Love’s a game and this year we’re playing. For the full rules and intellectual justification of The Verge Bachelor Fantasy League please see this explanatory post. For a little background on why this is poised to be the best-ever season of The Bachelor, see this essay by culture editor Chris Plante:
Kaitlyn Tiffany: To quote 11-time platinum artist Jason Derulo: “Everybody’s lookin’ for love, uh-oh!” And to quote Sporty Bear the Care Bear: “Hey there, sports fans!” The 21st season of The Bachelor and the first season of The Verge’s Bachelor fantasy league got underway last night and baby, I’m reeling. Romance is truly the future of sports, a gladiatorial showdown, aired live to millions of fans who don’t wear expensive replica jerseys but nonetheless identify by teams. Team Corrine. Team Rachel. Team Danielle M.
Thirty women showed up to audition for the part of Nick Viall’s wife — including an “aspiring dolphin trainer” who vowed to explain to Nick what dolphins are because “he would love them,” a 24-year-old heiress who still employs her childhood nanny, a woman Nick hooked up with one time at a wedding, a person riding a camel, and many, many beautiful and seemingly intelligent women. Nick doesn’t deserve this crew.
Lizzie Plaugic: Nick began last night with 30 potential women to date, which he whittled down to a mere 22 “girlfriends” as the sun came up and the tears fell down. It was a night of tough decisions for dear mumbly Nick, who was forced to imagine a woman who attempted to give him a rectal exam at first glance and a woman who said “everybody needs a good hump” twice in the span of two minutes. Key dramas of the night included: too many women wearing red dresses, whether Alexis the aspiring dolphin trainer knew the difference between a dolphin and a shark, and Nick’s hot body.
KT: Truly we’ll never know what the difference is between a dolphin and a shark, but Alexis’ unwillingness to discuss it was “a concern” for Nick.
As far as opening ceremonies for The Bachelor go, this one was pretty tame. Almost everyone seemed normal and lovely? I found myself wondering if terrible Nick was going to be the villain of his own season, as not many of these ladies looked primed to be. If this is your first time meeting Nick, here is a story: he once went on TV and asked his ex-girlfriend Bachelorette Andi Dorfman (with the glimmer of sociopathy in his eye) why she “made love” to him if she didn’t plan on marrying him. He later appeared on Bachelor in Paradise and spent much of the time encouraging his friend Wells to have sex with his virginal friend Ashley because it would make him “a national treasure.” Despite all that, I guess I do see what’s appealing about him: he’s objectively attractive and has a slight, mouth-full-of-cereal lisp that is very endearing. Plus he’s tortured and sad and you know, we’ve all seen Donnie Darko…
Nick’s general grossness has been cause for concern for a lot of Bachelor fans; and folks, it has also piqued the interest of non-fans. Last night, during the premiere of The Bachelor, a popular TV critic proclaimed that this show has caused “more damage to our public discourse than almost anything.” Interesting! I sort of wonder if this man has heard of the television program football, which is discussed fervently and consistently by five times as many people (though dropping) and rarely with the same level of self-awareness. It’s odd to me that men are allowed to enjoy dumb entertainment alongside their more highbrow pursuits and it’s assumed that they have the self-possession to know the difference, whereas dumb entertainment enjoyed primarily by women is regularly labeled the fall of civilization. Even when that entertainment provides, as my editor pointed out to me, a regular news peg for discussion of representation and sexual politics on TV. Anyway, sorry for ruining the discourse!
But this is why The Bachelor is our true sport of the future. Yes, it’s a grotesquery of public humiliation and fake intimacy. It’s also a damned fine conversation starter, and nobody is being slowly concussed to death. Plus women are allowed to play!
Nick might have had a night of tough decisions but The Verge’s fantasy league teams had a morning of much tougher ones. Let’s run through everyone’s first draft picks and assess their odds of fielding a winning team in the coming weeks.
LP: The Bachelor gods were smiling on The Verge’s space reporter Loren Grush this week, who had the advantage of first draft pick. She scooped up Rachel, the age-appropriate-for-Nick lawyer who likes to sing while vacuuming her well-decorated apartment. As the recipient of the first impression rose, and therefore the recipient of the first rose of the entire season, Rachel was an obvious draft choice. Apparently Loren, who is a cutthroat BFL (Bachelor fantasy league) competitor, also noticed that Rachel appears throughout the post-show “This season on The Bachelor…” roll. That’s pro-level strategy.
News editor Jake Kastrenakes, who does not and has never watched The Bachelor, set his drafting sights on Christen who is very excited to judge Nick by his book cover, or something to that effect. Everyone on this show has a good book cover, metaphorically speaking, so it’s a moot point, but good to recognize priorities nonetheless. Not to harsh Jake’s life decisions, but I can’t imagine Christen sticking around for much longer — she’s already gotten a bit of an unfair “weirdo” edit from the producers. Still, there’s hope she’ll throw a Hail Mary, and rack up a sizeable point pile for some kind of meltdown or medical emergency.
I chose Liz as my first draft pick, and not because we share different iterations of the same name. Liz is a doula from Las Vegas who had the enticing misfortune of previously sleeping with Nick at the wedding of former Bachelor contestants Jade and Tanner. Nick seems truly disgusted that Liz refused to contact him after their coitus, but some might argue that disgust is just as powerful as love, and that’s what I’m banking on here. Liz is not a long-term pick, but she is a crash-and-burn pick — hopefully one that will get me some sweet, sweet bad behavior points.
KT: The Verge’s copy editor Kara Verlaney used her first pick to nab up neonatal intensive care nurse Danielle M., who already shares deep intimacies with Nick because they are both from Wisconsin. Kara also explained that “soft-spoken women always go far.” Personally, I think Danielle M. had the best red dress of the 45 red dresses. She’s a good long-run pick, someone who had enough screen time and pleasant early interactions with the Bachelor to imply that ABC is invested in her and wants you to like her. Our culture editor Chris Plante, the Bachelor expert and self-proclaimed reigning fantasy champ, picked special education teacher Vanessa as his first draft. Vanessa is from Montreal and speaks both French and Italian, and additionally is gorgeous. After Nick met her he said “Definitely a keeper.” Chris Plante is getting his gambling advice from the Bachelor himself, which is not a bad strategy. In the special “this season on The Bachelor...” extended spoiler trailer at the end of the episode, we see Vanessa in a parka — that means she gets to leave the mansion and go on one of the “destination” trips reserved generally for the cream of the crop. It could even hint she makes it to the final three, as we know the last destination this year will be Finland.
My first pick was Corrine, who so far seems incredibly cruel. She was the first person to make out with Nick, doing so even though he said it made him uncomfortable. The moment forced me to physically hurl myself off of the couch. In her introductory segment, Corrine asks her “nanny” to bring her some cucumbers to snack on, then yells at her dad who is also her business partner. Mean girls might not be inspirational but they sure do know how to win points — we haven’t started keeping score yet because we wanted everyone to get drafted with a clean slate, but I imagine I’ll get a regular “can I steal you away?” boost from Corrine.
Overall, we’ve got a lot of experienced spectators who are poised to become competitive players in the game of love. We also have Jake, who I’m sure will do fine. Tune in next week: we’ll be watching people behave badly in the pursuit of lifelong companionship and affection and we don’t really care who it offends.
Chris Plante: Vanessa, Raven, Jaimi
Jake Kastrenakes: Christen, Josephine, Dominique
Kaitlyn Tiffany: Corrine, Hailey, Alexis
Kara Verlaney: Danielle M., Danielle L., Whitney
Lizzie Plaugic: Liz, Taylor, Jasmine G.
Loren Grush: Rachel, Kristina, Sarah