SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the Dec. 15 episode of “The Bachelorette.”
Tayshia Adams’ final four headed to hometowns! Well, sort of.
Traditionally, the last four contestants standing — in this case, Ben Smith, Zac Clark, Brendan Morais and Ivan Hall — would spend a day touring their hometown before introducing the Bachelorette to their friends and family. However, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, host Chris Harrison explained that the franchise was forced to make adjustments.
In lieu of a cross-country tour, each finalist designed their own “hometown date” at the La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs, Calif., where the season was in production. The makeshift dates were an attempt to localize the desert resort, and give Tayshia a look into each man’s local lifestyle. Harrison then announced that the date would be followed by a visit from the men’s families — as each contestant was surprised with the names of their loved ones that had made the trip to California.
“We’ve done the best we can to bring the most meaningful people in your lives, here,” he said. “They’re going through quarantine, they’re going through the testing, they’re doing everything they need to do to be here for you guys.”
Here, Variety breaks down what those experiences looked like.
Replicating Hometown: Milford, Mass.
Hometown Guests: Brother (Daniel), sister-in-law (Christi), niece (Aliyah)
Brendan kicked off the season as Tayshia’s first one-on-one and continued the tradition as her first hometown visit. Going into the date, Tayshia expressed her confidence in their relationship, but also her need for validation.
Brendan planned a collection of games and booths, as he shared that his small town is frequented by fairs and carnivals. The two greeted each other before a surprise visitor arrived: Brendan’s niece, Aliyah. Tayshia was impressed by Brendan’s interactions with Aliyah. The endearing dynamic charmed Tayshia, and put her at ease going into the evening portion, where she was introduced to Aliyah’s parents, Daniel and Christi. The date “really goes to show how good of a father he can be,” she said.
The night portion consisted of the five of them rotating through questions. Brendan spent one-on-one time with his brother, who he considers “simply the most important” person in his life after his father passed, and Tayshia spent time with all of Brendan’s loved ones. She revealed that she was nervous about bringing their families together, as both of them have been married before. “With our background, it’s kind of a lot to bring you guys into the situation.” But after a conversation with Daniel, she felt validated about both of their readiness for marriage. “I really believe now he is [ready for marriage],” Daniel said. “The right person, going through difficult trials – it’s only going to make you better.”
Replicating Hometown: Haddonfield, N.J./New York, N.Y.
Hometown Guests: Brother (Matthew), mother (Beatrice), father (Douglas)
While originally from New Jersey, Zac’s first conversation with Tayshia revolved around her interest in living in New York. So, he set his date to the backdrop of that city and taught Tayshia how to hail a cab, craft the perfect New York bagel and get some pizza before spending time at a makeshift “Central” park. But the most significant portion of the date came when Tayshia met the Clark family.
Zac has credited his family with saving his life after his struggle with addiction. The Clarks started hesitantly, as his brother questioned how Tayshia evaluated Zac against the other contestants. “It never really feels good to talk about another relationship… it is the reality [of the situation],” she admitted.
His father, Douglas, also shared concerns and that he was “not that comfortable” with the situation — “but I do feel comfortable with you!” he clarified. While he was hesitant over the idea of his son’s girlfriend dating three other men, he ultimately was grateful to see him so happy after a long stretch of strife. “I would not be sitting here, I would not be alive if it wasn’t for your strength,” Zac told his mom during their separate conversation.
By the end of the evening, the whole family transitioned from skeptical to solid.
Replicating Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Hometown Guests: Mother, father (Clarence), brother (Gabriel)
Ivan started his hometown date with a tribute to his heritage, as he and Tayshia spent the morning cooking a Filipino meal. Their recipe was presented via an at-home video of his 4-year-old niece, Kehlani. Ivan previously revealed he helped raise her as she was born while his brother was in prison.
Once Tayshia was introduced to his mom and dad, Ivan’s mother admitted that she was “a big skeptic” about the process. For Ivan’s dad, Clarence, his inquiries surrounded Tayshia’s previous relationship. While Tayshia reflected on her former marriage, he revealed that he had also been divorced. They related on their former relationships, both citing being too young as what ultimately didn’t work out.
After both parents had a chance to meet Tayshia, a surprise visitor arrived: Ivan’s brother, Gabriel. Visibly emotional, the two embraced. “He’s my best friend,” Ivan said. Once Tayshia and Gabriel had a chance to talk one-on-one, she expressed how fondly Ivan spoke of his brother. The core of their conversation revolved around loyalty — Tayshia wanted it in a husband, and Gabriel spoke of the unwavering loyalty that Ivan had shown both before and after his prison sentence.
‘That’s a family I want to be a part of,” Tayshia said at the end of the date.
Replicating Hometown: Venice, Calif.
Hometown Guests: Sister (Madalyn), family friend (Antonia Lofaso)
Despite being raised in Indiana, Ben considers his current residence in Venice Beach, Calif. as home. In an attempt to bring Tayshia to the boardwalk, they spent their morning rollerblading to a juice bar and hat/sunglasses shop before ending their day at the “beach” (pool). Ben revealed that his parents would not be arriving (his dad is a doctor and seemingly unable to make the trip due to COVID), but Tayshia would meet his family friend (and “Top Chef” alumna) Antonia Lofaso and his sister, Madalyn.
Ben had previously credited Madalyn with being the person who helped him overcome his depression and recover from his failed suicide attempts. In her discussions with Tayshia, she emphasized that Ben wasn’t hiding anything, but potentially guarded from his past.
Meanwhile, Ben took time to chat with Antonia, where he revealed that he loved Tayshia. “Every time I’m around her, I’m more impressed with the way that she’s able to make me some sort of better person,” he said. But after they said goodbye to the families, he was unable to articulate that idea to Tayshia herself.
“I’m in love with her. And I should’ve told her,” he said.
After Tayshia had said goodbye to the four men, she was forced to narrow it down to three. After giving out a rose to Ivan, Zac and Brendan, Ben was sent home.
During their goodbye, Tayshia was underwhelmed by the lack of emotion that Ben shared: “I’m not asking for this grand gesture, but the fact that he couldn’t give me like one ounce of emotion was extremely disappointing.”
While she expressed frustration that their exit was so cold, he spent his car ride in disbelief recognizing his inability to emote.
“The Bachelorette” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.