Monday Juan-Day! Season 18 of “The Bachelor” premiered on Monday, and viewers were in Juan Pablo heaven. The first Latino bachelor made his debut with not 25, but 27, gorgeous girls fighting for his heart.
The 32-year-old former soccer star returned to the ABC dating show after getting eliminated from Desiree Hartsock’s season of “The Bachelorette” in week 6. A sports entertainment consultant living in Miami, Juan Pablo made the move to Los Angeles to not only find his future wife – but a stepmother for his 4-year-old daughter, Camilla.
Season 18 kicked off with Juan Pablo acknowledging that the process of finding “the one” will be difficult … but promising “Bachelor” fans that he’s excited for the challenge. To help him prepare for his journey, Juan Pablo met with former “Bachelor” Sean Lowe, who shared some advice:
-Warn the girls not to be offended if you forget their names.
-Make the “wacky” ones feel welcome.
-Kiss a lot … but make sure the other girls don’t see.
-Don’t freak out if you realize you might have feelings for more than one person.
-Trust your gut.
With Lowe’s advice in the back of his mind, Juan Pablo departed to the “Bachelor” mansion to meet the girls for the first time. It’s there that host Chris Harrison dropped the news: Juan Pablo wouldn’t be meeting 25 girls. Casting was so hot that they expanded the show to 27 bachelorettes.
The limo meetings started off pretty tame with Christine, 32, giving Juan Pablo a bracelet for his daughter. Nikki, 26, channeled her occupation as a pediatric nurse to have a unique meeting with Juan Pablo – breaking out a stethoscope for the bachelor to hear how nervous and excited she was. Kat, 29, a medical sales rep from Iowa, decided to go bold and ask Juan Pablo to show her a couple of salsa moves; while Lucy, a 24-year-old “free spirit,” displayed her bare feet.
The first meetings became a little wonky when Lauren S., a 26-year-old composer, decided to skip the limo and pedal up to the bachelor on a piano bike … where she became so out of breath that she forgot to give her name. Things became stranger when Clare, a 32-year-old hairstylist, stepped out of the limo … seven months pregnant. “Oh my gosh,” were the first words out of Juan Pablo’s mouth. But Clare isn’t exactly what she seems.
“So I know you have a daughter,” she tells the single dad. “And I know you want more children. And I was thinking maybe … adding to it?”
Asking a shocked Juan Pablo if he wants to feel her stomach, Clare laughs as she reveals that her baby bump is actually fake. Phew.
With all 27 girls in the house, Juan Pablo starts things off with a dance party as a way to break the ice and begin his one-on-one time with the girls. But as each girl swoops in to get time with the Latino heartthrob, contestant Lauren H. realizes that she may be in over her head.
Hailing from Edmond, Okla., the 25-year-old mineral coordinator has had a rough time with love. She was engaged, but her fiancé broke off her engagement a couple of months ago, leaving her ready to make a real connection with someone else … but insecure about opening up her heart. Breaking down in tears over not getting time to meet with Juan Pablo, Lauren H. finally gets her chance and reveals her whole history – broken engagement and all. And while Juan Pablo seemed to be compassionate and listen to her story, Lauren H. feared that she might have messed things up by being too open.
With nerves high the first night, things became even tenser when Harrison brought out the “first impression rose.” For the ladies, all eyes were glued to the rose. But Juan Pablo wasn’t ready to make his decision yet.
Meeting with more of the girls, the bachelor sat down with 29-year-old Sharleen, an opera singer from Ottawa, Canada, who had been living in Germany for the past few years. More reserved than her fellow contestants, Sharleen came off as shy and polite, even addressing Juan Pablo as “sir.” Talking about her experiences outside of the country and that she’s afraid because she doesn’t speak Spanish, Juan Pablo excused himself … to get the “first impression rose.” “I think she separates from the rest of the group,” Juan Pablo explained to the camera of Sharleen. “The conversation, her looks, her vibe, her culture … she’s a keeper.”
But unfortunately for Juan Pablo it doesn’t look like Sharleen feels the same.
“Juan Pablo is definitely a good package,” she tells the camera in a one-on-one interview. “But you know, I guess I thought I would feel a little more of this insta-chemistry than I did. I guess I feel a little distraught because there has been so much buildup and you kind of expect some kind of connection that honestly – if I’m totally honest – seemed a little forced.”
Appearing with the rose, Sharleen asked in shock if he was “serious.”
“I will definitely want to get to know you better,” he tells her. “Because I think you are very elegant and I like the way you are. Sharleen, would you accept this rose.”
After a few awkward seconds of silence, Sharleen responds with: “Sure, yes. Thank you, sir … I actually really was not expecting this.”
Juan Pablo continued that he didn’t want her to feel worried because he knows how it feels to not get a rose. And while Sharleen wasn’t expecting the “first impression rose,” “Bachelor” viewers were certainly ready for what happened next … TRASH TALK!
Andi, a 26-year-old assistant district attorney, was happy for Sharleen, telling the other girls that, “She’s super sweet.” But others weren’t so gracious.
“It was kind of a shock to everyone, including her,” Elise, a 27-year-old first grade teacher told the cameras. “Her head was down. Her shoulders were down.”
“I can’t believe it,” 23-year-old Kylie told the cameras. “It’s ridiculous.”
Now out of time to talk with the girls, Harrison pulled Juan Pablo out of the party so he could make his decisions for the first rose ceremony. Thanking the girls for coming out, Juan Pablo explained that he had to make his decisions for his family.
The first rose (besides Sharleen’s) went to Clare, followed by Nikki, Renee, Andi, Alli, Chantel, Lauren S., Kelly (and Molly, her dog), Cassandra, Danielle and Chelise. Things got a little awkward when Juan Pablo called up Kat … and instead had Kylie walk up and try to accept the rose (“Oh I thought he said Kylie, Sorry!”). After the Kat/ Kylie mix up, the final five roses went to Victoria, Christy, Lucy, Elise, and Amy L.
In the end the nine girls to be sent home in week one were Alexis, Kylie, Amy J., Ashley, Christine, Lacy, Lauren H., Maggie and Valerie.
With 18 girls remaining, “Bachelor” fans were left wondering if Sharleen would break Juan Pablo’s heart … of if she was willing to let her feelings for him develop.
“I’m not going to lie. I’m incredibly flattered,” Sharleen explained to the cameras when she accepted the first impression rose. “But what matters to me is that I either feel something or I don’t. And it’s still a little early for me.”
What did you think of the season premiere of “The Bachelor”? Do you think Sharleen should have received the first impression rose? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section or send a tweet to @AmandaTVScoop.