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'The Bachelor' recap: Ben wards off crazy women on first night

January 3, 2012 |  7:07 am

Ben Flajnik is the new Bachelor
“Is there ever a time when it’s not it is what it is? Or not it was what it was?”

These, my friends, are the words of one of the fine women ABC selected as a potential wife for new “Bachelor” Ben Flajnik.

As usual, the network has upped the crazy this season, giving Ben a whole slew of mentally unstable, well-endowed women to try to fall in love with. On the premiere episode Monday night, the biggest nut job to emerge was Jenna, a leathery-skinned blogger from New York, whose fine prose I have quoted above. (We tracked down her blog -- it’s called the Over-Analyst.)

Before she made it to the mansion, Jenna appeared to be at least somewhat sane. She seemed to fashion herself as a newfangled Carrie Bradshaw, spending hours in coffee shops with her laptop musing about love. But once she arrived on the show, she clearly indulged in the free libations and before you know it, she was taking issue with a fellow contestant, Monica.

I’m not entirely sure what their tiff was about -- and it seemed Monica wasn’t clear on the issue either, since she was too busy flirting with a fellow female contestant, Blakely. Monica tried to settle the scuffle with Jenna by telling her that they were both “girls,” here on the same noble quest to bed Ben.

“You’re a girl -- maybe we can share a tampon sometime?” Jenna said in retort.

Befuddled, Monica walked away. “I think if anyone talks about feminine products or douches,” she said, “you’re not classy.”

Yep. That happened.

Then Jenna began crying and locked herself in the bathroom and drunkenly mumbled to herself for like 20 minutes and was late for the rose ceremony but of course still got a rose because the producers make Ben keep crazy people around for a while to boost the ratings with suckers like us! And so another season is off to a great start, folks.

Before we get to the rest of the kooky ladies, let’s talk about the man of the hour here. I’m not over-the-moon about Ben, as he seems a little too enamored with his newfound fame. Still, he’s one of the better options we’ve had in recent seasons. He’s not as emotionally unstable or grating as Ashley Hebert, and he’s not as fake and stilted as Brad Womack. He seems like that dorky guy who graduates high school, gets cute over the summer, shows up to college, gets a lot of female attention and isn’t sure what to do with it. Except play “This Year’s Love” on a baby grand while wearing a deep V-neck tee.

The dude definitely has no game. He wasn’t doing much to comfort the girls who didn’t have a witty comment to make after getting out of the limo, greeting them mostly with awkward small talk. But still, I found that oddly endearing. I liked the weird comments he made under his breath after the girls walked away -- chuckling “That was funny” to himself after one girl cracked a joke, or remarking how “puh-reh-tey” one woman was.

As expected, the women used a variety of gimmicks to entice Ben. One gave him a sultry glance and walked by him into the house without saying a word. (That didn’t work, as she was later sent home.) Another brought her grandma, who was a huge fan of Ben during Ashley’s season. (That move infuriated the fellow contestants who thought the play gave the granddaughter a leg up -- which, of course, it did.) One rapped. Endlessly. For, like, a full minute. (I wanted to die.) And another rode in on a horse. (That definitely did the trick, as that woman, named Lindzi -- can any of these chicks spell their names normally?!?!! -- scored the first impression rose. It didn’t hurt that she was drop-dead gorg, resembling Tenley from seasons past.)

There were plenty of the usual archetypes. A single mother. The beautiful, bitchy girl. Something like three dental hygienists.

One of the latter, Nicki, emerged as one of my favorites. Ben’s type seems to be brunette, sweet and somewhat soft-spoken -- and Nicki fits the bill. Married at 21 and quickly divorced, she’s been through enough heartbreak to make her seem grounded. Another stand-out was Kacie B. (Only this show would have two Caseys and two Lindseys, none of whom spell their names traditionally.) While Kacie was a little too jazzed on Ben -- gushing about how “ca-yuuute” and perfect and sweet he was -- he took to the attention well. “You’re nicely bubbly,” he said, trying his best to think up a meaningful compliment.

Other girls who I think could make it far? Lindzi, the horse whisperer; Emily, the embarrassing rapper, and -- ugh -- Courtney, the mean, dumb model.

Who do you think will heal Ben’s wounded heart this season, “Bachelor” nation? Will he keep any blondes in his final three? Why does one of his ex-girlfriends show up? Which girl will faint? And how many helicopter rides will Ben go on?

I leave you to the comment section to address these all-important issues.


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-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Ben Flajnik shows up at the mansion to greet his potential fiancees. Credit: ABC