A TATBT Bachelorette recap: HOMETOWNS

BABY YOU'RE A SONG / YOU MAKE ME WANNA TRAP MY FAMILY ON A COUCH / AND LIIIIIIIE

This is a recap of Hannah’s Hometowns episode, with a recap of Fantasy Suites to follow — if you’re reading TATBT for the first time and you enjoy all the screaming, go ahead and sign up for free right here! Do it for Tyler C…

The Bachelor(ette) episode before Hometowns is both extremely important, and also, doesn't matter at all. It is important because it’s when everyone realizes they're falling in love, and Hannah has to decide which four families she's going to lead to believe that she's in love with their tall-haired son, even though she’ll be breaking his tall heart in a matter of days, maybe after having sex with him first, because this show is nuts and it’s been on for 17 years…

But mostly, nothing matters before the Hometowns episode. It is the most dependable of cultural touchpoints, on par with the Oscars or those deeply sinister “I ate my kids Halloween candy” videos. When you know Hometowns are coming up, it is impossible to focus on anything except the decorative cross accent wall you’re definitely going to see at Luke's house, or wondering if Tyler has a brother, or if Jed's girlfriend is going to be sitting at his kitchen island innocently eating Captain Crunch when he shows up with Hannah, or if Peter's parents are Precious Moments Figurines and his siblings are Cabbage Patch Kids. And of course—all those big ass clocks.

In this case, the only interesting thing that happens in The Episode Before Hometowns is the preview for the rest of the season wherein Hannah tells Luke that she fucked one of her other boyfriends in a windmill, and then tells the camera that she fucked said boyfriend in said windmill twice. But because of Hannah's accent and the need to bleep her saucy language on the American Broadcast Network, it sounds a lot like she says, "I fucked a windmill … I fucked a windmill twice." The girl is a wild card.

Sadly, in addition to that windmill and whomever it contained…Hannah’s entire season is also utterly, utterly fucked.

In the episode before Hometowns, Hannah releases Big Mike, literally the only person on her season who could have possibly been “ready to get engaged,” whatever that means.

And that's okay. Hannah wasn't in love with Mike; Hannah didn’t come to the realization that she could be acutely attracted to a man's thighs after seeing Mike in a pair of light-washed jeans; Hannah is not Demi Lovato; and, to be fair, Hannah did appropriately grieve having to let such a handsome, wholesome specimen go while weeping over the beauty of Art.

You see, Hannah simply does not know a good thing when she sees it. As it so happens, Hannah also does not know a bad thing when she sees it—or mounts it on a bench in some weird antique store.

I think the second Hannah is physically attracted to someone, her brain turns into that Alex Mack/Capri Sun goo and just starts regenerating itself over and over until she can imagine a life with said hottie. That's the only thing that's ever been able to explain her continued insistence on "seeing the good" in Luke P: because the only good that she could possibly see in him is a combination of his testimony-slingin' piety and those V-muscles that lead down to his, uh, altar.

And after these Hometowns, Capri-Sun-brain is also the only thing that could explain Hannah holding onto Jed, given that his family looked at her like this the whole time:

Something is up, Hannah Brown.

Of course, we have known for weeks that Jed went onto the show looking for exposure as a musician, a fact that he admitted to Hannah when he told her he’d developed real feelings for her. What he failed to mention is that he was seriously dating a fellow musician when he was cast on The Bachelorette, and he told said girlfriend that he would go on the show for said exposure and then come back to her because he loved her.

Which the woman believed, right up until Jed returned from the show and completely ghosted her. That's when she came out with her story, and in the process of going on Reality Steve's podcast, was told while recording that Jed had also cheated on her shortly before going on The Bachelorette, telling her to wait for him, making it to at least the Fantasy Suites with Hannah, and eventually ghosting her—this, to the woman that he said he loved.

It all sort of colors his declaration that he's in love with Hannah in a new light. (The light is black, and Jed is a Motel 6 duvet cover.)

So now, imagine that you're Jed's family who know that he's been seriously dating this woman, Haley…and know that he told her he was going on The Bachelorette for his career…and now he shows up in Knoxville with the Bachelorette, saying that he's in love with this woman now instead…so you just have to…

It's not the worst thing in the world to go onto this love gameshow with a girlfriend and end up falling in love with the Bachelorette. It's a big whoops, but with some honesty and a contraband iPhone, or a break-up letter slipped in Connor's pocket on his way out (RIP Tall Connor), it might be something you could overcome. But it definitely is the worst thing to both not tell Hannah about Haley, and to ghost Haley once you've arrived back from getting all your exposure and maybe engaged to another woman. That's, uh, super bad dude territory. And then to make your very pretty and tan mom and sister complicit in your lie—super! bad! dude!

Basically, all of Hannah's options heading into Hometowns are traaaash except for Tyler, the sexy reincarnation of a hot black-and-white photo of a World War II soldier you found tucked into one of your grandmother's books, but know isn't your grandfather, who Hannah somehow seems the least into, but it's no matter, because he is destined for greater things than The Bachelor universe can contain (a gym…he's going to open a very successful gym and marry someone from Riverdale).

And yes, I am including Pilot Pete in that list of garbage cans, unfortunately…

PETER

But he’s just, like, a little SimpleHuman pedal-push guy next to the bathroom sink.

News broke Tuesday that Peter also had a serious girlfriend right before coming on the show. Peter did at least break up with her once he found out he was cast on The Bachelorette, so on the list of Sleazy Guys Hannah Might Get Engaged To, he's still a solid #3. But he was basically in the process of begging this woman to move across the country to live with him, and then dropped her like a landing gear without any explanation whatsoever the moment he was cast on the show, two days before Christmas.

And I believe the woman—because I always believe the woman. Peter and Jed have plenty of incentive to lie and mislead, and their respective ex-girlfriends have very little incentive to come forward with the truth.

Because no woman would invite the specific vile of Bachelor Nation commentators [ed. note: HELLO, have you read this blog, I used an altar as an analogy for a penis earlier! We are nasty at best, and sacrilegious at worst!] if they did not feel it was their righteous duty to keep that man from being the next Bachelor. And I mean, I would believe just about anything that gets me one step closer to seeing Mike's thighs in any number of jeans as The Bachelor, but the ex-girlfriend also said that she wasn’t going to say anything until it became clear during Hometowns that Peter had told his family that she broke his heart and it took him so long to get over her because he's such a romantic, ugh ugh ugh.

Still, this doesn’t make me think Peter is a shark-eyed mouth-breather like Luke, or a manipulative womanizer like Jed. Maybe he just has to learn to treat women better the good old fashioned way: by being dragged for filth in an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight.

And I simply refuse to let whatever Catch Me If You Can fantasy he's living out tarnish the good name of his adorable trilingual family.

I guess my suspicions should have been raised when Peter had Hannah meet him in the woods and then walked her to a clearing where he introduced her to his "baby," a Mercedes sports car, and told her they'd be going for a ride.

Awesome. Here's a thought—what if we did anything else and you just told me that you’re rich?? They seem to be silently riding along until Hannah starts jamming her hand into every nook and cranny like a little kid. "I'm gonna investigate in here," she says as she opens his middle console, pulling out a box of Altoids, quickly followed by a condom.

One condom, Peter? Did you get it from a vending machine? WHERE ARE THE OTHER CONDOMS, PETER???

So! Many! Signs! But it's easy to be distracted when the Mercedes sports car takes you to a private plane that your boyfriend flies you around in because he’s a pilot, and then he takes you to his house where his perfect family is waiting, and his mom is gorgeous, and his brother is adorable, and his dad has a cross necklace to rival Luke P's and a mustache that is, in a surprise twist, representative of refreshingly healthy masculinity…

I expected Hannah to be great at Hometowns because she's so bubbly, but every time you forget that she's the gal who was physically incapable of giving a toast on Colton's season, she gives a family some rambling speech about how she forced their son to open up to her, and they're just all so sweet and excited to see him, they're like, Who's ready for some Cuban food?!

But before Cuban food — there’s a German prayer! And Peter’s family starts be-bopping around like little Hummel dolls singing in German.

I love them. And I cannot blame Hannah for going to this Hometown and keeping Peter afterward even though she very much is not going to get engaged to him.

Their physical chemistry, which was once surprisingly strong, even seems to have fizzled a bit, and perhaps it's because Peter can't quite bring himself to tell Hannah how he feels, allegedly because of his past relationship.

Peter uses a lot of odd language to avoid saying he loves Hannah, either because he's scared to, or because he just doesn’t. His sweet mustachioed dad asks Peter if Hannah knows how he feels about her, and Peter responds, "I haven't expressed to her, like, the ultimate, in the ultimate way." His father clarifies, "You haven't told her you love her," because he's not messing around with any secret code. Then Peter Sr. becomes overwhelmed with emotion, telling his son that he just wants what's best for him no matter what, and I dunno, maybe we could just somehow keep Peter's family in the mix for the rest of the season without necessarily keeping Peter around.

Now comes the time in Hometowns where the contestants have to decide on the two-meter walk from their family home to the getaway vehicle if they're going to tell the Bachelorette their next variant in the Falling for you -> Falling in love with you -> I love you -> I'm in love with you progression.

This year though, production has added a bench four feet away from each Hometown's front door where Hannah drapes her legs over her boyfriend and waits to hear if he’s in love with her, or just…

Never have I heard the word "freaking" used by more adults than on Hannah's season of The Bachelorette. Which is weird because…

TYLER

This girl is ready to fooooook!

Somewhere between last week and this week, Hannah has officially gotten on board with how hot Tyler is, and I respect her decision to commit.

I also understand her previous hesitation. Tyler's is the kind of hot you should be afraid of because it should by all means hurt you. Tyler is a lit stove…

But Hannah has suddenly transformed herself into a pot that can handle it, and baby girl is about to boil over. My most controversial Bachelorette opinion currently is that it’s NOT a good idea for Tyler to be the next Bachelor because I think the women competing for his affections would just go up in flames instantly, like foil in a microwave. It's very important that the Bachelor be bland enough that anyone could all in love with him, but not such a catch that a woman would physically harm another woman in pursuit of him.

If Tyler is the Bachelor, mark my words, there will be a whole true crime podcast dedicated to solving what happened inside that mansion within the year.

But even though Tyler's appeal extends far beyond his looks and to his—gasp—personality, Hannah doesn’t seem to emotionally connect with him in the same way that she does with—barf—Jed or Luke.

She's excited for him to see his dad who was still in poor health when Tyler left for the show, but when he opens up about the way his father's brush with death put so many things in perspective for him, like how he wants his dad to be able to meet his wife and children one day, Hannah is basically like, "Yes, thank you."

But whatever, as long as Tyler is happy, I'm happy, and Tyler is very happy to see his family. In comparison to Peter's family, who were kind of like animated woodland creatures, Tyler's family is very calm, mostly stay seated when Tyler and Hannah enter the room, and say "buddy" and "man" in between most words.

Much like his son, Tyler's dad has a few corny lines he likes to use, and he tells both Tyler and Hannah that Tyler has him worried…

Because his son seems so in love, y'aaaaall!

Tyler’s dad tells the camera, "Me and Tyler, ever since he was a small child, have been on this big journey together, and it's good to see him this happy." What a lovely sentiment!

Hannah's main concern coming into Tyler's Hometown is that he might not be ready for an engagement, and I'm not really sure why she feels that he, of all the other 25-year-olds might be the least prepared, but everyone in his family that she asks about is like, "Sure…that guy could get married."

On the bench two feet away from the front door, Hannah drapes her legs over Tyler, and he tells her, "It really puts things in perspective, and I wanna be great; I wanna step up for you, and I do feel like I'm falling in love with you, and I'm just excited for where our journey can go, I'm just ready to take off with you and make the most of it."

I hope as Tyler grows older he will learn his father's editorial skills. Every time you leave the house, look in the giant Live Laugh Love mirror above the credenza, and take one cliché clause off your declaration of love, pal.

But while he's young, and as free with his words as he is restrictive with his pant-sizing, Tyler is going to follow Hannah into her getaway vehicle and make out with her face, driver be damned.

(My favorite part of this make out is that for the first few seconds, it was impossible to tell who had mounted who because Tyler and Hanna are wearing the exact same pants.)

LUKE

And now, the moment we've all been dreading. The moment where Luke's family is totally fine and normal and they have positive feelings about their son/brother, which is all Hannah needs to be reassured that she's been right about Luke this whole time.

People love their kids, Hannah. That does not mean they'd all be good husbands. You're gonna want a dude who can manage to be a good person even when he's away from his family, and this is just a guess, but you're probably gonna want a dude who talks about showering with God just a little less.

As you'll recall, Peter flew Hannah over L.A. in a plane, Tyler toured Hannah around Jupiter, Florida in a boat, and Luke…Luke takes Hannah to Sunday school. But Hannah is excited to see him in that element because she says that Luke is like a jigsaw puzzle for her: "Like, I've got all the corners down, but I don't really have the middle figured out yet." She says that Luke is complex, and she's excited for her Hometown to help her figure out what makes Luke Luke…

Here's the thing though, Hannah: Luke isn’t a complex person. There is nothing to figure out here that’s going to please you once you've learned it. If you can't figure a guy out, it's because they haven't figured themselves out; and if you're doing the work for them, they're never going to figure it out

There is no one person who is more complex than the next. Some people are more difficult than the next, or more annoying than the next, or more narcissistic than the next, and if you want to take that on, that's fine I guess. But don't trick yourself into thinking that it's because that difficult, annoying person has some rich interior life that explains why they're difficult and annoying. They don't; they contain exactly as many contradictions as the next person. We are all outgoing introverts who like pizza and exercise, and we're either all special or none of us are special…

But Luke is not a jigsaw puzzle—he's just lazy and doesn’t respect you!

So anyway, at Bible study, Luke gets up and says, "As of recently, I've gotten to meet some new people, and I've realized how powerful it is to share your struggles, so I want you to know what I've been through." He then proceeds to share the story of how he found God that Hannah has already heard, undoubtedly all of these people in his Bible study have already heard, and that is not at all about his recent struggles. You know the drill:

Luke partied soooo hard in high school (while still being a totally good kid), and was having sooooo much sex in college (while still being a totally respectful guy), so God came to him in the shower and told him to cut it out, and then he looked up and saw Heaven in the popcorn ceiling.

And listen, that's fine. I'm not saying that Luke plagiarized this story from his group leader at Passport church camp; I am saying this story continues to tell Hannah exactly nothing about the person that he is today, and the fact that he keeps trying to use it to color in the middle of his Very Special Boy jigsaw puzzle is a red flag. Luke felt God in that Chili's well over a year ago, and we still know nothing about how it changed the way he lives his life now except that he's not having sex, and I happen to think it's making him especially gaslight-y.

If Hannah has an understanding of Luke's personality other than "Christian," she hasn't mentioned it. But she still gets Disney princess eyes listening to all the people in Luke's Bible study express the exact opposite sentiments about him as what she's been hearing from her other boyfriends and personally experiencing. Hannah's face while hearing compliments about Luke, however, does not hold a candle to Luke's face hearing compliments about Luke:

At Luke's house, we meet his very nice-looking family, and I just knew I could count on them for the big ass clocks that all the other abodes have been so sorely lacking—and hot damn did they deliver!

Look at that giant freestanding clock in the background! Gorgeous.

Luke has gathered four generations of his family to tell Hannah how great he is, which they are especially invested in after Hannah very awkwardly tells them how much all of the other men didn't like him. Hannah says that she had to break Luke down to get him to really talk to her, and Luke parrots back everything she's every said to him about how he was trying to be perfect instead of just being himself.

His family is…startled. His uncle jokes that they told Luke explicitly to just be himself before he left, and if he wasn't able to do that, then why is he here? And Hannah laughs back, "I DON'T KNOOOOW!"

Ha ha ha ha okay, but like, Hannah, answer the question.

Luke and his dad talk a lot about Hannah being "worth it" a lot, and I don't really know what that means. But who cares because Luke tells his dad, "I can't see this not working out in the end, like I look her in the eyes and I see Mrs. Parker," which just gives us sooooo much to look forward to since this entire season has been leading up to how it doesn't work out with Luke, and how Hannah basically makes every single other dude Mr. Brown, if ya know what I’m saying

I really do believe Luke's brother when he tells Hannah all the good things he sees in Luke, but I also think Luke's brother doesn’t know what it would be like to date Luke, or even to be a woman in his life. Luke thinks he respects women because he won't have sex with them, and he thinks that he cares about Hannah because he’s attracted to her, but Luke has proven over and over again that he does not respect or care for Hannah enough to tell her the truth.

I don't blame Luke's family for only talking about the good parts of Luke, because that's what your family should do. But I really don’t like the smile that covers Hannah's face when Luke's brother tells her, "I just hope you know that what you're looking for, what you say you're looking for—knowing Luke, I know it's there."

On a bench that I think actually preexisted at Luke's house, he apologizes to Hannah for how much he's struggled, and tells her: "Without a doubt, looking into your eyes, I feel like I am looking at my future wife, and without a doubt I can tell you that I do love you."

Something tells me he's going to come up with some doubts.

JED

Knowing what we know about Jed—that he came on the show with a girlfriend and the explicit intention to promote himself as a musician, then return to that girlfriend—it is fascinating to observe how his family reacted to him bringing Hannah into their home. Which as a reminder, was like this:

This is his grandmother meeting Hannah and thinking: R u haley?

The only thing that you need to know about the earlier portion of the date is that Jed brings Hannah to a—hold onto your farts—recording studio where they write a not-entirely-terrible song, and it becomes evident that she is extremely in love with him.

It is very hard to watch! But not nearly as awful as what comes next. When they arrive at Jed’s house, Hannah is greeted warmly…

Until they sit down and Jed’s mom makes this toast: "Here's to everybody trusting their intuition and their gut every day. When you stick to the truth, it's beneficial to everybody."

Hey, lady—that's not a toast! When I was younger, and it was my turn to say the blessing before dinner, I'd usually be like, Dear God, thank you for the food, and please tell my brother to stop being a jerk about not wanting to watch Saved By the Bell after school, aaaamen. We all see what you’re doing here, ma'am! Well, everyone except Hannah, who’s like, "Oooh, that’s a good one."

Because every single other person here knows that Jed is misleading Hannah except for Hannah. I'm not saying Jed isn't actually in love with Hannah, because he very well could be, but the fact that his family has to both pretend like he wasn't dating someone who they've met directly before going on the show, while also not making their son seem like a dick, while also trying to dissuade Hannah from picking him is, uh, not cool.

The question is:

  1. Did Jed tell his family to try and dissuade Hannah from picking him if he made it to Hometowns as a precautionary measure before he left, and now they're following through on it?

  2. Or does Jed actually want to get engaged to Hannah and his family really doesn't want him to because, a. they like Haley more, or b. they like Hannah and now realize their son is a fraud?

Any way you look at it, they are super trying to keep Hannah from picking Jed! And I just don't buy that it's because they're worried about an engagement distracting from his nonexistent music career when they surely know that the only thing that changes for a couple who gets engaged on The Bachelorette is that they…get really famous and are offered lucrative sponsorships and deals. Which seems like a move in the right direction for a nonexistent music career!

So there's got to be a deeper reason that Jed's mom looks like she would rather be drinking a kale and glass smoothie than talking to Hannah when they sit down together. When Hannah expresses her excitement about being there, Jed's mom monotones, "I mean, it is kind of a dreamy way to get to date someone…

Wow, Hannah, congratulations on your recent award of one big YIKES. Hannah quickly counters that Jed is not just another guy to her, and she knows it's "more than that" with them.

Chilling.

At this point, Hannah has to know that something is up, but she blazes ahead, trying much harder to impress Jed's mom than she has with anyone else's family. Plus, with Jed she has a trump card: "I've told your son that I'm falling in love with him," Hannah says to Jed's mom giddily, just sure that this will be exciting news…

"I haven't said it to anybody else," Hannah whispers sadly.

"I'll take that," Jed's mom returns, and I have to wonder if she means it literally, like she has an Ursula necklace full of young women's voices saying they love her son shortly before he betrays them.

Weirdly, it doesn’t really seem like Jed's mom is being protective of him per se, as much as she is just very uncomfortable with the idea of Hannah being in love with her son. And how could she not be when, trying to change the subject a bit, Hannah offers up:

I KNOW HE DATED A GIRL FOR A LONG TIME. Look at her face!

Things just really go off the rails here as Jed's mom tries not to out her son as a dirtbag, rambling, "He lived his life before The Bachelorette, he's had his heart broken, he's been in love, he's human, he's been through it all." Okay, sure, those are all words! Hannah asks if she thinks Jed would be ready for an engagement in the near future, and his mom says…

WUT.

I think Jed’s mom is trying to say that Jed isn't ready for an engagement because he is barely supporting himself with part-time jobs (such as being a country burlesque dancer) as he tries to make a music career happen. "So his path is very different," she says.

But that's where she's wrong! Not having a real job and then turning The Bachelorette into your job is basically the most common path on The Bachelor franchise. But everyone seems to be under the impression that getting engaged to Hannah on a national platform would somehow get in the way of Jed's music career…

That is, unless Jed's family is using his "music career" as a euphemism for something else like his "other girlfriend." Of course, the real pièce de résistance of Jed's Hometown comes when Hannah sits down with his sister, she of the amazingly voluminous hair and signature Daenerys smile.

Hannah tells Lily that she loves how passionate Jed is about music and wants to support him in the pursuit of his career. Lily loves to hear that.

Just kidding, she looks like she’s just trying to keep her eyes open through a mandatory webinar while Hannah tells her that she’s maybe, possibly, perhaps picking up that the family might be worried an engagement would distract from Jed’s music career.

"Yeah, I'm very protective over Jed, and making music makes him so happy,” Lily replies. “So honestly, him potentially falling in love with you? I'm not sure it's a good thing."

Holy devastation, Batman. We have not seen a Hometown this disastrous since Sean Lowe went to Des' house and her estranged brother with the hand tattoos nearly beat him up. But even that regular ol' threat of physical violence pales in comparison to this absolute psychological passive-aggression gauntlet Hannah seems to have no idea she's a part of. She leaves Jed's house disappointed by his family's reaction to her…

But also thinking that their concerns are valid. "My fear is that our relationship or his music will suffer," Hannah tells the camera thoughtfully…

"Such a beautiful day, everything just worked out!" Jed says as he puts Hannah in her car, showing us the first real glimpse of someone who could potentially be as duplicitous as his former girlfriend has suggested.

THE ROSE CEREMONY

Hannah was hoping Hometowns would give her clarity on who to send home, but when she arrives back in L.A. she says, "I am there with Luke, I am there with Jed, I am there with Peter, and I am there with Tyler." Which makes me wonder…does Hannah really like any of these guys? Do any of them really like her? Has this season of The Bachelorette pushed me to the belief that every man in the world is a sentient clogged shower drain except for Tyler C, and even with him we have to deal with…capri pants?

To Hannah, I would like to pass along some advice that I recently read in another Substack newsletter, perfectly titled, "Here's the Thing: You're Dating a Yikes." In her column, Sophia Benoit very compassionately tells a letter-writer seeking advice on what to do about her problematic boyfriend, that even when you know deep down someone is wrong for you, it is always going to be difficult to break up with a person you love. But as her mother has always told her:

"If there were a good, obvious choice, you would have already made it."

Whoo, that one hit me between the brows. If only Chris Harrison could offer such sage advice when Hannah rushes off the Rose Ceremony floor with only one rose left to give to Jed or Luke P (the good, obvious choices had already been made in giving roses to Tyler and Peter)…

Alas, that is not why they pay Chris Harrison the actual millions of bucks.

In her advice column, Sophia also encourages the Yikes-dater to simply take the time she needs sitting with the thought of breaking up before she makes the difficult decision. But Hannah doesn't have that option. She has until the credits roll to decide which of these dummies she wants to take to the Fantasy Suites, and while our girl is great at a lot of things, she is not incredible at making difficult decisions quickly. So do you know what she does?

She makes Chris Harrison bring her an extra rose, barely stifling a laugh at the fact that he's able to do it with such a straight face. Because you know what Hannah is good at? Breaking the rules. She needs more time to come to terms with the fact that Luke P is one walking, waving, mouth-breathing red flag, and by golly, she's gonna make the time.

And as we've known all along from the season preview: she's going to get her clarity. See you back here for the Fantasy Suites to end all Fantasy Suites.

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