Never mind the Super Bowl, Minnesota's real chance to make an impression on a rapt national TV audience is happening this summer.
The latest season of ABC's The Bachelorette kicked off on Monday, with dozens of men vying for the heart of Becca Kufrin. A publicist currently living in Minneapolis, Kufrin is a Prior Lake native whose debut on the franchise came during this year's season of The Bachelor, when she was first proposed to and then dumped by wishy-washy race car driver Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Most of the show will be set in L.A.'s "Bachelor Mansion" and other far-flung locales, but Monday gave us a little scene-setting in the Gopher State, and we can expect to return to Minnesota when Becca brings her final few favorites back for "hometown dates" later this season.
Things didn't get off to the greatest start when Becca and three former Bachelorettes lit a bushel of sage and conducted a ceremony intended to purge her body of "bad juju" (the smoke detector went off), but the world did get at least a glimpse of Becca's home state. What did viewers learn, and what did we learn about ourselves?
Minnesota is gorgeous...and frigid
Franchise veterans knew that the most glamorous Minnesota shots would come during the season's early scenes, when stars are typically depicted wandering their local haunts looking sexy, available, and reflective. After a predictably painful flashback, we got some glimpses of Becca strolling through a barren and snowy Minnehaha Park, the falls coursing through the ice. It was like Game of Thrones, except without any dragons...or living things at all, other than the Bachelorette.
Becca looked similarly solo during a visit to the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, seemingly the one place where a lonely lady might find warmth and hope out here on the tundra. Like little Karen in Frosty the Snowman, Becca huddled in the greenhouse; it was easy to imagine her dreaming of a suitor who would whisk her away to a habitable climate. The irony of Minnesota actually buckling under a record-breaking heat wave as the episode aired was lost on no one (except for everyone).
Minnesota really hates Arie
The first evidence that anyone other than Becca and her family live here came during a montage with scenes including a stroll across the Stone Arch Bridge, where the Bachelorette was greeted by a University of Minnesota track team. We also got a shot of Becca standing on the steps of the State Capitol, being presented with a very official-looking document as a very white-looking crowd cheered wildly.
Becca's voiceover narration suggested that Arie has been "banned" from Minnesota "for life," although the truth is that an Arie ban was simply proposed by state Rep. Drew Christensen (R-Savage). The document Christensen was seen presenting Becca with was a copy of the bill, which the lawmaker did in fact introduce in the state legislature.
It didn't pass, because it was just a big publicity stunt...and also because we've basically stopped passing laws in this state. Our conservative legislature apparently doesn't hate Arie quite as much as it hates public transit, but the people have spoken. "Proud to be from Minnesota!" declared the winter-coated Bachelorette.
Everyone in Minnesota has met everyone else...several times
As Bachelorette premieres go, Becca's was relatively low-drama, but there were a couple of speed bumps along Kufrin's road to wedded bliss. One came in the form of a text supposedly suggesting that a would-be Becca bae was not there for the right reasons. That led to a confusing conversation, but the only contestant who was straight-up booted before the inaugural rose ceremony even began was Jake Enyeart, a guy from Minnesota. Whaaaaat?
Here's the story. Becca — of course — knew Jake. The Bachelorette likes to throw little curveballs like this: Becca's predecessor Rachel Lindsay actually had a suitor she'd been a counselor for at summer camp.
In this case, Enyeart swore he only remembered meeting Becca at a Christmas party, and that he was completely ready to explore a relationship with her, having experienced "a very transformative year" and being "a new Jake."
Kufrin corrected him, though: "We've met many times before," she pointed out, and on those occasions she'd picked up a vibe suggesting that he wasn't into her. So what was he doing on her season? Looking for Instagram followers, she seemed to suspect. Bye now!
So basically, what the world learned is that if you put two potentially compatible people from Minnesota in a room together, chances are that they've met repeatedly, experienced little to no sexual tension, and never really want to see each other again unless there's a free trip to California involved. Yep, seems about right.
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