‘The Bachelorette’: Happy families are all alike

The Bachelorette
July 18, 2011

Ugh. The home visits. NOT MY FAVORITE EPISODES, YOU GUYS. As noted over on The Bachelor, the home visits are hard to recap because innocent people are suddenly thrust in front of the camera. These families didn’t ask for this. They didn’t ask for their home to be invaded with camera crews and some braless chipmunk who makes vague noises about really, really caring about their son/brother/uncle. Why should they be made fun of by cynical strangers on the internet? They shouldn’t! I know this! But that leaves me with very little to say, because, come on. Each of these visits are EXACTLY THE SAME and so boring. So so boring. It’s not like Dr. Tube Socks is going to do anything outrageous or anyone is going to get a concussion; it’s just going to be awkward drinks with glaring sisters and uncomfortable conversations with mothers x 4.

We begin in Philadelphia with Dr. Tube Socks going on about how great it is to be back in the States and back home, and we know she’s been gone for a long time because she contemplatively goes through her mail, all four pieces of it. And as she sips a cup of coffee and sorts through her junk mail and take-out menus, she thinks back on the men in a overly long “Remember When?” montage. Remember when Ben the Wine Dude painted that terrible elephant on the orphanage wall? Remember when that dog peed on the lantern she and Constantine made? Remember when Fivehead had to go to the hospital? Remember when she put on sweatpants and made J.P. listen to her cry over Bentley and his Dot Dot Dot? MEMORIES.

KIDZ ACTIVITY CORNER: Count how many times Dr. Tube Socks refers to Fivehead as “unique” in this episode!

After tossing some kibble on the floor for her little rat dog, Dr. Tube Socks grabs her suitcase and heads outside to grab a cab. She just can’t wait to meet everyone’s families!

“And that’s my sister, Maria…” (ABC)

First stop, Cumming, GA. AND JUST STOP IT WITH YOUR LITTLE JUVENILE JOKES, THIS INSTANT. Constantine waits for Dr. Tube Socks in some sort of goose preserve. Seriously, SO MANY GEESE. Why are there so many geese here? Is this Constantine’s family? Was he left by a pond as a baby and raised by water fowl? GEESE.

Constantine then takes her to his family’s restaurant which is Greek Italian, obviously. Duh. Upon seeing him, the waitresses squeal and hug and squeal some more, and I dunno, Dr. Tube Socks, but I’d keep my eye on that one blonde one if I were you. Constantine takes Dr. Tube Socks into the kitchen where he forces her to make a pizza and a salad, which they eat outside while the waitresses spy on them and sharpen their fingernails and plan retribution.

Constantine then takes her to his family’s home, which is festooned with a banner welcoming him home. OK, QUESTION. I always thought that these home visits were somewhat staged; that, for instance, the men have actually been home for a day or two when Dr. Tube Socks arrives, and that they just have the families pretend this is the first they are seeing of their sons, or something. Because, if not, where have they been? Where has Constantine been since he left Taiwan? Was he in some sort of suspended animation while Dr. Tube Socks went to Philadelphia to throw away a couple pieces of junk mail and spread some fresh newspaper for Rat Dog? What about the rest of the men right now? Are they in hypersleep while Dr. Tube Socks makes pizzas in Goosetown? MYSTERIES.


Anyway, Constantine’s big fat Greek family seems genuinely excited to see him, so I guess this is the first he’s been home since he was sent to California with nothing more than a couple suits and an jerky smirk. They have dinner together, and Momma Elleni suggests that when they come back again after Dr. Tube Socks chooses Constantine, they need to have a big party, BUT NO PRESSURE. And then Daddy Dimitri starts in with how great Constantine is with kids, BUT NO PRESSURE.

Momma Elleni takes Dr. Tube Socks aside to confirm that she’d be willing to move to Goosetown if things were to progress with Constantine, and Dr. Tube Socks is all, Well, sure! I mean who wouldn’t want to leave behind one’s career and a major metropolitan area to move to a small town filled with large birds? Isn’t that the American dream? Meanwhile, Constantine’s father makes some noise to his son about how it takes time to get to know someone, which I suppose is a kind of a blessing? Maybe something was lost in the translation from the original Greek.

The house is then filled with thousands and thousands of relatives, who dance and throw money and toss a toddler around, and Dr. Tube Socks is just loving all of it, including the part where the entire clan leer at them while they kiss goodbye and quack their approval.

To giant foreheads and sprezzatura and being dumped for having a brain! (ABC)

Next stop, Chadds Ford, PA to visit the Fivehead family. This is going to shock you, but Fivehead comes from a clan of intelligent WASPs with large foreheads who wear a lot of Brooks Brothers. I’ll give you a moment to recover from your surprise. Dr. Tube Socks’ most formidable challenge is clearly going to be Fivehead’s sister, Serena, who does not look like she suffers fools gladly, and clearly thinks very little about this whole tacky misadventure her younger brother has been on for God only knows what reason. HONESTLY. WHY COULDN’T HE JUST FIND AN APPROPRIATE GIRL AT THE COUNTRY CLUB?

Serena takes Dr. Tube Socks aside, and through clinched teeth asks her about her feelings for Fivehead. It’s clear that her younger brother has feelings for this little trollop, for whatever reason, but Serena is not convinced it’s mutual. Because it obviously isn’t. Dr. Tube Socks makes some noises about how she sees so many good things in Fivehead, but that, indeed, the relationship is moving slowly. Serena explains that Fivehead has lost not just his father but his stepfather as well, and that makes him reluctant to trust people, and Dr. Tube Socks chirps about how she wants to get to know more about him and how she wants to be engaged at the end of all of this. Serena cuts her eyes at Dr. Tube Socks and clenches her formidable jaw.

Dr. Tube Socks next meets with Mother Fivehead who gives her approval of the slow pace of the relationship, but now must return to her martini, you do understand, dear.

Serena meets with her brother, and encourages him to give Dr. Tube Socks the “Full Ames,” which I hope happens off-screen, thanks.

Fivehead leads Dr. Tube Socks to a quite beautiful magnolia tree, under which they have a picnic and he gazes at her, completely love-sick and starts going on about sprezzatura and the romance of the ordinary, and ZOMG, but put it away already, Professor. Save it for someone who will understand the multi-syllabic words you’re tossing around. Dr. Tube Socks burbles about how unique (!) Fivehead is, how intelligent and interesting he is and how they are so much alike! all the while looking at her watch and wondering when the cab is going to pick her up.

Wait, is this what Ben the Wine Dude wears in the  sleep chamber? How long was he in there that he grew that ‘stache? (ABC)

Someone wake Ben the Wine Dude up from hypersleep, Dr. Tube Socks is on her way to Sonoma, CA! The first place Ben the Wine Dude takes Dr. Tube Socks is the winery, because of course it is. When he’s not talking about his dead father, Ben the Wine Dude is yammering about wine. These are the only two things he has to say.

After they drink some wine, Ben the Wine Dude basically warns her that 1. he’s only ever taken one girl to meet his family before and 2. if his mom and sister don’t like her, it’ll never work between them. 1. What? and 2. What? Really? This doesn’t set of alarm bells for Dr. Tube Socks for some reason, but instead makes her feel “special.” Oh, she’s “special,” alright.

Ben the Wine Dude and Dr. Tube Socks have dinner with the All-Powerful mother and sister, who spends the entire evening glaring at Dr. Tube Socks. It seems that even though his sister was the one who signed him up for these shenanigans, she’s skeptical, super-protective of her brother, and generally doesn’t like the ladies he dates. And there is nothing Lannistery going on here at all, why would you even think such a thing? (Language in that link!)

Ben the Wine Dude confides to his sister that this experience has helped him open up emotionally for the first time since their father died. His sister remains skeptical. He then explains to his mother that NO, he hasn’t told Dr. Tube Socks that he loves her, not yet. His mother remains skeptical.

Ben the Wine Dude then sits in front of the camera and sobs about his dead father. Has he mentioned that his father died? Because he did. His father, he’s dead.

A couples’ skate I can get behind. (ABC)

And then Dr. Tube Socks flies across the country again, back to Rosyln, NY. (STRONG ISLAND, REPRESENT.) THIS MAKES NO SENSE. She started in Pennsylvania, flew to Georgia, flew back to Pennsylvania, flew to California, to fly to New York and after this, she flies back to California? NO SENSE. THIS MAKES NO SENSE. The Bachelor folks really need to hire a better travel agent, or at least consult Google Maps, because that is a lot of time to be keeping these guys in hypersleep while she criss-crosses the country to go on pizza dates.

J.P. walks Dr. Tube Socks to his big surprise: roller skating at the Hot Laces roller rink. YES TO THIS. They have the place to themselves and they couple skate and there’s a disco ball and then J.P. makes it the best date EVAR when he pulls out a bottle of wine and cracks it open on the rink. I’m not sure if the Hot Laces folks are cool with it, but I’m totally down with getting my drink on in on a roller rink.

Dr. Tube Socks finds it suspicious that J.P. hasn’t dated anyone in a while, and manages to call him old in the process. Because he’s 34. J.P. admits that while he was deeply hurt by his last breakup, he has come to realize that there is a chance that his heart will be broken if he opens himself up, but nothing lost, nothing gained and all that. FORESHADOWING.

J.P. brings her to his childhood home to meet his brother Roy and his girlfriend, his formidable mother Ilene and his father Peter, who apparently refused to sign any consent forms for the producers. Ilene and Roy are concerned about J.P.’s heart being broken again, and SERIOUSLY, what did J.P. do when he got dumped? Are there some psychological and/or criminal records that we might need to be sharing with Dr. Tube Socks before she makes her big decision? To hear his family talk about it, they’d rather he just never date again lest they have to go through that again, thank you very much. HE’S 34 YEARS OLD, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. SOMETIMES BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GROWN-UPS, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THEY SHOULDN’T HAVE A GIRLFRIEND.

Ilene takes Dr. Tube Socks aside and questions her until Dr. Tube Socks says that she and J.P. have something special, and that she’s smitten with her son. At which point, Ilene tags and releases Dr. Tube Socks back into the wild. But not before showing Dr. Tube Socks a poster made of J.P. for his bar mitzvah, featuring a very be-Doogie Howsered J.P. This is a wonderful thing and I would hang it in my living room.

Back to California, and back to trampy clothes! It should be noted (and commended) that Dr. Tube Socks managed to dress appropriately for the entire week in which she was meeting parents. Not one backless blouse, not one crotch-revealing skirt, not a single cut-out along her sides. Not only that, but there were actual sweaters! And bras, probably! I’M VERY PROUD OF YOU, DR. TUBE SOCKS! So proud! However, the time for tastefulness is long past, and so Dr. Tube Socks will come to this rose ceremony squeezed into a black tube sock with a lace back that barely conceals her lady bits. But because of her remarkable restraint this week, I’m not going to complain. Much.

Dr. Tube Socks and Chris Harrison laugh laugh laugh over the last time they were in this room, sobbing over Bentley and his Dot Dot Dot. Good times! But now Dr. Tube Socks knows what she wants and she spends a lot of time attempting to distinguish how the men are all different, but instead manages to say the same thing about each of them: the hometown dates were nice, and their families were great. INSIGHT. (Well, she does call Fivehead “unique” again, so that’s … unique.)

Chris Harrison sends her over to the Glamour Shots where she stands and pretends to not already have her mind made up, but COME ON. It’s obvious that Dr. Giant Skull needs to pack up his salmon pants and ribbon belts and take his talk of Italian Renaissance concepts to the Yale Club already. But first she has to go through the motions of telling the men how much she enjoyed meeting their families, how wonderful they are, blah blah blah.

Rose #1: Ben the Wine Dude
Rose #2: J.P.
Rose #3: Constantine


And so poor Ames is sent home some 7 weeks later than anyone might have hoped, and on the way out he mumbles something to Dr. Tube Socks about the experience being beautiful and more poetic than he expected, and then he SHAKES HER HAND, which is so formal and nerdy and painful and I love him just a little bit more at this moment. Oh Fivehead, I know you think you fell in love with this trollopy little twit in the no clothes, but you didn’t, not really, and one day you’ll find your own Muffy or Tinsley or Tippy, and they will wear bras and cardigan sets and headbands and pearls and she will drink martinis and scotch on the rocks and be icy and proper and you will not be “loved” per se, not in some sort of warm passionate sexual way, I don’t think, but you will be much, much happier, I promise. Godspeed, my WASPy friend. Godspeed.

The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 7 p.m. on ABC.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.

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