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Reality Roundup: Someone Ship Ben Zorn His Dog

A barefooted Chris Harrison brought back Bachelor in Paradise on Monday.  With his shoelessness underscoring the solemnity of his story, Chris’ scattered interstitials throughout the series premiere described this year’s near-fatal filming controversy, culminating in Tuesday’s ocean-backed cast discussion (which, remarkably, rehashed the mandatory ‘consent’ talk of my freshman year almost word-for-word).   But Paradise, steeped in the preservative glow of hair product overuse and questionable Instagram pitches, proved more resilient than some of us (ok…I) could ever dare to expect.

And just like that, former Bachelorette contestant and current love of my life Ben Zorn (we’ve definitely never met) bounded back onto television screens with the rest of this week’s Paradise cast.

With a season of real couples, tv couples, and everything-in-between couples ahead of them, the men and women of Paradise made a resounding splash with their opening episodes.  Below are a few key observations (and one very important life lesson) coming out of their first week’s frolics.

  • Ben has brought up his dog way more frequently than Amanda even obliquely referenced her children (and only slightly more frequently than Robbie discussed his wardrobe choices)

From the second that Ben Zorn pulled Raven aside to talk about his dog (and his family’s dog, and dog adoption, and colors that dogs come in), my completely-not-weird obsession with the man who once made America cry at a fake funeral was officially reborn.  And although the show’s layered-in clown music suggested that my reaction was not quite normal, I remain firm in my convictions.  So too, it would seem, does Ben, with his forceful declaration that “I’m not here to waste my time.  I have a dog at home that I miss very much.”

  • Matt is a predictable man (even though he’s a penguin)

It happens every season (and also every day in life).  Boy meets girl, boy pursues girl…and boy loses all interest the second boy realizes that girl is actually pursuing him back.  “I wanna see where that goes…and I wanna leave my mind open to anything else that might come around,” explained Matt (best known for showing up on The Bachelorette in a penguin outfit – then doing it again on Bachelor in Paradise, but this time without pants) to the camera.  Of course, he’s less than forthcoming with object-of-his-(waning) affection Jasmine (who, incidentally, was best known on her season for the whole choking thing) – and it’s already starting to get to her.  Poorly played, penguin…poorly played.

  • Raven’s dream outcome is centered around the couple at whose wedding Raven’s ex-boyfriend hooked up with another woman from Raven’s season (who then spent her time on Raven’s season speaking pretty much exclusively about how she hooked up with Raven’s ex-boyfriend at said couple’s wedding)

Raven showed up looking for a “Jade and Tanner” scenario.  Raven was last seen as Nick’s first runner-up on his season of The Bachelor, the season on which an entire storyline was dedicated to the fact that Nick and one of Raven’s fellow contestants got down and dirty at Jade and Tanner’s (televised) wedding.  It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but given the fact that the franchise will likely not stop talking about Jade and Tanner any time soon, I’m guessing she won’t be the last to have Jade-and-Tanner-shaped dreams.

  • Jack Stone feels the need to go on the record that he is not a serial killer (which is obviously exactly what a serial killer would do)

Those empty eyes and teeth-melting smile aren’t doing Jack Stone any favors (nor was his off-hand comment to Danielle that “you also don’t want to be the first person to die in Paradise.”)

I’ll give him an oh-so-slight benefit of the doubt for his “purpose”/”porpoise” pun aimed at dolphin-obsessed Alexa (because…come on) but make no mistake – my guard isn’t anywhere near down yet.

  • Iggy may not fully understand how feelings work

Iggy is such a natural narrator that his musing of “so I want Lacey’s rose.  Really badly,” had me wondering whether his definition of “rose” is the same as mine.  I knew I had my answer when, as she made an early exit to mourn her grandfather’s death, his reaction was, “Initially you’re in shock…that’s possibly the worst news you can get…like, I’m not sure who I’m going to get a rose from.” Clearly, the correct course of action was to dip into the classics and pull an Ames (sorry, Iggy – you missed your chance).

Luckily Lacey saw through him upon her return to Paradise (and to the looming women-controlled rose ceremony), astutely surmising that he’s “full of s**t.”

  • If at first she doesn’t like you, fake your own death

Of the three couples that made lifelong commitments after the three weeks of filming last year’s Bachelor in Paradise 3, two have since participated in very public breakups.

And then there’s the couple whose first kiss was “sooooo terrible” (at least according to one of them).

Emerging from a Bachelor wedding montage (from which Lacy and Marcus were very aggressively excluded), Evan (through oh so many tears) reminded us all of that one time that Carly spent avoiding him on Paradise’s crab-filled shores, but then he had to go to the hospital and she went with him and it all took a turn for the better.  “What’s so weird about it is it actually kind of worked,” noted Carly, setting the stage for mass death-faking amongst Evan’s fellow erectile dysfunction specialists everywhere.

While we may not have seen the last of Corinne and DeMario, the season’s opening episodes demonstrate that the show has more than sex scandal on offer.  With only ten days of filming to fill nine episodes of television, the drama has already hit the ground running.  As my secret boyfriend Ben Zorn once explained, “Paradise is more than just a place,” – indeed, it’s a dog-devoid (but ultimately satisfying) tale of epic dysfunction.

Bachelor in Paradise airs 8pm EST Mondays and Tuesdays on ABC, and is available the next day on demand.