‘The Bachelor’ Episode 8: Grading Hometown Dates

Meeting parents is a big deal in every relationship, and The Bachelor is no different. Well, it involved four parental meetings into two hours of inaction-packed, ad-filled television, so it was a little different. Still, it asked a lot of questions. Who would Arie jibe with? Which locale would be most interesting? Will any of the dads kill him? Here’s how we graded the hometown dates in order of appearance:

Kendall (Los Angeles, Calif.)

Starting in the taxidermy room was a wonderful way to make Arie uncomfortable. It’s a mystery how Kendall’s taxidermy obsession wasn’t a red flag for Arie. Maybe it’s because she’s quirky and funny? She might be other things, too, but those are the only two adjectives Arie ever uses to describe her. He also said that if they end up together, Kendall can have her room where she does taxidermy and Arie can have his garage where he works on cars. Sounds good, Earnhardt.

The real star of this date was Kylie, Kendall’s identical twin sister. Not only is she slightly more attractive than Kendall (dont @ me), but she also psychoanalyzed the crap out of the Bachelor from the jump. She told Arie she didn’t have a feel for a close connection between him and her sister. Arie, the linguist, discussed how when he and Kendall have conversations “it’s really awesome” and that their chemistry is “amazing.” Kylie sort of stared right through it, acting and speaking like Kendall’s responsible conscience, but ultimately accepted what he had to say. Since he was basically talking to a Kendall clone, it was a real opportunity for Arie to express his true feelings beyond the words “I’m falling for her.” Alas, he didn’t. Still, the witchy identical twin vibes made this date interesting more interesting than the roomful of dead animals it started in.

Grade: A-

Tia (Weiner, Ark.)

This was the date everyone was looking forward to. How would Southwestern Arie mesh with Tia’s down-home Southern family? After driving around a racetrack—wait a minute, did Arie used to race?—and drinking beer in the back of a pickup truck, it was time to find out. Unfortunately, the date mostly disappointed. Tia’s father Kenny called Arie “Airy,” which brought me a brief moment of joy, and her brother Jason seemed like he genuinely wanted to fuck Arie up. But after just a few minutes the hostile vibes from Jason turned sweet, and the whole family turned with it. Her mother and father mostly trust her choices, which makes for a healthy family support structure but shitty reality television. Tia also openly announced she was in love with Arie, but her transparency in vying for Bachelorette came on a little strong.

Grade: C

Becca (Minneapolis, Minn.)

Starting off in an apple orchard is the most basic white-girl-from-Minnesota date we could get, which means it was quintessentially Becca. This was also the point in the show where I realized Arie is as repetitive during this episode as he’s been all season long. Most of that is by the design of the episode, but a lot of it is because Arie has the depth of a kiddie pool.

Anyway, Becca warned Arie about her Uncle Gary, a pastor and father-figure who was not here for the bullshit. He pulled Arie away from the table and immediately brought him to the basement. It seemed as if he might begin beating the Bachelor with his cane, but in the end it turned into an emotional interaction about Becca losing her father. Once Arie said he’d go to church with Becca, Uncle Gary was satisfied. Becca’s mom expressed some reservations about an engagement between the two, but went the typical boring route of respecting her daughter’s judgement. Can we get one goddamn family-destroying blowout on here? Combative Uncle Gary and the Midwestern family values bump this date up, but not much.

Grade: B

Lauren (Virginia Beach, VA)

It started with horse riding slowly down the beach, which perfectly echoes Lauren—pretty but dull. (Lauren also described this as her happy place, which is like, y’know, SO relatable.) Arie seemed way more jittery to meet Lauren’s family than anyone else’s, and maybe with good reason. The family self described itself as conservative, which means that her dad definitely listens to all three hours of Rush Limbaugh while bathing in liberal tears. Sure enough, the family was astonished by Arie’s Dutch heritage (imagine if he’d been brown!) and her aunt asked her to say something in his native tongue. An awkward silence followed, and this date was officially cooking with oil.

Things heated up around the dinner table when Lauren’s dad talked about the family’s military roots. Arie decided he needed a moment away from the family to collect himself, and compared his nerves to those he felt while driving in the Indy 500 (in which he finished 28th). That made it all the more exciting when dad brought him out to the backyard for a chat. But the sly Bachelor dropped one anecdote about visiting soldiers in Iraq and Lauren’s dad melted. Really, it was her mother that brought the heat, asking Arie whether or not he’s just repeating what he’s saying to all this women and their families (pro tip: he is). Lauren went on to say to her mother, “I don’t think he’d telling me he was falling for me if he was saying that to other people,” proving that she has no idea how the universe she’s been trapped in for months works at all. Points scored for open skepticism and militaristic intimidation, but points lost for actual follow-through.

Grade: B-

Once the hometown dates were all said and done, Arie made another production out of the rose ceremony. Before making his decision, he pulled Kendall away and ask if she was serious about marriage. Exasperated, Kendall admitted that she’s not definitely ready for engagement but remains open to it. Kendall’s honesty is refreshing, especially since none of the other remaining contestants would admit that. Turns out it was enough to get her a rose.

Tia wound up the odd one out, and like every other woman that lost this season, she dodged a bullet. But that didn’t stop the waterworks and Arie’s eloquent “I don’t have a good explanation” explanation for eliminating her. Tia walks away without the love she desired and, given some of her reported behavior, perhaps without the coveted Bachelorette title, either.

Next week, the women tell all and we get two straight nights of Bachelor action. Things are sure to get messy.

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