It’s here, it’s heeeeere! My favorite week of The Bachelorette is here! Hometowns! Yes, yes, the romance on this show is all well and good, but I believe it’s at its best when it’s super awkward. And how better to get really uncomfortable than to introduce a stranger to four families who think their children are making a terrible mistake on national television? This is why reality TV was invented.
But I guess before I get too excited, we should jump in and pray this lives up to the (awkward) hype.
We begin in Baltimore, Eric’s hometown. He explains that Baltimore, particularly the part of town where he grew up, can be rough. While playing basketball, a buddy of his says Eric took a different path than a lot of his friends, excelling in school and going after what he wanted in life. Eric was always the friend who took care of everyone, even though no one took care of him. Now, though, he’s ready to accept love from Rachel, the first girl he’s ever brought home. Awwww.
Rachel was super nervous to meet Eric’s family, but they give her a very warm welcome — all nine of them! Eric’s aunt immediately brings up the R-A-C-E issue, asking Rachel what it’s like to be the first black Bachelorette. Rachel replies she wants love, “and love doesn’t have a color.”
In a heart-to-heart between Eric and his mother, she reveals that she kept Eric at a distance when he was younger because she didn’t want him to grow up too reliant on her. That seems like a poor excuse for absentee parenting, but whatever helps you sleep, lady.
In spite of this weird revelation and the many serious conversations Eric has with his family about his upbringing — including his father apologizing for “some of the stuff I put you through” — this family just isn’t strange or awkward enough for me. Eric doesn’t quite manage to say the words “I love you,” but Rachel is still clearly smitten by the end of the date. And I’m ready for some drama!
Cue Bryan’s hometown date in Miami. Bryan doesn’t bring the drama on his own, but he revealed last week that a past relationship ended because the women didn’t get along with his mother, so one can only hope there’s some residual turmoil.
Hot, sexy, Spanish-speaking Bryan introduces Rachel to hot, sexy, Spanish-speaking Miami by way of a park where old men gather and play dominoes, some salsa dancing, and some truly delicious-looking pulled pork. In a primer for what to expect for the evening, Bryan explains that he’s an only child, so meeting his potential mate is a big deal for his mother. Please let this be foreshadowing.
At Bryan’s house, we meet several people, including his adorable mom, Olga, who professes, “Bryan is my life.” You could have a way worse life.
A woman (maybe Bryan’s cousin?) tells Rachel that his ex was threatened by his close relationship with his mother, so even though Rachel knows she won’t feel threatened per se, she’s still nervous to chat with Olga. “Bryan is my life,” Olga says. “I just want to advise you…to give you a warning. You are marrying the family, too. If he’s happy, I’m happy. If not, I will kill you.”
I’m about 98 percent convinced Olga is the head of a Colombian female mafia, and I desperately want to be a part of it. I love her. I know she’s married, but can she be the next Bachelorette?
Next up is Peter, aka hunky, young Willem Dafoe, in his hometown of Madison. They hit up the farmer’s market and buy a bleeding heart plant, because symbolism. Rachel expresses to the camera that she’s concerned Peter isn’t ready to propose after six weeks, which, again, makes him perfectly normal.
They head to one of Peter’s favorite spots, where they meet four of his friends, two of whom are black, which Peter is very proud of (good for you, cisgender white man!). They even offer to show Rachel their “black cards,” which I did not know is a thing. Peter pulls his guy friends aside and expresses his nervousness about the idea of proposing in three weeks, but the guys reassure him that proposing to someone who is also dating three other guys is totally cool.
At Peter’s parents’ house, Peter talks to his family about his doubts yet again, which could either be the producers trying to steer us away from the idea that Peter is the final guy or actual evidence that Peter can’t commit. Rachel is worried. And rather than telling her he’s in love at the end of the night, Peter tells Rachel he had a great day, and he’s “really, really happy.” Damnit, Peter, it just isn’t enough! Can’t you see the woman needs more?!
At this point, we’re a little more than an hour into the show, and we’ve had three quick hometowns. Now for the pièce de Bachelorette résistance, young Dean’s hometown date in Aspen. He hasn’t seen or talked to his father in two years. This should be fun.
But let’s delay the inevitable, shall we? Let’s ride ATVs around the countryside and drink Champagne while sitting on bales of hay! Eventually, we get to the good stuff, which is that Dean’s father is a kundalini yogi and has converted to Sikhism and now goes by the name Paramroop, which means “divinely beautiful.”
As they walk up to Dean’s dad’s home, he tells Rachel that he’s not nervous, he’s terrified. “This is going to be awful,” he says, ominously. Upon entering the house, we see that there is no furniture in Paramroop’s house. Everyone is sitting on floor pillows while Paramroop plays the living room gong.
Now, I just want to take a moment to say that this isn’t that weird. What’s making it weird is how uncomfortable Dean is. Plenty of people practice Sikhism (it’s the ninth-largest religion in the world). Maybe there’s more to the abandonment Dean felt from his father after his mother’s death, but if it’s really just about his father’s conversion, Dean needs to broaden his horizons a little.
Through tears, Dean’s father presents Rachel and Dean with some feathers, which he says are symbolic of Dean’s mother. Rachel thought it was lovely. Dean, meanwhile, is still struggling to participate.
As Rachel and Dean’s sister chat outside, Dean and his father finally discuss the past. Paramroop was a traditional father who didn’t know how to be both parents after Dean’s mother passed away, and he thinks he did the best he could with the skills he had. Dean, meanwhile, feels his father abandoned him. It’s clear neither of these men have really dealt with their feelings. This is actually really sad.
Paramroop storms out, and when Rachel asks to talk to him, he says “If you must. I’m really kind of done.” He’s so upset by his conversation with Dean that he wishes her “blessings” and walks away. Rachel and Dean lie down on the living room floor to rehash what just happened, while Paramroop stands outside, creepily staring through the back window.
In the midst of all the drama, though, Dean tells Rachel that he’s falling in love with her, and Rachel tells Dean that he’s “fantastic.”
Back home in Dallas, Rachel prepares for the rose ceremony and says she’s absolutely falling in love with all four men. Through tears, Rachel gives roses to Bryan, Eric and Peter. Poor Dean is left roseless and virtually family-less.
Rachel explains that she wonders if Dean is ready for commitment, and she emphasizes that she meant everything she said about him. Dean, always a gentleman, tells her she has some great men left and wishes her well.
Next week, Rachel takes the men to Spain to meet her family, and there will be lots of tears, because dating three hot men in a beautiful foreign country is really, really hard.