If you derailed your Thanksgiving dinner to talk about what on earth is happening with Katie and John and Blake and Reddit?!?!, then this is a safe space for you. If you muted the National Dog Show to monologue at length about Clayton becoming the Bachelor, then this is the place for you. If you quietly wept during an after-dinner game of Spades over Tayshia and Zac breaking up, then welcome, my child. This is your home. But out of all the nonsense and mess and Instagram Stories in the last couple weeks, I think we’ve lost sight of the reason for the season: Michelle in that Mr. & Mrs. Smith–looking dress.
As her season unfolds with minimal drama and fanfare, it’s important to remember that Michelle is a tremendous Bachelorette who is making everyone’s lives better, and she’s a complete and total babe. She’s beautiful, she’s amazing, and I would like everyone else to settle the fuck down so we can appreciate Michelle being lifted on Rodney’s shoulders to pick an apple. If you can’t keep it together for the next few weeks so we can enjoy the love stories unfolding in front of us, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.
Let’s get to it.
We’re still in Minneapolis, The City That Always Lakes! No, that can’t be right. The Mini Apple! Tayshia is telling Michelle that this week is the most important week and meeting someone’s family can really show you another side of them. Every single hometown date will begin with Michelle or a contesticle talking about how excited they are to show off a different side of themselves. I do not have this many sides. I’m an insufferable monster in every situation and context. Tayshia tells Michelle to ask each family if their son is ready for a commitment, but she only asks the family that would make her the most upset to hear “no” from. The hometowns are going to work a little differently this year: The guys’ families will be descending on Minneapolis and production will do the bare minimum to replicate some part of their routine in an empty warehouse.
Honestly, this was a way more low-key and more fun way to do Hometowns. Let’s fly every family to a neutral second location and just have them all meet in the same Airbnb rental. Much like me, my mom is the same in every context and situation. At least let her get some airline miles out of the experience. Besides, if she is different in any situation, you definitely want to meet Vacation Mom. She’s buying fries for the table and inviting everyone back to the hotel lounge for a game of Yahtzee.
Brandon is up first! He meets Michelle outside some sort of garage and he’s excited to bring a little bit of Portland to Michelle. He opens up the garage and it’s a skate park! Suddenly Brandon makes complete sense. He’s Travis Birkenstock. A sweet-hearted skateboarder, looking for love and maybe to replace all the stickers on his board in a single motif. Also, he says that his parents were involved in his skateboarding, and I would like no less than 45 minutes of footage of his parents skateboarding, please.
Brandon is terrible at skateboarding. He falls down almost immediately and basically never does a successful trick. He’s so blinded by his love for Michelle. Brandon tells Michelle that his brother Noah pushed back his start date with the Navy just so he could meet her. Uh … you’re allowed to do that? For that reason? Cool. Brandon just wants his family to see that he’s truly in love with Michelle and how much she makes him happy.
It’s time for Michelle to meet Brandon’s family and, uh … she better be prepared to meet a version of this family at every single hometown. Listen, I knew all these men were light-skinned, but … they all have white moms? What are the odds of that happening? And Michelle’s family consists of a white mom and a Black dad. What are the odds of everyone left on this franchise having the same parental makeup? Nobody got a Black mama? Nobody?!?! There’s a larger conversation to be had here about colorism and how The Bachelor’s casting is affected by that. And obviously, Michelle is going to be attracted to whom she’s attracted to, and someone who has a family structure similar to yours is going to be comforting but … wow. Again, in a series that has struggled to cast, support, and authentically represent people of color, what are the odds? I’m gonna be asking a couple more questions like, “Why is Hannah the mouthpiece of a family?” and “So, Carrie and Leanna’s second husbands are also Black? Huh? What’s that about?” Let’s just ruminate on that quietly during journaling time.
Anyway, Brandon’s family. We’re meeting Brandon’s parents, Carmen and David, and his brother Noah, who looks like someone photocopied Bruno Mars too many times. Silk Sonic really answered a lot of sartorial questions for light-skinned dudes. The story of this hometown visit is, “Michelle really likes Brandon and wants it to work with his family.” The subplot of “Brandon is not actually that smooth” also persists throughout this episode. Michelle suggests that their dads go fishing together and asks if he’ll still like her if she beats him at basketball. She has a crush on this family. After Michelle has gotten the approval of Carmen and David, she sits outside with Brandon and she tells him that she’s falling for him. Brandon is Michelle’s emotional match and they test their compatibility by making out a lot. Brandon knows that he’s ready to marry Michelle and he wants it more than anything in the world.
Up next is Rodney’s hometown date. He weirdly themes his hometown date around an apple only found in Minnesota. Rodney is saying, “This is my home now. I am yours. Relocate me, ma’am.” Michelle really has fun with Rodney and they spend the day riding bikes, picking apples, and gently smooching under an apple tree. Rodney puts a blindfold on Michelle and they sample butterscotch and chocolate sauce. Michelle asks, “Is it normal to be blindfolded this much early in a relationship?” I mean … if you want it to be. Normalize casual, quaint sensory play. Rodney asks Michelle if she had fun. Awwww, you li’l sweetie. You don’t have to ask her if she’s having a good time. You planned a real fun date. It’s cute, buddy. Michelle says that she can be any version of herself with Rodney. I’m very concerned about how many versions of self these people are containing at any moment. They contain a multiverse of blue checks within them.
They head to meet Carrie and Tyree, Rodney’s mom and stepdad. And Carrie is full-on weeping at the sight of her son. Michelle tells his parents that Rodney saw himself as an underdog and she didn’t know how he saw himself like that, but she related to feeling unseen. Rodney’s mom is like, “Umm … that’s very cool, but do you think he’s hot or something?” No one wants to hear their son’s chief qualities are “funny” and “underdog.” Rodney tells her that he’s falling in love with her and she tells him re: his mom that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. That’s not exactly a reciprocation, but it’ll do for now.
Oh, sidebar, I loved getting a teaser from Good Morning America to reveal the new Bachelor in an episode that fully reveals the new Bachelor.
Anyway, it’s time for Michelle’s hometown with Joe, and man, this guy cannot carry a conversation. They meet up at Hopkins High School, the old stomping grounds for Joe, Kris Humphries, and Doomtree. Joe shows her various hallways and Michelle says, “Oh, your high school was fairly diverse.” Have these two met before? He takes Michelle to a little concrete ledge and lifts her up to make out with her because he never had a girlfriend in high school. Joe takes her to the gym where they’ve set up an entire prom for them, complete with a tux and a gown for Michelle. This is a severe hometown advantage. No one had anything remotely this elaborate. Rodney’s wasn’t even California-themed!
They’re going to meet Joe’s family: his mom Julie, his father David (what are the odds of two dads named David??), his brother Dan, and his sister-in-law Hannah. Hannah will have to serve as the narrator for the Coleman family because these men aren’t saying a word. I don’t think we even hear Dan’s voice. Dan, please, speak your truth. Joe sits down with his dad. Remember what I said about dads not being good communicators? I was specifically talking about this dad, who literally has no follow-up questions and fewer notes. I love him and we all must protect him.
Joe’s mom wants to make sure that Joe is able to communicate with Michelle and can tell that he’s excited to be sitting next to her. Then we hear a lot from Hannah about how scary it could be for Joe and how protective they all are and they just have to trust Joe and Michelle. Thanks, Hannah! David, any thoughts? None? Cool. Good talk. Michelle is astonished that she and Joe can express emotions to each other. Joe is Michelle’s lifestyle match. If they got together, neither of them would even have to move. If they find out their jobs are on the same bus line, that’s the makings of true love.
It’s time for Nayte’s hometown date, and by process of elimination, this is the one where someone says they don’t know if he’s ready. Nayte wants to bring a bit of Austin to Minneapolis, so this means that they’re paddleboarding! Austin — a city known for being generally weird, its great food, and a thriving music scene, but, no, paddleboarding. It’s just another excuse for Nayte to remind Michelle of his incredibly long body and many tattoos. Later, Nayte explains that Michelle is going to be meeting his mom Leanna and his ex-stepdad Charles. Okay, hang on. We’re dealing with a “Dan Hedaya and Paul Rudd in Clueless” situation? His mom and his stepdad divorced like a year and a half ago, but Charles decided to come back to appear on television to tell his former stepson that he’s not ready to get married? This is an incredible power move only rivaled by Brooks Marks dropping out of college for a semester to appear on Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. Charles saw an opportunity for the spotlight and he took it.
Nayte really wants to remind everyone that we don’t talk about emotions. I never brought anyone home. We do not talk about girls here!!! It’s basically written in crayon on the door of the Airbnb for Nayte’s family. Michelle thinks it might be a bit of a red flag if he’s never brought anyone home to meet his family … or been in love … or had a serious relationship. Also, everyone is calling him Nathaniel and it’s giving “I’m a different guy when I go to volleyball camp.” Michelle says that she matches with Nayte on so many levels, including intellect. Girl, he’s hot and 6-foot-13. Just say that. Nayte is Michelle’s chemistry match. She’s incredibly hot for him and she can’t hold it in. Nayte tells his mom that he’s not 100 percent ready to get engaged, but he’s not 100 percent not ready to not get engaged.
Michelle sits down with Nayte’s stepdad, and he’s not exactly positive about this or any situation. He says that there’s a difference between being in love and being engaged and being married. One is the subject of many poems, one is the exchange of a Neil Lane ring, and the last one is a legal contract securing land and titles between two houses. Charles says clearly Nayte has a good vibe, but he’s not ready for an engagement. Nayte sits down with Charles and talks about how they never talk about anything. Nayte says that he is feeling new and incredible feelings with Michelle and Charles says, “How can you tell it’s real if it’s new?” Charles, what the fuck? Support your former stepson! As they try to navigate this conversation despite never having a conversation before, they stumble on telling each other that they love each other for the first time and Charles telling Nayte he’s proud of him. Everyone is growing and changing and it’s all because of Michelle and the power of love! Nayte sums up the day by going, “Feelings. Emotions. Brand-new!” We’ve got a long way to go.
Before the Rose Ceremony, Bri and Serena stop in to see how Michelle is doing. They vaguely recap the episode, offer no advice, and go on their merry way! Thanks for stopping by, friends!
It’s time for the Rose Ceremony, and this is the hardest one yet because Michelle knows that someone’s heart is getting broken. The men file in for the Rose Ceremony in order of height. The roses go to Brandon, Nayte … and Joe. RODNEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Michelle offers to walk Rodney out. Here’s my theory about Michelle and Rodney: In every season, the lead has someone who is their friend and someone they can confide in, and their relationship is very easy and comfortable. They keep that person around almost like a security blanket to ensure that they have a good time, and then when things get really serious, they send that person home. Remember when Rachel doubled over in tears when she sent Matt home? Friend-of-the-lead vibes. Michelle sits down with Rodney and tells him that he’s enough, he’s not an underdog, but other relationships just moved faster. Rodney lets her know that he’s going to care about her forever and he always wants to make her smile. They hug for a long time. Rodney says as he drives away that things just weren’t meant to be. Dear sweet Rodney. May you live forever in our hearts and find love in Paradise.
Next week is the Men Tell All and we get a preview of … Clayton’s season? Fine. But also, how is his catchphrase “Everyone loves an underdog.” HE’S NOT THE UNDERDOG! RODNEY IS THE UNDERDOG! RODNEY! RODNEY FOR BACHELOR!!!!!!