Honestly, this episode of The Bachelor was not the wall-to-wall cringefest it could have been. Ben Higgins meeting the families of the remaining four women should've been watch-through-your-fingers uncomfortable as they grill him about having identical conversations with three other families, but it ends up sort of repetitive. It was "We love our girl and don't want her to get hurt"/"Mom and Dad, I'm in love with him" four times in a row. Since Ben genuinely cares about all these women and they're all relatively well-adjusted from nice families, this episode was kind of underwhelming in the drama department. Booo, we don't want people being nice to each other! We want one of Jojo's brothers putting Ben in a half-nelson while the other punches him in the stomach!
There was still plenty of weird stuff, though. Let's get to it.
7. Lauren B. & Ben keeping Portland bland
Lauren B. is from Portland, Ore., a place where vegan bicyclists marry teenage runaways in doughnut shops. She shows him a mural of the town's unofficial slogan, "Keep Portland Weird," which is ironic, because Lauren B. and Ben are two of the most normal people in the world. They're walking around the city like they're in a J. Crew catalogue shoot. They're nice and all, but the only thing weird about Lauren B. and Ben is that they're on this show. Lauren B. is showing the other side of Portland, the one you don't hear about, the on that's just regular-ass affluent white people wearing half-zip sweaters like anywhere else in America.
6. Caila's mom
Ah, parents. Always finding ways to embarrass their children. Caila brings Ben home with camera crew in tow for a show that's going to be watched by millions of people all over the country, and Mom basically introduces herself by asking if he's ever met Filipinos before. Mom! She starts telling him about how if they were in the Philippines, they'd eat with their hands, and Caila actually says "Ok, Mom," like "that's enough. Mom, you're embarrassing me on national television!" I feel like this scene was the first move on the part of The Bachelor to set up Caila as the next Bachelorette. We know the next Bachelorette is "probably not going to be white," and this dinner telegraphed that Caila is multicultural, even though Caila attempted to downplay it by shushing her mom. We also saw that Caila probably gets her fantasy-land worldview from her mother. When Caila tells her mother that she's in love with Ben, she gets overexcited instead of saying "slow down" like a reasonable person. "Just tell him how you feel, baby, that's all that matters," she advises her daughter, which actually is not all that matters. Acting totally based on feeling is a route to a disastrous life. I personally don't care for Caila, but I guess I'm in the minority, and I better get used to seeing her. She's going to be on my TV for awhile.
5. Ben carrying Caila off the factory floor in front of her dad's employees
See, here's an example of how I feel like I'm probably in the minority about being put off by Caila. I'm obviously projecting here, but I would guess that most Bachelor viewers wouldn't see anything unacceptably awkward about this situation, at least in Bachelor-world. But it just seems wildly inappropriate to behave like a lovestruck teenager in front of the people who rely on your father for their livelihood. Like daddy's business is her playground. He's going to come into work and they're going to look at him and think, "This man's daughter was carried out of here like a baby while we applauded." It undermines him. Shortsighted and unprofessional behavior on Caila's part. Look at me, complaining about breaches of decorum on The Bachelor. I'll see myself out.
4. Jojo's letter from her ex
The most awkward thing about this is how long it took Jojo to realize the note wasn't from Ben. She was a good paragraph in before she put it together. I get it; it totally caught her off guard, but she should have noticed something was amiss around the reference to "a show." Of course this dude's name is Chad. Total Chad move. Chad is the generic name for the other guy in a romantic comedy who treats the heroine badly and then tries to get her back when he sees he's losing her. I wonder if Chad is a made-up name to protect his privacy. It's just too perfect.
3. Amanda's blindside elimination
It was obviously always going to be Amanda who got eliminated tonight, because Ben isn't as attracted to her as he is to the other girls. Even more than her daughters, his attraction is the deciding factor. If he couldn't keep his hands off her the way he can't with Lauren B. and Caila, she would still be here. But he didn't realize that until it was too late and he had already met her daughters, which was a huge step for Amanda. Amanda got super real with her mother when she was talking with her about being a single mom who sacrifices her needs for the sake of her children and feeling guilty for wanting to date and have fun. Amanda had real skin in this game, looking for a father for her kids, and Ben let her down after he told her he wasn't going to. Letting Amanda go genuinely hurt Ben, but he's still the bad guy here. The reason this isn't ranked higher is because it's less awkward and more an actually complex emotional situation. Ben's change from a sincere "I could see myself as part of this family" to a sincere "I'm sorry" is as real as The Bachelor gets.
2. Jojo's brothers
As soon as Jojo walked in and her brothers greeted her with caveman yells, we knew we were in for it. Ben has charmed everyone else he's met during his time as the Bachelor, but these two mooks aren't having it. They see right through him. "You brainwash these girls way too much, man," the smaller brother says. The way they see it, Ben is using his position of power to manipulate their sister and all the other girls into thinking they're in love with him so he can get what he wants from them. The muscular brother makes a good point when he asks Jojo if she realizes she's on the same level as Ben. She totally is! She's a 24-year-old house-flipper from Dallas, and he's a 26-year-old software salesman from Denver. They're not exceptional people. But only Ben has four beautiful women competing to marry him. Jojo's brothers are the sanest people on this whole show. They want Ben to be honest with them, and he is. He's actually more honest with them than he is with any other family members, because he admits to uncertainty. They just don't like what he has to say. They had Ben squirming.
1. Lauren B.'s teenage brothers asking Ben about banging their sister
Now THIS is the awkward stuff I'm talking about! This post-credits moment is the most perfect awkward moment of the season. Everything about is perfect: the fact that it's these little boys making this gesture of being protective when there's NO WAY they'd be ready to handle a real sex talk with Ben. They're probably (hopefully) virgins. They are just the wrong people to be asking Ben about what he's going to do in the fantasy suite. And Ben is completely caught off guard and has no idea how to answer. He would rather be dead than have this conversation. He stammers until he lands on something: "I respect your sister a lot," is what he comes up with. "I'm not going to put her in a position that's degrading to her at all." Jesus Christ, Ben! Your word choices! Now you're making these poor sweet innocent boys think about their sister in a degrading position with you! What a disaster. I love it so much. I feel like this moment was an easter egg just for me.
Next week is Jamaica, overnights and everybody wearing very little clothing. It's gonna be good.