It’s hometown visits tonight, with Rachel meeting the families of Bryan (Miami), Eric (Baltimore), Peter (Madison, WI) and Dean (Aspen, CO) over uneaten dinners. Map the route from LA to each of those cities, like a connect-the-dots game on a paper place-mat, and you get the shape of a big thumbs-down.
Afterwards, everyone but the families and pets will go, hopefully on Delta, to Rachel’s hometown of Dallas. There, we’ll witness a “gut-wrenching and heartbreaking” Rose Ceremony. Other organs will be spared.
Meanwhile, recent reject Iggy is complaining that the audience didn’t get to see enough of him. Please refer to seasons 1 through 12 for comprehensive information on why no one cares. He also claims we’re supposed to be interested in the relationships between the guys, which, frankly, is just peculiar. If we want to see a bunch of over-developed clods fight mindlessly from a script, we’ll watch WWE. Even more interesting is that Iggy is only 30 years old. He looks like a middle-aged beach bum who’s been saving up since the 90’s to buy a muscle car.
Dean, who has the unfortunate last name of Unglert, will be jabbering more about this lousy relationship with his dad, who has the unfortunate full name of Harold Unglert. Notably, considering most Bachelorette families are banal, unsurprising people with no apparent personalities besides “Sopranos-type overprotective dad” and “Chico’s-shopping, well-coiffed mom yearning for her lost youth,” Dean’s dad converted to Sikh and now goes by the name Paramroop Singh Khalsa. However, if we wanted to see that, we’d watch a public access channel.
However, that’s not why Dean considers his father “eccentric,” and hasn’t seen him in two years. In truth, Dean wanted the most compelling back-story when he auditioned for the show. Fortunately, he was careful to warn his Instagram followers not to attack his dad’s adopted religion just because his apparently unlikable dad is a member. That would be like people disparaging my religion just because of Shia LaBeouf.
Rachel meets Eric first in Baltimore. He points out that he’s from a lesser area, and that instead of relaxing in a lovely green space, they’ll visit the crime-ridden hellhole he grew up in. There they play basketball, because according to What’s Happening!, that’s what young people of color do. A man approaches them. He is Rob, Eric’s Man 1. Rachel wants to know the last time Eric brought a girl home, which is still never, but Rob points out that Eric got straight A’s in school. In every subject but sex ed, apparently.
Rachel admires that Eric took control of his life without any positive role models, kind of like Oliver Twist. Eric describes friends who went to jail, drugs, danger lurking in the streets. He should have auditioned to become The Batman. Rachel is feeling the pressure of being his first girlfriend to earn a visit his family. It’s even worse than Jane Eyre’s experience.
The family cheers when they arrive, and Rachel feels the love and warmth from the crowd. Eric tells everyone how they first met, a cherished memory created by a savvy production team. Rachel then meets with Eric’s mom, who’s pleased with how much Eric likes Rachel. Then she asks about the race thing, and all the judgment from people on the internet, which, to be fair, is an issue for everyone on TV no matter who they are or what they say. This is Ann Coulter’s week to experience the fallout. Rachel notes that love doesn’t have a color, unless you’re talking about an adorable pair of shoes that must match your bridesmaid outfit.
Eric is not afraid of commitment, Mom reveals, and she thinks Eric is ready despite the fact that until now, he’s been either catting around or a virgin. She approves of Rachel. Eric talks with some other family member, whom he tells he doesn’t want to run from love any more. Wait, is this mom? Who was the other lady? If she’s grandma, she looks great. Eric tells his mom thank you for being there for him. I hope Dean isn’t watching.
Mom talks with Rachel now. “What draws you to him?” she asks the woman who auditioned when The Bachelor was Nick Viall. Rachel explains that Eric “calls her out,” and she needs somebody like that. It’s like being in the courtroom when the judge overrules her motion. Another family member talks with Eric and offers his support. They have a lotta love, man.
Rachel looks uncomfortable when Eric gives a toast that repeats the now-dreary theme about him always running from love. He needs to listen to more Gershwin. But he asserts that Rachel has allowed him to open up as a man and not run. In a pinch, she can break his kneecaps.
Next we go to Miami, where Crockett and Tubbs are still the driving theme for opening music. Rachel repeats how she thought Bryan was too good to be true when they first met, but now she sees the genuine person under the beard and abs. They go to play dominoes in the park, which according to Tortilla Soup, is what Spanish-speaking people do. Then they walk in the neighborhood and have some delicious ethnic treats. I think I saw some of this footage on a Bronx episode of Neighborhood Slice.
His parents are very different people, Bryan tells Rachel. Dad is quiet and reserved, while his mom is a fireball, kind of like if Teller were married to Charo. Rachel really wants his family to accept her, but she worries that his last girlfriend didn’t get along with them. Yea, Rachel, but SHE WAS ANOTHER PERSON.
Bearing a much larger bouquet of flowers than Eric’s mom got, Rachel and Bryan visit his home. There must have been a sale on white sectionals when they created these sets. Mom is very close to Bryan, which may explain why he’s still single. He tells her Rachel is the one, but Mom cautions him to be sure, or at least I think that’s what she says. Rachel talks with Sis about that other pesky girlfriend. Sis accuses the woman of being threatened by Bryan’s disturbingly Oedipal relationship with his mom. She must have been a lit major.
Mom reinforces to Rachel that Bryan is smothered like a pork chop by his family’s obsessive love for him. I think she warns that Rachel better not try to take him from her, because marriage is not for the fainthearted or the merely passive-aggressive. Nevertheless, she approves of Rachel, although I see a true-crime book in the couple’s future entitled Fatal Passion. Bryan confesses his love for Rachel, which she enjoys. Her head is spinning, and it’s not from all the liquor.
Next is Madison, WI with Peter, who wants to show Rachel his Midwestern roots and probably make her taste a lot of cheese. They walk in the city as Rachel remarks on how she got to know him better in Geneva. Yet she remains concerned that he is not ready for marriage. His walls are more invincible than the one Trump plans for the border.
They settle into a booth at a place where his friends are coming by the meet her. If Rachel gets along with them, all will be well in Peter’s mind. That is, once she passes the written exam and physical. Conveniently, they’re two inter-racial couples, so we can presume Rachel and Peter will make it a six-some. Peter takes the two guys off to interrogate them. They think it’s a good match, although it appear they really just want the paycheck for three minutes of air time.
But Peter is indeed nervous about proposing, in case he’s not absolutely sure by then. He seems to think the pre-scripted televised marriage proposal is as binding as a Trump NDA. Everyone on this show breaks up in three months anyway, and you don’t lose anything on the ring.
In Cottage Grove, they go to meet his family carrying a few lilies. I’m beginning to think the bouquet dimensions signal something. The Peter Family is blindingly white, so their sofa is taupe for contrast. Rachel loves how loving Peter is with his little niece, which bodes well for fatherhood if he can first get over the hump of getting married. SIL says Peter wears his heart on his sleeve, and obviously likes Rachel. She acknowledges that something is holding him back, though. Cue Jaws music.
Mom consults with Peter, who says he thinks he’s ready to propose, but might freeze at the vital moment, mostly because the director calls “cut.” One guy runs from love, another is too good to loved, now this one hesitates about love.
Mom next talks with Rachel, asking where she sees herself in four years. I never know how to answer that in a job interview. After replying that she wants a home, children, and a corner office, Rachel asks again if Peter is ready emotionally. Mom sees her son as able to commit, but not necessarily to marriage. She recommends shacking up until Rachel issues an ultimatum, or perhaps boiling a bunny to get him jump-started.
Rachel is displeased. She wants more than a boyfriend, more than a roommate, less than a ball and chain. Peter reassures her that today was a “game-changer,” but he’s still all “let’s consider just boinking and presume nothing more serious.” I suspect Peter uses a slide rule and graph paper to measure his relationships’ progress.
In Aspen, CO, Dean is waiting for Rachel in what looks like purple leggings. His dad can’t be that eccentric. They go off to ride ATVs, which are equipped with handlebar cams. Rachel calls Dean her “beautiful surprise,” because they always click and have fun. I hope there’s no ugly surprise in the Fantasy Suite. They picnic on some hay bales as she worries about seeing his family all together for the first time in years. She asks why Dean became estranged from his dad. After some hemming and hawing, he admits he has never told his father that he felt abandoned. I think this was an Irwin Shaw novel in the 70’s. In the movie version, Dean was played by Grant Goodeve.
Nevertheless, parent, step-parents, siblings, and in-laws greet the couple warmly. They sit in a circle on the floor, in the first house that doesn’t look like it was furnished entirely at West Elm. Dean looks miserable, however, as Dad introduces a gong ceremony, which requires everyone to lie still on the floor and listen. Then Dad tells how his deceased wife said feathers were her symbol, so he presents some as a memoir of her and her love. Rachel thinks it’s a beautiful thing, yet Dean believes it’s not genuine, based on how the family collapsed after his mother’s death. You never see this kind of conflict in the romance comics.
Then Dean sits with his dad, who tells his son he is talking from his energy points. Evs, dad. Rachel asks the sister about Dean’s myriad issues. She feels Dean and Dad need to have a talk, preferably with a licensed therapist and not on tape. Meanwhile, Dean tearfully challenges his dad about how he neglected the family. Dad won’t engage, and becomes angry at the accusations he feels are unwarranted. It’s a painful, emotionally voyeuristic battle over who suffered more from an impossible loss. The scene doesn’t belong on The Bachelorette with or without licensed sad music over the dialogue. It needs Dr. Phil and cuts to moved audience members.
Rachel is distressed by all this, and asks to talk with Dad in private. He’s not thrilled. Mid-sentence, he rises to walk away, explaining that he’s upset by Dean’s bitterness and resentment, and probably also for having strangers film the whole encounter. He honors that the couple met on a reality TV show, but cannot address the issue further until a publisher offers him a book advance. Rachel goes inside to find Dean prone on the pillows. His dad did spring for excellent orthodontic work, but Dean is overwhelmed and can’t process his emotions, even though they’re noted in the script. So they make out.
Now we are in Dallas, preparing for the Rose Ceremony. Rachel has feelings for all four men, but she must send one home so next week can be just an hour. Chris arrives to ask how the week was. She offers positives and negatives for Eric, Bryan, Peter, and Dean, mostly having to do with vague, unspecified “feelings.” She ultimately underscores the primary issue with the show’s premise, which is that it’s superficial and crude to shop for human beings like they’re on sale for another hour on Amazon Prime Day (I’m paraphrasing here).
The ceremony begins, reliable as the exterminator every first Monday of the month even though I never let him spray. Rachel describes how big it was for her to meet their families. She is having feelings of love, so making the decision tonight is very difficult. She apologizes in advance for dumping him, whoever he may be, Dean.
The first rose goes to Bryan. The second goes to Eric. The third is for either Emotional Wreck or Uncertain Future. The latter wins. He needs less therapy to recover. Dean looks resigned, but never stops smiling. Maybe he’s signing on for Bachelor in Paradise.
Rachel tells Dean she underestimated how she would feel at this point. Puh-leese. He leaves, shocked, confused, and betrayed by a show template that hasn’t varied in 13 seasons. I bet now he won’t speak to Rachel for two years.
Next week, after an emotional segment in Dallas that has nothing to do with the governor’s horrendous policies, they’re in Spain. Advantage: Bryan.