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The Bachelor
Matt James and Michelle. Courtesy of ABC Entertainment.
The Bachelor
Matt James and Michelle. Courtesy of ABC Entertainment.

It’s the hometowns week when Matt meets the families of all the four women left on the show. I judge the success of a reality show built around finding ‘true love’ by the extent it can make me forget about the ridiculousness of the whole premise. It is especially hard to accomplish during hometowns week when the lead and the contestants face a glimpse of reality by having to meet the parents. This whole episode has failed to convince me to take it seriously. 

In addition to the show failing to make us feel invested in the final relationships, the reality weighs in and causes mixed (cringe) feelings when watching a contestant who has been involved in a major controversy regarding her history of racist behavior. Usually, the audience roots for different contestants based on their chemistry with the lead and general likeability. The major drama is supposed to be gone with no antagonists making their way up to this point. However, this season, due to the above-mentioned controversy that came to light after all the episodes were taped and the season aired, we have Rachael, a contestant with obvious intense chemistry between her and Matt, who attended an Antebellum-themed party in 2018. This makes it hard to watch her on-screen, especially with the first Black lead in what was supposed to be a vain attempt at a new stage of development for The Bachelor franchise.

The first one up is Michelle, who takes Matt on a bike ride followed by an introduction to her primary school students. Michelle’s students ask Matt some hard-hitting questions, which are surprisingly thorough and well-articulated. Who wrote those questions: they, their parents, Michelle’s colleagues, or the showrunners? I guess we’ll never know.

The second hometown date is with Rachael, who takes Matt skydiving. Rachael ends up having a rough landing, which results in Matt apparently realizing just how deep his feelings are for this woman (don’t we all just know he chose her at the end?). Rachael puts on several layers of foundation on her face to hide the fall’s aftermath as she and Matt head to meet her family.

Bri appears to be having the most fun on the show. On the date that she organizes for her and Matt, she drives him around muddy roads on a green jeep, hoping to get him high enough on adrenaline to confess his feeling for her, I presume. Finally, the last date is with Serena P., who makes Matt take a quiz on his knowledge of Canada-related trivia and outshines him in ice hockey.

Every meeting with the family goes similarly boring, as Matt and his final four get grilled with questions about their feelings and readiness to commit to something as big as marriage. Matt answers every question from every family by continuously fidgeting, breaking eye contact, and insisting that, at least, he is honest and committed to the idea of marrying someone at the end of this journey. 

The women, in the meantime, gush over Matt and how perfect he is. Do they assign him the depth that’s not there (it’s easy to get confused, the man is very tall), or have we not been shown all the levels of their connections in previous weeks due to all the dramatic events stealing screen time? 

While every woman rushes to tell Matt that she is falling in love with him, which is a pretty standard gamble one has to make on this show to increase chances of staying, Serena seems to be the only one expressing realistic doubts about getting engaged to the person she met mere weeks ago and with whom she has never interacted outside of the show. Seeing her struggle and, at first, not being able to put a finger on what holds her back in her relationship with Matt (perhaps, common sense?) leads to an additional conversation between the two. After Serena confesses that she just does not think Matt is her person, she reverses the algorithm by turning down the lead, walking Matt to the car, and seeing him off. 

But we are putting all of this on hold for next week’s Women Tell All, the preview for which looks surprisingly mild. Eh. 

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