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There are few experiences in this world as universally shared as being utterly humiliated by your parents. It doesn’t matter if you’re my six year-old every time I show up to school pickup without a bra on or you’re an adult whose dad just asked the waitress if she was pregnant. At some point, someone you love is going to mortify you in public. With a little luck and poor decision making, the rest of us will be able to watch that moment happen in HD like we did on The Bachelorette this week.
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Settle in for a cornucopia of secondhand embarrassment, because Rachel’s final four boyfriends are taking her home to meet their families. This week’s hometown dates featured a death threat, every black friend Peter has ever had, three declarations of love and one seriously uncomfortable confrontation between Dean and his dad that I hope to never relive. Here are the top moments with gif reactions.
The first stop on Rachel’s tour of love and regret was Baltimore, where Eric grew up in less than ideal circumstances. They played basketball on his childhood court, smashed each other’s noses when they kissed, and talked about how different their upbringings were. Rachel grew up in a strict household with parents who have been married for nearly 40 years and private schools to help her along the way. Meanwhile Eric had a dad who was involved in criminal activity, a single mother who was never there for him emotionally, and friends who were in and out of jail. Eric has never been in love or introduced anyone to his family, which Rachel sees as a red flag. But honestly, who can blame him? He had a different starting point in life than Rachel. So yes, he is immature and inexperienced, but he’s also really hot and managed to claw his way out of a tough life, so he deserves to be graded on a curve. Then again, he kept purring like a cat every time he kissed Rachel so maybe we should make it pass/fail.
Rachel was thoroughly terrified as they walked into Eric’s aunt’s apartment to meet his family, but she shouldn’t have been, because they were great. Everyone welcomed Rachel with shouts of “heeeeeey,” they danced in unison on the couch, and one of his female relatives wore a fully sequined blouse like she was going to a Bachelorette party in Vegas. What’s not to like? Obviously it’s not a hometown date on The Bachelorette unless the family’s dirty laundry is being aired for all of us to judge so Eric’s parents were in the hot seat. They both admitted their shortcomings as parents, but also excused them since they led to Eric being so wonderful. Did they just give themselves credit for making his life hard? Eric responded to them with unconditional love and grace, so he’s a better person than me.
I don’t have time to think about Eric telling Rachel that he loves her, and then qualifying it by saying, “that means I really care about you,” because you haven’t even heard about the joy that is Auntie Verna. Let me tell you, Eric’s doppleganger Auntie Verna was gearing up to steal Chris Harrison’s job. She sat down with Rachel, looked her in the eyes, and said, “Let’s bring up the r-a-c-e word.” Finally, a chance for Rachel to speak to another woman of color, and one who is a professional diversity consultant? We really could have used Auntie Verna when Lee was on the show. Rachel admitted that the pressure she feels to represent an entire ethnicity is overwhelming, but that she deserves the opportunity to fall in love just like the other 12 bachelorettes who came before her, regardless of the color of their skin. Everyone deserves an Auntie Verna.
Rachel left Baltimore for balmy Miami where she embraced Bryan with the enthusiasm of a youth soccer team at snack time; voraciously. She ran into his arms yelling, “baby” and he reattached his face to hers like he was drowning and her mouth was an oxygen tank. These two are hot for each other. It doesn’t matter if they’re playing dominoes against professionals, eating street food, or salsa dancing, they’re just glad to be together. Ugh, I’m going to have to be happy for them, aren’t I? Rachel uses words like “hot, steamy, and sexy” to describe Bryan, but I think of him more like “mildly attractive, slimy, and a gross kisser.” Rachel is way too busy looking at him with lusty eyes to care what anyone else thinks and the feeling is mutual, because Bryan confidently told her that he’s in love with with her. She audibly gasped, you guys. I think it’s real.
Last week we learned that Bryan’s mom was responsible for his last break-up so we knew we were in for a treat. Olga did not disappoint. Bryan is an only child, but in such a way that I’m pretty sure his mom has a life size doll created in his image to tuck into bed at night. You know that I Love You Forever children’s book where the mom uses a ladder to sneak into the window of her adult son’s bedroom so that she can rock him in his sleep? That’s her. Olga told Rachel that her biggest fear is that a woman will try to come between her and her son. Her 37 year-old son. She even went to mass before their meeting to ask God to help her accept Rachel into their lives. Then she threatened to kill Rachel if she hurts him, but I guess that’s what confession is for. Rachel laughed it all off as sweet and passionate, but she’s just lust blind because that ish was crazy. Sure, his mom said that she liked Rachel and would accept her, but she also looked like she was plotting where she could hide a Rachel size body in Miami so who are we supposed to trust?
Finally it was time for my boyfriend Peter’s hometown date in Madison, Wisconsin. Peter looked so good strolling hand in hand with Rachel at a farmer’s market that I’m almost ready to forgive Wisconsin for their contribution to the 2016 presidential election. It was pretty clear that Peter’s goal during his hometown date was to get outside opinions to confirm that what he’s feeling for Rachel is real. He did that by enlisting two biracial couples he is friends with to hang out with them. He may as well have tattooed “I have black friends” across his forehead. They talked about how goofy Peter is in real life and Rachel admitted that he has been pretty reserved. At that point I got pretty nervous, because she wasn’t showing even close to the same amount of chemistry with Peter as she did with Bryan. My concern must have showed on my face because I caught my husband staring at me. When I asked why he was looking at me like that he said he was, “watching you look at your boyfriend, Peter.” At least I’m predictable.
I’m going to be vulnerable here for a second, Peter’s family scared me. Not because they’re scary, they seem perfectly wonderfully and seeing Peter play with his niece made me want to reverse my husband’s vasectomy while he sleeps. But, because none of them seem super confident that he’s ready to get engaged. His mom told Rachel that she thinks he’s ready for commitment and a family, but “not necessarily ready to propose.” His sister-in-law admitted that he has always seemed to be holding something back in relationships. This show is going to kill me. As they were saying goodbye to one another Peter kissed Rachel and said, “I don’t know what else to say. I’m very happy. That’s it.” He did NOT just say that. Peter, if you need a little help knowing what to say, try literally anything other than “that’s it” when a woman is waiting to hear a declaration of love.
It was clear when the first three dates only took up half of the two hour time slot that Dean’s hometown was going to be where most of the drama derived. Dean and Rachel started their day wearing coordinating skinny jeans, racing ATV’s and giving us close-ups of Dean’s perfect face in a too-small helmet. It would be impossible for Rachel to not be physically attracted to Dean. A mollusk would be physically attracted to the man. Have you seen his eyes? However, it seems fairly obvious that Dean isn’t still on this show because Rachel sees a future with him. He’s still on this show because his sad backstory is reality television gold and The Bachelorette needs to squeeze every sad moment out of it while they can. As they built up to the moment when Dean would see his family together in the same room for the first time in 8 years, he was physically shaking and terrified. He was so uncomfortable that it was almost unwatchable. I mean, we were all definitely going to watch it, because we aren’t idiots, but we weren’t going to like it.
Dean whispered, “This is not a good indication of who I am. This is who I was,” to Rachel as they walked towards his father and step-mother’s home, but at first it really didn’t seem that bad. Sure, his dad Paramroop was wearing a colorful turban from his conversion to sikhism, had floor pillows instead of a table, played the gong, and fed them mung beans, but he was also welcoming and kind. He offered them feathers to represent a blessing from Dean’s late mom and teared filled his eyes when he spoke of her. He clearly has no real connection with his son anymore, but he still appears to love him as well as he knows how.
Unfortunately, that love didn’t extend to listening when Dean finally tried to confront him with his emotional abandonment all of those years before. Dean is hurt, he was harsh and pushed unapologetically for answers, but when Paramroop had the chance to acknowledge his son’s pain, he got defensive and left. I think it was the leaving that hurt Dean the most, because it’s what he expected. My inexpert opinion is that Dean’s dad is doing the best he can to heal from the deep hurt left by Dean’s mom’s death. It’s completely heartbreaking that he wasn’t able to share that healing process with Dean instead of shutting him out.
Rachel tried to talk to Paramroop, but the moment had passed. He told her that he would like a relationship with her in the future if she ends up with Dean, but that he was done with this experience. Rachel went back into the house, cuddled up next to Dean on the floor pillows, and did her best to comfort him. She must have done a pretty good job, because he told her that he’s falling in love with her. Now, there have been many critiques of this date all over the internet. Most people think having Dean confront his dad was exploitative. To be clear, yes, of course it was. However, my interpretation was that Dean was appreciative of the emotional support and bravery lent to him by the show. What I found exploitative was Rachel comforting Dean in that moment, letting him say he’s falling in love with her and then her saying it back to him. No, Rachel, stop. That isn’t helping anything. You clearly aren’t going to pick Dean in the end. Being his rock in this situation, giving him the hope that he has a new family in you, and then breaking up with him is wrong. That’s exploiting his vulnerability and I won’t let you treat sweet baby Dean like that.
Is anyone else feeling depressed after these hometown dates? Eric’s parents are still clueless, Rachel really likes Bryan, Peter can’t commit, and poor Dean just got his heart ripped out by his dad. Can we go to bed yet? Rachel was feeling the same way when she finally sat down with Chris Harrison for the first time in like 300 years. Nice of you to show up, Harrison. She cried into his handkerchief about how hard it is for her to be selfish and hurt people in order to find the love she wants. It was a really emotional moment so Chris dug deep and offered her some comforting words. I’m lying, he said, “I’m sorry” and then stared at his handkerchief in her hands like he wanted to snatch it back.
Let’s get this sad episode over with before I give up and start watching food documentaries on Netflix. Rachel and her four boyfriends met in Dallas to determine who would be moving on to the overnight dates and which man would be going home. Much to Peter’s (and my) dismay, the first rose went to Bryan. Help me out here guys, she’s really into Bryan and I’m not coping well. The second rose would surely go to my boyfriend right? Nope, it went to Eric. Peter looked like he was holding his breath and Dean’s circulation was definitely getting cut off by that bow tie. Rachel paused and look genuinely pained as she gave the last rose to Peter. He sighed a huge sigh of relief and accepted his rose, but it looks like he may have finally gotten the clue that he needs to step up his game before he ends up alone with only me to stalk his Instagram updates.
For his part, Dean took his dismissal stoically like we knew that he would. He was shocked that she would lie about falling for him, but she tried to assure him that she meant everything she said. He wasn’t convinced and neither was I. Luckily he is easily convinced to sign up for terrible reality TV dating shows, because it was announced that he’ll be on Bachelor in Paradise this August.
With only three men remaining, it can only mean one thing: fantasy suites. Ugh, like we need Rachel and Bryan to have anymore time alone. But first Rachel’s family will have the opportunity to meet Peter, Bryan and Eric before they leave for Spain. The trailer made it look like Rachel’s sister wasn’t a big fan of Bryan so I already love her.
I don’t know. I don’t even know. My instincts say that Peter is the one for Rachel, but her tongue says otherwise. Regardless, I think it’ll still be Bryan and and Peter in the end. If Eric sneaks in there and steals a spot from Bryan I won’t be sad or surprised. Mostly because this is The Bachelorette and they’d never miss the opportunity to have the “first black bachelorette” (as Auntie Verna would say with emphasis) choose between a white man and a black man. Gross.
Did you find this week’s episode as depressing as I did? Is it lust or love with Bryan? Is Peter going to pull it together? Let’s talk in the comments!
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