It's hometown date week on The Bachelorette
, and that means we're just one short week away from the rumored fantasy suite bone-a-thon that may or may not leave Andi Dorfman having something in common with a Seth Rogen movie.
Our beguiled Bachelorette is down to her final four or, as I like to refer to them, the quintuple of craptitude. I don't want to say she is easily manipulated or gullible ("trusting" seems a bit naive), but she's missing some serious red flags across the board.
Andi's potential husband pool is down to Nick and three guys who don't like Nick. First, there's farmer Chris and his soon-to-be-aired promise of an exciting life ambitiously making a home and rearing the ol' farm kids, with barn burning nights of knitting and shoveling manure into a wheelbarrow (that's what I imagine they do on farms).
It's hardly an enticing offer for an
ex-assistant district attorney, from a man who thinks "secret admirer" is a romantic moniker for someone in his 30s.
And speaking of that hazy line between cute and creepy, we've got Marcus and his sad Sleeping with the Enemy-like abandonment issues mixed with a sadly abusive past. Can labels out, Andi! Hope you don't have any pets.
And on top of that, there are the revelations of some criminal histories and alcohol issues.
Then there's Josh and his tight-knit family, with a brother who was just drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs and is dating a smoking hot
swimsuit model Philadelphia traffic reporter. Seriously, Google Kacie McDonnell. You'll either be happy you did or hate yourself a little bit. Or both. But either way, it's a tough situation to marry into. And oh yeah, what the heck is this guy doing now? Your main description can't be "former professional athlete" forever.
And that brings us to the most polarizing character of the season: Nick V. I don't need to dive into whether the guys are justified for hating Nick because BuddyTV's Lindsay Podolak already did. And I completely agree with her assessment.
The funny thing is, though, that none of it seems to matter. Judging by the poll in that article and the one I posted last week, as well as the comments, people just don't care. It's like politics, logic and well-thought-out analysis be damned. It all just comes down to those beady eyes...
Anyway, onward to the dates! Let's see what these guys are like far removed from the drama and uncomfortable nature of living with your competition. It should be fun, until we all get the news of former suitor Eric's tragic death.
The Land of Whine and Cheese
First up, it's off to Wisconsin to meet the V. clan. And the above mentioned "whine" isn't about Nick, it's about me. No offense to Milwaukee, but it's the one city I have visited where when I left, I was like, okay, that's probably enough.
They begin in a foam cheesehead-packed marketplace, followed by a tour of a brewery and a beer tasting. Nick loves being in charge of a date for once, and he hopes to open up completely about his feelings at some point in the day. They laugh and polka, and Andi is enjoying this oddly fun and relaxed version of Nick. Which basically just means he's not analyzing her every move.
The whole fam -- parents, 10 siblings, spouses and kids -- are gathered in the humble V. abode like a clown car, and they pepper Andi with questions about her first impressions and how her relationship with Nick differs from the other guys. He confides in his sister Maria, who has been there for him through his failed engagement and other heartbreak, that he's in love with Andi. She is hopeful but skeptical, until Andi calms some of her fears. Plus, she recognizes that you can't go through life with a guarded heart.
Bella Steals the Show
Then little Bella reads Andi the questions she wrote on grade school-style handwriting class paper (I only recently became aware that they no longer teach cursive in schools. I don't care about the writing part, but how will they ever know they're invited to a wedding?!), which she reads waaay too much into. The first question is, "What do you like most about my brother?" to which Andi responds, "Good mental connection," before explaining to the roughly 6-year-old exactly what that means. I think she was looking for something more along the lines of "His Pokemon card collection." Is that still a thing?
Bella also asks if Andi would choose a great looking guy with bad personality or a less handsome one with a good personality, which seems like a direct comparison between Nick and Josh, and Andi answers that she'd totally pick the latter. We'll see, Andi, we'll see.
Finally, Bella wants to know if Andi truly loves her brother, and the taken-aback Bachelorette responds that she thinks Nick is amazing, but would Bella accept her as a sister? Bella insists that she would, increasing the likelihood that Andi is about to crush two members of the V. family.
Nick sits down with his mom, who knows him better than anyone and whose opinion matters most, and opens up to her about his feelings. They both cry, and she just hopes he's prepared for whatever happens. He says he's dealt with heartbreak before and is willing to lay it all on the line, because he won't let fear prevent him from living life to the fullest.
They cap the date off with Andi correctly guessing the names of all the relatives, followed by pre-departure smooches. He holds off on dropping the L-bomb, confident that he'll have more opportunities. He no longer thinks of her as "The Bachelorette," but instead as "his girl."
Down on the Farm
Chris welcomes Andi to Arlington, Iowa, population 758. But today, that number jumps to 759, and I bet the guy who updates the sign is super happy to add a digit instead of subtracting one or 20. Chris assures that he has some fun things planned, which starts with a tour of his super large house, where he lives by himself.
Andi, who usually dates in Apartmentville, is amazed that his backyard is acres large and has a tractor with Andi-sized wheels. They plow a field before she sits on his lap for a tractor-drivin' lesson, and then they hunker down on a blanket while he lists the people she's about to meet. She asks the haypenny question -- what would I do for work here? -- and he hesitates before informing her of the opportunities in the ever-growing housewifery industry. But there is a decent-sized town, Cedar Rapids, nearby, where she could probably be the law 'round these parts.
He caps it all off with a banner-carrying plane flying overhead that reads "Chris loves Andi," and she melts over the most romantic thing anyone has ever done in the history of the world. I wonder if she'll feel the same way after he proposes to her at a Sioux City Musketeers game?
Fixin' to Meet the Family
Chris and his trusty pick-up truck then cart Andi off to his parents' house, where his mom starts off dinner with a toast and Andi feels increased pressure knowing she'd be spending pretty much all her time with these fine folks.
She makes him tell his family about the plane banner, and apparently this is not the first time Chris has tried such antics. Sister Lori, like my own sister would, is obviously like, "Whyyyyy brother, whyyyy?" Then the triumvirate of sisters tell Andi about their sensitive, generous and hard-working brother, and Lori gets goosebumps when she thinks of all his phenomenal success. I mean, I get they're proud and want to build him up, but I don't know if that's entirely chill-worthy.
Chris chats with his mom, and the big question is if Andi could settle down in Iowa, as apparently there are no other options in life. The family matriarch points out that she herself was not of farming ilk until she joined the clan, and with the world as small as it is these days, Andi's opportunities are endless. Once the chores are done, that is.
The Ghost in the Graveyard
Andi has a talk with said mother, who asks if she is ready for a husband and a family and a future (with Nana babysitting, of course. That butter won't churn itself). She then tells Andi that she loves her and wishes her luck in making this difficult decision. I kid about the physical labor and farm-y stuff. They all seem like wonderful people.
They end the date with a spirited (get it??) game of Ghost in the Graveyard, which involves one person -- Chris -- stupidly wandering off to hide in the vast abyss of darkness in the hopes that someone will find him before any of the various creatures of the night do.
Luckily for him, Andi stumbles upon him first, likely due to the camera light shining on him and the fact that he's in plain sight. They share kisses until the rest of the family break up the canoodling, and Andi declares that she is on cloud nine.
A Diamond You Can't Put on Your Finger
Josh greets Andi in Tampa, aka the strip club capital of America, all while talking really fast about how excited he is. It's a lot like an ADHD toddler who forgot to take his calmy-down meds. They walk along the water before arriving at a baseball field, a place that is both difficult and exciting for him to bring a girl to. And get a Sno-cone.
Seriously, though, he has a hard time even watching America's pastime these days, having left the sport without ever making it above A ball. He lost his passion for the game after five years of toiling in the minors, but being around it always gives him that itch. Much like the groupies that hang around guys toiling in the minors.
Andi thinks it's hot to see him in his element, though, and he pitches to her before they run the bases. She's turned on by watching him play, because she likes the bad boys. He opens up about his decision to leave, saying it's because he realized "what was important," namely that his little brother was a much more successful athlete than him. He wanted to be there for Aaron Murray, star Georgia quarterback, because taking care of family is an innate thing for him.
The Family That Sports Together Stays Together
Josh's parents and siblings are present, and after Aaron gives the toast, Andi worries that it's all going to be about little bro during this crucial time in his life. She doesn't want his pending status as NFL draftee to overshadow Josh's accomplishments. Of being on a reality TV dating show.
Josh gets a little teary-eyed at the sight of his family and pooch Sable, and his mom knows right off the bat that's he super in love with Andi. He's so uncomfortable letting his guard down that every female viewer watching is basically overcome by his sudden sweetness and awkward lack of confidence in such a situation.
The big question they have for Andi is whether or not she'd be willing to put every aspect of her life on hold to travel around the country as a family to go to all of Aaron's football games. They point out she is marrying the family as much as the man, and sister Stephanie bluntly states it's all a compromise and that they'll probably fight over the arrangement. It won't be easy, but what is in love?
Aaron, who seems quite mature for 23, tells Andi that this is all great timing, because Josh has always been there to help him. But now that he's growing up and ready to go off on his own, it's time for Josh to focus on making himself happy. Then it's time for a rousing family game of pickup football. And making out. Like pudding, there's always room.
A Hot Flash(back)
Marcus rarely brings someone into his complicated family dynamic, so it's a big deal for him to introduce a girl into his life in Dallas. Then again, he was ready to propose a week ago, if not earlier, but thankfully the show's format forced him to pull back the reins a bit. He drives his Mercedes to a strip club, where every great date originates, and he tells her to drink up because what he has planned is better if she's drunk.
Then the lights dim and Marcus walks out in an officer's uniform for a male revue striptease reprise. It reminds Andi how hot Marcus is, and she repeats it six or seven times until it feels like week one all over again. Kisses follow.
Marcus has only brought home one girl previously, and the importance of this one is amplified by how completely in love with her he is right now. And yes, he tells her this. Again.
Family Knows Best
Despite the fact that he was abandoned by his father and his mom used to abuse him and his siblings after being abused herself, they're all quite delightful. The little ones made bracelets for her, then Andi sits down for a chat with Marcus' sister, who asks if her brother is "over-caring." Andi admits that she's not sure if she can catch up to feelings expressed that early on, and we basically watch the two of them discuss why these two have no chance of ending up together.
Marcus tells his brother Connor that he's completely in love, and the family supports him 100%. Then he tearfully thanks his older bro for taking over and being a father figure when their dad left, which he never told him before. They hug, and I'd bet this is the biggest breakthrough Marcus gets to experience from here on out.
Mom sounds just like Ariana Huffington and is very surprised with how open Marcus has been, as he is apparently quite reserved normally. Marcus' time with his mom takes it a bit further, when he says he believes Andi came into his life for a reason, that he feels fulfilled when she is by his side and that she's his soulmate.
Sadly, I feel like this whole thing for Marcus is more about healing than finding a wife. It's like Dylan, just much further along. In maturity and hairstyle. But he's fallen way too hard into the whole thing, and the soulmate line actually made me cringe for him a bit.
The Master of Deception
As usual, we were fooled by the promos, and they were all great dates. Nick's was the only one that lacked words that could be taken out of context unedited, so naturally his hometown was as spectacular as advertised. But Josh's cord-cutting (relating to Aaron), Chris' desires for a housewife and Marcus' troubled past were all overblown via dramatic license.
Even Josh's big-time quarterback brother Aaron seems like a standup, well-spoken and just plain cool dude who has a great handle on life and the expectations being thrown at him. The only downside of the date was that his girlfriend wasn't there. In a bikini. Talking about my beloved Philly sports teams.
The Unhappy Dagger
All of these good feelings and tidings come to a grinding halt, however, when Chris Harrison gathers them all together to let them know that Eric Hill, everyone's favorite explorer, was involved in a paragliding accident and has since passed away. They're obviously shocked, and Andi is overcome with intense feelings of guilt over how they ended their relationship and the last words she said to him upon his elimination.
The camera people set down their recording devices for hugs and awkward butt-level shots of said crew members milling around. It's a sad, goose bump-inducing moment that puts the ridiculousness of this whole premise in perspective, and they all cope together.
Hopefully, Eric and Gia Allemand have found each other in that big Bachelor Pad in the sky. All I'm saying is that those would be some beautiful angel babies.
Narrowing the Field
So how do you follow that up with a rose ceremony? Contractual obligations, I presume.
Andi and Chris Harrison sit down prior to the single elimination, and she feels like she needs to be strong for the guys and maintain her composure. But Chris assures her they're all grieving as one and that it's not on her to carry the burden by herself. And with that, it's on to the ceremony.
Andi tells the guys that it's good to see y'all (tremendous anguish and heartbreak), then addresses the situation and says y'all (comfort) are in this together. She thanks them for the love their families showed her and grabs a thorny flower of love. Then she is reminded of sharing that space with Eric, drops the flower, runs from the room and breaks down.
She composes herself, returns and hands out roses to:
The writing was on the strip club wall, and it's the end of the line for over-the-top-in-love Marcus. They sit down outside, and she tells him that even though she knows he'd give her the world, she's just not in the same place he is. She tearfully assures him he did nothing wrong, and that he was open and vulnerable.
He says he wanted to be that guy for her, and he doesn't know what to do at this point, with her or anything in his life. Which is the kind of reaction that gets a guy to this point.
He hops in the limo, tears streaming, and admits that he feels like an idiot who just got punched in the stomach over and over. But she's still his soulmate and he's going to miss her. Let's just hope no one hands him a copy of Watership Down.
To the Fantasy Suite!
With only three men remaining, it's onward to the fantasy suite dates and the realization that Andi's head and heart do not match up. So which guy gets the heart, and which one gets the head?
Only the fantasy suite will know for sure.
Watch The Bachelorette every Monday at 8pm on ABC.