ABC’s ‘The Bachelorette’ Season 19 Premiere Recap

On last night’s season premiere of The Bachelorette(s), viewers were made well aware of the show’s new gimmick. There are TWO (2) bachelorettes this time: Gabby Windey, a 31-year-old ICU nurse who was mercilessly dumped by Bachelor Clayton at the end of last season of The Bachelor, and Rachel Recchia, a 26-year-old flight instructor who was also mercilessly dumped by Bachelor Clayton at the end of the last Bachelor season. Since Gabby and Rachel were so tormented during their time as contestants, producers decided that they both deserved a chance to find love on their own terms. Watching last night’s episode, however, the “how is this actually going to work” terms of this particular arrangement were unclear. We know there are two bachelorettes — Gabby and Rachel said it multiple times, as did host Jesse Palmer (he’s back!). But what does that mean, exactly?

In the meandering, unfocused two-hour episode, we got more questions than answers. Host Jesse told the audience that it would be up to Gabby and Rachel to decide how to navigate their two-woman journey to find love. “So, two women dating one group of men: How’s that gonna work?” he asked the camera. “Which woman gets to date which guy? Who chooses? And what happens if both women fall in love with the same man? Honestly, I’m not really sure. But I am confident that Rachel and Gabby can figure it out.” Got it. Also, what?

“The most important thing,” Jesse non-informed us, “is the women come in with a plan of their own.”

But Gabby and Rachel did not have a plan of their own. As they chatted with each other by the pool at their new rented L.A. mansion — they are totally best friends now, by the way — they seemed to be waiting for someone to tell them what to do. “Hopefully I meet my husband, and hopefully it’s not the same one that Rachel wants,” Gabby said in her now-trademark deadpan.

When the women took a limo to the Bachelor mansion — the traditional dwelling that is separate from the one they are sleeping in — they still did not present host Jesse with a plan. Instead, they just did the classic limo introductions together, taking turns hugging all 32 male contestants. Gabby was dressed in a sparkly midnight-blue gown, and Rachel chose a sparkly silver number. Only one man got their names confused.

The rest of the contestants seemed … fine? Based on the footage shown last night, it appears that Gabby and Rachel only had time to talk to a handful of them. There was a magician named Roby, who happens to be Leelee Sobieski’s brother, though that was somehow not mentioned on-camera. There were also 24-year-old twins named Justin and Joey, who talked to Gabby and Rachel together in what became a painfully boring double date. Justin (or Joey?) wowed the ladies by explaining that he can recognize his brother from “across campus” (of course, they attended college together and know what the other looks like). Joey (or Justin?) revealed that they both work in medical advertising now, but for different companies. Cool!

By the end of the night, which in Bachelorette world means approximately 6 a.m., Gabby seemed to really like a 31-year-old personal trainer from Illinois named Mario. Despite not talking about much together, they kissed, and she gave him her first-impression rose. Rachel, meanwhile, gave her first-impression rose to Tino, a 27-year-old general contractor from Playa del Rey, California, who pulled up to the mansion in a forklift (one of the few gimmicky entrances this season). They made out on some stairs — famously a place where Rachel cried over Clayton last season — and now they’re probably going to get married. (In recent seasons of The Bachelorette, the guy who gets the first-impression rose is almost always the last man standing at the end.)

There’s also this guy named Erich, a 29-year-old real-estate analyst from New Jersey who has a mini-mullet that Gabby thinks is hot. The producers are clearly setting him up to be an early-season villain: He made out with Gabby on a couch, but then he flirted with Rachel and made it clear to anyone who would listen to him that he would be down to hook up with both of them. I’m sure that’s true of the other men, too, but most of them knew not to say it out loud.

Finally, after two hours of Gabby and Rachel wandering around the mansion, wondering what to do, host Jesse reappeared to kick off the Rose Ceremony. At this point, I thought we’d at least get some clarity on how the show is going to function this season: Would the men choose which bachelorette they wanted to date? Would Gabby and Rachel sit down together with a list and claim their favorites? Would they decide together who goes home? What if they disagree? But alas, the producers decided not to give us any answers this week. Instead, Gabby and Rachel sent the three biggest duds of the night home — the magician and the twins — and asked the rest of the men to stick around for another week, without explicitly handing out roses. Huh.

At least the above trailer for the upcoming season gave us a few clues about what’s going to happen. We definitely know that Gabby and Rachel are going to Paris. We know that they are going to make out with multiple men. And we know that they are going to cry a lot. But the rules of the game are still a mystery: In a clip from an upcoming Rose Ceremony, we see Rachel offer roses to three different men who reject her because they are interested in Gabby. Yikes. It seems that whatever “plan” the producers came up with has been designed to embarrass everyone involved. To find out the specifics of this humiliation, however, we’ll have to keep watching, which of course is the point.

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