This afternoon, I had a lengthy lunch with my dad. He watches The Bachelor purely out of paternal obligation, and in between acting out his favorite moments using Manny's famous spicy brown mustard as a stand-in for a rose, he laid out a key flaw in this season: Does Oatmeal like any of these women?
Think about it. He didn't ask any of the fathers for their daughters' hands. He didn't tell any of the parents that he's "falling for" their daughters. His voice cracked while saying, "What a day," when JoJo needed him the most. He's not talking about marriage or children or their lives together or where they'll live.
That's the problem with Oatmeal — there's no "package" with him. I mean, we all saw those Bob Benson short-shorts so he's got a package, but there's no hook for a life with him. ABC's producers have never identified his thing or what he has to offer. He's not a farmer. He doesn't have a sexy accent. He isn't rich. It's no surprise that most of these parents weren't impressed with his dead shark eyes attempting to emote like a real boy.
But let's see it all go down.
Amanda is up first with her hometown date to Orange County, California. She slow-motion bounds up to him in her cutoffs and a flowing corset with sleeves. This date is a big one because Oatmeal is finally going to meet Amanda's tiny adorable children. Her advice: "My kids love to be chased." Yeah, sure, tell a strange man whom your children (and you) don't know very well to chase them in public. That is going to go over super well.
At the beach, Amanda's children are brought to them by some unnamed child handler and Oatmeal immediately starts crying. Erin, how many points is that worth in our Bachelor Fantasy Draft? Ironically, I'm in last place right now. Amanda's children are all dressed in the same outfit with knee-high gladiator sandals and matching pigtails. These kids are Instagram ready.
Oatmeal is actually terrific with children. He respects little Charlie's boundaries and doesn't make her high-five him when she's too shy. Teaching your little ones body autonomy is a good thing. It might just be that I'm ovulating right now but OMG SQUEE BABIEZZZZZZ.
"Little Boxes" plays in the background as Oatmeal and Amanda head to her parents' house, which looks like every other house on the block. Amanda's mom, dad, and sister are waiting on the back porch. Hey, Michelle, tell me where you got that blue suede dress with grommets. Amanda's dad, John, clearly spots that Ben looks exhausted from hanging out at the beach and wonders how he'll do with her kids all day every day. Everyone wonders that. People don't stop wondering that. Well, Michelle stops wondering when Amanda cries. Tears are a game-changer in this episode. Oatmeal helps tuck the kiddies in, then reads them a custom storybook about their mother's appearance on a dating show. Good night, sweet princesses. Amanda puts Oatmeal in a large SUV, content to know that he would be a good dad and that she's in love with him.
Now it's time to have a small-batch, farm-to-table artisan hometown visit with Lauren B. in Portland. The pair walk around and go to food trucks and feed each other grilled cheese sandwiches like they're big babies. Lauren B. takes Oatmeal to a whiskey library where a young man on a rolling ladder slides around in the background like Belle picking out a new book.
Oatmeal then plays his favorite game: "Force the woman you're with to open up emotionally when you haven't!" Brought to you by Milton Bradley! Do you think that Oatmeal wants these women to keep showing emotion so he can mimic it and trick us hoo-mans into thinking he's falling for them? Just a thought. Lauren B. is ready to tell Oatmeal that she's in love with him, but she wants her family's approval first.
The patriarchal standards perpetuated in this episode are so strange. Women asking their parents for permission to love. Thirteen-year-old brothers attempting to intimidate their sisters' suitor. Building a toy house together as a system of commitment. Okay, maybe that last one isn't universal.
Lauren B.'s family is a normal white family, I guess. Her sister steals Oatmeal away (again, how do we score that in the Fantasy Draft?) and forces Oatmeal to cry. Well, he cries because he can't put into words how or why he loves her sister. That's not as sweet of a moment as we might think it is.
Lauren B. doesn't tell Oatmeal that she loves him.
It's time to go to Hudson, Ohio, and see the Bench. What is the Bench you ask? It's a bench where Caila has seen other couples cuddling. That's all. This girl is very susceptible to going after whatever is in front of her eyes. You could clip a picture of Oatmeal on a headband and she'd run through two counties.
Oatmeal spends a lot of time explaining that Caila is real and her feelings for him are real and his feelings for her are real. Does real mean "a lot"? Either way, it's time to go to her dad's toy factory to color in their dream home together. It's no wonder this woman has a childlike worldview. She's spent her life coloring in drawings of major life decisions.
After violating some union bylaws and Officer and a Gentleman'ing, Oatmeal and Caila head home to meet her parents and her brother. Caila's mother asks if Oatmeal has ever met any Filipino people before and he says no. Warsaw, Indiana, everyone. But don't worry, Caila's dad goes on and on about the benefits of marrying a Filipino woman. The whole thing is very strange. If you go on and on about how great it is to marry a person of another race because of their race, it probably matters more in your relationship than you think. And not in a good way.
Caila's mom tells her to jump into Oatmeal's arms and tell him that she loves him. She doesn't.
This McDonald's commercial of Oatmeal unable to choose between breakfast and lunch is now hilariously prophetic because of how difficult every rose ceremony is for him.
The last hometown visit is JoJo. Oh, JoJo. They were playing with you today. First, your ex-boyfriend writes you a two-page letter explaining why he wants to get back together on the same day that you're having your visit with Oatmeal. What a coincidence. I've never met a Chad in real life, but that seems like expected behavior from a man named Chad. Then, Oatmeal has no idea how to handle this totally weird situation. And on top of that? Oatmeal still has to meet your parents and your two totally bonkers brothers.
JoJo's brothers grill Oatmeal from the moment he sits down. They use creepy territorial language about their sister and say they love her just a few too many times. The Brothers JoJo don't believe a word that is coming out of Oatmeal's mouth and think that everything he says and does is being manipulated by producers.
WHERE IS THE LIE?
They just want Oatmeal to earn their trust before they embrace him. They don't want their sister to sell herself short on a basic-ass man. I'm Team Brothers JoJo on this one.
Well, it's time for the rose ceremony and the ladytestants head back to the man — DAMN JoJo, you look good in that dress! She's locking this down.
Oatmeal makes a speech about how hard this is and how real his feelings are and blah blah blah. Lauren gets a rose. Caila gets a rose, and … JoJo gets a rose.
Oatmeal obviously didn't want to be an "Instant Dad" to Amanda's kids. That's fair, I guess. Amanda chastises him for not telling her that he wasn't feeling it.
AGAIN, WHERE IS THE LIE?
Ben cries again as he watches Amanda's limo fade into the distance, and she's mad at herself for introducing him to her kids. You know you didn't have to do that, right?
Next week is Jamaica and the producer-approved banging time!