Like many elements of the “Bachelor” franchise, the week of hometown dates defies logic. Most self-respecting adults would not bring home a significant other after dating for only a few weeks, while also dating several other people, and expect everyone’s family to be totally chill with the prospect of a marriage proposal in the near future.
These are all hurdles that the each of Nick’s final four’s parents seem to see at first in the distance, but overcome through some combination of time, alcohol, clever editing… or maybe (just maybe) Nick is just that charming. This is to say, it’s hometown date week on “The Bachelor.” The episode covers race, gender roles, romance across international borders. And Raven riding an ATV, which is where we begin.
Nick joins Raven in her hometown of (who could forget?) Hoxie, Arkansas. She is nervous to tell him that she is falling in love (which she already sort of did in an earlier episode but, unlike “Jade and Tanner’s wedding,” the producer seem happy to refrain from replaying Raven’s soundbite).
Raven starts her date with a trip to grain bins which, like Gretchen Wieners’ hair, are full of secrets. The sequence that follows could have possibly come to fruition through the following conversation:
Producer 1: “Hey, Raven’s brother’s a police officer. Wouldn’t it be funny if he pretended to arrest Nick?”
Producer 2: “Ha, yeah… But that doesn’t make any sense.”
Producer 1: “Of course it doesn’t. But then he could be like, ‘Don’t kiss my sister, or you’ll have to face me.’ People will love that.”
Producer 2: “Oh, yeah. That’s good. Let’s do it.”
Raven and Nick wrap up the first portion of their date by hooking up in a swamp (pictured above). Then they meet her family, in the smallest and quietest of the four trips. Raven finds out that her dad — who was diagnosed with lung cancers a year and a half ago — is now cancer-free. She cries.
Both her parents are positive, but quite shady about Nick. “I didn’t expect to like you,” dad says at one point. Raven finishes her date by failing to properly profess her love for Nick. Oops!
After twenty full seasons of “The Bachelor” and seven two-hour-long episodes of television into its 21st (also, more than a week after Rachel was announced as the next “Bachelorette”), the show is ready to (sort of) talk about race.
Rachel, begins her date by taking Nick to her predominantly black church.
“Have you been in a space like this before?” the pastor calls out to Nick from the stage. “Not this space” Nick artfully dodges (as he will do several more times before the visit to Dallas is over).
Rachel asks Nick what he thought of church. “Amen is amen, right?” he asks Rachel who, without any reason to dispute that a word is, indeed, the word that it is, concludes, “That’s so true.”
Next, it’s time to meet the family. Rachel’s dad, a high-powered judge who sounds quite intimidating from what we’ve heard in the past, sadly does not attend for “work obligations.”
But before he meets the family, Nick clears something up: “I’m not colorblind,” he tells Rachel. “I know you’re black.”
Nick has never seriously dated a black girl, as he is asked to repeat several times during the date, and Rachel has never seriously dated a white guy, or brought one home. Her older sister, however, is married to a white man, which the show capitalizes on to stage a portion of the date where the two couples talk. Later, Rachel’s mom asks Nick if he sees any red flags in his relationship with her daughter. Nick replies, “I’m sure there’s things…”
Flash-forward to next season when she’s the “Bachelorette.”
What better way to follow up a decent handling of interracial dating (by “Bachelor” standards) than with Corinne?
In Miami, Corinne tells Nick she wants to take him somewhere she feels “at home” — the mall. Or as she calls it, “One of the most exclusive malls in Miami.” (If someone from Miami or more familiar with mall culture would like to inform me what she means by this, I am genuinely interested.)
Corinne buys Nick over $3,000 in clothes and then professes her love for him. Or at least we’re made to think she was talking to him — there could have been a Louis Vuitton shoulder bag just offscreen.
Next, Nick gets to meet Corinne’s “very Greek family,” including her famed nanny, Raquel. The trip includes a questionably staged conversation between Nick and Raquel, but the nanny says she loves Corinne “very much.”
“She’s like my daughter, Raquel says, “She’s happy, I’m happy.”
Corinne’s dad implies that he’s worried that Nick will be a freeloader after he’s done being on TV. “What does he plan on doing?” Corinne’s dad asks his daughter. “Well he used to sell software…” she responds. Dad is not convinced.
Alone with Nick (and the cameras) he hands the suitor a glass of booze, teaches him how to hold his glass (to establish power) and commands: “Let’s have a couple sips before we speak. We’re going to need it.”
Minutes later, through the power of liquor and Nick’s mumbles, Corinne’s dad tells the camera, “I think Corinne is the lid to Nick’s pot.”
Nick rounds out his final four with Vanessa in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. As we learned in the first episode, Vanessa is a special education teacher, so she takes Nick to her school. There, her students start crying when she arrives. She asks them to help make a scrapbook of her and Nick’s experience on the show and they seem pretty “eh” about it, but do anyway. While assembling a page about Vanessa and Nick’s date on a space shuttle simulator, the show casually fails to mention that she spent a good part of the date vomiting.
Vanessa’s parents are divorced, so her family time is split in half. First, dinner with mom’s side of the family, or as Vanessa puts it, “15 loud Italian people.” Her family obsessed over the fact that Vanessa and Nick live in different countries. Would he make her move if they were to end up together? From the episode, Vanessa is firmly planted in Montreal, so it seems like it would be difficult to leave.
Next, Vanessa and Nick visit her dad who doesn’t seem to understand why Nick asks for his permission to marry his daughter. And rightfully so — again, it makes little sense. Although her dad eventually gives his blessing, Vanessa is sad to learn that Nick has asked everyone else’s families the same question.
Even after they say goodbye at the end of the date, Vanessa wants to talk with Nick. We’re made to believe that she’s going to find him alone, but when someone arrives at Nick’s door, it’s a blast from the past — Andi Dorfman. What could she want? (Probably nothing, but we have to wait until next week to find out for sure.)
What do you think Andi wants with Nick? More material for her next book? Are you ready for Rachel’s season of “The Bachelorette” to start already? Weigh in below.