The first sentence Emily Maynard said on Monday night’s premiere of “The Bachelorette” was this: “My name is Emily, and I’m a single mom.”
Maynard is the first single mother in eight seasons of ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” and judging by Monday night it seems her 6-year-old daughter, Ricki, will be a central figure in the process of Maynard selecting one of the 25 bachelor contestants on the program. Already the show has changed its base camp from California to Charlotte, N.C., where Maynard lives, to accommodate Ricki’s school schedule and give Maynard as much time with her daughter as possible during the taping.
Before each commercial break, Maynard is shown silhouetted holding her daughter in her arms. And the previews of upcoming episodes seem to imply that Ricki will be going with her mom as the show travels to foreign locales. “Ricki is going to be with me every step of the way. I’m doing this for her as much as I am for me,” Maynard said on the episode. Maynard said her journey isn’t just to find a soul mate for herself but also to find a father figure for her daughter.
The show’s opening focused on Maynard’s life with Ricki – making pancakes, driving the carpool, making sure Ricki brushes her teeth. “My daughter is the most important thing in my life,” Maynard said. “She’s like the sweetest little thing ever.”
Ricki’s father, a race car driver, was killed in a plane crash the week before Maynard found out she was pregnant with his child. The two were engaged to be married at the time of his death. Maynard was also a contestant on an earlier season of “The Bachelor” and was chosen by bachelor Brad Womack, who proposed to her. She said yes, but the two later broke up.
As Maynard dressed for the first night meeting the 25 bachelors who will vie for her hand, Ricki helped her get ready. “You look like a princess,” Ricki said to her mom.
“I’m very protective of her and I want to protect her though this experience,” Maynard told show host Chris Harrison Monday night. It remains to be seen how much more we’ll see of Ricki as the season unfolds – and how Maynard will explain to her young daughter the literally touchier portions of the show, such as the requisite hot-tub scenes, the kissing of multiple men, and the traditional season-ending overnight stays.
Do you think a 6-year-old should be featured so prominently on a dating show?