Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bachelor Ben H. Ep 8: MVPS = Lauren's brothers, Jojo's mother

Last night was the all-important HOMETOWNS episode of The Bachelor and the first 3 families served up some pretty standard fare—wine, stilted conversation, McMansions awash in Pottery Barn—but the big finish was found in Dallas, Texas with Jojo’s hilarious family who need their own sitcom PRONTO.

We started off not far from the Bachelor mansion in Laguna Beach, CA, hometown of Amanda, the beautiful mother of two who managed to turn some really bad roots into seemingly deliberate balayage. Ben and Amanda run to each other on the beach and Amanda’s shirt is barely hanging on. Did anyone else notice that shoulderless, drapey black shirt that left her practically nude? At points it almost looked as if the video editor had to “fix it in post” and draw on a higher neckline than was really there.  Amanda’s sweet daughters, Kinsley and Charlie (no comment from the peanut gallery about trends in baby naming these days), run up and a tearful reunion is had. The girls are both rocking tiny gladiator sandals which is cute, I suppose, but must be a bear to get wiggly kiddo legs and toes into. Ben, Amanda, and the tykes chase each other around the beach and generally act like a family unit much too soon.

That evening Ben meets Amanda’s parents and sister and answers questions about whether he’s ready to be an “instant dad.” Amanda’s father says that Ben looks like a deer in the headlights (about to get hit by an SUV full of TYKES) and asks Ben if he’s ready to step up and make sacrifices for the children, telling him that “you can’t go to the gym with your buddies.” That LONE example of parental obligation inspires Ben to suddenly think seriously about what it means to be a father. Oh Amanda, your fate is already sealed. The couple shares a chaste goodbye kiss in the driveway and Ben heads out to Portland, OR.

Lauren is waiting for Ben in downtown Portland and the cute couple explore her hometown together, walking around Pioneer Square, eating from food trucks, and stopping by a “Keep Portland Weird” mural which was probably painted by that Goth Dentist cast off from earlier in the season.

They enjoy a drink at Whiskey Library and reminisce on that first night when Lauren was homesick and skeptical. Then it’s family time and Ben meets Lauren’s parents, sister, 2 younger brothers, and elderly dog.  After pleasantries and “dinner” (drinks?), Lauren’s sister pulls Ben aside and asks him what he’s saying to the other families and—point blank—what makes Lauren different. In a move straight out of the Idiot’s Guidebook for Dumb Shit Not To Say, Ben insists that that he simply can’t put it into words (but, ya see buddy, language is a powerful tool, so hows bouts ya try?) and that he just feels really lucky, then he looks away and tears up.

Lawdy lawdy! I don’t think that Ben’s tears were crocodile tears necessarily, but I DO think that he is EXHAUSTED from selling snake oil to 4 families in a row this week and that will make the tears flow like white wine at a Bachelor viewing party.

Who needs words when you can use tears?
 (Also, aren't my frames fantastic?)

Lauren chats with her sister Mollie and says “I feel like Ben’s my person” and then they embrace while clutching their white wine glasses. Lauren’s father asks Ben how he’s holding up and Ben admits “not well” (for reals) as Lauren frets about whether she should tell Ben that she loves him. The couple say goodbye and kiss in the driveway but Lauren doesn’t drop the L bomb and says in her interview, “there are things left unsaid on my behalf.” HUH? ON MY BEHALF? Did you ALSO not attend middle school? Do you mean that, on your side of the fence or for your part, there were things left unsaid? Somebody gets these kids some Language Arts education!

The next stop on the Trail of Tears is Hudson, Ohio where Caila will introduce Ben to her parents and brother but not until they sit on a cute swinging bench in the town square and build a toy house together. Caila’s father is the CEO of a toy company (what, no free promotional consideration for said unnamed toy company?) so Caila and Ben spend the afternoon “designing a house” (picking out colors) then “building the house” (pouring chemicals and polymers into molds and, we hope, not inhaling those toxic fumes) before they exit the factory Officer & a Gentleman-style.  

Despite her insistence last week that she doesn’t have deep roots, Caila’s family is warm and welcoming, with her nerdy sweet dad, bubbly Filipino mother, and quiet brother.  Caila’s father Chris (or as she calls him “Daddy”—yikes) asks Ben about his “microwave fame” and remarks on his and Caila's mother's 24 year magical marriage (so sweet). Caila has a lovely rapport with both of her parents and the line of the night goes to Mr. Toy Company CEO, “darling, there’s no rule book to love.” We see another driveway goodbye and Caila admits that there’s an unknown in the back of her mind and it’s scary.

Finally, we’re down in Dallas, Texas where Jojo lives and we watch her walk up to her apartment and see a dozen roses and a note, presumably from Ben. BUT WAIT—these producers have coordinated something super shitty and are throwing her a curve ball like it's last week at Wrigley Field and the Cubs are losing—the note is from her crappy ex-boyfriend Chad. OF COURSE THE KID’S NAME IS CHAD! Jojo becomes very upset and, in a move straight out of the Guide for Shit NOT TO DO When You’re Actually Attempting to Move On and Truly Seek Closure, SHE CALLS CHAD.  GIRL! Closure is a gift you give yourself—how many times must we go over this!? She talks to Chad, hangs up the phone, Ben knocks on the door, and she tells him everything that just happened. Ben is sweating bullets and looks horrified but they talk through it and area soon walking through the giant front door of Jojo’s family’s public library-sized McMansion. Everything’s bigger in Texas indeed. 

The couple is greeted by Jojo’s pushy brothers Matt and Ben (Insert Good Will Hunting joke here), sister Rachel, dad Joe, and mom whose name we never catch, but whose spirit we embrace. Jojo’s mother definitely looks like she has had some work done (no shame in that game) and throughout the dinner we fall in love with this jazzy spitfire. While Jojo’s brothers are busy being handsome and GRILLING Ben about the process (“have you been coached on what to say?” “will she end up hurt or happy?”), Jojo and her mother are having girl talk and I want to have Jojo’s mother’s advice stitched onto a throw pillow: “You’re not going to get hurt—you’re beautiful.” God bless you, sweet lady. Jojo’s mother seems surprised to learn that there are still 3 other girls in the running (ya see it’s this show called The Bachelor, mom, and it sounds crazy, but he dates about a dozen women at the same time—ya know what, let’s just keep talking about how pretty I am).  The entire family assembles in the kitchen and while the less hot brother says that Ben has brainwashed these girls, Mama Jojo chugs champagne straight out of the bottle and officially captures Bachelor Nation’s hearts. 

The greatest moment in Bachelor history

The family seems to love advising Jojo on whether she should put up a wall or open up or go 150%, but how about we all let Jojo decide what is right for Jojo, mmmmmkay? Ben and Jojo talk in the driveway and she’s scared that she’ll lose him.

You can just hear the producers saying "GET OUT OF THE SHOT!"

Before we know it, we’re back at the Bach Manse and it’s rose ceremony time. The ladies arrive and everyone has gotten their hair cut and/or colored during hometowns, thank God. They line up and Ben hands out the roses in a pretty predictable order:

-Lauren: rocking smooth, straight hair and an off-the-shoulder dress. Her taste in jewelry is a bit delicate/small for my taste, but she looks great.
-Caila: wearing a floral dress (meh) and big hair.
-Jojo: rocking a sexy red dress, big silver earrings, and awesome hair.

So mama bear Amanda (wearing what resembles a lace nighty) is going home and she tells Ben that she wishes he hadn’t made her travel to Los Angeles to get dumped, but that’s only an hour away from her home, so cry me a river, lady.  I once got dumped 2 hours after getting back from vacation in Jamaica.

Speaking of Jamaica (and my ex who is a nice guy, but one of those dudes who just refuses to grow up or wear shirts with sleeves no matter what the season), next week is FANTASY SUITE week in Jamaica!! Yes, the series of potential humps after which Dava Krause and I named our podcast, The FantasySuite!

The Jamaican getaway promises 3 instances of “I love you” + 2 instances of “I love you too” = 1 broken heart.  Who says that math is for nerds? 

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