Who will “win” this season of The Bachelor?

The Bachelor
Photo: ABC/Craig Sjodin

Even if it’s ostensibly about “dating” or “finding love,” ABC’s The Bachelor IIt’s essentially a competition that a group of about 30 people are all trying to win—though what “winning” means means something different to each person. Oh yes, they all say they are there to meet their true love and be with them forever, as if none of them have ever heard of statistics or bothered to Google the vast majority of couples who met on The Bachelor, and that is certainly true for some of them. But it is only “winning” if you have more heart than sense. The better way to win is to get close to the end, have The Bachelor break your heart in a dramatic way where it’s clear neither of you is the bad guy, and then you’ll be the star of the next season of The Bachelor.

However each person defines it, someone has to winand reality TV being what it is, the seed of who wins has to be planted in the very first episode – especially when we’re talking about The Bachelor, which will introduce all its participants in its first episode. So with the new season of The Bachelor starting this week and new Bachelor Zach Shallcross making his debut, let’s try to decide who could (or should) win.

First, what do we know about Zach Shallcross? He even says in the premiere episode that the most important things in the world to him are “football, family and frozen pizzas,” so we’re not dealing with someone who takes himself too seriously. He’s definitely a brother, but a bit on the wiser side. For example, if he had a choice between going to the gym or a puppet show, he might have to think about it a bit before finally choosing to exercise.

Of the 30 women introduced in the first episode, all vying to be the next Bachelorette (or “crush” or whatever), some completely missed the mark. A woman named Holland noticed that when Zach went on a date in Holland (as in Holland) when he was on The Bachelor, things didn’t work out there because he was “in the wrong Netherlands.” A nice grown-up joke, but Zach didn’t seem to appreciate the sex-positivity, and Holland ultimately went home without a rose.

Another poor introduction came from a woman named Gabi who proudly declared that she is from Vermont and that all people in Vermont drink maple syrup. She handed Zach a bottle and excitedly watched him take a sip, and then she did really offended as he seemed utterly disgusted by it. Yes, it’s syrup. It’s a spice! By the way, the maple syrup thing isn’t as sweet as you think it is, Vermont. Learn to be a little more embarrassed about it, like people in Wisconsin are about cheese.

Speaking of Wisconsin, a woman named Madison (she’s from North Dakota, but Madison is a town in Wisconsin) led to a lot of juicy reality TV drama early on as she repeatedly tried to intrude on Zach’s interactions with other women. But the show’s editing quickly turned her story into exploitative reality TV trash that everyone involved should be ashamed of (including the viewers!). She volunteered to go home before the actual rose ceremony, and the camera lingered on her for what felt like several minutes as she walked from Zach (after he rejected her) to a waiting van, crying the entire time. Who needs dignity? Isn’t reality TV fun?!

But two women in the premiere actually did really well: The first, Christina Mandrell, is the only one of the women who has a last name (Mandrell, as in The Mandrell Sisters, because even The Bachelor can’t escape nepo babies) and she made a point to check virtually every moment when the whole crew arrived at the famous Bachelor mansion. She doesn’t seem like a fascinatingly interesting person, but everyone — especially Zach Shallcross — came away knowing who she is and that her name is Christina Mandrell. It was actually kind of weird when Zach gave her a rose at the end of the episode and called her “Christina”. They didn’t put “Christina Mandrell” on every damn chyron so you could treat her like one normal personZach.

The Bachelor

The Bachelor
Photo: ABC/Craig Sjodin

The second front-runner put on a good show from the moment she was introduced in a pre-recorded intro video (which, it must be said, not everyone gets). Her name is Greer, and she was introduced to hanging out alone in a park, asking the cameraman if you’re supposed to open champagne by shaking it up, and then scaring the crap out of a nearby squirrel when the bottle exploded . She took a moment to meet a stranger’s dog and talked about herself in the third person. She is a cartoon character who is at least an interesting and definable personality.

When she arrived at the mansion, she explained to Zach that she lives in New York and brought him a cup of coffee “all the way from New York” – as if they don’t sell coffee anywhere else. It was a stupid gag, stating that he should use the caffeine so they can stay up late and get to know each other, but then she handed him the coffee cup and left. He must have had to figure out what to do with the cup after that! Even the maple syrup woman took the syrup away when she was done with her stupid bite.

Greer’s completely confused demeanor made her an instant favorite, but the only opinion that matters is Zach’s, and he actually agrees: given a chance to present one of the women with a first-hand rose that acts as a sort of Survivor Immunity Idol (the recipient is exempt from the rose ceremony and gets a free pass to next week), he chose to give it to Greer. And he didn’t even get to see the absurd champagne bottle behavior! He was just walking away from her coffee crush and the fact that she gave a wild speech about how she always wanted to live in Texas like he does.

A lot of people live in Texas, it’s really not that interesting, but for a football/family/frozen pizza guy like Zach? It might just be what it takes to “win” The Bachelor, or at least stick around long enough to make more of an impression. If Greer can keep up the quiet and crazy demeanor in the face of Christina Mandrell’s more in-your-face-ness, she could be—or at least should be—a lock to take home Bachelor crown (ie falling in “love” or being the star of a follow-up show).

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