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'The Bachelorette' recap: Ashley fails to perk our interest

May 24, 2011 | 12:01 am

Ashley Just hours before the premiere of the new season of "The Bachelorette" on Monday, news broke that the couple who ended up together last season, Brad Womack and Emily Maynard, are officially done.

That's right. I know it's shocking, but yet another another twosome to come out of "The Bachelor" franchise have gone kaput. Maynard has reportedly returned the engagement ring she received from Womack back to ABC, apparently signaling her belief that there is no hope for the pair to make it to the altar.

Not an altogether positive note to start off Ashley Hebert's quest for love. We saw the 26-year-old -- rejected by Womack last season due to her constant insecurities -- get introduced to a slew of men at the infamous mansion on Monday's episode. There was the drunk guy: Tim, who got so wasted he passed out and had to be shown to the door. There was the weird guy: Jeff, who insisted on wearing a mask in an attempt to get Ashley to see beyond his looks. And there was the jerky guy: Bentley, who in interviews was open about the fact that he'd rather have been competing for the blonde Maynard's affection.

In true "Bachelorette" fashion, of course, the latter two of those guys didn't even get kicked off immediately -- after all, there's plenty of time left for them to stir up drama. Especially Bentley, who it seems plays a majorly evil role this season. Even before showing up, Ashley had heard bad things about the dude -- apparently, a former show participant called her to let her know that he was only coming on the show to promote his business -- which, oddly enough, is running a "family fun center?" He doesn't seem to talk much about his business, though he repeatedly says that he's "not attracted" to Ashley whatsoever, and he could "care less" about her feelings. Ashley is shown having a major emotional breakdown at the end of the season, which we're led to believe is incited by Bentley's callousness. But those "Bachelor" producers have been known to be tricky in the past, so I'm not so sure that he's the one causing her mascara tears.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. To be honest, I'm finding the prospect of even making it that far into the season troublesome. The moment it was announced that Ashley was going to be the star of the show this season, I cringed. While some might find her perky, outgoing shtick endearing, last season with Womack, I just found her grating. And she didn't do much to change my mind tonight. The opening scenes of her dancing on an empty stage and sporting her scrubs at dental school were fine. But the subsequent high-pitched cackle that followed -- an attempt to convey her endless effervescence -- was painful. She constantly spoke about her desire to go through the new season with "no regrets," beating us over the head with the repetitive mantra. She made an...interesting...initial fashion choice, assuming the guys wouldn't notice a bulky microphone pack showing through the back of her skintight sequined dress. And when the topic of cupcakes came up in conversation with one of the contestants, she actually said that she wants her husband to refer to her as a "cupcake" after they get married. What type of person wants their spouse to call them a pastry? I cannot.

But since I have been dealt Ashley this season, I must deal with the situation accordingly. So let's talk about the guys I don't hate. There's Ben F., a winemaker slash internet marketer who divides his time between Sonoma and San Diego. While not the most handsome of the bunch -- although he does have good hair -- Ben seemed the most authentic, offering up a casual toast with his own wine upon meeting Ashley. Then there's Ben C., who's from New Orleans and could recite some pretty sexy French because his dad was from the country. As far as gimmicks went, Ben C's wasn't bad -- while other guys were talking to Ashley during the cocktail hour, he held up signs through a window asking for a moment of her time. On a scale of horrible "Bachelorette" cheesiness, his move was tolerable, if not somewhat cute. There's also William, a "cellular phone salesman." Sure, it's a lame job, but his goofiness set him apart from the otherwise stiff group of guys. Throughout the night, he offered up decent impressions of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sean Connery, proving he was one of the few good-looking dudes with a semblance of a personality. Finally, I wasn't opposed to J.P., a guy in construction management who shops at the farmer's market and is over the New York dating scene. He wasn't a huge stand-out, but he seemed more genuine than a lot of the other guys in the competition.

But the preview for the rest of the season shows a few guys sticking around who I was not an early fan of. What's up with Ames, the Brendan Fraser lookalike with impeccably ironed shirts and a preppy demeanor? His uptight nature doesn't seem to jibe with Ashley's loose energy. Lucas, a Texan "oilfield equipment distributor" whose back story we didn't even get to see on Monday, also seems to get far.

In any case, I'm sure his interest in Ashley will outlast mine.

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Forget flashcards! Watch reality TV and get into college

--Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Ashley Hebert is "The Bachelorette." Credit: ABC.

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