Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelor: Episode 1

The former contestant shares her take on the first episode of hottie farmer Chris Soules’ season (she was in the studio audience!)

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Bachelor Chris Soules pondering his romantic future…

I’ll admit I was not totally sold on Chris Soules as the Bachelor. I feared he was a little one-note to carry a season himself, and considering he got the “Bachelor” edit (otherwise known as a flattering edit) on Andi Dorfman’s season, that was worrisome. That said, and I know we’re only one episode in, I’m not unhappy with him so far. He’s obviously kind and a consummate gentleman; he’s rolling with the punches nicely. His ITMs are funnier than expected, whether on purpose or not, and I like that he’s a red-blooded dude through it all, not a neutered pretty boy. He ogles the girls but still comes off respectful. That’s a tough balance to find and it seems to come naturally to him.

I watched the episode with the live studio audience in Los Angeles after walking the “red carpet.” In some ways it was a premiere like any other: a bevy of striking girls under 30, fashion hits and misses, questionable drama (this time in the form of delayed limos), and the grand tradition of pummeling the girls with bubbly and then cruelly zooming in on their drunken antics. But in my opinion it was a more entertaining premiere than usual, because it really was all about the women. They were full of personality and there was a lot of airtime for the girls chatting with one another about topics other than Chris. This is rarer than it sounds. We don’t just sit around talking about the First Impression Rose or how hot the Bachelor is, but this is all that’s traditionally shown.

A whole 30 girls?! Oh my! Right out of the gate, my front-runners are…

Britt, 27: The obvious front-runner, even before she received the FIR. I was slightly concerned by the “free hugs” segment because it shows she’ll do whatever the producers tell her to, no matter how embarrassing, and her breathless, uncomfortably long limo exit hug was strange. She certainly doesn’t shy away from the limelight. Thankfully, she’s got star power and it’s therefore difficult not to like her. She’s beautiful, has amazing hair, and this might sound weird, but I like her voice. Seriously, pay attention to her speaking voice next week. It’s never too high or grating, just very pleasant.

Jade, 28: She’s obviously a pretty girl and seems sweet, but my reasons for choosing Jade are more research-based. First, Chris had a very strong reaction to her, gawking the way Juan Pablo did when he first met Andi, and they were sure to show it. Second, like Andi, she was very last out of the limos. This is a coveted spot and the limo exit order is never an accident.

Whitney, 29: It’s not so much that Whitney really stood out in terms of obvious airtime or sparks, but the fact that they didn’t skim over a second of her limo exit and that she was ever-present but not too present throughout the episode makes me think she’s not going anywhere. Above all, though, and my main reason: Chris specifically said he was “excited about her.”

Kaitlyn, 29: This season’s Kelly Travis, so obviously I’m a fan. But Chris clearly is as well. I personally believe men like funny girls, or at least girls they find funny. Kaitlyn is the class clown, surely, but the fact that Chris kept her around—and called her first, no less—after she’d made so many (hilarious) off-colour jokes says he gets her humour. Plus, she’s Canadian, so GO TEAM!

The Bachelor airs Mondays on OMNI. For more on this season of The Bachelor from Sharleen Joynt, visit her blog, All the Pretty Pandas.