?The Bachelorette? 2012 Premiere: Former Contestants, Stars Weigh In

   on May 15 2012 2:55 PM

The eighth season of The Bachelorette premiered on Monday, and former contestants and stars of that show and of The Bachelor are weighing in on how the night went down.

Host Chris Harrison promised that this season, with contestants vying for the heart of single mother Emily Maynard, would be different from what viewers are used to. For one thing, the backstory is much heavier than in seasons past. Fans of The Bachelor recall that Maynard was engaged to the late Nascar driver Ricky Hendrick, who died in a plane crash in 2004. Days later, Maynard found out she was pregnant with her late fiancé's child.

Maynard won the heart of Brad Womack on Season 15 of The Bachelor, but the two later broke up. Now she's on her own quest for love, and filming had been adjusted to accomodate her needs as a single mom. Production is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Maynard and her daughter live, rather than the typical mansion in California.

You don't have the frat house humor and the frat house drama, Harrison recently said in a press call, USA Today reported. Things have a much more serious tone and bigger issues. It's not the superficial drama you've seen in seasons past.

The show is playing up Maynard's relationship with her adorable 6-year-old: Mother and daughter on the swings, mother with daughter as daughter brushes her teeth, mother and daughter carpooling to school, etc.

There was also the first meet-and-greet with this season's contestants.

Contestants will often pull a stunt of some sort to make an impression when first meeting the bachelor or bachelorette, and while some of the guys seemed sweet and sincere, others went a bit overboard trying to stand out. One contestant, Randy, approached Maynard while dressed in senior citizen drag: gray-haired wig, funny voice and all. (He was later eliminated.) Another contestant, Travis, gave Maynard a large egg and said it was a symbol of two beautiful people, you and Ricki, and that he would take care of the egg throughout his journey the way he would take care of her and her daughter.

Former stars of The Bachelor franchise tuned in to watch it all unfold, and took the time to put in their own two cents.

Ben Flajnik, the star of the latest season of The Bachelor and a Bachelorette veteran, commented on one of the contestants, an MC by the name of Stevie who didn't give off the most positive vibes: What's with this chief in the green shirt on #TheBachelorette ? Aside from his shirt selection I mean.

Former Bachelorette star Ashley Hebert, Maynard's former fellow contestant from Season 15 of The Bachelor, tweeted her own impressions of the night. She thought the entrances were a little cheesy and threw out a jibe at Womack: I wonder if Brad's watching.

Womack didn't do any original tweeting on Monday night, but he did retweet comments made by two women who once vied for his heart, which is kind of weird. One retweet was of a comment made by former Bachelor contestant Marissa May: So far Arie, Charlie and, surprisingly, Jef are my top picks.

Ali Fedotowsky was kind in her microblogged commentary, giving kudos to guys who did and said nice things.

Loved Ryan's note that said you are beautiful. I'm nervous was soooo cute!, she tweeted. Loved it!

As for Harrison, he misses that big old mansion.

Loved being in Charlotte but have to admit its [sic]a little strange not being at the mansion, he tweeted.

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