with checkpoints (rose ceremonies), without crashing and going up in a blaze of runny mascara and emotional turmoil.
1. The Rose Bowl Pun
Last night, the college football Rose Bowl aired at the same time as The Bachelor—whose most prominent emblem is a rose. This is the universe’s pun. This is the best pun.