Over the past 12 seasons, The Bachelor has tried a lot of gimmicks to keep fans interested. There was The Bachelor: Former Fat Guy, The Bachelor: An Officer and a Ken Doll, The Bachelor: Who Says Fisherman Isn't a Real Job?, The Bachelor: Quasi-Famous Brother of Semi-Famous Dude, and of course last season's The Bachelor: Chicks Dig My Accent. But you know what all of those Bachelors were missing? An adorable toddler sidekick! And that's why The Bachelor: Tragic Single Dad Edition is, quite simply, the most dramatic Bachelor gimmick... ever. And there's a lot of drama to cover, so let's get started, shall we?
Our ''journey'' begins with a quick refresher course on Jason Mesnick's romantic history. The single dad from Seattle fell for a Greek temptress named DeAnna Pappas, and we all know what happened next: he went down on one knee, she let him stay on the ground for a full 20 seconds (yes, I counted) before brutally rebuffing him and choosing a floppy-haired snowboarder instead. (They skipped the part where DeAnna tossed said snowboarder faster than a bargain brand paper towel, but whatever.)
Cut to the Ready to Love Again Montage, featuring Jason hanging around in bicep-hugging t-shirts, spending quality time with his 3-year-old son Ty, reflecting in the rain on the failure of his 7-year relationship with Ty's mom. Now, after a strict regimen of shirtless training (the first of many gratuitous shots of the Bachelor's chiseled arms and torso; this show is, after all, an equal opportunity objectifier), Jason is in peak condition and ready for another emotional beating! So it's off to Los Angeles, and naturally, Ty is along for the ride. Seriously, did you think Jason was going to leave him at home? No way that kid is a babe magnet. I mean, look at how cute he is, smiling at the camera from the back seat of Daddy's black SUV! Jason just ''can't stand being away from him.'' (The good news is, 20 years from now when Ty is in therapy, he won't have to struggle to remember his childhood traumas he can simply play them back on DVD.) Despite what happened the last time he turned his love life over to ABC, Jason is determinedly optimistic (or delusional, take your pick), about being the new Bachelor. ''I get a chance to meet 25 amazing women, and I know one of them is going to be my wife.''
Now it's time to head over to the hotel, where the 25 women are burning off their nervous energy in a variety of telegenic ways, like jumping on the bed and jogging on a treadmill. As always happens in the unfair world of the meet-the-''ladies'' montage, some bachelorettes get short shrift Raquel brought 32 pairs of shoes. Next! while others are lavished with camera time. One of the lucky ''ladies'' is Shannon, the dental hygienist from Missouri. Since I always find it hard to remember the women's names and generally end up calling them things like ''Talking Stick'' and ''Boobsy Malone,'' I appreciate the fact that Shannon provided us with her own nickname: Tooth Nazi. As she dutifully brushes and flosses for the camera, Tooth Nazi says Jason meets her approval because he has a nice smile: ''It says a lot about a person when they have good hygiene.'' In my fantasy, Jason will offer her a rose, and she'll pull back his lips to inspect his gums before accepting.
NEXT PAGE: What the hell is a ''vision board''?