Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Matt meets the parents as The Bachelor reaches its “hometowns” episode

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Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC

The cold freeze has finally snapped. Birds are chirping. And here on The Bachelor, most of the drama has dissipated as Matt has narrowed down his choices to the final four possibilities, which means that he meets all their parents during this “hometowns” episode. In normal times, Matt would be visiting places like Canada and Georgia to meet his girlfriends’ parents and other relatives on their home turfs. But instead, all the families head to the resort in Pennsylvania (does this mean that everyone’s family had to be quarantining this whole time?).

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Hometowns is a big week in the Bachelor scheme of things, because after living in the contestant bubble for so many weeks, for the contestants it’s the first time they get some actual outside validation about their unconventional relationship. Or not. For Serena, talking to her mom and her sister about her feelings for Matt is enough for her to realize that she’s not actually ready to get engaged at the end of all this. Which is totally reasonable! But too bad: Her Canadian date was dorky but pretty fun, and I like how she did not seem to be taking everything so seriously. In retrospect, though, maybe that was the problem.

But the best part is that Serena was actually concentrating on herself and her feelings and not just how Matt was feeling about her, in a sharp departure to how the female contestants are usually depicted on this show. There was something really gratifying about seeing Matt being walked out and headed home in the sad SUV ride for once.

The other three are still in it, though, and Matt still has some strong contenders. All three women looked exceptionally stunning at that pointless rose ceremony, especially Bri. He and Michelle were just too pure for this world on their hometown date, and having him meet her students was about a million times better than Rachael’s flashy skydiving venture. (I wish Matt felt the same, but I kind of doubt it.)

There’s a very telling vernacular in Bachelor-ness, after all. Matt and Rachael both said the “L” word early on. This episode, there was a lot of talk about “falling for you” or telling the parents that he was “falling” for their daughter. Which is not the same thing as saying that he was in love with their daughter or even that he loved their daughter, and the parents in question were quick to pick up on that difference. Even worse is when someone like Bri is brave and opens up about her feelings for him, only to get the dreaded “Thank you for sharing that” in response.

Honestly, still the person Matt seems far and away most enthusiastic about is Rachael, which is depressing. He and Bri seem to be lacking some spark, but Michelle is right there. Whenever they’re together, I honestly feel the most like I’m eavesdropping on an actual couple, like in the credits scene this episode when he falls off of his bike, leading up to them walking their bikes in the photo above. (Said my young son, watching this with me: “The bike lady is like a perfect match.” Me: “She definitely is, but I’m afraid that he’s going to wind up with the parachute lady.”) Ugh, it’s like Becca and Garrett all over again.

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It’s to Matt’s credit, I guess, that at this point in the process, I for one am still concerned about his happiness. (Pilot Pete did not command this much involvement.) He really does seem to be a nice person who wants to put some good out in the world (which is why Michelle likes him, yet another point in her favor), and has gone into this process with an open heart and mind, trying his best to commandeer a large group that, at times, was extremely toxic. And even then, he wound up making some solid connections with some excellent choices out of that group. Which all look like they’re headed to the Fantasy Suites next Bachelor episode.

Final hometown tallies

Best parents: Michelle’s

Best mom: Bri’s

Most fun parents: Serena’s

Worst parents: Rachael’s

Stray observations

  • Not that anyone should pick someone or not pick someone just on the basis of their parents, but does Matt really want Rachael’s dad glaring at him on every single national holiday?
  • That seemed like a pretty windy day for a skydive, right? Also, so did the camerapeople have to skydive with them?
  • One of the five million reasons I could never be on The Bachelor (one of which being that I’m married): They would sign me up for one of the skydiving or bungee jumping activities and I’d just be like, “Nope.”
  • Remember Pilot Peter and Victoria F.’s disastrous hometown date?
  • Next week: Alllllll the drama returns with Women Tell All. Also, Matt grew a beard!
  • Also: Matt James just posted the below statement tonight on Instagram. Which, no matter how this season ends up, does not seem to bode well for his romantic future with Rachael. It also speaks to how much he took on as the first Black Bachelor, especially considering the racial issues “the Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years,” as he puts it.
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