January 7th, 2014
02:28 PM ET
For the next few months, ABC isn't airing a show about "The Bachelor."
It's all about "El Bachelor," as the reality show's latest seeker of life-long love, Juan Pablo Galavis, likes to call himself.
On Monday's two-hour premiere, the 32-year-old single dad, a former pro soccer player who originally hails from Venezuela and is the series' first non-white "Bachelor," had to wade through 27 potential matches. (According to Chris Harrison, there were 27 women instead of the usual 25 because of the "overwhelming response" ABC received after Juan Pablo was announced as the next bachelor.)
The usual method for introducing the contestants - a grand limo pulls up, and out steps a woman fully made up in her best evening attire - went mainly without a hitch, although there's always at least one person who tries out a "unique" way of standing apart. This season, that woman was Clare, who showed up pretending to be pregnant as a joke.
An odd choice for sure, but apparently it worked: "I LOVED IT," Juan Pablo enthusiastically blogged on People.com after the show. "When I saw her step out, I was like, 'OMG' but after a second and seeing that kind of weird shape on her belly, I was like, 'Ohhh, good one.'" It probably helped that it was an easy way of remembering who she was, since JP (as we'll call him) claimed that "after the first half of the girls, I was a MESS because they were all so beautiful that I already lost track of them!"
Although another woman, Lauren, tried to woo Juan Pablo with her talent - she made her entrance on an ill-advised piano bike - it was opera singer Sharleen who made a stronger musical impression.
"Sharleen came all the way from Germany to meet me! I was so impressed by her beauty, by her job as an opera singer and that she tiene mundo/has worldliness," Juan Pablo gushed in his blog post. "I absolutely do not regret giving her that rose because I really want to spend more time with her – plus I can't wait to hear her sing."
As sweet as he is, Juan Pablo did have to break a few hearts on Monday night. One of them was Kaylie, a 23-year-old interior designer who mistakenly thought she heard him call her name - only to realize he was giving the rose to someone else. "I almost died because I felt so bad," Juan Pablo said. "I hope some day she forgives me."
That's not the only apology he's handed out. On Twitter, Juan Pablo encouraged another spurned contestant, Lacy, to keep looking for love.
What did you think of the new El Bachelor? Ratings show ABC's "Juan-uary" is off to a solid start: Monday's premiere was up 17 percent from last January, making it "The Bachelor's" best debut in three years.
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