SPOILER ALERT: If you've not seen last night's episode of The Bachelorette NZ featuring the blokes vying for the affections of Lesina Nakhid-Schuster, don't even think about reading on.
We are introduced to a Lululemon-clad Lesina walking along a black sand beach on Auckland's West Coast. The camera pans slowly up from her feet to her face as she turns and stares out to sea, perhaps envisaging her loved-up future with a good honest Kiwi bloke, plucked from a line up of screen-tested hopefuls.
Then we zoom off to the Bachelorette mansion to meet all her potential soulmates for the very first time.
But not before a dramatic montage of kisses, candlelit dinners and men in tears followed by a cheery greeting from a familiar face - Art Green.
Yes, dapper in a tux, New Zealand's first-ever Bachelor grins into the lens of a GoPro as he guides us through day one at "the mansion", Karaka's sprawling Te Hihi Estate complete with in-ground pool, pool table and park-like grounds.
"We've got 22 very nervous guys making their way here to meet Lesina," says Green before reminiscing about his own first day on the job.
"It was the scariest day of my life," he recalls as a flashback plays of the moment he first laid eyes on Matilda Rice.
But we all know how that TV fairytale goes. This time around Green's here to help Lesina navigate the thorny path of reality show love, with Celebrity Treasure Island contestant (and actor!) Jodie Rimmer providing the wry narration.
Back on the beach, now sitting in the dunes, in a low-cut blue dress, 32-year-old doctor Lesina reveals she's been busy focusing on her career but is finally ready to find someone.
Someone like her father, as it turns out: "I want someone who knows what they want and is confident, but not arrogant. [My dad] is such a good role model of the kind of guy that everyone deserves."
Her windswept monologue in the sand is spliced with footage from a meal with her family. It's here we meet Lesina's mum, dad and brother who grill her about her dream partner over beetroot salad and an ovenbake.
With her ideal man revealed, it's time to meet the jittery chaps about to vie for Lesina's affection on national television.
Here's the lowdown on the lads:
Logan Carr, 32, a Travel Agent / Brand Ambassador from Auckland
Logan made a strong first impression by presenting Lesina with a bizarre oversized paper flower with a French inscription. He refused to translate the transcription for her unless she agreed to take him on a date, a hugely manipulative tactic I absolutely respect. The crafty critter received a rose.
Tavita Karika, 30, a Personal Trainer / Youth Worker from Timaru
He arrived wearing an inflatable swimming pool floatie as a nod to his previous reality TV stint, on Heartbreak Island. As Lesina appears to be a normal 32-year-old adult woman she has probably never watched Heartbreak Island so understandably did not get the reference. Nevertheless, he received a rose.
George Hellriegel, 24, a Jewellery Sales Person from Auckland
I'm personally devastated that George didn't offer Lesina a personalised Pandora charm on arrival and instead opted to perform some slam poetry while Lesina listened politely through gritted teeth. He received a rose, though. Hopefully tomorrow night he whips out a haiku.
Conor Orsbourn, 24, from Senior Career Consultant from Christchurch
Conor came in HOT right off the bat with a jaunty tie and some #vaxchat, wanting to ensure Lesina wasn't an anti-vaxxer. He then attempted to flex by telling her he studied biochemistry, but it was safe to say she trumped his brag by revealing she's actually a real-life doctor. He received a rose.
Quinn Ryan, 25, a Sheet Metal Engineer from Hawke's Bay
Ginger-bearded Quinn stepped out of the limo looking like the dreamy male lead in a rom-com, and won the "first impression rose" for a very impressive rose that he somehow carved out of metal. I'm putting money on him making the final three.
Jesse Williamson, 24, a Bartender in Whistler Canada, but from Gulf Harbour
Jesse introduced himself to the Bachelorette by forcing her to take a selfie with him, so he sounds exactly like my kind of guy. He received a rose.
Dominic Palfrey, 21, a Sales Consultant from Auckland
Another one who didn't really say or do anything noteworthy, but does have a slight British accent, which is absolutely enough for both me and Lesina, it turns out. Rose.
Clayton Turner, 31, a Graphic Designer from Cairns Australia, now living in Napier
Despite rocking some stunning stunnah shades, Clayton's love story with Lesina was short-lived. Eliminated!
Brendon Vanstone, 38, an Electrical Service Technician from Pleasant Point, near Timaru
First out of the limo, he set the "zany intro" bar relatively high by walking down the runway while juggling. He did, however, lose cool points by revealing to Lesina he's had more than 20 girlfriends — obviously not knowing that when someone asks you your "number" you should always cut it by at least a third. Even more devastating though was the nation collectively cringing behind their couch cushions when Lesina called him out for having a runny nose. Despite all odds, he received a rose.
Marc Johnson, 33, a Chocolate Maker from Wellington
While every other bachelor was suited and booted, the former stripper arrived wearing a T-shirt which he proceeded to tear off in front of Lesina in the belief that some women like that. It turned out Lesina didn't hate it and he received a rose.
Marcus Mannex-Kingi, 23, a Jump Master from Queenstown
Marcus made one hell of an entrance, breakdancing down the red carpet like David Brent at a Christmas party. He was rewarded with a rose.
Tyler McKendry, 22, a Personal Trainer from Christchurch
It was safe to say barely-legal Tyler probably wasn't going to be the 32-year old doctor's future husband, but what really sealed his fate was when he told her he was fine with dating her because he already knows "a few old people". Incredibly, no rose was forthcoming. Perhaps he'll meet someone at his next school ball.
Aaron McNabb, 27, a Food Technology Teacher from Hamilton
Stepping out of the limo looking like the high school quarterback in every American teen movie was Aaron McNabb. He obviously received a rose, and is through to boot camp.
Elliott Gilchrist, 32, a Painting Company Owner from Wanaka
After revealing the fun fact that he likes hanging out in the nude, Elliott also crafted Lesina a rose out of a crumpled old tissue – which she then attempted to use to blow her snotty nose on. A mortified Elliot was one of three contestants sent packing at the inaugural elimination.
Flynn Palmer, 20, a Student / Track & Field Athlete from Auckland
Flynn didn't really do or say anything noteworthy but being just 20, he was probably recovering from a heckers weekend. He received a rose.
Glenn Richards, 28, a Personal Trainer from Auckland
Gym junkie Glenn won points with Lesina on arrival by warming up her frostbitten hands in a very respectable, PG way. He received a rose.
Jonathan Wedge, 26, a Designer from Auckland
In what turned out to be a v risky dice roll, Jonathan decided to take his pug dog to the mansion as some sort of social crutch veiled as an attempt at a good first impression. Unfortunately it turned out Lesina has a fear of dogs and the nation collectively squirmed on their couches once more. He received a rose.
Kurt Johnston, 30, a Business Development Manager from Auckland
Warriors #SUPERFAN and aspiring 2021 Great Kiwi Bakeoff contestant Kurt won over Lesina with homemade chocolates and was awarded a well-deserved rose.
Liam Cochrane, 28, a Product Development Manager from Perth
Man bun-sporting Liam didn't really say or do much at all apart from humbly compare himself to a Hemsworth brother. I don't think he's much of a talker, and his Tinder bio probably says something like "Saturdays are for the boys". Regardless, he received a rose.
Steve Masters, 35, an Account Manager from Auckland
Chivalrous Steve tried to give a freezing Lesina his blazer. But he'd been beaten to it by earlier arrivals. Nice try Steve. Nevertheless, he received a rose.
Terence O'Brien, 25, a Builder from Waipu
Terrence didn't let a little thing like being between homes stop him from sashaying onto our screens rocking tousled blonde locks to rival the Honey Badger. He received a rose.
Daryl Habraken, 37, a Voice Actor and Podcaster from Auckland
The plot twist to end all plot twists! Or at least some plot twists!! It turns out Daryl is a fake contestant planted in the mansion to spy on the other guys and rat them out to Lesina!!! I couldn't be more thrilled that he's not actually in the running to win Lesina's heart as I want to date him myself, if only so I can constantly listen to him say, "know-how, can do".
So where was the drama? Well, it was a gentle opener, with minimal storyline development in an episode when introducing the cast, format and distinctive Kiwi tone was the objective. As TVNZ had suggested, it broke the fourth wall, with Green directly addressing the viewers at home and shots that featured the crew and cameras.
There was a hint of what might be to come with Liam boldly starting a "Who should she eliminate?" conversation with Marc and others. Things got a tad awkward when Liam was kinda called out on his tips, delivering his opinion by the fireside, flanked by Marc, by then looking slightly less sure that it was a good idea to be offering such hot takes within hours of meeting their love rivals. His expanded audience included at least one of the names he put forward. Awks!
To be fair, Liam got two out of three right. Maybe he's got a better read on Lesina that we might think?
The Bachelorette New Zealand continues tonight, Tuesday 28, at 7.30 pm on TVNZ2.
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This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.