FACE OFF: "Omigod, I totally gesticulate wildly when I'm embarrassing myself on TV, too!"
Even more disheartening to dear Ashley is the fact that a former contestant warned her that Bentley is coming on the show to "promote his job." While a sane person would think that piece of information was enough to send someone packing the first night, we're talking about the Bachelorette, folks -- telling her that Bentley wants to use and abuse her is like leaving an alcoholic alone with a six-pack, or Arnold Schwarzenegger alone with the maid. You know she's just not going to be able to resist. As she chirps to Harrison, "You have to give people a chance!" Actually, no, no you don't, sweetie.
Enough with the pre-game show -- it's time for Ashley to take her sparkly little self outside to meet 25 nearly indistinguishable white men! Those not deemed worthy enough for a hometown profile include Jon, an "E-Commerce executive" from Canada who thrills Ashley by throwing her over his shoulder like a Neanderthal with boundary issues. Little Lucas gives off a dorky vibe but Ashley thinks he smells good, so he's got that going for him. Mickey tries to stand out by pulling a Chantal and delivering something "from all the men in America" -- a kiss -- but Ashley's full body flinch makes it clear she would have preferred a slap. Tim, a "liquor distributor" from New York clearly needs a little liquid courage because he can barely get a word out. Some of the smoother gentlemen stand out for reasons that range from cute to cornball: Ben woos her with French, Stephen thrills her with his long greasy locks, Chris D. offers a rhyming couplet, and West provides a broken compass (stuck on the W, natch): "I hope that if you ever feel lost in this whole process that it'll help you find your way back to me."
Those dudes have nothing in the first impression department on Anthony the butcher, who does the full Alec Baldwin I'm a Handsome Actor turn-and-reveal before asking Ashley, "Are you nervous?" -- and somehow he makes it sound like a threat. Rob, by comparison, tells Ashley he has no crowns, Matt teaches her some kind of secret handshake, and then Jeff… Oh, Jeff. This guy apparently got lost on the way to the Mr. Personality auditions, because he arrives wearing a mask. "I wanted to take my face out of the game," he explains to the Bachelorette, "and have you learn a little bit about what's inside." Does he mean inside his basement, where he's holding some girl hostage whom he plans to turn into a woman suit?
Moving on, Frank is the second bachelor to manhandle Ashley, twirling her around in a forcible tango of sorts. Michael, whose job as a "technology salesman" could not be more vaguely defined, essentially tells Ashley he hates going to the dentist (maybe that's why they have such a high suicide rate), while Ryan P. arrives with a digital camera in hand and proceeds to snap photos of the Bachelorette like she's a wax figurine at Madame Tussaud's. Nick attempts to distract Ashley from his God-awful soul patch by reciting a wobbly poem: "As we embark on this journey/ to places unknown/ on group dates and home dates/ and times spent alone/ I make you the promise/ to be the perfect catch/ as long as you make the promise/ to eliminate everyone else in my stretch." Blake makes absolutely no impression, but at least he does not have a soul patch. (We later learn that he's the dentist Harrison alluded to earlier. Lucky Ashley!) The award for the Cutest Intro Gag of the Night goes to Constantine, who ties a string of pink dental floss around Ashley's finger as a reminder to talk later. Simple, funny, memorable. See, boys? Manhandling is never necessary.
NEXT: I'm not as think as you drunk I am.