The Bachelor! Hometown Dates! Finally!

I cannot believe it has taken me this long to actually get around to watching the Bachelor. I’m not trying to make excuses (ok, no, I am blatantly making excuses), but between having to work at work and then trying to make my dreams come true, I have been losing it a little.*…. I don’t know how I did it, but I actually went like three days without even watching TV! It was horrible and I hope to never repeat this experience.

But today, spec script draft finish, I decided to procrastinate on the personal statement and resume portion of my application packet with my favorite thing– reality TV. Maybe it’s the rush of dopamine that flooded my brain at the sight of Nick’s dopey toilet-rose pose, but I had so many thoughts about this week’s episode that I can’t wait to share with you!

My unifying theory of Nick: Again, could be the dopamine from the sheer joy of watching crap TV, but all of a sudden a theory came to me. It’s kind of an evolution of my theory from last week that Nick does not want to find love. Now what I’m thinking is that the Nick has no idea what he wants or who he is, which has made this entire season into one giant confusing wild card.

Bear with me here, and dial up the old memory banks. In pretty much every prior season, Bachelors and Bachelorettes alike have inspired me to want to throw things at my television on a frequent basis with their endless droning about “letting down walls” if the contestants don’t profess their love within moments. But this season, shockingly, two out of the four final women have not professed their love for Nick– and he seems completely fine with it. It’s definitely off-script for this franchise (and, I think makes things way more interesting). In fact, Nick reacts to professions of love with such discomfort that either he’s made up his mind about wanting a different girl (which does not appear to be the case from his body language) or is subconsciously super ambivalent about the whole love/marriage angle. I’d put my money on the latter. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nick got engaged at the end of all this, and maybe even married, but because he believes that marriage is the path that he thinks he should be taking.

Of course Nick doesn’t now what he wants– Nick doesn’t seem to have any idea who he actually is. Nick reminds me of a core principle of fluid dynamics, namely, that liquid takes the shape of its container. He’s emotionally protean, like a human jellyfish.This really struck me when he was with Rachel and her family, and I had a thought that shocked me… that Nick might not actually be such a douchebag. I actually had to pause and consider this radical new opinion. But then Nick went to Miami to visit Corinne, and he was back to being a surface-level sex monster. I understand that people contain multitudes, and that we have different selves that we deploy throughout lives. But Nick really does transform into opposite and equally plausible selves depending on the woman he’s with.**

The hometown dates! I’ll try to keep this concise, given the length of the rant I just subjected y’all to above.

Raven. Oh good lord, this country girl almost made me poop out some tears this week. Last week’s weird Wiccan vibe was gone and this week she was ALL HEART. Can we all agree that her dad’s clean bill of health is the best thing to ever happen on this godforsaken franchise? It’s manipulative and awful to air it for the entire country to see, but I guess by now we all know that that’s what we have signed up for.

Raven’s relationship with her dad…. I can’t even. Dads and daughters, just bring me some tissues and AVERT YOUR EYES. Of course Nick once more had no idea how to respond to a situation involving genuine human emotion, and had to awkwardly fumble the “glad you’re not dying… anymore” football.  But anyways. What really completely slew me was Raven’s admission that she didn’t want to get hurt and make herself vulnerable. GIRL I GET IT. What she needs is therapy, not Vile Viall. If you can’t say you love him, that is what we call A SIGN.***

If I may digress for a minute, I must say that I thought that Raven’s hometown visit was a meaningful cultural statement, despite itself. As a southerner living in California, I am acutely aware of how easily the coastal elite dismiss those in the middle of the country as stupid, ignorant, etc. When I tell people where I grew up, they routinely get horrified expressions on their faces. I can see them think, how could anyone grow up thereWell, ABC tried its best to make Hoxie, AR look as cartoonishly hickish as possible. But despite the establishing footage of grain silos and mudding, Raven and her family proved themselves to be lovely, thoughtful, kind people that I’d want to hang out with way more than I would with anyone who’d judge them based on their accents.

Rachel. What is there to say about this hometown date other than that Rachel is lovely, Rachel’s family is lovely, and Rachel somehow transforms Nick into a palatable human being? Bringing Nick to church was a brilliant idea, btw. I spent the entire time wondering why Rachel needed to find love on TV, and I still came up with nothing.

My theory about why Nick is so drawn to Rachel is because she doesn’t need him to feel good about herself. He has pulled away from some of the other women who have craved his affection as a sign that they are worthy of love. But Rachel seems to be complete unto herself, which in turn allows Nick to loosen up for once and be something approximating a human. It’s telling that she’s the other woman who hasn’t told Nick she loves him– and unlike Raven, hasn’t attributed this to fear. She just… doesn’t know if she’s in love with him. And it kind of seems like she’s trying to convince herself. Don’t push it, Rachel!

Corinne. I bet y’all expected me to have a lot to say about Corinne. Look, Miami hometown was very satisfying. She is a princess, there was MAJOR OLIVE DRAMA, and we finally understand the origins of the referring-to-herself-in-the-third-person schtick! This was a wholly satisfying hometown date, and I would certainly say HELL YES to splitting a bottle of tequila with Corinne and hitting a dressing room, especially if it’s her treat.

Things that particularly amused me about Nick’s trip to Miami:

  1. Nick’s sartorial recognition of his own douchebaggery. The deep V! So perfect!
  2. I’ll say it again. Olive drama.
  3. More dads and daughters! Oh gosh Corinne and her dad making the same gesture– FEELINGS.
  4. Corinne’s dad explaining the scotch glass to Nick. “Your thumb goes in the dent.” Great on two levels because 1) gadget-loving dads are adorable, and 2) nice subtle burn on Nick not being able to figure out how to use a glass!
  5. Corinne’s dad emasculating Nick so beautifully. Of course Nick is not going to be the breadwinner! I actually love that his issue wasn’t, “is Nick going to be able to provide for my daughter,” but, “can they both handle Corinne providing for him”? #feminism! That said, why is Corinne the lid to Nick’s pot, and not vice versa? (that is a metaphor I love, by the way)
  6. RAQUEL. The relationship between Corinne and Raquel is actually very sweet, and Raquel seems to have genuine affection for Corinne/be sort-of like a member of the family. There’s still a lot that could be said about employers confusing their employees for friends…. which I will save, given how long this is already…. but I did enjoy their mutual affection and that Raquel had her own one-on-one grilling with Nick. Plus it reflected well on Nick that he gave Raquel a big, sincere-seeming hug when he was introduced to her.

I will say that Corinne, like Nick, shifts in context. She was still hilarious, but I was surprised and disappointed that she seemed to actually care about Nick. When she’s around booze and other girls, Corinne has a killer instinct that makes her a fire goddess. But sober and at home, she reveals herself to also have that need for Nick to square the circle. A reminder that she’s really still just a baby, not only because she still has a nanny to make her cheesy pasta.

Vanessa. This whole hometown date made me sad. I don’t even want to talk about it. I feel bad for her, clearly both sides of her family truly warped her. It was weird and concerning how everyone kept saying that they were afraid she’d get hurt again. Did it give anyone else the sense that something truly freaky happened in her past, like she stalked an ex, murdered his new girlfriend and wore her skin as a coat?

Anyway, at least her dad refused to give Nick his blessing initially, even if he changed course. It was like no one– Vanessa or her family– understands that she voluntarily signed up for the Bachelor. Like, duh, of course he’s asking for everyone’s dad’s blessing. Did you even watch the last million season of this show before you signed on? At least the food at her mom’s house looked good. And bonus points for the shade her sister threw: “you have a life here. He has a life…. wherever he came from.”

Last but not least, I know ABC wants us to root for Vanessa because she’s a special needs teacher, but how creepy and exploitative to use her students to create Bachelor propaganda. I’d go so far as to say unethical? She already had me snoozing, but she lost me completely by participating in the charade.

Lagniappe: I sure do miss KRISTINA THE BRAVE ♥♥♥♥♥. I realized that one of the things I liked the most about her is that she never referenced fear when discussing her “relationship” with Nick. The other girls talk constantly about being “terrified”  of what Nick will do, but Kristina knew the fear of having to eat lipstick to survive. Girl had some perspective for real, which is almost certainly why she barely ever had a talking head.

In that vein, Corinne mentioned at the beginning of the episode that she was “so afraid” of what Nick would do because “he’s very unpredictable.” Just want you want from a boyfriend! Go get ’em girl!

Thanks for reading, everyone, and I promise to be more prompt this week!

*******

*Edna St. Vincent obviously wrote this poem about my being so busy I couldn’t timely watch the Bachelor:

My candle burns at both ends;
   It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
   It gives a lovely light!

** In addition, the degree to which Nick radically transformed himself into a giant ab does seem to be a reflection of some profound insecurity.

*** specifically, this exchange… Raven’s mom: “Well, do you love him?” Raven: “Mom! Get out of my face!”

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