"He could definitely be my future husband ... I think" And so opened the second season of The Bachelor NZ with the perfect "yeah, nah" blend of sincerity and trepidation.
Almost instantly, the show had revealed so much about the New Zealand character that it bordered on parody.
Our second Bachelor, 32-year-old film-maker and actor Jordan Mauger, is similarly happy to revel in the Kiwi way. We meet him with his shirt unbuttoned just one too many, warbling on about Stubbies and Swannies before sitting in a dinghy and speeding off to presumably rescue a beached whale with a piece of No8 wire.
Mauger is about as different to Art Green as a bag of wizened paleo bites next to a hot fudge sundae. He works in a hip empty office where he talks about "waiting for the crew" and taps his pen hurriedly on a table. For some reason, he also owns a DeLorean from the Back To The Future movies.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't already charmed. My heart swelled as he cradled a dog, then later a baby. Not for too long though, being the Bachelor he is required by law to take a very intense slow motion shower and then a chopper ride to Pohuehue to greet his beloveds. Where he's going, he doesn't need roads.
The 23 women vying for Jordan's affections seem more mature this time around, and have enjoyed the luxury of watching season one's mistakes from the comfort of their couch.
They had travelled from all across New Zealand - and the world. That's what Mike Puru says anyway, but who knows how long he's been swaying quietly on that mansion stoop. Could be weeks, could be months.
The new mansion looks stunning, practically ablaze with fairy lights and tealight candles. The same can be said for the women. One by one, they pranced out in confusingly similar sequin dresses to meet their forever love. "Wow," says Jordan. "Brilliant," says Jordan. "Fantastic," says Jordan.
Their first encounters are awkward, fumbling and repetitive, perhaps so similar to real life that I found my teeth starting to gently curl.
At least this year we've got another pretty diverse bunch - although there are already a few top 10 blondes who I assure you we'll be getting to know very well. Other legends in the house include Metz, the Samoan Princess who just "needs a man". Her requirements for love are only one notch broader than Alicia's, who simply asks for "good teeth and good feet". Incidentally, that's also her requirement for purchasing miniature ponies.
Hats off to early frontrunner Rebecca for making a Star Wars joke during their first meeting and, drumroll please, receiving the coveted first impression rose. Tune in next week when she probably wears a Princess Leia bikini poolside and they get married on the spot to the tunes of the Star Wars cantina band.
With 23 introductions and 1000 crappy gifts to get through, there wasn't a lot of room for tension. Any shred of drama was amplified by the repeated use of a sound effect best described as a gong being dropped down an elevator shaft.
Naz, one to watch, swanned in and stole Jordan's time. Cue gong. Lara wedged her way uncomfortably between Jordan and Ceri as Ceri divulged the details of her abusive relationship. Cue very loud, very long gong.
Dramatic gongs aside, the highlight of the episode was Harmony, the rogue who appeared to drink a Mauger amount of alcohol. The exact opposite of her name, she threw cushions around poolside and flounced out of the mansion like she had wandered there by accident. She will be missed.
I'm hungrier for the rest of the season than I am for a jar of Claudia's scary homemade bliss balls.
To return to the Bachelor thesaurus, I think Amanda summed up the first episode best. When describing her experience with the Bachelor so far, she claimed it had been "good, different, interesting and fun". Honestly, I couldn't have put it better myself.
- NZ Herald