There are only two good sports in the world. One is that awesome handball thing from the Olympics. The other is The Bachelor, a show that features 30 women competing to gain as many Instagram followers as they can before they’re eliminated by a slightly above-average guy who once got dumped on national television. This year is the best yet, because the Bachelor, Nick Viall, got dumped on The Bachelorette … twice! Every Tuesday we’ll be telling you who, uh, rose to the occasion on the previous night’s episode. You have my dad’s blessing to read on.
Best Hometown Date: Corinne, Obviously
The hometown-dates episode is typically one of the best in any given season of The Bachelor: Just at the time in the show’s run when we’ve eliminated most of the people who made the show interesting, we’re quickly exposed to four regionally unique families unused to cameras trying to gauge what the hell their child has gotten herself into. Monday night’s wasn’t so great, though. Almost everybody was cordial to Nick and relatively understanding of the fact that their daughter might marry a significantly older man from the television who may or may not have an actual job anymore.
And yet, we of course got some Corinne-related payoff. I never expected the show’s primary antagonist to last until the hometown dates, but had started pulling for her to survive in hopes of meeting and better understanding the family that begat such a uniquely displeasing person.
Stunningly, Corinne’s character underwent a major role reversal. After weeks of skepticism about her claim that she runs a million-dollar business, Corinne showed Nick the inner workings of her company. The first few months of the season showed that Corinne possesses infinite confidence and virtually no skills, but in a few minutes she showed depth and talent I never would have guessed she possessed. Her acumen and passion shone; the loyalty and admiration of her coworkers spoke volumes, and afterward she showed Nick her philanthropic side, taking him to a charity where she works 15 hours a week teaching Miami’s underprivileged children how to sustainably grow and use ingredients for healthy, inexpensive meals.
No, y’all, I’m joking: She took Nick to a high-end shopping mall and spent $3,000 on clothes.
Corinne claims this is one of the most “exclusive” malls in Miami, and I’m going to back her claim. I mean, it’s technically not “exclusive” — the doors are open! — but that’s the Bal Harbour mall, which is across the street from where my Jewish Cuban abuela lives, and it is one of the worst places on earth. I remember wandering through there when I was probably about 10 years old expecting it to be like any other mall in the world and getting told off by a clerk for touching a pair of ratty-looking jeans that turned out to cost $800. I didn’t understand why such ugly things were so expensive, and why a “mall” wouldn’t have a Cinnabon.
Later, we’d meet Corinne’s blood relatives, but it is clear this mall is what raised her. The employees know her by name and greet her with overjoyed hugs. Their embraces said, “Welcome home my long-lost daughter, I so missed bilking you out of an enormous sum of money with no effort whatsoever.”
Corinne buys Nick a completely regular-looking outfit that costs over $1,000. He is visually agitated by the prices. This is the rare Reverse Sugar Daddy: An extremely wealthy blond woman dropping stacks on her significantly older boyfriend. A real sugar daddy might buy expensive jewelry or sexy lingerie; Corinne buys Nick a super-expensive peacoat.
I imagine he was wavering between two schools of thought about the prices. On the one hand, I don’t think he’s going to pick Corinne, so he was probably thinking, “Hey, excuse me, don’t buy me this $650 sweatshirt, my regular sweatshirt is fine and you should donate this money to charity instead of getting me an item of clothing I can wear around the house after I marry Vanessa.” On the other hand, he was probably thinking he could get used to this. Nick, don’t do it. The actual expensive things you want in life are not the ones Corinne will ever buy. You will become trapped in a prison of fancy T-shirts forever.
Most Awkward Moment: Nick
Ever go to a religious service with a significant other from a different religious background? You spend the whole time trying to gauge what’s allowed in this place of worship where things are slightly different from the place of worship you’ve gone to your whole life. That happened to Nick when Rachel took him to her enormous church in Dallas. He was bewildered:
Nick’s figured out that he’s supposed to clap, but he hasn’t learned that smiling is allowed in black churches yet. “Don’t look like you’re enjoying yourself,” Nick says to himself. “It would be disrespectful.”
Second-Most-Awkward Moment: Nick, Again
Vanessa’s mom asked Nick what he liked about her daughter and he basically said, “She was really hot when I saw her for the first time.” Good job.
Most Shocking Revelation: Vanessa
Every single member of Vanessa’s family is very concerned with her getting her heart broken again after a previous relationship ended poorly. Her brother cries about it, her sister threatens Nick, her dad and her mom broach the topic, and Vanessa herself expresses fear about how she would emotionally handle being dumped by Nick.
After hearing so much about Nick’s previous romantic failures on the first two months of this show, it is truly stunning to learn that it’s possible for people to experience meaningful relationships that aren’t broadcast on TV. Luckily, this relationship of Vanessa’s is being televised, so we won’t be blindsided by anything like this should she appear on another season of The Bachelor.
Least Interesting Date: Raven
Raven hails from Hoxie, Arkansas. You might have worried that there was nothing to do there, but Raven disproved that. Turns out in Hoxie, you can:
- Get arrested by Raven’s cop brother
- Make out in a mud pit
This ad has been presented by the Hoxie Chamber of Commerce!
Most Meaningful Date: Rachel
Rachel is black and Nick is white, and they talked about it on The Bachelor without it being cringeworthy. (Well, except for when Rachel’s white brother-in-law identified himself as “a white.” That was cringeworthy.) Sometimes it was fun — like in church, or when Nick said, “I’m not from Mars!” when asked to identify the foods on the dinner table.
Sometimes it was serious, and that’s good! Rachel’s family was strong and clear about how they treat race: You should love somebody for who they are, not their race, but you can’t ignore race, because there are people out there that will see people for their race first and who they are second. Maybe you have the luxury of not believing that this is true. Rachel does not have that luxury, and will almost certainly be subject to harassment when she is the Bachelorette and some of the men she’s dating are white.
It was a little bit strange watching this segment, knowing that ABC has already spoiled it for us by saying that Rachel will be the next Bachelorette and therefore will not win this show. But it was heartening (and relieving) to know that after 33 seasons, this show is capable of acknowledging that there are non-white people in America.
Biggest Twist: Corinne’s Family
Corinne’s family turned out to be … somewhat normal? Yes, her dad does talk about money a little bit too much — he needs to point out that the scotch they’re drinking is expensive, and his main question for Nick and Corinne is about whether they’ll be able to stand up financially as a couple. To be fair, he’s got a good point: Corinne works for him because appearing in music videos is not a viable source of financial income and Nick probably doesn’t have a real job anymore. But still, he likes talking about money.
But other than that, they seemed capable of talking about things and having interests that regular humans have. Even the long-awaited conversation between Nick and Corinne’s nanny/maid/best friend Raquel was pretty uneventful.
I was hoping for a family of megalomaniacs screaming at each other about which one was actually a liar. The most telling part was that Corinne’s younger sister is named Taylor, which might help explain why Corinne suddenly decided to tell Nick that the contestant named Taylor was a manipulative liar and needed to be kicked off the show immediately.
Best Relationship: Vanessa and Her Students
I really don’t think I’ve ever been made emotional by an episode of The Bachelor before Monday night, when Vanessa took Nick to visit the classroom where she teaches adults with special needs. It was so clear that she loved helping them, and they were better at expressing their gratitude than I ever was for anybody who taught me. Dealing with special needs students is not a 24/7 heartwarming viral video, but you could feel the love and care flowing both ways through the screen. It was the strongest connection I’ve ever seen on The Bachelor.
Best Outfits: These
I call this look “The Polar Fuckboy.” I’m sure you need these in Miami.
Best Family Member: Vanessa’s Dad
Because Vanessa’s parents are divorced, her hometown date was a two-part visit. Nick met her mom and about 17 other family members for a traditional Italian/French Canadian meal. They never say what they were eating, so I’ll presume it was poutine Parmigiana. (I hope this doesn’t offend any Italian/French Canadian readers, but if it does, please tell me what I’m supposed to eat at my Jewish Cuban abuela’s house. It’s confusing.) Then they visited her significantly less festive dad.
One of the stranger traditions on this show is the insistence that every Bachelor ask the dads of the women he’s considering for their blessing on a potential marriage. (It’s even weirder on The Bachelorette, when it’s several men asking one dad.) For a show that so drastically warps the traditional courtship process, it places a lot of importance on this token act of patriarchy. Personally, I think the show should go all out and force each dad to propose dueling dowry offers. “Wow, I really thought Nick would end up with Raven, but he really couldn’t turn down all those oxen from Corinne’s dad.”
Having been forced to ask this question twice before, Nick treats it a bit awkwardly, trying to make sure each parent knows this is not a direct marriage proposal but more of a hypothetical that will apply to only one of the four people he asks. Two dads are OK with this. Rachel’s mom filled in because Rachel’s dad is an important judge and couldn’t take time out of his day for reality TV, which is kinda disappointing because Nick spent about a month preparing to talk to Rachel’s judge dad. But Vanessa’s dad took umbrage. He pointed out the patent absurdity of Nick asking four people if he can marry their daughter, and initially refused to give his blessing.
He relented after a minute, but Vanessa’s Mad Dad was the only genuine moment of drama in these two hours of TV, so he wins the MVP here.