February 28, 2022
As I’ve made it abundantly clear in the 10+ years I’ve been blogging this trash, I hate the hometown episodes. I have my reasons: they’re so formulaic as to be boring as hell; I always feel uncomfortable watching these poor people who most certainly did NOT sign up for any of this have to participate in this charade; but my biggest problem with the hometowns, particularly on The Bachelor, is that the understood purpose is to secure the parents’ (read: father’s) “blessing” of the relationship. Very often, the parents’ (read: father’s) reactions come off more possessive than protective, and I find the entire exercise infuriatingly reactionary.
So color me surprised to find myself not just charmed by every man we meet in this season’s hometowns, but genuinely impressed by how sincerely feminist they are (even if they wouldn’t label themselves such). Each of the final four women has men in their lives who love them, support them, and (for the most part) trust them to make their own decisions even in the face of this ridiculous situation. I still don’t care for the hometowns — they are still rote and terribly boring — but I have to admit, it’s a refreshing change to find so many loving examples of non-toxic masculinity on this show in particular.
Yeah, I don’t know what’s happening, either.
The first hometown visit is in Poquoson, Virginia, where Clayton will be meeting Hannah Brown, Jr.’s family. But before he can get that bit of business over with, he and Hannah Brown, Jr. go on a date of her planning: and she wants to find out if “Clayton likes being choked.”
Except she doesn’t mean it like sexytimes. They go to her jiu-jitsu gym where after they put on traditional Gis, her coach demonstrates a couple of positions and moves, including one called “shrimping.”
Anyway, the moves involve a lot of groin thrusting and touching and at one point, Hannah Brown, Jr. chokes Clayton between her thighs. So maybe she did mean the whole choking thing in a sexytimes way, after all.
After their Foot Fist Waying, Hannah Brown, Jr. and Clayton have a picnic on a seawall, where she explains that her family is very important to her. Hannah Brown, Jr. reminds Clayton that her father became very sick last year and that she is haunted by the thought that he won’t be there to walk her down the aisle one day. So, since she is falling in love with Clayton, it’s very important he meets her father.
“Me excited to meet father. We go meet father,” replies Clayton. And the two of them just get up and walk away leaving all their picnic shit behind.
ABSOLUTELY NOT. YOU GO BACK AND CLEAN UP Y’ALL’S MESS.
That evening, they arrive at her parents’ house where Clayton is introduced to Hannah Brown, Jr.’s mother Jean, her father Tom, her sister Barbara, and her best friend Lauren. After filling them in on what they’ve been up to, Hannah Brown Jr. takes her father aside. There she bursts into tears at the idea he won’t be around for her wedding one day and tells him that she considers him the “gold standard” of what a partner should be. It’s genuinely very emotional.
Next, Clayton speaks with Hannah Brown Jr.’s father, where Dad Tom tells Clayton that Hannah Brown, Jr. is a special, good person. He tells Clayton about how when he became sick last year, on his worst nights, she slept on the floor next to his bed and would not leave his side. AGAIN, IT IS ALL VERY EMOTIONAL.
— Reali-Tea Podcast ☕️ (@Reali_TeaPod) March 1, 2022
Her father tells Clayton that the other men who have come before were “dumb as a box of rocks” for not recognizing what an amazing person Hannah Brown, Jr. is and Clayton is all, “Me look for yellow flag, me no find one.”
IT’S A RED FLAG, YOU DUMB BOX OF ROCKS.
But Dad Tom is being gregarious and tells Clayton that he could see that there is something between him and Hannah Brown, Jr. and that he seems like a good guy.
Clayton then has to talk with Mom Jean who is a harder sell. In a bit of foreshadowing, Mom Jean warns Clayton that loyalty is the biggest issue for Hannah Brown, Jr.: if you’re loyal to her, she will be loyal to you. Mom Jean then point-blank asks Clayton if he is in love with her daughter and he gives the “So …” before going into a whole thing about how he has strong feelings for her and will get there eventually, but there are other women out there and blah blah blah.
And Mom Jean, she does not sit on this information: she tells Hannah Brown, Jr. as soon as they are alone, warning her daughter to “proceed with caution.”
LISTEN TO YOUR MOMMAS, EVERYONE.
With that, Hannh Brown, Jr. and Clayton go outside to wait for his ride, and she orders him to not forget about her. “NO HAPPEN,” he insists before heading off to his next date and forgetting her immediately.
Clayton heads to Denver, Colorado to hang out with Bachelor Groupie, who reminds us that Denver is a special place to her because she became a nurse there and was a Denver Broncos Cheerleader for five years. Bachelor Groupie has Clayton meet her out in the woods, teasing that she’s going to make him cut down trees and fight bears on their date. And she’s only half kidding: she presents him with a backpack, and a pair of hiking boots so that they can tromp through the woods, all the while quizzing him on what to do if they run into a bear (screaming or play dead depending on the bear — but no need to tell me, I would do both just to be sure, that is if you could get me out into the woods in the first place).
Clayton declares Bachelor Groupie the “funniest lady alive” and honestly, among Bachelor contestants, she might just be. Let’s just go ahead and make her The Bachelorette, because 1. she’s way too good for Clayton and 2. I would love to watch her break the brains of a herd of himbos.
Bachelor Groupie leads Clayton to something called “Proposal Rock,” before taking him to a hot tub that is literally in the middle of nowhere. WHAT IS THIS PLUGGED INTO? I’M SERIOUS THOUGH.
— Bachelor Addict (@Bachelorhaters) March 1, 2022
— ella (@pissfalls) March 1, 2022
— me (@BrennanSouhrada) March 1, 2022
In the hot tub, Bachelor Groupie reveals that they will be meeting her aunt, uncle and cousin, and her Grandpa John that night. Her father would be there, but his girlfriend is battling cancer and with COVID out there fucking everything up, he can’t join them. Bachelor Groupie is very bummed about it, but meeting some ham with teeth whom you most likely will never see again is not worth getting your immunocompromised girlfriend sick with a brutally deadly virus.
That evening, Bachelor Groupie brings Clayton to … some house — it’s unclear who it belongs to, or if it’s just some AirBNB … it’s kinda weird. Everyone there is from out of town and it doesn’t seem like it’s Bachelor Groupie’s place … And not to spend too much time on it, but if I had to guess, Bachelor Groupie is one of those contestants who is “from” Denver but has already moved to Los Angeles, and they are trying to maintain this illusion that this is still her hometown.
ANYWAY. THE POINT IS, her family, particularly Grandpa John, is delightful. They ask the pair what Bachelor Groupie’s line was on night one, and she has to tell them about the whole pillow/want to sit on Clayton’s face thing. But Grandpa John? He thinks it’s hilarious, and it’s clear where Bachelor Groupie gets her sense of humor from.
Grandpa John and Clayton talk first, where Grandpa John calls Bachelor Groupie a “dingbat.”
Grandpa John gives Clayton some advice: be good to his granddaughter, and don’t be in a hurry. They need to get to know each other, and not run into anything. Of course, running into something is the entire point of this dumb show, but it’s still solid advice.
Bachelor Groupie chats with her aunt and uncle, thanking them for stepping up for her. She also tells her aunt that she sees a future with Clayton but has not told him she loves him yet because she’s cautious with her feelings. Her aunt and uncle encourage her to go slow and not rush into anything, so obviously she makes plans to tell him that she loves him that night.
And then Bachelor Groupie visits with her Grandpa John, and, y’all, my heart.
First off, when she asks him what she thinks about Clayton, Grandpa John says he thinks “he’s full of shit.”
He then warns her that she needs to make sure he’s the one before she makes any final decisions because he wants to see her be married for life. If she isn’t, he threatens, he’ll come back and haunt her. He then tells Bachelor Groupie that he can’t love anyone as much as he loves her and his departed wife. Bachelor Groupie notes that she loves that he keeps wearing his wedding ring, and Grandpa John replies, “I thought about taking it off but … why would I do that?”
Grandpa John then offers her one last piece of advice: Every marriage has problems. The marriages that last are ones where both parties are willing to be flexible and forgiving. He’s not wrong.
— Chicks in the Office (@ChicksInTheOff) March 1, 2022
Bachelor Groupie is still bummed that her dad couldn’t be there, despite Grandpa John being THE LITERAL BEST, and so it’s not entirely surprising when a car starts honking outside. Bachelor Groupie heads out to see what’s going on, and her father gets out of the car with a bunch of posters with messages written on them, a la Love, Actually, telling her that she deserves the very best and that he hopes that is Clayton.
But Bachelor Groupie is deeply moved and sobbing while Clayton lingers awkwardly behind her on the porch.
Finally, Bachelor Groupie is alone with Clayton while they wait for his Uber, and she tells him that she feels like she’s falling in love with him. “Whoop, there it is,” is this doofus’ response.
GIRL, YOU CAN DO BETTER.
Next is Oklahoma City where Clayton is meeting That Snitch Serene. She meets him at the Riversport Sky Trail, an 80-foot-tall obstacle course. There, they walk across rope bridges and have to jump off a much-too-tall platform, all while That Snitch Serene happily yammers about it being a metaphor for falling in love and Clayton yells, “ME SCARED!!”
Once off the terrifying platform, That Snitch Serene tells Clayton that they’ll be meeting her mother, her older brother Roland, and her best friend Melanie. Her father will not be there, because her father hasn’t really been in her life since her parents divorced when she was two. She then tells him with complete, unearned confidence that her family is going to “love” him.
That evening, That Snitch Serene brings Clayton to her family home, explaining that it’s been 10 years since she’s introduced them to someone. They tell her family about the obstacle course, and about their date in Galveston where she opened up to him about her grandmother’s and cousin’s recent deaths, noting that this was a big turning point in their relationship.
Brother Roland then takes Clayton aside and is like, “Look, I don’t know you. But what I do know is that my sister doesn’t open up to people so quickly — for her to tell you about our family’s deaths is a huge deal. So are you in love with her or what?”
And Clayton is all, “Me no tell ladies me love them. No yet.”
That Snitch Serene first talks to Mom and tells her that she’s falling in love with Clayton and has told him as much, and Mom is like, “Him? Are you sure?” That Snitch Serene then tells Mom about the firefly jars “Clayton” made for her, and Mom is all, “Huh. Cool.”
That Snitch Serene then has to face Brother Roland, who tells her that her happiness is scaring him. Tearing up, he tells her that he doesn’t want to see her get hurt because they’ve been there before. That Snitch Serene isn’t hearing it, though, and is like, “Sure, what if I fall? But what if I fly?” Brother Roland is like, “THIS IS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. YOU NEED TO BE THINKING ALL THIS THROUGH INSTEAD OF JUST WALKING BLINDLY OFF SOME RICKETY RIVERSIDE OBSTACLE COURSE WITH SOME DUDE WHO LOOKS LIKE A HORSE.”
Can we please give Brother Roland and Grandpa John their own spinoff, please? PLEASE? The only people on this entire show with any damn sense, I swear to God …
— BachelorNationTweets (@bachelortwats) March 1, 2022
As That Snitch Serene walks Clayton out, she informs him that she’s not falling in love with him: she’s IN love with him.
Clayton: ” … ”
The final hometown destination is Clermont, Florida, to visit Pilot Rachel and her family. When she arrives, she jokes that he should do the run and jump and she’ll catch him, and then pretty much everything else she says is in an impossible whisper and I can’t her a GODDAMN THING.
Pilot Rachel does NOT take him flying, as you might expect, but instead, they kayak through the swamp in a glass-bottom boat. Clayton freaks out about a spider. They make out in the swamp for an uncomfortable amount of time.
Once they put their pants back on, Pilot Rachel informs Clayton that they’ll be meeting her parents and her two best friends, Sam and Nate. Pilot Rachel warns Clayton that her dad will be a real piece of work: he’s never liked anyone she’s brought home. And in an interview, Pilot Rachel is so worried about her father and how he’ll behave that she thinks there’s a chance he could change Clayton’s mind about her.
I am here to remind you that these people are technically adults and they should not be scared of other adults because they can make their own adult decisions about their own adult lives.
ANYWAY. So they go to Pilot Rachel’s parents’ home and meet the aforementioned Sam and Nate, Mom Mary, and Dad Tony. And her parents’ energy, it’s hilarious. As Pilot Rachel details all the group dates where she received roses, Mom Mary literally screams in delight, where Dad Tony makes no attempt to hide his disapproval.
— gib (@gabbycastano) March 1, 2022
— kt (@itsktthoughts) March 1, 2022
— vanessa (@assenavmarie) March 1, 2022
Pilot Rachel first talks to her friend Nate who is like, “Gurl, Fantasy Suites are coming. Are you even thinking about the other three girls still in this thing?” And Pilot Rachel essentially responds with the equivalent of “LALALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.” But in an irritating whisper.
Sam, meanwhile, low key threatens Clayton’s life if he hurts Pilot Rachel, reminding him that they are Italian. As a fellow Italian-American, I urge Clayton to take heed. Ain’t no one holds a grudge like an angry Sicilian.
Pilot Rachel chats with Mom Mary who is just thrilled to see her daughter again and asks if she warned Clayton about her father.
So, about that … Clayton has his conversation with Dad Tony who explains that he’s an old-fashioned guy who is very protective of his daughter, which set me up to expect him to be a very particular way. Instead, when Clayton invites him to ask him anything, Dad Tony asks Clayton if he knows what Pilot Rachel’s dreams are, and you could have knocked me over with a feather. Clayton replies, “Me know Pilot Rachel pilot. Me think cool.”
Dad Tony then explains that Pilot Rachel’s work might take her to a job in Europe: what would Clayton do about that? Clayton answers, “Me follow.”
Dad Tony narrows his eyes at Clayton and points out that there are still three other women in this, and someone is going to get hurt. “Me hurt someone! Me hurt lots someones! But me like Pilot Rachel.”
Dad Tony then tells Clayton that he can’t give Clayton his blessing, not until he speaks to his daughter. But if she gives him her approval, he’ll pat him on the arm when he leaves.
And if I couldn’t love Dad Tony enough, when he speaks with his daughter, his first real question for her was if she thinks Clayton is someone who will stand beside her instead of walking in front of her?
Y’all. This man. THIS MAN RIGHT HERE. This is what a “girl dad” should aspire to: not the bullshit “jokey” prom pictures where dad holds a gun on her date; and not the bullshit patriarchal tradition where the fiance asks dad for his blessing to marry his daughter like she belongs to her father. No, a real “girl dad” should treat his daughter as if she is an independent person with her own ambitions and desires, and make sure that her partner respects that first and foremost. He should be protective, not possessive of her.
Dad Tony tears up as he tells his daughter that he is only afraid that she will get hurt, but if this is what she wants, he’s all for it, and I just … let’s add him to that spinoff with Brother Roland and Grandpa John. We’ve got some real ones right here.
As Pilot Rachel and Clayton go to leave, Clayton receives the coveted pat on the arm from Dad Tony. YOU’RE TOO GOOD FOR HIM, DAD TONY.
— Gabi Perez (@GabiSpeaksNow) March 1, 2022
And then we’re back in Los Angeles, with the women being driven back to the McMansion in Hyundais, which receive more screentime than 90% of the contestants this season. Meanwhile, Clayton discusses his situation with Jesse ahead of the rose ceremony. “ME LOVE ALL WOMEN. ME NO HOLD BACK. HARD DECISION. ME KNOW WHAT TO DO.”
Once the women line up, the roses come out:
Rose #1: Hannah Brown, Jr.
Rose #2: Bachelor Groupie
Rose #3: Pilot Rachel
That Snitch Serene did NOT see this coming and she is NOT having it. Clayton walks her outside where she demands to know what went wrong, and Clayton is all, “Me just have stronger connections.” And for a second, just a small tiny half-second, it looks like That Snitch Serene is going to cry. But she DOES NOT, and good for her because this boring man is not worth the hydration.
— courtney (@courtsthoughts_) March 1, 2022
Clayton places her in the Breakup Hyundai, and That Snitch Serene is like, “I mean, I don’t know what more I could give to him, but whatever. I’ve got nothing else to say to him.”
GOOD FOR YOU. Now let’s fit you for a bikini for Paradise. There’s someone we all think you should meet:
— Liza (@elizaaam20) March 1, 2022
Also, do you think you could bring your brother along? Because that man is cute.
— TheBachBabes (@TheBachBabes) March 1, 2022
Here are the ladies who have been eliminated along with their very not good nicknames:
Here are the women along with their dumb nicknames who are still “dating” Clayton:
The Bachelor airs Mondays on ABC at 7/8 p.m.