Serena certainly doesn't have the classic European look of beauty, but that doesn't mean she's not beautiful. Just because you don't like African features it doesn't mean she has a "beat face." I think she's gorgeous.
Her sister, OTOH... I don't think she's good looking at all.
Most of the people knew people from previous seasons, because they all worked together. The only new connections this season are Jack's brother and father. That's kind of convenient based on what Graham did last season.