The Bachelorette: Hometown Assley
Hey, stop what you’re doing for a second and just…waaait for iit…okay, now! – feel that? Yep, that’s a momentous occasion, right there. They come fast and furious at this time of the Summer TV season, especially on The Bachelorette at hometown dates time.
I’m afraid I don’t have much experience with the flavour of the Meeting the Family Experience that The Bachelorette offers here. I mean, I’ve dealt with aspects of it – I’ve traveled to a city far away, and I’ve sat down for a heart to heart discussion with the mother or sister or designated chief protector of a cherished someone. I’m not sure I’ve ever done it all in one go, however, with every word uttered a sort of negotiation, and I’ve certainly not done it with a TV crew in tow and three other so-arranged visits scheduled for the same week.
I’ll bet it’s stressful. There’s no doubt that on such visits, you’re going to get an inkling from meeting a significant other candidate’s loved ones about what makes you a good pair and whether there’s a future worth having for the two of you, but isn’t it just about as likely that a red flag or two will get raised, or someone will point out something really obvious about the relationship that up until now you’ve been ignoring? Or maybe you’ll just out-and-out hate their family, or their family will hate you?
Well, that last one doesn’t exactly happen. Not here, and not now when it might actually be best for it to happen. Take Ashley’s trip to Cumming GA to meet Constantine’s (Ryan Smith Twin Number One/RSTNO) family. She heads straight for the family restaurant to provide the viewing audience with the rare opportunity to see the Bachelorette and a beau interacting in an establishment that is actually open for business*. While he shows her how to make pizza and salad, the staff hovers, not doing any work except for preventing any impromptu visits to the walk-in refrigerator.
It’s so far so good as they pull up to RSTNO’s parents’ house, with the banner and blue and white balloons outside, bidding them welcome. The love is strong in this house, enough that (something funny – RSTNO’s dad can’t say ‘ASH-ley’; it comes out as ‘ASS-ley,’ which I find too hilarious to mention just one time and then leave alone) Assley says it inspires her.
But here’s the thing about the hate not coming out soon enough. Elleni, RSTNO’s mom, having established that she worries that dating, as presented on The Bachelorette, is bullshit, asks Assley if she would be prepared to move to Georgia. With this being a theoretical interaction with theoretical in-laws where everyone has theoretical conversations about what might happen in theory, Assley basically states that in theory, she is not opposed to the idea, which we should all shrug our shoulders and suppose is fair enough at this point. Except THEN they cut to the conversation between RSTNO and his dad, who is exactly right when he says, “It takes time to know somebody.” He might have his son and Assley in mind when he says it, but it applies at least as well to his wife and Assley, who seem quite likely to hate each other one day, given the opportunity.
But hey, who am I to say, especially after Assley rejoins everyone on the couch in the living room, declaring, “I love your family. I’m moving in,”** and RSTNO’s whole extended family suddenly streams through the front door for a surprise party with booze, dancing and old ladies clapping their hands?
OK, wow, that was a lot about the visit with Constantine’s family, which means that it’s all too likely that whosever date is next is totally going to get short shrift. Sorry, Ames. Chadd’s Ford PA does seem really nice, and for how obscenely wealthy your family appears to be, they (and you) still seem very nice and thoughtful and interesting and totally worth getting to know in one sense and going on and on about in another. And the way you hop right to it when your sister tells you it’s time to pick up the pace a little, arranging a romantic picnic under your favourite magnolia tree that also involves a ride in a horse-drawn carriage and topical conversational references to Italian theories of romance, dude, I have no doubt that you are all class. But, when Ashley tells you she likes how the two of you think alike***, I also have no doubt that I can stop writing about your hometown date right anytime.
But are we going to go long again with the Ben (Ryan Smith Twin Number Two/RSTNT) hometowner in Sonoma CA? Meh. For all the talk of the physical resemblance between Ben and Constantine (and Ryan Smith), it’s Ames who he turns out to be not significantly different enough from to warrant much note. By the time he takes her on a winery picnic, Ames has already taken her on the magnolia tree picnic. His dad is dead, but as Ames’ sister (who thinks a lot of her brother and does a lot of the heavy talking, just like Ben’s) puts it, Ames has a dead dad AND a dead stepdad. There’s really no competing with the guy, except for when Ben lets loose his spiel about the speedy process of The Bachelorette forcing out his emotional side**** and when he talks to his mom about the bad son he was after his dad died. Which, to be honest, isn’t enough to convince me not to move along to J.P.’s hometown.
So finally it’s on to Roslyn NY, J.P-town. All episode long, the show’s been previewing this clip of Ashley and J.P. roller skating in some place with a beat-up disco ball and Ashley saying she feels like she’s in Grade 7. Let’s quickly put aside the spooky-ish fact that every single one of us, when we were in Grade 7, knew a couple named Ashley and J.P., and take a quick poll: What person, who is now the age of majority in whichever jurisdiction they happen to live, wishes they were in Grade 7 again?
Possibly worse: they skate around to REO Speedwagon’s Can’t Fight This Feeling, but it’s not REO Speedwagon performing the song. Is it that The Bachelorette’s budget has been so completely blown on trips ‘round the world, etc., that they can’t afford the royalty on the real REO Speedwagon deal, or is it that REO Speedwagon won’t allow the original to be used? Kevin Cronin, please comment!
Possibly even worse still: remember when I said something about a red flag or two getting raised on these dates? Okay, well, we’ve heard about the girl, She Who Shall Not Be Named, who broke J.P.’s heart at some time in the past. When she comes up (again) in the context of J.P. bringing her home to meet his mom, which he says went well enough at the time but didn’t turn out, his answer, when Ashley quizzes him on “how” it “didn’t turn out,” J.P.’s answer is, “Things she did to make me doubt the relationship.”
And when Ashley asks him how he knows things are different with her, his answer is that he’s way up high when he’s with her, and things “suck” when he’s not. Did someone say something about Grade 7? Anyway, they go home then to meet his family, none of whom***** can seem to help but refer, several times each, to this “before” time and how worried it has them feeling about J.P..
If you’re watching on TV, this casts a pall over the proceedings that not even the photo from his bar mitzvah that his mother drags out can dispel. But, what if you’re right there at the L.A. mansion, handing out roses at the end of the episode? In that case, everything’s hunky dory. Unless you’re Ames, that is.
Poor Ames looks very disoriented by the whole thing. He manages a smile as she says, “This is not easy, I care so much about you, I want you to know that.” The guy’s a complete gentleman, even as some lower-caste bimbo who’s got only platitudes to offer is rejecting him. So sorry, Ames. I swear it dude, if somehow, some way, circumstances made it so that it was me making the choice instead of Assley, you and I would already be married. But these are momentous times.
*Though not looking so terribly busy. Here’s hoping that last visit from the health inspector went okay, folks!
**Do you mean with or without your other three boyfriends?
***Which I happen to disagree with, but the point is largely moot.
****The one person to ever express appreciation for the fucked up way this game show does its thing.
*****Except his father, who gets no lines in this script.