Record Review: The Bachelor Week 8

And we’re back! I know we’re a little bit late this week. That’s because I do have other stuff going on in my life, such as Parody (which you should all go see!) and working on a cat puzzle in the TAP office. (And … classes? Sure. Classes too.)

But it was worth the wait, because this week’s episode was Hometown Dates, where Nick travels back to the hometowns of each of the remaining women and meets their friends and family members who are willing to appear on this ridiculous show. Despite whatever absurd cliffhanger we had last week with the women talking about how nervous they were about being turned away, Nick gives roses to each of the remaining ladies (Raven, Rachel, Corinne, and Vanessa), and away we go.

First up: Raven’s hometown of Hoxie, Arkansas. I really appreciate that Raven’s personality shines through whenever she’s on the screen. She also looks so adorably excited to be back home. And when Nick asks what there is to do in Hoxie, Raven’s response is amazing: “You go mudding, you go frog gigging, you go climb grain bins … the grain bins hold, like, a lot of secrets.”

In search of those elusive grain bin secrets, Nick and Raven decide to scale a grain bin (which seems like a terrible idea. People used to drown in grain silos. I remember learning that as a child and it made quite an impression on me. I’m sure there are worse ways to go than asphyxiating at the bottom of a GIANT CYLINDER OF CORN, but there’s something really dreadful about food-related deaths (such as drowning in a flood of molasses. THIS IS A THING THAT REALLY HAPPENED IN BOSTON. Like a hundred years ago, but still)).

Naturally, an officer of the law pulls up and starts giving them a hard time for not having identification (and attempting to suss out the grain bin’s secrets, which are apparently well-protected in this town). Nick starts stammering like a fool, only to find out that the officer is actually Raven’s big brother, who’s just giving them a hard time for fun. What a great joke! Getting hassled by cops is such topical humor. Definitely not tone-deaf in any way.

Assuming Nick didn’t know ahead of time that this was Raven’s brother (which seems unlikely, but let’s pretend), was that his best shot at talking his way out of trouble?! He managed to suck all the joie de vivre out of the room (or grain silo) and would be a terrible partner-in-shenanigans. Hard pass.

Nick and Raven then go ATV-ing through fields of mud, which naturally ends with them making out in like six inches of water for no reason? They look like they’re having fun, and the Viall does have a lot of abs, so congratulations? I don’t have it in me to get mad right now. Make out in that mud, kids. Whatever.

They finally go to the homestead to meet Raven’s parents. She’s delighted to be reunited with her family, and they take to Nick more than I thought they would. Her dad tells Nick as much: “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I didn’t expect to like you.”

Everyone parts with tears, and Raven wonders whether she missed her opportunity to tell Nick she’s fallen in love with him (which, didn’t she already do that? When they were skating through the dope Milwaukee Art Museum? It’s been a long eight weeks, y’all).

Next up: Dallas, Texas, where Nick reunites with Rachel. They begin their day at Rachel’s church, where Nick looks quite ill-at-ease. “I’m very comfortable in a place of worship,” he tells Rachel. “Amen is amen, you know?” …but is it, Nick? Haven’t countless wars been fought throughout human history because amen is not, in fact, amen? You know what, never mind. I don’t know why I do this to myself. Let’s carry on.

Anyway, we receive the gift of a beautiful fact nugget when Nick asks how to prepare for meeting Mr. Lindsay, Rachel’s father. Rachel tells him that “[her] dad can’t be here due to work obligations.” Ya, like the work obligation to not be seen with this joker. I felt delightfully vindicated that Judge Lindsay refused to go on the show, but according to Chris Harrison’s blog (which I refuse to read, although I probably should start) his Honor “could not appear on our show because he is a federal judge.” He did, however, meet Nick without any cameras present. (Doesn’t that make you feel a little better about the power and gravitas of the federal judiciary? Like, no one on the show gets to spend time with Nick without cameras, but Judge Lindsay lays down the law, and that’s that. It’s all part of ABC’s plan to shore up the judicial branch for the greater good of rule of law and the American democracy.)

I do wonder, though, why Chris Harrison comes right out and contradicts the narrative the show has presented. Are they not even trying to maintain this illusion?

Anyway, the rest of Rachel’s family (including Rachel’s sister and her White husband) are there, and several people push Nick to reflect on what it would be like to be in an interracial relationship. He dodges, of course, and basically says that he doesn’t see race and values Rachel for her personality. I find this line of thinking blindly naïve at best and willfully ignorant bordering on racist at worst, but Rachel’s family is much more forgiving: her sister reflects to the camera, “I like the fact that Nick says, ‘I don’t see color, I see Rachel,’ that sounds nice but at the same time, in the climate that we’re in, I feel like we’ve seen more racism come out, so he does need to be aware. It’s not just something you can hide from and live in your own bubble.”

Overall, though, the evening seems to go well. Rachel’s mom gives Nick her stamp of approval, and Rachel and Nick both appear genuinely invested in their relationship. I’m still quite curious why they break up and why ABC told us about it so early, but I’m trusting that we’ll ultimately find out.

And now we’re whisked away to Miami to step into Corinne’s world. I’m surprised to tell you that this segment actually made me kind of like Corinne. She just makes so much more sense now! Which is weird!

First, we hear Nick’s perspective on Corinne: “My relationship with [her] got its start from our physical connection, and that has been undeniable from the beginning. … She doesn’t worry about the rules. She’ll make her own rules, and I kinda dig that about Corinne.” (WHAT DID I TELL YOU WEEKS AGO ABOUT RULE FOLLOWERS AND RULE BREAKERS?)

Then, we find out what they’re up to for the day: “We’re shopping at one of the most exclusive malls in Miami,” Corinne tells us. “Shopping and me go hand in hand. We’re like white on rice.” Oh, Corinne.

Anyway, they go shopping and Corinne makes Nick try on a bunch of ridiculous shit (“Corinne? I’m putting sweatpants on right now. They’re $800.” “Corinne? This sweatshirt’s only $650.” “I look like a Miami soccer dad”). He also makes a great observation: “If Corinne and I wind up together, I might have to get a couple jobs.” Probably just start with one actual job, Nick, and go from there.

Before they go to meet her family, Corinne tells Nick she loves him. And this time, Nick gets it right: he smiles coyly and goes in for the kiss. OH MY GOD. That’s exactly what he should have done with Vanessa, but didn’t. This shores up the theory I’ve had for the past couple weeks: Corinne is the best match for Nick. They’d never work out, for obvious incompatibility (…$$$) reasons, but personality-wise, they are suited. He cares about her, or at least cares about her enough to not leave her hanging when she tells him she loves him.

Finally, they meet the fam. I’m not sure exactly what I expected, but they were able to use their words to form non-absurd sentences, and both parents had conversations with Corinne that suggested they were reasonably close. Raquel, Corinne’s nanny, is there too. I had a moment of thinking it was so humanizing when Corinne was excited to see Raquel – maybe Raquel really is like a member of the family. But the visual of Raquel, a woman of color, serving dinner to the very White Olympios family, made me very uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up with a nanny (or realize that anyone has grown up with a nanny since Mary Poppins umbrella’d off into the sunset) but this whole dynamic was bizarre to me.

Watching Corinne and her dad interact was adorable. It looked like there was a lot of love in this family, and also probably a lot of money and entitlement. Corinne makes sense to me now, and I kind of like her, and I’m confused. Let’s move on. Their date ends with Corinne saying to the camera, in true Corinne style, “I love Nick. I’m in love with Nick. I just hate that he’s dating three other girls. [pantomimes vomming] Ew.”

And finally! Nick travels to Montreal to see Vanessa. It’s late and I’m tired, so let’s cut to the chase. Nick meets Vanessa’s students, who are moved to tears at the sight of her. It is lovely and touching. In comparison, Nick seems like even more of an insincere tool than usual. They go to meet Vanessa’s mom’s side of the family, who proceed to grill Nick about how their relationship will fare in the real world. Nick is not prepared and super-flubs it. This family is the only one to give him a hard time, and their concerns are super valid but not within the parameters of the show (because the family is concerned about their actual human daughter, Vanessa; the show is concerned with narratives and drama. Not a good mix).

Then, they visit Vanessa’s dad and stepmom. Nick asks her father for his blessing, and the father responds by asking if Nick said the same thing to each of the other parents. Nick says that he did, and Vanessa’s father later relays this to her. She is visibly (and understandably!) devastated to find out that Nick asked three other families for their blessing to get engaged. Vanessa is quite troubled when saying goodbye to Nick, and, for the first time, their relationship seems vulnerable.

Elsewhere on the Internet, Vanessa is getting dragged for this. After all, The Bachelor does it every season; it’s not exactly a surprise. But then again, Vanessa has spent six weeks cut off from her friends and family, likely being told from the very start that she’s the favorite to win. Somewhere along the line, she convinced herself that her relationship with Nick is special, and whatever else has happened to other couples, the two of them are different.

I tend to be very cynical, but I believe Vanessa was sincere in thinking that Nick really did love her more. Our capacity to deceive ourselves is endless. There is nothing you can’t get yourself to believe if you want to badly enough. I just hope she makes it to the other side relatively unscathed.

The rose ceremony is taking place in New York City at some hotel that apparently needs to promote itself to women ages 18-49. Clever editing leads us to believe that Vanessa has left her hotel room to go talk to Nick about her concerns, but when Nick opens his hotel room door, who is on the threshold but ANDI FREAKING DORFMAN, the first of two Bachelorettes to break his heart. (Andi, by the way, is single again, after her engagement went up in flames and she published a scandalous tell-all memoir which was so bad I couldn’t get through five pages, and I read all the Twilight books while sitting on the floor in a Borders. A BORDERS). Andi looks vampy as hell and ready to bring the drama. I hope she tries to convince Nick they belong together. That might honestly be the best outcome for everyone.

Well played, The Bachelor! Well freaking played. I’m back in the game.

Laura Dismore is a 3L.