In honor of hometowns, today I found 4 people I barely know and met their families. I had heart-to-hearts with the women in the master bedroom and talked man-to-man on the leather sofa in the living room. Then, as only basic middle americans can do, I tempered my emotions with constraint, crying just the teensiest amount– my eyes welling ever so slightly with tears that never rolled down my cheeks.
Amanda’s hometown date in Laguna Beach is like a convergence of Reality TV: The Bachelor meets Laguna Beach meets Teen Mom. Ben meets Amanda on the beach wearing an awfully tight pair of pants that he barely manages to roll up mid-calf. The constant stream of alcohol required for this process is definitely taking a toll on his thighs. But no matter- today is the day that Ben will meet Amanda’s two girls. It’s a big deal, considering that introducing them to their own father turned out to be a huge mistake.
Ben asks Amanda what the kids are into these days to see if they have any shared interests. Amanda says they LOVE to be chased, so there’s definitely common ground– don’t we all just want to be wanted?
The meeting starts off on an awkward foot. First, Ben is confused–didn’t he eliminate the twins already? “You both look beautiful” he defaults to the tots. Then, the little one doesn’t acknowledge Ben’s high-five, and neither daughter seems like much of a conversationalist. But he eventually turns things around by hitting his confidence stride while mansplaining octopus sand sculptures–which the girls respond well to. The ice is officially melted and it’s time to chase. “You’re not gonna catch me!” Ben taunts. It’s true–the girls are wearing ridiculous knee-length gladiator sandals, so the running is subpar.
The youngest is a little fussy during the drive home, but LA area traffic is notoriously heinous so I think we all need to give her a pass. After they put her down for a nap, Amanda’s mom has a sit down with Ben. She flat out tells him: Look, Amanda needs to have help. Will you help, or will you be the dad in this video? The conversation really gave him pause. Like, to be an instant dad or not to be an instant dad? That is the question.
At the end of the night, Ben tells everyone a bedtime story: Once upon a time in the city of Los Angeles, a boy named Ben met mommy. But she already had kids and he wasn’t ready to be an instant dad. THE END.
Ben flies to Portland for Lauren’s Hometown date. She asks if he’s hungry and he says “I am” assertively rather than “ermm I guess I could eat if you’re hungry?” –so that’s a breath of fresh air compared to my own situation. They check out the city’s food truck scene and giddily devour Khachapuri, a Georgian bread customarily eaten with a stick of butter. They’re on cloud 9, but who can say if it’s their love or the butter bread?
Next, Lauren treats Ben with a surprise visit to a Whiskey Library. He’s a little bummed not to have brought his velvet smoking jacket, but there’s no denying it feels great for the focus to be back on him after spending a long day devoted to someone else’s children.
Lauren says she could sit in a room with Ben and not speak a word and still feel more content and fulfilled then she ever has in her entire life. So I guess neither of them had much to say in the Whiskey Library.
It’s time to meet Lauren’s family, who look like one of those collectable button-nosed figurine sets sprung to life. Ben extends a hand to Lauren’s father: “Thanks for having me, sir. I’ve heard a lot about your lawn.”
Lauren’s dad likes Ben well enough and affords him the same respect he would any middle class white male. But he’s hesitant to give his blessing. “I don’t want my baby LoLo hurt” he worries. That’s nice but I believe JoJo called dibs on that nickname format?
After all the confusion she caused on her last one-on-one, Caila is hoping for a fresh start in her hometown of Hudson, OH. First stop: her high school’s make-out bench. “I always watched couples come to this bench, and I always dreamed of taking someone special here one day” she tells Ben. Later, she makes him pose for the high school prom portrait she never had.
Caila’s dad is the CEO of a toy company (nice work if you can get it) so they head over to the factory to design and build one of those playhouses used to indoctrinate children in suburban values. And here I was thinking toy-making had long been outsourced to China! It’s hard not to feel patriotic watching all these hard-hatted American workers mill about the factory.
“Let’s paint the roof blue because that’s your favorite color!” Caila suggests. How thoughtful! But Ben doesn’t return the gesture by proposing they paint the exterior yellow because that’s Cailia’s favorite color. Rude.
The final result? I know Tiny Houses are trending right now, but goddamn it’s small. Caila is over the moon and talking like they’re actually gonna move in.
Finally, in a move no one saw coming, Caila’s folks win Best Hometown Date Parents. Caila’s dad calls her “darling” and asks Ben what microwave fame is like. And Caila’s mom? I mean, a) those braces b) that exchange with Ben explaining what a Filipino is, because he literally doesn’t know. It just goes to show you should never judge a parent by their freak of a daughter.
Bachelor Nation, isn’t it high time we asked ourselves: #WhichCaila? The Caila claiming not to have “deep roots” or the Caila who apparently has an entire Filipino community behind her? The Caila who doesn’t think she’s capable of love, or the Caila with brazen, Olivia-level confidence that Ben’s the one and they’re gonna get married and live happily ever after? WHO IS CAILA??
In Dallas, JoJo is pleasantly surprised by roses and a letter left on her doorstep, which she assumes are from Ben. She opens the handwritten letter and reads it out loud for a solid 3 minutes before flipping to the second page and seeing it’s signed not by Ben– but by Chad, her ex.
Look, I know they misled her into thinking it was from Ben by using incorrect grammar and words like “journey.” And the bouquet of roses could easily be misconstrued as on-Bachelor brand (though, if you really think about it, it’s never a bunch of roses- the power is in the singularity of One Rose). BUT. If you’re introducing someone to your parents, you should have a strong handle on their handwriting. Which begs the question- does JoJo think it’s Ben who writes the date card notes in bubble letter penmanship?
Onto the family. Her brothers make a JoJo sandwich and smother her in kisses.
They want Ben to convince them that he’s a better match for their sister than they are.
Ben, completely monotone: “I really do care a lot about your sister .”
JoJo’s brother: “My God-given intuition is that you’ve been coached on that answer.”
Nope, but GREAT suggestion!
JoJo’s mom has had so much work done, it hurts just to look at her face. You’d never know they were related if not for that moment when momma drank straight from the wine bottle. That apple did not fall far from the tree.
Amanda does not get a rose. She’s like
“ YOU BASTARD I ATE MCDONALD’S FOR YOU!!!!” “If you were having any doubts after my hometown date, it would have been nice if you’d have let me known then, rather then, you know send me back to LA just to send me home at a rose ceremony.” At first, this point made a lot of sense to me, ’cause she’s a mom and you’re pulling her away from her kids. But then I was like, wait, isn’t Laguna Beach only like 90 minutes away from the Bachelor Mansion? BUT THEN I forgot about the additional hour of LA traffic.
Ben’s like, to be fair, I did foreshadow this would happen in my Bedtime Story ending.
He feels very sad to send Amanda home. But deep down, he just knew that
moms never spend the night in the fantasy suite it was the right thing to do.