Last week’s episode was the best of The Bachelor season, the payoff of forcing several limos full of ambitious women to live in close proximity for months while systematically eliminating the weakest ones. Sparks flew as four of the seven remaining contestants squared off in a battle to convince Colton that the others were being ungenuine. As their battles grew bolder, Colton grew meeker, defeated by the ever-rising accusations against women he genuinely cared about. It was thrilling television, and I genuinely couldn’t figure out whose side I was supposed to be on. I couldn’t wait for the next episode—how would these women settle their scores?
Unfortunately, the preset formula of The Bachelor guaranteed we would not get that episode. Monday night was the annual hometowns episode, in which Colton visited the families of the four remaining women. Tayshia didn’t get to further her claims that Caelynn is a fame-seeking Bachelorette wannabe, and Caelynn didn’t get to, quote, “call that stupid bitch out,” because they were 3,000 miles apart, with Tayshia in Orange County and Caelynn in Fredericksburg, Virginia. (Tayshia, meanwhile, didn’t even have the common decency to welcome Colton to her hometown by punching him in the face and yelling “WELCOME TO THE OC, BITCH,” as is customary.)
It doesn’t help that the hometown dates were not particularly interesting. Normally, the fun parts of these dates are the local flavor, but we didn’t even get much of that—one date was skydiving, which can be done anywhere; another was an etiquette class, which can also be done anywhere; a third was surfing, which can be done anywhere with beaches; and the fourth was a horse-drawn carriage ride, which I’ve learned through The Bachelor can be done basically anywhere in America. The other fun part about hometowns is learning about contestant backstories, but honestly, we didn’t get much of that either.
Most of the episode revolved around Colton’s quest to get the dads of the four remaining women to bless his potential engagements to their daughters, which seemed incredibly forced and remains a strangely conventional step for a show about simultaneously dating 30 women on television. And that didn’t even really cause much drama—three dads were like, “Huh, weird, but OK,” and the fourth, Cassie’s dad, was like, “You seem fine, but that’s a bit much!” And Colton didn’t seem too bummed out by the denial, which kind of ruined the whole paternal permission gag. Not that Cassie’s dad’s opinion should matter, but why did any of this matter if he’s just going to keep on keeping on with Cassie regardless of what her dad said?
The good news is this is probably just a one-week lull in a season that has continuously ramped up. Because next week, Colton is jumping over that damn fence. They said so in a promo. Chris Harrison promised. I can’t wait.
Biggest Surprise: Tayshia’s Time Traveling
On their earlier one-on-one date, Tayshia and Colton went bungee jumping, a bold move considering Colton has previously claimed that his greatest fear is heights. (Although as previously noted, he has several greatest fears.) After the success of that date, Tayshia apparently decided to replicate it with another heights-based date, and the two went skydiving. (Can’t wait for next week’s date, when Colton and Tayshia attempt to free solo the Dawn Wall of El Capitan.)
Fearing that her big, handsome scaredy-cat would bolt if he realized they were going skydiving, Tayshia blindfolded Colton before they got in her car. To be honest, this seemed deeply unnecessary—is the implication that Colton is knowledgeable enough about the skydiving facilities of Orange County and the roads to get there that he’d sleuth out where they were headed before they even got there? I feel like she could’ve surprised Colton just by … driving there and not telling him where they were going.
Anyway. When Tayshia slipped on Colton’s blindfold, she jokingly said, “This is not the Bird Box challenge,” which was a joke. Remember the Bird Box challenge? That was a thing a couple months ago, haha!
But here’s the thing: This date took place more than a couple months ago. The hometown dates were filmed in late October or early November (here are photos of Colton and Caelynn’s date in Virginia posted on October 29.) And Bird Box had its world premiere November 12 and was released on Netflix December 21. I didn’t hear about the #BirdBoxChallenge until early January, when Netflix told fans not to participate in it, which, as with any inadvisable activity with a hashtag, actually inspired more people to do the Bird Box challenge. But by the time enough people knew about this meme to reference it in public conversation, The Bachelor was close to airing its premiere.
There are two explanations here. One is that The Bachelor wrapped shooting, sent everybody back to their lives, and then later—perhaps after a certain website made a Bird Box–related Bachelor meme that was then stolen by the Bachelor himself—decided to insert a Bird Box joke into this scene. So, they called Tayshia back to record audio of her saying “This is not the Bird Box challenge!” But let’s be honest, there’s no way this happened. Think about all that effort just to force a contestant to read a scripted B-minus-level joke!
The other explanation is that Tayshia has become unstuck in time and can see all things past and present. This checks out—last week it was reported that Tayshia was seriously dating another guy and broke up with him the night before leaving to film The Bachelor, which is sociopathic behavior unless you believe time is merely a construct and that all things that will be already are.
Biggest Loser: North Carolina
Caelynn’s hometown date was in Fredericksburg, Virginia, because that’s her hometown! They went to her favorite ice cream store, which she has emotional connections to because she is from there and grew up there. This may strike you as surprising, because, well, all season long, Caelynn has been billed as Miss North Carolina. And The Bachelor has listed her hometown as Charlotte.
But Caelynn is absolutely from Virginia. We also know she went to college in Virginia, and since she’s only 23 years old, we can deduce that she’s lived in Virginia almost her whole life. But looking into her actual bio, we can see a more detailed picture of when and why she moved. Caelynn won Miss Virginia Teen USA in 2013 and later competed in the Miss Virginia USA pageants in 2016 and 2017, where she finished in fourth and second place. It wasn’t until the 2018 pageant that she switched her state to North Carolina and won.
Pageant eligibility requirements are pretty lax—the Miss North Carolina USA pageant only asks potential competitors to have lived in the state for three months or completed one semester at a school in the state. It seems common for competitors to switch states to improve their pageant chances. Last year, I wrote about how a really rich couple claimed to be from Dominica so they could ski in the Winter Olympics, and so far as I can tell, those people are in charge of all beauty pageants. (We honestly should give Hannah B. credit for actually being from Alabama.)
I like to imagine that the 2018 Miss North Carolina pageant contest featured another contestant publicly accusing Caelynn of being dishonest about her supposed love for the state of North Carolina, that all she cared about was being the next Miss USA, and that she was gonna dump North Carolina as soon as she had the chance, causing the judging panel to seriously reconsider Caelynn as they debated her true intentions. (Let’s call this imaginary contestant … Shmayshia.)
Either way, this whole thing is a bummer for North Carolina. Not only did they not get a hometown date, but now the whole world knows that the state is a destination for struggling pageant competitors from beauty-rich states looking for a homelier jurisdiction in which they can dominate.
Worst Etiquette: Hannah’s Beatboxing Family
The worst of the four dates was an etiquette lesson for Colton, because, as Hannah G. (the still-active Alabaman Hannah) explained, her family would want Colton to be a true Southern gentleman. The date was dumb—Colton doesn’t know how to properly eat bread, scandalous!—but I held out hope that Hannah was about to walk Colton into a stuffy mansion where her great-aunt would faint because Colton didn’t know which fork was meant for salad.
But nope, Hannah’s family was entirely normal. Well, maybe not “normal”—they do stuff like this:
Colton may have been taught how to walk with exceptional posture and which way to pass bread, but he was left woefully unprepared with regard to the etiquette of how to deal with a sucker MC dropping weak bars in the middle of dinner. Hannah’s family appears to have a conception of hip-hop stemming straight from 1988, mainly involving saying the word “word!” to each other.
All season long, Hannah’s job has been listed as “content creator,” which has truly vexed me. I’m a blogger—am I a “content creator”? Is anybody with an Instagram account a content creator? When I take a picture of my dog and tweet it, does that make my dog a content creator? What about when my dog poops—is poop content? Are we not all, every time we speak or breathe or dream, creating some form of content? I didn’t understand Hannah’s occupation, until I saw her dad beatbox. This is content.
Monday night was the end of the road for Virginia’s own Miss North Carolina, as Colton decided to move forward with Cassie, Hannah, and Tayshia while ditching Caelynn. I always think this is the cruelest dumping—after every woman goes back to their hometown, they return to Los Angeles explicitly for a rose ceremony, meaning Caelynn flew five hours just to get dumped. I hope she at least got In-N-Out while she was out here.
But in the long run, this is good news for Caelynn. As previously noted, last week’s episode was brought to a boil by Tayshia’s accusation that Caelynn had spoken openly about wanting to be the next Bachelorette. At the time, I sided with Caelynn, but after thinking about it for a week, I think I’m on Tayshia’s side. Specifically, Caelynn’s history of moving states in a concerted effort to win the Miss USA pageant makes me think this might be a woman who enters various competitions with grander goals in mind.
What is more likely: that Tayshia made up a highly specific lie about Caelynn with nothing to back it up, or that Caelynn actually had a conversation about wanting to be the next Bachelorette, but it was edited out of the show to make Caelynn look more favorable?
Caelynn will be an exceptional choice for the next season of The Bachelorette. She’s smart, fun, and beautiful. Her beauty pageant background gives her the air of importance and desirability that the show misses when it has leads with job titles like “account manager.” And her story of surviving sexual assault deserves amplification.
However, if there was video of Caelynn openly discussing her desire to be the next Bachelorette, she would be a rather unpopular Bachelorette. The premise is that the Bachelorette is a woman who just had her heart broken on The Bachelor, and nobody will buy that about Caelynn if it’s suspected she just wanted to be the Bachelorette all along. So I suspect that they kept in Tayshia’s accusations for the excellent drama but refrained from showing Tayshia’s primary evidence so that Caelynn could emerge with a favorable edit. (I must also point out that the Hannah B./Caelynn beef was perpetually short on details and always made Caelynn look like the more reasonable participant.)
And so, I must congratulate Caelynn. I think she really did come on this show with hopes of winning another beauty pageant, and as we all know, you don’t win The Bachelor by marrying The Bachelor. You win by becoming the next star of The Bachelorette.