Welcome back to your regularly scheduled Bachelorette recap! This week, spring break is officially over for the girlies. No more desecrating foreign cultural landmarks with over the clothes fondling, or taking artfully staged photos that make it look like the Eiffel Tower is their penis. The S.S. Fuckboy has docked for the last time, so the women can head off to hometowns.
Personally, this is my favorite episode of every season. More than watching the men emasculate themselves during fetish-forward group dates, more than wanting to disintegrate into my chair when the Bachelorette pretends to orgasm during the fantasy suites, more than shrieking when Neil Lane eventually slithers out of the hole ABC holds him hostage in to pander his last-season diamonds to whatever schmuck is still standing—more than any of that, hometowns are my jam. There is literally nothing quite like them.
This is the moment where things stop being polite and start getting real (and by “real”, I mean the lead pretending they might move to a town that only just got a Walmart last year). This is the time in the season when we get to see where these guys hail from. The houses that built them, if you will. Some of these houses are beacons of light and domesticity, the likes of which make you wonder how a human being raised in such a setting could grow up to be this person wearing skinny jeans and promoting his tequila brand on Instagram. Then, there are other houses that are being held together with nothing but the fruits of the HomeGoods sales their mothers frequent in order to feel something. And hometown dates are so important to The Bachelorette process! How will you know if you’re truly ready for marriage unless you’ve witnessed firsthand the cycle of familial trauma that haunts these highly attractive, upper-middle class gene pools? How?
This season, we’ll be witnessing even more trauma than normal, because we’re getting double the hometowns. Gabby heads home with Jason, Johnny, and Erich; Rachel with Zach, Tyler, Tino, and Aven. I will do my very best to be as detailed and thorough as possible, so that when future generations are studying our culture in a million years, they can point to this and marvel at how intellectually inferior we were. Like we do with the cave men and their sad fire-starting sticks. Let’s get into it!
Hometown #1: Jason In New Orleans, Louisiana
First up is Gabby’s visit to Jason’s hometown of New Orleans. Imagine your hometown being New Orleans. Jesus Christ, no wonder Jason is so reserved. All this time I thought he just wasn’t that into Gabby, but it turns out he’s really seen some shit. At one point he says that he can’t wait to show Gabby what he loves about this town, and then the two proceed to throw beads at drunks and ask people on the street to strip. This is the thing he “loves” about this town. Berating drunks and mild nudity. The childhood this guy must have had.
JASON AS A CHILD ON THESE STREETS:
Gabby meets the family and they are surprisingly well adjusted. Booooo. The dad is especially heart-melting to watch, as he speaks more words in his three minutes of screen time than Jason has spoken in his entire tenure on this show. The rest of his family are fine, though Jason’s mom is doing some sort of Priscilla Presley cosplay that is especially unsettling to behold. Jason’s sister appears way too excited about having an F-list celebrity in the family. She’s like “it’s weird, but I’m ready for their wedding”, and you can practically see the sponsorship deals dancing in her head.
The most surprising moment comes at the end of the date, when Jason lets it slip that he’s not ready to get engaged… ever. EXCUSE ME? He doesn’t want to get engaged, but goes on a show where the sole purpose is to produce a marriage?? Is that what you’re telling me right now??
JASON: I don’t know if I’m ready to be engaged
Of course, Jason tells Gabby none of this. He whispers it secretly to his mother and her Bump It, hoping she’ll hold that secret as securely as her hairspray is holding that hair three inches above her head. Neither Gabby nor Jason says anything about falling in love with each other–a proclamation that typically occurs during hometowns after a suitor’s family doesn’t immediately unhinge their jaws and consume the interloper. As far as hometowns go, it’s downright platonic. Where is the drama? The high-octane emotions? She could be meeting Jason’s chiropractor for all the emotional depth Gabby has with him and his family. This lack of emotional connection doesn’t bode well for the rest of the hometowns…
Hometown #2: Zach In Mattel’s Headquarters
Up next is Rachel, and she visits the Mattel factory in which Zach and his family were forged. They’re part of a new line of Barbie, the Politically Neutral Barbie, that wears mostly denim and khaki, and comes complete with a Barbie backyard barbecue set bedecked in twinkle lights and last season’s farmhouse decor.
Here’s the thing: I don’t need to see any more of Zach. The most interesting thing about him is that he spells his name with a “ch” instead of just a “c.” Seriously, what do we even know about this guy aside from the home movies thing and the pilot fetish? That he’s family oriented? Who isn’t family oriented?? Who is going to be like “nah, fuck my family” on a show that contractually obligates you to sacrifice your family’s legacy for the sake of ABC’s ratings? Literally no one.
To their credit, Zach’s family does act the appropriate amount of scandalized that their son wants to marry a woman he only just met six weeks ago.
ZACH’S DAD TO RACHEL: I mean, you go to the most romantic places on Earth, and you’ll fall in love with a monkey.
Sir, don’t insult the monkeys.
As if to emphasize that there is nothing between these two beyond the sum of their own egos, ABC plays them ANOTHER home movie, this time of their love story. You guys, this is so, so, so, so dumb. And what’s worse? This highlights reel of their love story is longer than the “compelling” footage production could string together of the hometown. Zach’s date takes up a whopping seven minutes of our two-hour hometowns journey, and it’s about six minutes too long.
Hometown #3: Johnny In Palm Beach, Florida
Of course Johnny is from Florida. What little I know of this man is that he frequently wears acid wash jeans and felt right at home with a Dutch mistress licking hot wax off his happy trail. That he willingly claims Florida as his home suddenly makes so much sense, just like Gabby showing up in a corset top makes so much sense. She’s not just meeting any family; she’s meeting a Florida family. That is the appropriate attire for such an occasion.
Like Zach, Johnny’s hometown barely makes a dent in the episode’s narrative. The only thing I recall about his family is that his dad wore far too much Brooks Brothers for a man who raised a bunch of sons that look like wannabe band managers. Gabby connects with his family, but there’s no depth to that connection. Like Jason, Johnny also admits to being hesitant in taking the next step with Gabby. My god, does anyone want to propose to this woman?? You know, the thing they signed up to do??
They part ways on chummy terms, like when you go long-distance with your camp boyfriend. The almost-sexually-gratifying hand stuff was fun while it lasted, but after a few pen pal letters written with your best Lisa Frank pens, it’s time to move on to the real thing.
Hometown #4: Tyler In His Boardwalk Empire
I should have known things would not go well during Tyler’s hometown when his first stop on the Tour of Tyler was to show Rachel the saddest beach boardwalk in existence. I don’t know much about Tyler’s hometown of Wildwood, NJ (I prefer my New Jersey beach towns to be actually civilized), but this boardwalk is haunting to behold. It looks like the kind of place where a body would be found in a Law & Order episode. And yet, Tyler is beaming. He is thriving in this ghost town, this coastal graveyard where the human spirit surely goes to die.
Despite not one (living) soul frequenting this boardwalk, every business is open, and the carnies all know Tyler. I’m starting to worry that Tyler’s bio line of “business owner” has been somewhat misleading. Here I thought “business owner” meant that he did real estate, or at the very least dabbled in Bitcoin. Now, I worry that his “business” is that he owns one of these boardwalk game stands. Is it really a business if you just pay rent on a Ms. Pac-Man, Ty? Hmm?
Rachel takes one look at his carnie beginnings and is immediately horrified. After an afternoon spent meeting Tyler’s friends, who run the off-brand Nathan’s Hotdog stand, she quietly excuses herself to cry in a Wildwood bathroom. This is bleak. This is not a chapter in your epic love story. This is a chapter in your therapist’s ever-growing file on your emotional traumas.
Rachel knows she has to break it off with him before she meets his family. She’s not in love with Tyler. They’re from two different worlds. She was raised in suburban Florida, and he was raised in a circus tent. It could never work.
She sits him down to have “the talk”, but Tyler can’t quite grasp that Rachel is actually breaking up with him. No, he thinks her intense crying is a sign of her intense feelings for him. Oh, sweetie. No. He proceeds to express every single emotion that has ever penetrated his soft boy body. He’s practically a human gusher, high fructose corn syrup leaking out of every heartfelt word. As he talks, Rachel stares, horrified, directly at the cameras, The Office-style. This is the first time I’ve ever genuinely thought ABC deserved an Emmy for their camera work.
In Tyler’s defense, he’s saying some incredibly nice things about a woman whose coat is stylistically offensive. Imagine getting dumped by this:
Tyler is still smiling even as he enters his family home alone. They’re like, “where is she, Ty??”, and their hopeful smiles will haunt me in the afterlife. This is low, even for ABC. It’s a level of emotional torture we rarely see on this show, and I’m sort of at a loss for words.
Hometown #5: Erich In Bedminster, New Jersey
As much as I hate rooting for this man and his silent “h”, I do think Erich and Gabby have the most chemistry. This feeling is only reinforced for me when Erich tells us that Gabby will be meeting his terminally ill father. Okay, I’m crying in the club.
This is maybe the heaviest hometown I’ve ever witnessed in all my years watching this godforsaken show. The focus isn’t even really on Gabby so much as this family trying to hold things together. This feels raw—almost too personal to be watching as I guzzle boxed wine and eat frozen pizza. I’m not emotionally equipped to deal with genuine human emotions on a Monday night. When Erich’s mom starts crying and saying that love is not giving up on each other, even my blackened heart is crying uncle.
Later, Erich tells Gabby that he’s falling in love with her, and she reciprocates. It’s all very sweet and romantic. I’m even willing to forgive Gabby when she promptly straddles his lap in the middle of the restaurant, in front of god and that man just trying to eat his calamari, to suck face. You get one of those, Gabby. Just one!
Hometown #6: Tino In Santa Clarita, California
Finally, my favorite baby back bitch is on screen again, and his family is already delivering. Tino’s hometown is like watching one of those Animal Planet videos. You know, the one where the predator plays with its food, giving well-placed strikes designed to produce maximum pain? Tino’s family is that apex predator.
From the moment they meet Rachel, the family is out for blood. They aren’t pulling any punches. Tino’s dad asks how they could possibly be ready for marriage after only knowing each other a short amount of time. His mom goes so far as to reduce their love story to playtime. I think her exact words are, “this isn’t real, call me when you get to the real world.” I screamed. Tino’s mom, you aren’t supposed to say the quiet part out loud!
But the worst of it comes when Rachel sits down with Tino’s dad. He spends their short interaction sautéing what little is left of Rachel’s self esteem. He demands that Rachel convince him that she knows his son. Sir, is that really fair? She might not know who his best friend is, or his darkest fear, or even his last name, but she does know stuff about him! Ask her what the ridge of his penis feels like semi-erect, or that thing his tongue does. Ask her! Go on!
Through it all, Rachel’s southern upbringing is working overtime to salvage the date. At the end of the night she even whispers, in the most submissive tone possible, “thank you for being so welcoming”, as she looks straight into the gaping maw of hell itself. Oh, bless your heart.
TINO: Well, I think they adored you.
HAHAHAHA. My god, men will say anything to get their dicks wet. “Adored” is not the word I would use to describe their feelings towards Rachel. “Mentally poisoning her spray tan formula” is perhaps a better interpretation of their feelings. I mean, the last time a family meet-and-greet went this well, a blood feud started in Verona.
RACHEL & TINO @ TINO’S FAMILY:
And that’s all she wrote, folks! Next week, Aven rounds out the hometown dates before The Men Tell All. Also next week, we’ll (hopefully) find out who is making it to the fantasy suites, assuming Jesse Palmer isn’t too busy cracking himself up with these Bachelor ads to enforce any real rules. Until then!
Images: ABC/Craig Sjodin; Giphy (5)