The Bachelorette Recap: Hometown Zeroes

The Bachelorette

Hometowns Week
Season 19 Episode 7
Editor’s Rating 3 stars

The Bachelorette

Hometowns Week
Season 19 Episode 7
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC

My dear readers — I am rejuvenated from worshipping at the altar of Gaga and attending the Chromatica Ball (shout-out to Charlotte for holding down the Virgin Cheeky Corner Suite while I was away!), and I’m ready to dive into a regular week of The Bachelorette, where there are absolutely no stakes, because we don’t know any of these guys at all and there’s still plenty of time in the seas.

What the hell? We’re at Hometowns Week already??

We did this all wrong. We should be awash in romance and smooches. I should be drunk off of champagne and campaigning for no fewer than three men to be the next Bachelor. But instead of delivering twice the romance, twice the fun, and somehow three times the abs, we’ve gotten half the story and Aven’s hometown has been punted to open next week’s “Men Tell All” episode. That’s why, as we’re going into Hometowns Week, it’s the first time we’ve heard from Gabby’s men that they aren’t excited about proposing and the first time we’ve heard Tyler speak more than three sentences at a time. I want everyone to go home and think about how we got here, because we’ve desperately fucked this up.

One of the main problems is that there are just too many dudes. Jason got six and a half minutes, I’m pretty sure we saw Johnny pass by quickly in the background, and we didn’t get any Patrick Warburton! You do not tease talented comedic actor Patrick “Puddy/Kronk” Warburton, then not give us anything beyond a tepid post-credits scene in which Rachel asks for a high five. No! You get him to speak Squirrel and get your money’s worth!! Honestly, give me a Gabby hometown-date episode and a Rachel hometown-date episode and dive in! We need the extra time!

Let’s get to it.

What is going on with Jason? Gabby heads out to the Big Easy, and the first thing he tells her while they’re tossing beads to passersby and Gabby is screaming at old men to show them their tits is “I was going to leave in the very beginning.” Uh, dude! Read the balcony over the piss-stained streets of New Orleans! I feel like you either needed to bring this up earlier or find a way to turn it into your romantic “I’m falling in love with you” statement.

Gabby has decided that she wants to know if Jason is like this all the time or if he has absolutely no on-camera experience. Jason’s dad immediately bursts into tears on seeing his son and his potential bride, so it’s neither nature nor nurture. Jason’s parents are separated, so his dad is relegated to a picnic-table beignet gabfest and Jason’s mom hosts the evening sit-down. Jason’s mom is immediately weeping. Good God. Time to float a new theory that Jason’s family was so emotional, bursting into tears at all hours of the day, that someone had to remain stoic when the DirecTV guy showed up to fix the satellite. That burden fell to Jason, and he has been quiet ever since. Jason’s sister is a more toned-down version of Gabby, so when he first looked at Gabby, he must have felt strangely comfortable. Everyone in Jason’s family loves Gabby, and they’re excited for him and, hold on — he’s not ready to get engaged. Jason’s mom asks, “Umm … have you told her this yet?” I like Jason’s mom. Gabby says that after an evening with all these weeping people, she knows that Jason is capable of expressing his emotions and that she’s falling in love with him. And that’s one!

Time for Zach’s date with Rachel. If you asked me to design a “generically good hometown date,” I would design this date. Charming callback to an early date? Check. A parent concerned that their child will end up heartbroken but who by the end has been won over by the lead? Check. The phrase “I’m glad you asked me that”? Check. Patrick “Live-Action The Tick” Warburton? Checkity-check.

This generically good hometown date spiced it up a bit by forcing Zach’s parents to watch footage of him and Rachel making out in a hot tub. Between Gabby having the same vibe as Jason’s sister and Zach’s parents watching video footage of their son making out with a hot petite blonde, we’ve got a real “Google searches you delete from your history immediately” energy going.

Gabby heads to Palm Beach, Florida, to meet with Johnny’s family. Gabby says that Johnny is super-hot and everyone knows it. She wants to know where he’s at in his life right now and if he’s ready for an engagement. Oh … Oh, Gabby.

For some reason, Johnny takes Gabby to meet his family first — without exploring Palm Beach. I guess the bar where Countess Luann was arrested and the Cheesecake Factory were both closed. They’re meeting Johnny’s parents as well as his brother and best friend, who are both members of the Mickey Mouse Club class of 1996. If we get one more of these doofs, we’ll have a full NSYNC. Gabby says that she loved Johnny’s blue eyes and eyelashes right when she saw him. He just had a certain charisma that she was immediately drawn to, but she wants to know if he’s ready for a long-term relationship. His mom says that if Johnny is all in, he’s going to be loyal with a big heart. She describes this as “a different Johnny.” Everyone is saying way more than they realize. Johnny sits quietly with his mom and says he’s not sure if he’s going to get married.

What is happening?! Are they aware of the program they’re on??

I have a theory, and it’s two-pronged. First prong: If you let men flop around for two weeks and waffle between two women, you’re probably going to end up with more than one person who isn’t fully committed to the process. Second prong: The fact that all this trepidation is on Gabby’s side has me wondering why she’s attracted to these men who are lukewarm on marriage. Do all these men think that Gabby is just going to be cool with them not wanting to propose because she’s, like, a cool girl? Because if you even take a second to listen to Gabby and what she’s all about, she’s not a “cool girl.” She’s deeply invested in the power of therapy and making men feel bad about themselves in a fun way. This is not a woman who will go with the flow when it comes to your feelings about commitment. While Jason seems to be really uncomfortable with — oh, you can’t see it, but I’m gesturing wildly at the whole everything — Johnny seems like he has never heard the word marriage before and is generally unfamiliar with the concept. “It’s forever? Like forever? Just one person? What happens if you don’t want to do it anymore? And the church is okay with it? That’s wild, man.” Gabby says that their future is unwritten. The words that people are choosing are rife with meaning.

It’s time for Tyler’s hometown date. He should have gotten a one-on-one date earlier this season. Poor little sweetie. Tyler thinks that if he can throw enough basketballs and corn dogs at Rachel, they’ll fall madly in love. There aren’t enough corn dogs on the entire Jersey shore, Tyler.

Once Rachel meets 15 of Tyler’s cousins at the pizza stand that he owns (???), she realizes that she should have maybe given that one-on-one date in Amsterdam to Tyler and let her relationship with Zach ride. Rachel breaks down with one of her producers and says she feels like a horrible person and that there just isn’t enough time to get to where she wants to be to meet his family.

As the weather gets worse on the boardwalk and Rachel sits down with Tyler in that impossibly ill-fitting trench coat (I mean, is she four feet tall?), Tyler decides that this is the best moment to jump ahead on that “falling for you” continuum and leaps all the way to “I’m in love with you.” Hey, Tyler, if she’s shivering and can’t get through a complete sentence about how lucky she is to know you, it’s not going your way. The only times someone says they’re lucky to know you is in the middle of a breakup or in the women’s lounge of a Nordstrom during the semi-annual sale. If you haven’t cupped your friend’s face and thanked her, really thanked her, for talking you out of that drop-waist jumpsuit, you haven’t opened your heart.

Tyler now has to go see his family by himself and tell them that Rachel isn’t coming. His mother is the most New Jersey woman to ever exist, and she cannot fathom what’s happening. My heart breaks for … I wanna say, Carmella? Tyler and Zach are tied for a Bachelor edit. Mark my words.

It’s time for Erich’s hometown date somewhere else in New Jersey. (My boyfriend’s family is from New Jersey. I asked him if he knew anything about Erich’s or Tyler’s hometowns, and he said, “There are a lot of towns in New Jersey. There’s almost too many towns in New Jersey.”) Erich’s date starts with him taking Gabby right to meet his family and, whew, this was a lot. Erich’s father, Allan, died a few weeks before this episode aired, and the episode is dedicated to him.

The main narrative in Gabby’s visit to meeting Erich’s parents is that Erich’s mother, Donna, is an amazing person, because she’s his dad’s caretaker and their marriage is amazing. I don’t know what’s been dominating your Twitter timeline and TikTok feed, but the discourse that’s swirling around mine is how when men get sick, their wives become caretakers, but when women get sick, their husbands are likely to leave them. So hearing over and over that Erich’s mom is so incredibly loyal and how Erich and Gabby want a bond like them had me wondering what this hometown date would look like if the gender roles were reversed. Having Gabby introduced to the family as “She was an ICU nurse too!” is another example of someone maybe falling in love with Gabby because she reminds them of a comforting figure in their life. It’s obviously an emotional time in Erich’s life, and it seems like he needs this time with his parents more than he needs this time with Gabby.

Gabby does seem like she’s capable of handling this family dynamic better than someone else might. She recognizes how vulnerable Donna is and able to see where Erich gets his caring nature. But she’s willing to let Erich have the time he needs with his family, and they have the evening portion to express their feelings for each other. They head to a bar and check in with each other about the day. They’re both falling in love with each other. Erich just pulled into the lead.

Then Jesse’s voice booms for the next casting announcement: “Make your deadbeat boyfriend jealous!” Not now, Jesse, and not in a million years either. But that’s the perfect emotional reset into Tino’s hometown date.

What is happening with Tino? He clearly likes Rachel, and they have amazing chemistry, but is it just me or is he more concerned with winning and eliminating any obstacle in the way of that than actually connecting with Rachel? You know what your family is like, Tino. You saw what they were doing. Your mom basically said, “If you’re in danger, blink twice, Baby Boo,” and you turned around and said, “Wow, they really liked you, Rachel!” Tino’s father is obsessed with how much time they got together. Tino’s dad wants the data, and he wants it in a bar graph, please. His parents keep repeating the phrase “whirlwind fairy tale,” and y’know what? This has been a whirlwind fairy tale. I’ll give them that. Tino’s dad demands that Rachel list three qualities about his son, his favorite food, his most embarrassing memory, and if he would rather be able to fly or have the power of invisibility. Rachel tells his parents that she loves Tino’s positive outlook and that he gives blood, like, all the time. 

Everyone, make sure you’re able to name three things about your partner that you like about them that have nothing to do with you and one anecdote that demonstrates their most redeeming quality. If you can’t write a college essay about your partner and their unique life story, you aren’t really in love. (Sidenote: You are not required to know how many cousins they have. That’s not a test of your love. It’s a trick question. The answer is always “a lot on their mom’s side.”) Rachel walks away from the interaction with Tino’s dad saying, “He grilled my ass.”

Tino’s dad wants Tino to make sure that Rachel isn’t just out for an engagement, and I think someone should give Rachel that advice about Tino and his desire to completely paper over Rachel’s feelings to get to the big win. The first thing he says to Rachel when they sit down together is “They did adore you, I promise you.” When Rachel starts to protest, he pivots to telling her that he’s falling in love with her. Tino, read the bench outside the Airbnb that production rented for your family. Rachel says she’s falling in love with Tino too … but she’s got precisely zero encouragement from his family. I can’t wait to see Big Tony deal with this Jason Segel–looking dweeb.

See you next week for Aven’s hometown date and “Men Tell All”! Logistics mean nothing!!

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The Bachelorette Recap: Hometown Zeroes