This season of The Bachelorette has been tough… Between Clare and Dale’s whirlwind engagement, Noah ruining Ed’s chances at the top prize by engaging in relentless Bennett-baiting, and the four remaining contestants being really lovely, stand-up individuals, we’ve been starved of the kind of inter-personal narratives and jaw-to-floor tea-tipping tantrums that have had Bachelor nation wallowing in equal parts shock and horror around office water coolers for decades.
People say you can’t put lipstick on a pig, but the Bachelorette producers managed pretty damn easily to not ruin my 2009 with shitty programming when Swine Flu was knocking around. In fact, the 2009 Bachelorette season was the first time that the number of contestants duking it out for the top prize was raised from 25 to 30, so it would seem that despite a global pandemic then, the proverbial swine of 2009 not only had lipstick, but was shot up with Hannah Ann’s lip fillers and decked out with a Kardashian contour job to boot!
All I’m saying here is that the producers have faced adversity before, they’ve dealt with global pandemics, and while this one is no doubt a touch different, they could’ve made an effort to elevate this season to make loyal fans like ourselves not feel like we’re reclining in Dante’s 7th circle of hell, eating half frozen pizza rolls and washing them down with room temperature O’Doul’s – that’s how I feel about this season, and the hometowns episode did nothing to assuage the inevitable disappointment that I have come to associate with Tuesday nights
Alas, the show must go on! The “silly little blog” (Victoria F if you’re reading this please answer my DMs) continues, making faltering forward progress with the speed and surety of a global warming glacier. Let’s jump into hometowns
Brendan was first to have his poor family subjected to a knock-off version of their hometown recreated in the La Quinta Spa and Resort in Palm Springs. A Milford, MA native, we didn’t get to meet Brendan’s parents, which was a crying shame because I was dying to use the “Brendan’s mother put the MILF in Milford” quip regardless of how she looked. Oh well. Brendan’s date started with him awkwardly waving at Tayshia like one of those inflatable car dealership wavey men, and then his niece randomly showing up to a carnival setup that looked like it had been designed by the Child Catcher from Chiddy Chiddy Bang Bang to lure in children under the false pretense of being a good time…
The niece and Brendan did have a pretty sweet handshake (eerily reminiscent of the “slap it, shoot it, kaboot it” handshake pioneered by Dewey Finn and Laurence “Mr Cool” the piano player in the cafeteria at Horace Green Prep) but color me weird, wasn’t it a little strange that Brendan’s niece was just on their hometown date in the first place? I could understand a daughter, and maybe the niece if it was actually a hometown visit, but flying this girl out to the La Quinta and making her hobby-horse race Tayshia seems like a lot. I guess the boundaries of uncomfortable Bachelor franchise family exposure were made indelibly blurry after Madison attended Peter’s parents’ vow renewal ceremony on their first date, but still. The meeting of the brother and sister-in-law was pretty unspectacular in all honesty, as was Brendan’s post-meet-and-greet interactions with Tayshia – onto the next one!
Zac is from New York, and so obviously his pseudo-hometown date involved dead-lifting a cardboard cutout yellow taxi and walking it around to various knock-off NYC eateries. The first stop was a coffee and bagel experience with food that I would have been disappointed to see at my local Dollar General. Zac was acting all weird that Tayshia put a blueberry on her bagel, but don’t let it distract you from the fact that gummy bears and sour worms were also options – real authentic! Pizza was the next stop, followed by a casual dip in one of the resort’s choleric fountains. Literally the romantic options have been so desperately depleted that Zac is baptizing himself in search of some spiritual relief from the monotony!
I’m not sure if Zac’s family was fully aware that their trip to Palm Springs was a part meet-Tayshia part Bikram yoga retreat, but whatever their pre-existing expectations, the temperature settings in their hotel rooms rendered it the most uncomfortably sweaty situation since I attempted to go viral by recreating the Call On Me music video in my basement. Zac’s dad is a real cutie, but I think both parents need to stop conflating their son smiling with him being in the most advantageous personal situation. Cookies and cream ice cream makes me smile, but it doesn’t mean that I’m willing to stake the rest of my life on its constant consumption. Everyone wants their child to be happy, I’m just not convinced that a smile and a laugh are enough for them to be sold to the extent that they are!
Ivan’s date was by far the most mushy and genuine of the four. They made Filipino food with some instructions from Ivan’s niece (what’s the weird obsession with nieces this episode?!) and just hung out in the kitchen like two normal people cooking dinner. Unlike Zac and family, Ivan put his aeronautical engineering degree to good use and managed to figure out the air conditioning on his date which was a welcome relief! I was uncomfortable just watching Ivan’s 73-year-old dad with pulmonary fibrosis, a walking, talking COVID comorbidity, on the screen, but he asked some excellent and elder-statesmanlike questions. The big reveal was Ivan’s brother Gabriel coming to surprise him. Now I’m no expert on crime and tattoos, but I have seen enough episodes of Ross Kemp on Gangs to know that two tears tatted on his face means that Gabriel ain’t no Angel! It was nice to see that the worst part about prison, the Dementors, didn’t adversely impact him too much and he corroborated just how much of a sweetheart Ivan is in his conversation with Tayshia.
Ben kicked off his date by saying “I was raised in Indiana but home is wherever you feel most yourself, so we’re going to Venice Beach.” Doesn’t this entirely defeat the point of hometowns? I have a sneaking suspicion that if I were to use this rationale in his position I might just feel most myself in Mykonos or the French Riviera, but Ben transported us to Venice Beach for another very milquetoast date.
Ben’s attending family members were his sister and then celebrity chef Antonia Lofaso, who, despite my having watched upwards of 500 hours of Guy’s Grocery Games, I didn’t immediately recognize largely because I thought she was the lady at Town Line Liquors in Natick who hasn’t taken her Bruins sweatshirt off since 2001 and was majorly excited. Anyways, Antonia must have brewed up a pretty potent love potion because she finally got Ben to admit that he was in love with Tayshia. Unfortunately, “In true Ben fashion” he was unable to spit the words out to Tayshia’s face and ultimately paid the price for his indecision by getting sent home…
None of the men have told Tayshia they love her yet – another sign that THESE MEN ARE REALLY FUCKING NORMAL AND THIS SHOW IS NOT. Regardless, things are finely poised from a competition perspective insofar as I have no idea who is going to win. Fantasy suites are right around the corner – talk to you next week!