Hometowns are always an adventure and this season was no different—there was laughter, tears, and some pissed off kids. Been seems excited to meet the families of all the women, according to his seemingly drunk intro, and truth be told, I’m a little excited, too. Let’s do this thing.
First hometown goes to Amanda in Laguna Beach, CA. Let it be known I will not be focused for the remainder of this segment because I am scouring the background for LC, Stephen, and Kristen. So far, a no go, but come one, they’re all similar enough in age that Amanda could have gone to school while Laguna Beach was broadcast! THIS SCHOOL WAS MADE FOR STARS. Anyway, Ben and Amanda are hanging on the beach and then all of a sudden it’s time to meet her daughters: a nice nanny runs up with the two girls who ARE DRESSED ALIKE for god knows what reason and Amanda runs up to them and her daughters just seem truly underwhelmed by everything. They don’t even really want to see their mom seemingly. It’s all, how shall we say, uneventful. Ben walks up to the girls to meet them in just the shortest shorts that have ever been and the girls are just so bored by him. The older, Kinsley, I think, is at least like a little engaged. The youngest, Charlie maybe, straight up hates not only Ben, but I’m pretty sure every single organism around her. I like her style. So basically Ben and Amanda and her daughters all just chill at the beach and have seemingly a really average time and now it’s time to meet the rest of the family. Instantly they both remark that the car ride over to her house was rough, which, I mean, I would have loved to see, but they pull up to Amanda’s house and instantly there’s a voiceover of Amanda saying how important this meeting is because she needs to find someone who’s a good father because, basically, and I’m paraphrasing here, but her ex-husband and father of her two children is the worst of all time. I mean, really, she doesn’t hold too much back. Amanda’s dad really does not hold back in this meeting though—he first describes Ben as looking like a deer caught in the headlights, a not so great sentiment from a man you who might become your new father-in-law. Ben talks to Amanda’s mom first and, honestly, it doesn’t go too great. She really doesn’t seem to like him and says that he seems really young and it might be too early to know whether or not he’d be a good father. Amanda’s dad just sits down and straight up goes, “So, how’s the relationship?” We are really just not messing around here at the Amanda household, and I gotta say, I’m kinda into it. I super respect, also, that Amanda’s dad is just very blunt about saying that Ben’s life would change instantly if he chose Amanda, like, yeah, it super would, I’m kinda glad someone is bringing this up because it’s clear Amanda isn’t really talking about it all that much. Then, randomly, we’re done with the hometown? It’s literally as short as Amanda is, which is saying something, because as I’ve said before, physically, I’m worried Ben may crush Amanda.
But, yay! It’s time for Lauren B. now! Or Lauren Higgins, let’s just be honest, those two are in some deep love. Lauren is from Portland which I never would have guessed in a million years, but okay. She and Ben walk around the city and end up at this food truck hub thing and I super want to go there. Then they go to possibly the coolest place I’ve ever seen or heard of—the whiskey library. I mean, I’m a whiskey girl and I love libraries. Honestly, can we just continue with the rest of the season here? Ben tells Lauren that he was afraid she was going to leave at the beginning, which, like, wut, that was never brought up ever, I’m not sure why it’s being brought up now. Already, it’s time to go meet the rest of the family and all of these dates are apparently going to be 3 minutes total. We are trucking along. So we head to the second of four upper middle class houses this evening and we meet Lauren’s family—Lauren’s mom is just Lauren and I literally wrote in my notes “this is literally EXACTLY what I thought Lauren’s family was going to be like”. Okay, but then Lauren drops the bomb that her family dog is 18 years old and I’m all, can we just show the dog for the rest of this episode? So, Lauren’s sister Mollie is the first to chat with Ben and it’s instantly clear that he’s in love with Lauren. I mean instantly and I’m not even in person chatting with this guy. There’s something about Lauren that Ben can’t put into words, according to him, and Mollie really seems to get it. He starts crying and I honestly think it like just hit him that he’s completely in love with Lauren. Like I’ve never seen someone literally realize their feelings for someone, but that seems like exactly what’s happening. Lauren and Mollie get to chat about what Ben and Mollie chatted about and Lauren starts crying too. I mean, I think it’s a wrap, folks. While Lauren is gushing to Mollie, Ben is telling Lauren’s dad that the first time he saw Lauren, the world stopped. We’re all aww-ing together here in the Bachelor Nation. I love that Lauren’s dad gets really real too and addresses how quick of a timeline this is, and also, that he’s probably having a similar conversation with 3 other fathers this week. I mean, spoiler alert, but the rest of the families tonight are going to bring that up, but I think Ben handles it best in this hometown, probably because he says nothing super memorable. Lauren and her dad sit down and Lauren gushes about Ben and Lauren’s dad, being the ever-pragmatic one in the family just says that nobody’s perfect. YAHS. I’m loving all these level-headed families this year. It’s already time for Lauren and Ben to part ways and they have a v. natural chemistry on their way out, as normal. I mean, in general, it wasn’t a super special hometown, other than the fact that I want to be hanging out in the Whiskey library for the rest of eternity. But, it’s also the one hometown where I felt like Ben was being a genuine human and was actually at a place where meeting her family made sense.
We’re off to Hudson, Ohio, the place in which Caila has not put down any roots. Ben says that Caila challenges him because she’s real? I’m sorry, wut? I might be alone here, but Caila seems like the fakest person left at this point? Also Ben says that he and Caila have the deepest relationship? Umm WUT? Oh my god, I can’t even go into it all because it’s just so random and weird. Anyway, Caila has always dreamt about taking a man to a bench, which, k, so they go there and hang out and make out and it’s all just so wonderfully produced. So, they head from this bench to a factory, and it’s revealed that Caila’s dad is the CEO of a toy company! Okay, so I can’t be the only one who thought that the reason Caila’s family moved 17 times before she was 18 was because she was an army brat, but no, apparently the toy industry requires a lot of travel? What is her life? Caila and Ben build a house of their own, or rather, a toy house of their own, and the only real take away from this is that Ben’s favorite color is blue so they make the roof of their toy house blue. I get that this whole thing is a metaphor, but I’ve honestly never seen 2 people have a less natural chemistry than the entire time that Ben and Caila are at this toy factory. #TeamBaiCaila they head back to Caila’s parents’ house and we’re really banking on the fact that Caila is half Filipino. Her mom has braces and her dad is very shiny. That’s truly all I have to say about her family. They’re boring and weird and fake and I really hope Caila isn’t the next Bachelorette. Controversial opinion, probably, but there we are. So Caila’s mom and Ben have a chat basically about how Caila is very intentional with her time while Caila and her dad, or “Daddy” as she calls him, talk about how Caila thinks that Ben is “the one”. I’m sorry, but Caila’s dad does not have the personality of a man who is the CEO of a toy company. Maybe that’s my only real issue with this date. IT. DOESN’T. ADD. UP. Her dad says that he’s surprised that she’s in love with Ben, and I’m like, don’t worry, Daddy, it’s not real love, it’s Bachelor love. Caila and her mom both cry about the fact that Caila is in love with him and her mom tells her to run downstairs and jump on Ben. Maybe I’m just like not getting the appeal of Caila but DAMN get me out of Hudson, OH. Luckily, it’s time for Ben to go, so I can get over the weird, creepy, unnatural date that just was. Please, producers, I beg of you, do not make Caila the next Bachelorette.
Alright, finally time for JoJo’s hometown and I’m real excited about it. We open in Dallas, Texas, and awwww Ben left some roses for JoJo! And he wrote a really sweet note! But WAIT. This isn’t from Ben at all—this is from her ex! WUUUTTT. JoJo paces around her apartment for awhile and cries and gets pissed and then ends up just calling her ex which seems like maybe not the best thing to do on national television, but hey, what do I know? So JoJo is on the phone with this man named Chad and he’s basically telling her that he’s still in love with her and he made a mistake by letting her go. Moral of the story is, never date a man named Chad. So Ben walks up in the midst of all this emotion and JoJo is crying and Ben, seems like, kinda thinks that she’s crying because she’s excited to see him. Slowly but surely, it comes out that she’s actually crying about something completely different and Ben is just so confused now. JoJo tells Ben about the flowers and the note and instantly he’s like super pissed. The look on his face is that of a very jealous boyfriend, which in this case, he just may be. Ben seems mad and JoJo seems mad at Chad and they’re both very open about it and it makes me feel like they might have a real relationship. So, while the other girls got to do cool stuff like fly kites, and go to whiskey libraries, and sit on benches, JoJo and Ben just had to deal with crap from an ex and then go straight to meeting her family. I mean, I gotta give it to the producers, it’s the most real hometown in recent history, that’s for sure. So, Ben and JoJo walk up to her parents’ actual mansion and we finally get to meet her brothers, one of which is named Ben (heheheheh), her mom and her dad. Honestly, if I were to see a photograph of each member of JoJo’s family separately, I would never in a trillion years put this group of folks together genetically, but, hey, I guess that’s what makes the world go round. So JoJo’s mom is non-American as well, and, spoiler alert, I’m going to spend the rest of the episode wondering where her accent is from. So, we’re whisked from room to room in this mansion seemingly owned by the Texas mafia and they all sit down at a very elegant dining room table. So, I’ve complained before about how JoJo’s name is still in quotes after “Joelle” when they put her name card up, but her family calls her Joelle, so I suppose it was all just to make sure the viewers weren’t confused when it came to hometowns. Well, the first thing that becomes clear is that Ben doesn’t like Ben. I wish I had the scream emoji because that’s exactly how I’m feeling right now.
So, Ben and Ben and other brother go talk and it looks super uncomfortable. Bachelor Ben tells Brother Ben that he and JoJo are in a really good place and they have really good conversations. I mean, that doesn’t seem like a great way to sell yourself to a famiy, but, sure, Bachelor Ben, let’s really focus on the conversations. While the Bens plus 1 duke it out to see which of them has JoJo’s best interest at heart, JoJo tells her mom, of questionable nationality, about Ben and she just starts crying about everything. I mean, first of all, it’s clear that JoJo, at this point at least, is not completely in love with Ben, which is valid, because they’ve literally only been dating for about 6 weeks total. Also, as she tells her brothers later, they’ve literally only been on 2 dates one-on-one, like this is literally their third date. I feel like usually the producers caution people against talking about how insane that is, but, uh, yeah, that’s insane. While JoJo is chatting with her mom, Ben gets to talk to Ben’s dad who was a KILLER moustache. Ben tells her dad that he doesn’t want to make a lot of promises today and that there’s nothing that has held Ben back from falling for JoJo which I think is cool of him to say. Honestly, I feel the same way about this hometown as I did about Lauren’s I think. I mean, Ben is clearly in love with Lauren and is seemingly falling in love with JoJo, but I do honestly think that he’s speaking to those 2 families is the most honest way. Then the shit like sorta hits the fan, or rather, JoJo’s brothers are asking real questions, but just in like a super douchey way. Basically, they’re saying that he seems like he’s coached on his answers and that they think that JoJo is way more emotionally invested in him than he is in her. I mean, they are real, valid concerns for brothers to have, but they’re really giving this guy a hard time. Bachelor Ben gets pissed about it, too, and a little rightfully so. I mean, I really don’t believe he was coached on his answers, I do believe he was strongly pointed in one direction, but that’s a story for another day. He says that he’s never told them anything that was false or dishonest which definitely has to be true because he’s really not told them much of anything at this point. JoJo’s mom ends up sticking up for Bachelor Ben and it ends on kind of a weird note. I kind of feel like everyone in the entirety of this hometown had valid feelings, but they were all presented in kind of a weird way. I don’t know, jury is still out on whether or not that hometown is going to be a deal breaker down the line. JoJo walks Ben out of the mansion and I will probably never get over JoJo’s mom just staring at them through the large glass front door for pretty much the entirety of their goodbye. It’s honestly unbelievable.
ALRIGHT! We’re back in the Bachelor Mansion and it’s time to figure out which of these families Ben hated the most. Ben wants to thank the women for opening up their families to him and he wants them to know how much he cares about each and every one of them. So, congratulations to Lauren, Caila, and JoJo, and goodbye to my favorite young mom, Amanda. Oh man, I loved Amanda, like especially because her and Lauren were actual besties, but also because I feel like she really does want to fall in love with someone and find a good dad for her kids. Amanda gets rightfully pissed that Ben waited to send her home until tonight, like if he knew she wasn’t going to get a rose, just tell her at the hometown so she doesn’t have to leave her kids again just to get dumped. Ben tells Amanda that he’s going to miss her and honestly, I believe it. I’ve watched The Bachelor for a lot of seasons now and that honestly seemed like one of the most genuine breakups ever. Amanda cries in the limo and worries that she’ll never be able to find love again and Ben cries outside the mansion in a really heart wrenching way. Much like when he was crying at Lauren’s hometown, I feel like he was crying because he was pissed at himself for not falling in love with Amanda. Like, he really truly wanted to make it work for her and her kids, but he just didn’t feel it. Man, I’m loving Ben now even though he is a little bit of a robot. I’m glad he says he just wants Amanda to know that he cares, though, because I do actually think they had a really sweet relationship. Not a relationship with a deep love by any means, but it was sweet and cute and I’m gonna miss Amanda.
Next week on The Bachelor: Jamaica, here we come! All three women tell them they love him! Ben says he loves 2 of them, too! Fantasy suite time! OH MAN, OH MAN, OH MAN.