Entertainment Weekly has released their recap of the Hometown Date episode.
It's not often that themes from classic literature intersect with themes on televised dating shows, but watching this all-important hometown date episode, all I could think about was how the opening line of Anna Kareninawould've read had Anna been competing for Count Vronsky on a 19th century version of The Bachelor: ''All happy families are alike; each happy family on reality TV is wacked-out in its own way.''
But before we begin the 2009 Hometown Horror Show North American Tour, Jason has a ''lady''-by-''lady'' recap prepared to help new viewers get up to speed: Jillian is the Strong One Who Can't Open Up; Molly is the Pretty One Who Might be Too Shallow; Naomi is the Free Spirit Who Isn't Ready to Settle Down; and Melissa is the Hot Babe Who's Too Good to be True. After waving goodbye to his son (Bye Ty! Daddy's leaving again, but he put a cardboard cut-out of himself in your bedroom in case you forget what he looks like!), Jason heads off to America's hat Canada for date number one.
Up in Kelowna, British Columbia, Jillian is waiting in a park wearing some seriously cute pink gloves. As they overlook scenic Lake Okanagan, Jillian tells Jason about the legend of the lake monster called Ogopogo, and how it once brushed her foot when she was tubing in the lake. Oh, those crazy Canadians — it's so cute how all that open space addles their brains. Anyhoo, after the stroll, the duo head to a winery (is it me, or did it sound like Jason was reading a cue card when he said ''The winery was beautiful, but not nearly as beautiful as Jill''?). Over two giant glasses of red (the first of many Jason and the ''ladies'' will drink this episode), Jillian tearfully reveals that her mother endured a long battle with serious depression, which took a toll on her parents' marriage. It sucks that she has to share such personal information about her family on national television... but, you know, she did voluntarily sign up for The Bachelor. The good news is, this revelation helps explain to Jason why Jillian feels the need to be so strong all the time. ''If anything, it makes me care about her more,'' he says.
When Jason and Jillian arrive at her parents' house, her dad gives Jason a traditional Canadian welcome by wrapping him first in the national flag and then in a friendly bear hug. Her mom Peggy wastes no time pulling Jason aside to grill him about what kind of guy he is. Like her daughter, Peggy is a joker: ''I just have a couple questions for you,'' she says — and then unfurls a long scroll of paper. After a pleasant talk, it's clear that Jason has passed the Peggy test; she tells Jillian that he has ''depth'' and ''character.'' Jillian's dad Glen, who seems like the sweetest man on the planet, approves of Jason, too. ''She's been exceptional in every sense of the word,'' says Glen of his daughter, choking up. ''If Jillian gets married, you're going to see a pretty happy guy.'' That's right, dry your tears, dad! You know ABC is totallygoing to pay for the wedding.
But all this is just a prelude to the real party: It's Granny time! Jillian's beloved grandma is instantly smitten with the Bachelor: ''Oh my god,'' she cries as Jason, his manly biceps straining against his t-shirt sleeves, leans in for a hug. ''Jason is very, very beautiful. He's a gorgeous guy,'' says Granny, who no longer feels the need to take Jillian to northern Alberta ''and marry her off to some Ukrainian up there.'' Well, don't lose that Ukrainian guy's number yet, Granny. We've still got three episodes to go.
: Molly's Mom busts out the funny hats!
The good times keep coming as Granny inexplicably puts some maple leaf boxers on Jason's head. ''The funny genes are running through the family,'' he says. (That's good news for Jason and Jillian's hypothetical children — dad has no sense of humor, but at least mom's genes will save those kids from a life of earnest dullness.) All in all, Jason thinks it was a perfect day. ''The bar is high after today's date,'' he says. ''I cannot imagine a date with somebody's family going any better than this.'' Oh, snap. Take that, other ''ladies''!
Back in America — Grand Rapids, Michigan, to be exact — Molly, looking like Golf Pro Barbie with her argyle sweater and maroon golf cart, meets Jason at a local country club. They both seem unusually nervous, perhaps because Molly won't date a guy that her parents don't like — so if they don't dig Jason, this whole TV ''journey'' will have been for naught. After a few holes of golf, and some liquid courage in the form of more red wine, it's time for the Big Introduction at her parents' house. Everyone sits on the couch for a get-to-know-you chat, and when the awkward pauses between the bouts of polite laughter start to grow a little too long, Molly's mom Maryann decides to lighten the mood with... wacky headgear! A crown for Molly, an oversize orange cowboy hat for mom, a Native American headdress for the Bachelor, and a chapeau shaped like a foamy mug of beer for dad. To Maryann's credit, the hat box does seem to dispel the palpable tension in the air. (Note to self: visit this websitebefore the in-laws' next visit...)
In keeping with the theme of random creativity, Maryann takes Jason downstairs to a home art studio and asks him to draw his ''most favorite memory'' of Molly's face. He decides to draw her ''huge'' smile, which he says always makes him feel better when he's crushing hopes, dreams and hearts at the rose ceremony. The drawing sort of resembles Molly, in that it appears to be of a white human female, but I'm not 100 percent sure why Jason depicted her being decapitated by a rainbow of pink hearts. Anyhow, I wonder if this whole art exercise is foreshadowing by the producers. Don't forget, Ryan gave Trista a drawing of a white tiger — accompanied by some truly tragic poetry, if I recall — and he ended up bagging the big prize.
Upstairs, Molly's dad (who spends the whole visit looking like he'd rather be anywhere else, preferably drinking beer out of his hat) tells his daughter that Jason seems like a ''good kid,'' and then makes her promise that if she doesn't get the final rose, she won't cry: ''Smile, ok?'' (Ah, the old Fake Smile as Emotional Armor trick — it's WASP way. I know it well.) The date ends, and (look out, Jillian!) it seems that Molly's family has completely obliterated Jason's memory of his fun-filled trip up north. ''Today could not have gone any better,'' he says. ''I can't get enough of Molly.''
The next day, Jason's off to Lake Elsinore, California, to meet Naomi for what we're told will be ''the wackiest hometown visit in Bachelorhistory.'' That's good, because we all know Naomi's not making the final two, so the least she can do is provide us with an entertaining date, right? Naomi meets Jason in the park for mimosas and a serious talk. She says their conversation at the last rose ceremony left her completely ''freaked out,'' and she wants Jason to know that she's ''100 percent'' there for him and ready to be a stepmom to Ty. I'm pretty sure Naomi thinks that if she keeps saying this out loud over and over, it'll magically become true. ''I believe what's coming out of her mouth because she believes it,'' reasons Jason. ''But I wonder beyond the words 'Yes I can commit,' is she really ready?'' No, no she's not. But don't worry about that now — let's get to the dead bird.
: Road kill and Jesus Christ, together at last!
''Every family is different,'' Naomi explains as she and Jason pull up to her mom's house, ''and mine is probably as crazy as it gets.'' Her parents are divorced, but they apparently get along well enough to spend the afternoon vetting their daughter's TV boyfriend. First, Naomi's mom Joanne leads the family through a kind of Phys. Ed. icebreaker with some mandatory hula hooping. (''Be one with the hula hoop!'' she demands of the uncoordinated Bachelor.) Come on, we were promised wacky, not spastic! Well, ask and ye shall receive, dear viewers: Joanne then gathers everyone together to recount the story of how a dove kamikazed itself into her windshield. Her response, naturally, was to bag the feathery corpse and place it in the family's freezer — and now Jason gets the honor of burying Rosie the Dead Dove in the backyard. I think it's safe to say that the enormous effort Jason puts forth to keep a pleasant smile on his face during Joanne's story is the most entertaining part of the entire episode. ''It was interestingto be a part of,'' says Captain Understatement.
Then it's time for Jason to hang out with Naomi's dad Hector, in what appears to be a living room casino. Dad explains that Naomi had a Christian upbringing, and tells the Bachelor that if he's not down with Jesus, all of his future marriages will be doomed. Jason, bless his heart, takes the Bible lesson in stride and doesn't mention the fact that he's Jewish. (Jesus, meanwhile, is likely sitting in Heaven, shaking his fist at the TV and cursing the Bachelorproducers: ''For the love of God, leave me out of this!'') Soon after, Joanne sits down with Jason and tells him that he's an Indigoand they're both from the same ''soul family.'' (I'm half expecting Renee to pop out from behind the couch waving a vision board, but no such luck.) Outside, Naomi sits on a swing drinking the biggest glass of red wine I've ever seen, and gently informs her dad that she doesn't care if Jason loves Jesus or if he's a devil-worshiping pagan cult leader — she is falling in love with him wants to be his wife. Well, I want scientists to create a fat-free peanut butter that doesn't taste like Elmer's School Paste, but some things are not meant to be.
Moving on to Dallas, Jason is blissfully ignorant of the fact that this hometown date is about to ''go terribly wrong,'' according to Harrison's voice over. ''I'm really looking forward to meeting Melissa's family,'' he says. ''It's going to tell me a lot about who she is.'' Melissa meets him in a park wearing extremely short shorts and bearing a gift for Ty (a box for the tyke to keep his tooth fairy ''moneys'' in). All of this serves to butter Jason up before she drops the bomb: He's not going to meet her family. ''My parents are not comfortable with the publicness, I guess, of this,'' she explains. Her brother put the kibosh on the televised meet-and-greet, too, so all Melissa has to offer Jason is a gathering with her best friends. (Side note: Can we take a moment to give Melissa's family a virtual high-five for refusing to participate in their daughter's misguided romantic fantasy? Way to go, Rycroft clan! Although they couldn't have been thatsurprised that Melissa turned to reality TV to find a husband, given how at home she feels in front of the camera — whether it's posing for a calendaror appearing on CMT's series about the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.)
: News flash — Melissa has no self-esteem
But I digress. Let's go meet the friends. At dinner, Melissa tries to explain why she has never brought a guy to meet her friends or family: She's always been the ''dumpee,'' and none of the men she's dated really cared enough to meet the people important to her. Melissa's friends confirm this, explaining that she hasn't dated ''the best guys,'' and has tended to gravitate toward men who ''used and abused her.'' Oy, I'm hoping Melissa spent some serious time in the self-help aisle of her local Barnes & Nobelbefore applying to be on The Bachelor, but something tells me she skipped that step. Later, Jason tries to find out a little bit more about Melissa's family, but her friends can't help because none of them have really spent any time with her parents. ''You'd think that her closest friends would know her parents,'' he muses, ''at least a little bit.'' Well, Jason, you wanted to know if Melissa has any faults, and now you've found one — she's not BFFs with her family. On the plus side, though, you'll probably never have to bury a dead bird for her mother.
Melissa, understandably, is stressed out about the lack of ''home'' in her hometown date: ''Jason did not get to meet my parents, and I'm worried that that's a dealbreaker, maybe?'' But she's not going down without a fight. At her hotel, over those ever-present glasses of red wine, she tells the Bachelor that even when she was a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader her parents, who are ''very private people,'' never came to see her perform, or whatever you want to call it. Again, can't really blame them. Not sure I'd want to watch my daughter prance around in star-studded booty shorts while drunken football fans leer at her from the cheap seats.
Back in Seattle, Harrison drops by Jason's fake house for another pre-rose ceremony debriefing. (Side note number two: What is up with all those votive candles? Is this an interview or a romantic man-date for two?) ''I'm more confused than ever!'' Jason laments. Too bad, dude — because it's time to take one woman's chance at love, place a pillow over its mouth, and hold it there until the thrashing stops. At the rose ceremony — side note number three: Good God, Molly, what are you wearing? — Jason drags it out, telling everyone how ''unbelievable'' the hometown visits were and how ''ridiculously hard'' it is for him to send one of them home. Still, he quickly passes out the three buds and shows Naomi the door, but not before telling her how ''incredible'' she is one more time. In the reject limo, Naomi manages to keep her composure for the most part: ''I feel like as of right now, I'm just better off on my own.'' Amen, sister.
Now it's your turn to sound off, Bachelorfans! What did you think of Jason's hometown hell week? Did Melissa's family drama hurt her chances, or is the final rose still hers to lose? Do you like Jillian better now after meeting her fantastic Granny? (I know I do!) And how freaking psyched are you for DeAnna's impending return? Get posting in the comments section now! When you're done, be sure to head over to PopWatch to read Chris Harrison's exclusive blog — this week, he reveals how Molly got Jason to take his pants off in a moment we definitelydidn't see on TV. And be sure to check out the extended scene below for more of Jillian and Jason's fireside chat at the winery, in which Jason insists that he's not ''looking for, like, a two month girlfriend after this.'' (That's good, because if their relationship lasted two months, I'm pretty sure that'd be some kind of record for this show.) Let's talk Bachelor!