It was hometown dates week on The Bachelor. This is always an interesting time in the season, since it's the first time viewers get to meet the families of the four contestants with whom we're best acquainted.
This episode also had the added wrinkle of being the first episode since the confirmation Rachel is going to be the next Bachelorette. So everything we saw with Rachel this week was altered by the knowledge that she's not going to win. On the show, it doesn't seem like she's obviously not going to win. It seems like she's still very much in the running. We'll see what happens with her next week.
The episode started in the Bahamas immediately after last week's elimination of Kristina. Nick gave all four of the remaining ladies roses right then and there to spare them the stress of a rose ceremony. Then it was off to the whirlwind of hometowns. The order of the dates went Raven, Rachel, Corinne and Vanessa, and then they reconvened in Brooklyn for a rose ceremony that we'll have to wait until next week to see, since the episode ended on a cliffhanger. This sure-to-be-anticlimactic visit from Nick's first Bachelorette ex Andi Dorfman is getting in the way of progress!
The awkward moments weren't especially funny this week, but there were plenty of them.
7. Vanessa's semi-irrational confidence
On one level, Vanessa's confidence that her relationship with Nick is the strongest is totally justified. She's obviously the frontrunner (though his relationship with Raven looks surprisingly solid). But the way that she seems to completely block out that there's even a possibility that Nick has strong relationships with other women keeps hurting her. We saw it last week when she got upset when Nick couldn't tell her he loved her, and we saw it this week when she got upset that Nick told her dad that he had asked other fathers for their blessing as well. To be fair, it's not very nice of Nick to ask that question if he has no intention of following through, but he has to. It's a TV competition show. Vanessa is this far in and still doesn't know how the game is played.
6. Raven's dad's announcement
There are so many moments on this show where I'm like "that's great and I'm happy you shared that, but wouldn't you rather that wasn't on TV?" Raven's father telling her he was officially cancer-free was one of those moments. I got a little choked up with relief — and I don't even know these people — because it was such a genuine and intimate moment. Genuine and intimate moments are one of the reasons why we watch this show, but it's different when it's the contestants' families, since they're basically conscripted into appearing and most of them we'll never see again. It feels a little exploitative when the show borrows these moments to give itself weight. I don't know the Gates family, but if they're like most families I don't think it's unrealistic to assume that they'd rather have kept that moment private, away from cameras and some dude they've never met before who's probably going to break up with their daughter in two weeks. But alas, their daughter is on a show where they can only talk to her if it's on camera for now, so this is how it has to be. I'm very happy for you, Mr. Gates, even though it's none of my business.
5. Nick goes to black church
Raven taking Nick to church was awkward not because she took him to a black church, which is very different from the white Upper Midwestern church Nick grew up in, but because Nick is clearly not a religious man. He basically said so himself, saying that church was something that was important to his parents. He didn't say it was important to him. He said he hoped going to church would be something he and Rachel could do together, not that expressing faith is important to him. I doubt that religion is going to be the thing that Nick and Rachel break up over, but if it's very important to Rachel and not important to Nick then it's probably good that they broke up, because that's a tough thing to reconcile (also it's good because if they didn't break up Rachel couldn't be the Bachelorette).
4. Let's talk about race
During the visit to Rachel's family's house (her federal judge father couldn't be there because of work... hmm...), the issue of interracial relationships came up in a big way. Nick and Rachel had talked about it before, but Rachel's family really wanted to emphasize how important it is to discuss it unflinchingly. Neither Nick nor Rachel had ever seriously dated a black or white person before. To his credit, Nick wasn't uncomfortable talking about it, but he had a perhaps somewhat naive "I like her for the woman that she is, she just happens to be black" take on the situation. Rachel's family's message was, basically, you can't ignore this, because even if race isn't an issue for you two personally, it is in the larger world and there will be challenges that come from that. And they know this firsthand, since Rachel's sister is married to a white man. The show actually handled it with a little more nuance than I was expecting, mostly because it just let Rachel's really smart family handle it.
Rachel has said she doesn't want her race to be a factor when she's on The Bachelorette, but it's going to be. Any time a black person does something that was previously exclusively the province of white people, it's a big deal, even if it's something relatively unimportant like being the Bachelorette. Hopefully talking about race doesn't overshadow everything else in Rachel's season, but it's going to come up a lot, especially since half of her contestants are likely to be white men. Fortunately, if this episode is any indication, Rachel will handle it well when it comes up.
3. Corinne's world
Nick's hometown date with Corinne is at the mall. She takes him shopping. Nick notes that a day in Corinne's life is not like a day in anyone else's — the evidence here is that Corinne is able to spend over $3,000 on clothes in one store without batting an eye. Nick says he has hives from stress just watching her spend like that. I hope he didn't get that peacoat. Why would you buy a peacoat in Miami? This whole excursion backed up the whole "Corinne is a spoiled brat" narrative.
2. Corinne's dad
We finally got to meet Corinne's famous nanny Raquel, along with the rest of her family, who we wanted to meet to help us understand where somebody like Corinne comes from. It turns out it's pretty much what you'd expect: she's a daddy's girl from a family where money is the most important thing.
Corinne's daddy is a guy who leaves several shirt buttons undone to show off his gold chain and brags about his scotch collection. I'm surprised he didn't have a Bluetooth earphone on the whole time. His main concern is that whatever Nick does after The Bachelor makes enough money to support Corinne's extravagant lifestyle. To which I say, shouldn't it be Corinne's responsibility to secure the lifestyle she wants? After all, she does run a multimillion-dollar company, as she's so fond of reminding us. And to answer his question: Nick's going to host some show or be a correspondent on Good Morning America or something. He's going to do fine. But he's not going to marry your daughter, so don't even worry about it.
1. Vanessa puts her students to work
During Vanessa's date, she took Nick to meet her students. She's a life skills teacher for adults with special needs. It's clear that she loves her students and her students love her. But she still shouldn't use them as free labor for her personal project making a scrapbook of photos of her and Nick. Just because they may be willing to do it doesn't mean they should do it. She's supposed to be teaching them how to cook or whatever, not using them for The Bachelor. Very unprofessional.
Next week is fantasy suites. Bow chicka bow wow.
The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.