A 'Bachelorette' recap: Mi Casa Es Tu Clock

A 'Bachelorette' recap: Mi Casa Es Tu Clock

Right up there with Christmas, Girl Scout cookie season, the return of Mini Cadbury Eggs to Walgreens’ shelves, and the weather finally getting cold enough to wear unnaturally-hued fur coats again…The Bachelorette Hometowns are something I look forward to the whole year round.

I love them so much. I love them more than Jason loves hair gel; more than Colton loves nontraditional sleeves; more than Blake loves swing dancing to electropop music; more than Garrett loves speaking without a hint of emotional or mental clarity.

But the other side of that anticipation, is that I also dread my beloved Hometowns episode. What if it doesn't live up to my high expectations? What if none of the men have creepy, mouth-kiss-relationships with their moms? What if I can't find a way to adequately describe just how many beaded lampshades I spotted over the course of two hours [ed. note: the limit does not exist! the limit does not exist!]? But in the end, Hometowns always exceed expectations because there is something so fascinating about seeing where a person comes from. I don't love Becca's "I want to see who made you the man you are today" line she keeps trotting out because any time Becca repeats a phrase more than once, I'm instantly haunted by ghosts of Do the Damn Thing past. But I get where she's coming from…

Once you get to know someone, even tangentially, you begin to make judgement about what in their life experience has shaped them into the unique person that they are. On The Bachelorette, having those judgments confirmed (Colton!) is fun, but having those judgments subverted (Jason!) is just as exciting. Mining the families and childhood homes for clues is the perfect opportunity to learn more about these men we've been watching for weeks, but know little more about than their favorite kind of formal-wear and entire sexual history.

After all, the earliest roots of almost all emotional baggage stem from the parents — just ask any psychologist, or say, Blake's family, who are all gathered together to meet Becca, even though he recently revealed to us that his mother cheated on his father and then started a new family with his basketball coach, a dynamic that you better believe I was dissecting ever nano-second clip of with a Beautiful-Mind-like preoccupation.

I understand that to many, Becca's Hometowns episode could have seemed like an uneventful one: there was no JoJo's mom chugging Moet straight from the bottle, no disruptive siblings with hand tattoos, or overprotective parents, or particularly evident Oedipal complexes. But to me, the joy of Hometowns lies not in the blowups or potential drama — no, no, it's the little things. It's Colton's mother's face when Becca says she knows that he hasn't dated many women:

It's Garrett, best known for liking anti-immigration memes on Instagram, casually revealing that his family has an agricultural business, telling Becca they'll be doing some tomato-planting today, then hollering back to "Carlos" to fire up the tomato-planting machine. It's Blake and his dad whispering their conversation because they're presumably one room away from the woman they're analyzing. But most importantly…

It's all them big ass clocks.

I know Colton's dad was berating his son about not having enough arguments with Becca during this scene, but all I could think about was this — well, what would we call this? A floor-clock? A standing-timepiece? It has all the trappings of a typical wrought iron floor lamp, but then, boom: C L O C K.

Nothing is more important to three out of every four Bachelorette contestant families than knowing what time it is, and more crucially, not having to avert their eyes any further than a flick to find said time on their very own walls. I do not want to imply that there's anything wrong with big ass clocks. There is not. It is simply fascinating the decorative themes that reveal themselves when one is exposed to enough middle-to-upper-class-white-person homes on an ABC reality show. There are unlimited sectionals; there are beaded lampshades; there are thick candlesticks and ornate wine glasses and shiny place mats; there are those big ass clocks…

And of course, there's that encouraging platitude of any HomeGoods' wall-decor aisle worth its weight in printed canvases:

#Live #Laugh #Love

Just when I thought Colton's family had won this competition they had no idea they were a part of — although I do get the feeling that to Colton's family, everything is a competition, so they'll be sorely to disappointed to find how handily they lost this one — Blake's family came in with a ringer: a Live Laugh Love multi-photo-frame within spitting distance of a gorgeously gigantic clock. [Ed. note: Does that clock say they’re arriving at 9 p.m.?!] It was the the stuff of Hometowns dreams. In a time of emotional turmoil for our dear Bachelorette and her boyfriends, they surely appreciate being offered clear, concise, three-part instructions on how to exist by a picture frame:

  • Live… like you only have two more weeks to make what should be the most important decision of your life.

  • Laugh… like your family will lock you in the basement and not let you go back to L.A. if you don't seem like the happiest you've ever been.

  • Love… like if you don’t — there will be no free sex-trip to Chiang Mai for you, sir.

On The Bachelor(ette), the greatest of these is certainly Love, and Monday's episode was overflowing with it as everyone rushed to cash in their Love chip: good for one free ticket to Fantasy Suites. Unfortunately for one unlucky-in-live-laugh-love brochacho, there are only three remaining boyfriend slots. May the best hometown win.

**A note: each Hometown recap will begin with Becca doing her very favorite thing: lacing up her cleats, positioning herself on the starting block, and sprinting into a very large man’s waiting arms in an aerial leap. We have always known that Becca did this, but seeing her go on four dates in row and realizing that she SOLELY does this was really something.

HOMETOWN No. 1: GARRETT

Manteca, CA.

WHEN TO DRINK IF YOU WERE TO PLAY A DRINKING GAME WITH THIS EPISODE THAT AIRED FOUR DAYS AGO: every time you spot a leather sectional; every time someone else in the family looks nervously at Garrett's mother when he and Becca talk about being in love; every time someone says "family values"

Garrett, like Becca, is one of those people who says "Family is everything to me," like, all the time. And listen, that is wonderful. It is such a positive to be able to have a close family unit…

But hey, maybe let's not shit all over people who might not have been born into perfect nuclear families with agricultural businesses, y'know? All's well and good with marrying someone who's crazy-close to their family just like you are to yours until you find yourself approaching December, assuming you'll be opening "Santa" presents in the living room of your own childhood home on Christmas Day, only to find that your partner is assuming the very same thing. Coming from similar backgrounds does not necessarily equate having similar values, but if I had a nickel for every time Becca, Garrett, and Garrett's family implied that it does, I'd have enough nickels to stuff into a sock, swing it around a few times, and knock some sense into Becca and Garrett so that they might dig a little deeper than this telltale exchange:

Becca: Do you think we align?

Garrett: I do!

Well, then, that settles it! This comes after Becca physically pulls the information out of Garrett that the last woman he brought home was his ex-wife, whom he ultimately broke up with when he realized their "family values" did not align because she didn't seem to want him to spend time with his family. Presumably, Becca and Garrett's family values do align because they both want to spend time with each other’s families, and they want to have a family of their own. (Will that family be raised to believe that dehumanization of those from different backgrounds than you is humorous internet fodder? TBD.)

Despite my snark, I actually did come around on Garrett a bit during his Hometown as everyone sang his praises. Becca and Garrett arrive to an uproarious welcome, but that eventually swan dives into the entire family taking turns to talk about how broken Garrett was after his short-lived marriage. Previously, Garrett has basically told Becca that he's been in one bad mood in his entire life, and that his divorce was so long ago, he's been able to grow and learn from it…

According to Garrett's family, he became a completely different person while he was married, it sucked all the light and positivity out of him, and since that soul-crushing experience feels like it was just a few weeks ago, they'll be damned if they let him marry the wrong person again. These are the faces Garrett's parents make when he toasts to "being surrounded by the people you love, and that you're falling in love with."

But for how worried everyone is about Becca breaking Garrett’s heart, she sure does win them over fast. Garrett's mom talks a real big "I protect my cubs game," but all it takes for Becca to seal the deal is saying that she liked that he arrived to the mansion in a minivan and a car seat. That leads Garrett's mom to tell Becca, "Garrett has deep values, and that's hard to find, and from what we know about you, you've come from a similar background, which is nice to hear." Of all the loaded yet empty statements Garrett has given us over the season, this one from his mom might take the cake.

Thinking that family is important is one singular, important value; it is not the umbrella under which every other value resides! Let's dig a little deeper before we start filling up those car seats, huh? Here's hoping their Fantasy Suite will have an Enneagram test and a voting history print-out next to the bowl of condoms…

BIGGEST SURPRISE: This giant wrist tattoo that seems to say "sinestu" (???), but I choose to believe says SINISTER, and all of Garrett’s adorable smiling is actually a cover for satanic worship :D

HOMETOWN No. 2: JASON

Buffalo, NY

WHEN TO DRINK IF YOU WERE TO PLAY A DRINKING GAME WITH THIS EPISODE THAT AIRED FOUR DAYS AGO: every time Jason mentions Buffalo; every time someone in Jason's family looks at him with a combination of fondness and pity

We still know very little about Jason other than the fact that the man knows his way around first and second base, but it is immediately clear that Jason can be himself in Buffalo. He's ending every sentence with "baby," he's suddenly calling Becca "Beccster," and he's glowing even though Becca looks like she's one Fahrenheit away from becoming a sequin-flavored popsicle.

Jason tours Becca around Buffalo and shows off some hockey skills, but the most important thing we learn is that other than his parents, the couple Jason most looks up to is his older brother Steven and brother-in-law Billy. There's no fuss made about the fact that they're gay, Jason just tells Becca excitedly that she'll see “how healthy and happy they are, how they complement each other, and how they're best friends." And we all soon get to see that in addition to wanting to model a relationship after his brother's, Jason should also be looking to him as a role model in another department…

Listen, Jason, I know as a youngest child that you want to blaze your own path. But, Jason. JASON! If your hair could look like Darren-Criss-like masterpiece, and you are actively choosing to look like every Disney Channel Original Movie villain from the early aughts instead, I have to question your judgment, pal!

In fact, everything about Jason's family is a pleasantly positive surprise. You really don't notice how few books you see in these homes until you suddenly see a house full of bookshelves. This beautiful old home looks like it smells of mahogany and features rich dinner table discussions with very few beaded place mats, and I don’t know, like, dessert wine or something...

Perhaps it's all that book-learnin' that gives Jason's family a clear sense that he is in third place in Becca's heart, at best. His gorgeous and maybe a little wine-drunk mom, Dale, informs her son, "I couldn't read whether she's falling for you," after speaking with Becca. It's not advice, it's just fact. Dale is a smart woman — her name is Dale, for goodness sake. She knows her son is too giddy and hyped up on Buffalo wings and recent trips to the Bahamas to take any real advice to heart, so she just gives him the facts, treats her son as an adult, and encourages him to expect as much from Becca as he's giving her in return.

But what Jason is giving to Becca (other than all those sexy, sexy make-outs) has been a little up in the air to this point. He's the only man who hasn't expressed that he's falling in love with her and, as covered in last week’s TATBT, Hometowns are his last chance. So he does the smartest thing Jason can do, and goes to the people with the smartest haircuts and glasses in his family: Steven and Billy.

In the one minute that Steven is onscreen, he manages to give the perfect advice while saying a number of words I'm positive have never been uttered on The Bachelorette before: "There isn't a lot of runway left here," Steven says. "There is a finite number of moments to truly express how you're feeling, and you have to take advantage of that."

I love that this is a very poetic way of a big brother saying, Stop being a butt face, you dummy. And, heeding that advice, Jason goes for it. I mean, he really goes for it. He's told Becca over and over that he never says things he doesn’t mean, and now he skips right the hell over falling-in-love-with-you, and goes straight for, "I'm so insanely, wildly in love with you." Unfortunately, this is the face Becca is making when he says it:

BIGGEST SURPRISE: Most Hometowns reveal that these families have offered up their most attractive member as tribute to the Thirst Games, but in Jason's case, everyone in his family seems to be a hot professor.

HOMETOWN No. 3: BLAKE

Bailey, CO

WHEN TO DRINK IF YOU WERE TO PLAY A DRINKING GAME WITH THIS EPISODE THAT AIRED FOUR DAYS AGO: every time Becca's entire body melts thinking about how much she loves Blake; every time you worry for Li'l High School Blake; every time you worry for Current Grown-Up Blake

After watching Blake's Hometown, it's almost impossible to imagine a world where Becca doesn't choose him for any reason other than a complete lapse in sanity. At this point, Becca has been in love with Blake for weeks. She said she was in love with Blake when there were still, like, nine guys left, and now: this Hometown. Which had me weeping, exclaiming in open-mouthed joy, and attempting to spy One-Tree-Hill-levels of family drama in the background of every scenic landscape…

Blake took Becca to his high school, which seemed like either a dumb choice of trying to relive glory days, or a weird choice or reliving the trauma of his mom beginning an affair with his basketball coach. But no — worse! It was the choice to tell Becca another even more traumatic thing that shaped Blake's life and the way he views the world: when Blake was a senior, his sister was a freshman, and his mom was working at the high school, a random man came on campus with a semi-automatic pistol and took seven women hostage. Blake heard his own mom call out the "Code White" on the intercom, eventually the SWAT team arrived to evacuate the school, and one young woman died.

Blake has been through some stuff man, and much like his family, I'm just real worried about him getting his little "life is a gift" heart broken. But for now, he and Becca are flying high because Blake has a surprise for her. Now, all episode long, these dudes have been telling Becca they have surprises for her. But planting a rose bush and riding on a Zamboni did not elicit the reaction that Blake’s surprise got:

Because Blake somehow managed to get Betty Who to come perform her dance club hits in his high school auditorium. I mean, sure, it was probably with the help of producers, but all season long, the producers have been bringing in awful, unknown country singers, when apparently Becca's actual favorite singer is Betty Who, an electropop gay icon with a cult following… so I'mma still give most of this credit to Blake. And Becca loves it. She knows every word and her joy is so infectious, I realize that I am making a truly embarrassing face while watching she and Blake dance along to the perfect lyrics, Oooooh somebody loves you!

That vibe is slightly harshed at Blake's house where everyone can't stop talking about how broken he was after his last girlfriend broke up with him, and worrying that this will end the exact same way. Blake's mom tells Becca, "I was with Blake a lot during that horrible break up—heard the cries, the panic attacks, the 'will I ever find anyone.'" 1. Yikes. 2. Guard that heart, Becca!!! 3. Did I make up that Blake said his last relationship only lasted for a few months? I'm concerned. But for now, Blake is fully in love with Becca, and Becca is fully in love with Blake, even if she is being careful not deploy that information just yet…

BIGGEST SURPRISE: Again, that Becca's favorite singer is Betty Who, a beloved but little known electropop artist who is regularly talked about on my favorite podcast about "whos,” Who Weekly, which makes me ponder a number of things:

  • Beyond being simply a nice person, is Becca actually a cool person?

  • How much has Becca been suffering dancing along to these country bros if "Ignore Me" is her favorite song?

  • Was that live? Betty Who sounded incredible!!!

    How could she possibly not choose Blake after this fairytale moment??? How? HOW? How?

HOMETOWN No. 4: COLTON

Parker, CO

WHEN TO DRINK IF YOU WERE TO PLAY A DRINKING GAME WITH THIS EPISODE THAT AIRED FOUR DAYS AGO: every time you admire the highlights in Colton’s mom’s bangs; every time you wonder if Colton has actually brought home, perhaps, one hundred girls, including Tia who the entire family regularly references by name

Colton takes Becca to the local children’s hospital where he is very active, and even if every single other thing about Colton reads false, you can tell that he truly loves and cares for children. He thinks the same of Becca, which he explains by saying, "Becca has that motherly feel." Hot.

Becca keeps saying that the thing she's most concerned about with Colton is that he's only been in one serious relationship… but that is obviously some buuuull shit, as it seems that both Garrett and Blake have also only ever had one serious relationship, and Jason could have been cryogenically frozen for the last 10 years, for all we know. No, this is not a quantity concern, this is a quality concert; now that Becca knows Colton is a virgin, she seems suddenly unsure if he can recognize what it means to be in love and headed toward marriage in such a short amount of time.

The dude just seems young… especially when you see his dad who looks like you just uploaded a picture of Colton onto some free age-progression app.

Colton says that he can tell his mom anything, but he has more of a coach/player relationship with his dad. Which becomes very evident when he casually tells his mom he's a virgin, and has a play-by-play breakdown of The Bachelorette with his dad…

Across the board, Colton’s family seems very informed of the mechanics of this show. Everyone talks about Fantasy Suites and Tia and "getting down on that knee" with pro-like familiarity. Colton's dad asks about the Tia situation, and Colton says he "addressed it like a man." That somehow leads Colton's dad to tell Becca, "He seems to have explained himself, but has the love and engagement between you and Arie been addressed with him?" Which, firstof all, weird. Second of all, she's the Bachelorette — she barely even has to explain herself to God. Third, Becca tells him the truth which is basically: Uh, your adult son hasn't really asked me about it.

Colton's dad follows that up by telling Becca that unless Colton is the one, he hopes she'll cut him loose sooner rather than later. And even though Becca says she loves hearing Colton say that he’s in love with her, it seems that she's just receiving a couple too many red flags from a couple too many angles. See, normally after we watch the fourth Hometown, we see the fellas return to L.A., and the Bachelorette cuts one of them loose. But this time, we check back in with Becca first, who's gamely telling the camera, "I just need to talk it through with the people who know me best."

Those people who know her best would of course be her former sister-girlfriends that she spent a few weeks with last summer. While all the other women are listening excitedly to Becca's updates after the Hometowns, Tia is making this face:

…until finally the hammer drops: Colton was Becca’s fourth and final Hometown. Becca is starting to talk about how great it was when Tia raises her hand (at least she has some decorum in the face of royalty, Colton's dad) and asks if she can talk to Becca outside. Tia tells Becca, "If I'm being completely honest with myself, I do have feelings for Colton, and when I think about Colton at this point, it makes me sick to my stomach." Girl…

GIRL. I feel you that it sucks, and it’s fair to be upset that you like someone who is off limits, but Colton is off limits — not to Becca, to you, Tia! The time for "being completely honest with yourself" was in that creepy make-shift spa when Becca first presented the situation to you. But now, you've been on one date with this dude, and you're asking a friend that you’ve already shard one boyfriend with…who is potentially in love with this guy…who has said that he’s in love with her…to take your too-little-too-late feelings into account. Or as Becca says it, much more efficiently:

Of course, none of this matters because Becca liked Colton the least all along, and once a Fantasy Suite romp was likely off the table, his rose-less fate was sealed. And since we've all seen the pictures of Tia and Colton together in Paradise, it's unlikely that his feelings were ever really that deep for Becca either. Although, it does make Colton's decision to ask Chris Harrison on the way into the Rose Ceremony "what the expectations are [in the Fantasy Suite]” all the more baffling. I never cared much for Colton or his weird sleeves, but I will forever be grateful to him for making Chris Harrison that uncomfortable. The man hasn't worked that hard in a decade…

As always, feel free to forward TATBT to any friends, family, or sister/brother-girlfriend/boyfriends who might want to subscribe. And if anyone knows Jason's brother, please tell him I love him!