A Bachelor in a strange land, and in a stranger (but awesome) post-show

Ben-Higgins-Bachelor-Contestants-2016

Sean Lowe’s heir apparent, Ben Higgins mildly tolerates 28 beautiful women.

The Bachelor has returned for its twentieth season, and the new Bachelor is long-suffering Bachelor host, Chris Harrison.

NOPE. IN YOUR DREAMS.

(But please, everyone, hashtag the hell out of #ChrisHarrisonForBachelor. I swear, ABC is missing out on a ratings galore. If I were running for president, #ChrisHarrisonForBachelor would definitely be my main political platform.)

The new Bachelor is actually the remarkably half-fratty, half-puppy (depending on the angle, I suppose) former Bachelorette contestant, Ben Higgins. Ben is an Indiana native who currently lives in Denver, loves the outdoors, and is a software business analyst. So totally normal guy! As evidenced by his LinkedIn profile, he appears to have some confusion over the proper use of semicolons and commas, which is another normal problem that normal people tend to have.

I’d personally consider that a dealbreaker, but 28 girls disagree. There are 28 girls who are willing to disregard the fact that Ben does not how to properly punctuate, and I must say, the oversight is completely understandable. Because this guy is a sweetheart, despite all the weirdos that the Bachelor producers managed to attract this season.

Ben had to deal with professional Las Vegas twins (as they were coming out of the limo, Ben said, “Group hug?”); Lace, the crazy-ass villain this season who is an IRL unsympathetic Mary Crawley; a “Chicken enthusiast”; an “Unemployed” woman (who is not weird, but she is also “Unemployed,” so what is the story there?); a woman who arrived with a giant-ass flower on her head; a woman who brought her horse with her; a woman who hiked a football just so she could show her ass (creative!); a woman who left her news anchor job to be on this fucking show; and a woman who broke up with her boyfriend to date this guy on television.

Yeah, like I said, crazy.

To be honest, though, I was pretty charmed by Ben, who called his parents to say good night after the limo arrivals were over. Ben’s sincerity really reminded me of Sean Lowe, who is probably the greatest Bachelor ever, mainly because he treated the women like human beings (gasp) and very clearly loved Catherine, and Catherine alone. Except Sean did put the women in life-threatening situations on the dates (e.g., sky diving, diving into freezing water, etc.) and the women felt pressured to participate. So except for the fact that Sean was sort of a sadist, he is probably the greatest Bachelor ever.

Surprisingly, though, the real fun didn’t start during The Bachelor. As far as this show goes, this season-starter seemed pretty typical.  The real fun started after The Bachelor, with a new four-week post-Bachelor show called, Bachelor Live.

“What the hell is Bachelor Live?” you may ask.

To paraphase Chris Harrison (#ChrisHarrisonForBachelor), Bachelor Live is a post-game show for The Bachelor so fans can call in and tweet to the show, and it exists so ABC has something to air before Castle comes back. But I hope Castle never comes back (as it shouldn’t, because your neighbor’s grandmother is the only person still watching that show) because BACHELOR LIVE IS AWESOME.

Chris Harrison introduces two guests to the show: Academy Award-winning screenwriter (and very cool Entertainment Weekly columnist), DIABLO CODY (of all people) and actress Lauren Lapkus. And they all proceed to play the Bachelor Live Fantasy Draft, which is apparently a real thing, using cardboard cutouts of the ladies. (You can also play the Bachelor fantasy draft using a kind of lame-looking PDF ABC officially created, even though I guess you can make your own cardboard cutouts, if you have the time.) The coolest thing about Chris, Diablo, and Lauren (I’ve decided we’re all on a first-name basis now) is that they watch the show like the rest of us: with guilt, with pleasure, with irony.

Then, just when you thought this show couldn’t get any better, Academy Award-nominated actress ABIGAIL BRESLIN SKYPES INTO BACHELOR LIVE. Because she’s a huge fan, and had a few things to say to Ben–

–Ben, who is sitting RIGHT THERE IN THE HOT SEAT IN BACHELOR LIVE, just taking it from all these fans who think he’s adorable, but also acknowledge that he’s on a totally ridiculous show. And he definitely knows too, which kind of makes him all the more charming. Chris Harrison does compare Ben to Sean, hinting that Ben could be one of the greatest Bachelors ever, too. Plus, Ben and Sean seem to be tight, which is great to know.

At one point, Ben had to make space on the conveniently three-person couch for Kaitlyn, the Bachelorette who sent Ben home, and her fiance (from The Bachelorette), Shawn. It was sort of awkward! But kind of not, since the three best friends revealed that they had a few drunk Skype conversations already.

Bachelor Live felt like a amalgam of two very cool worlds: that ridiculous party that you couldn’t wait to tell your friends about because you couldn’t believe how Curb Your Enthusiasm it was, and that ridiculous party that you really wished you were invited to, and couldn’t even crash, because you’re physically unable to CLIMB INTO YOUR TELEVISION SCREEN.

But WAIT, as the show came to an end, Chris Harrison announced that next week’s guests will include former Bachelor Chris Soules (ugh) and, wait for it…

…THE ONE AND ONLY QUEEN KRIS JENNER.

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