The most remarkable thing about this week’s episode – “remarkable” being graded on a curve this season – was what happened before the show started. In a one-two punch, Matt put out a statement on his Instagram decrying The Bachelor’s handling of race. The second punch was an article in the Huffington Post by the popular long-time Bachelor franchise followers Emma Gray and Claire Fallon citing Matt’s post in a history of the shows’ missteps in the area of race. They also correctly noted this: “It’s also a highly unusual step for a franchise lead to publicly criticize the show before their season has finished airing.”
I’d say it’s more than that. This was a coordinated move with a major media outlet just before the airing of a show that night! And the “hometown” visit show no less. The network can’t be too happy.
In the interests of full disclosure, I didn’t read much beyond the beginning of the article as it began with a warning about containing spoilers although one can infer some things from its subtitle. I bookmarked it for a later time which may or may not be before the season ends. I’m pretty convinced he picked Rachael so I’m not sure why I’m avoiding the spoilers at this point. Habits feel comfortable even when they’re pointless, I guess.
This whole thing is hanging over the season now like the sword of Damocles. No wonder I turned to My Daughter Diandra (MDD) when Chris Harrison appeared and said out loud, “What’s he doing here?” With all the news that’s happening in real-time, it’s easy to forget the season is all on tape.
As to that tape, my feelings about hometowns during Bachelor in COVID is that they are a letdown. The Evil Genius Producers (EGPs) are trying, I’ll give them that. Michelle’s classroom kids were cute and Serena P.’s lesson to Matt on Canada was creative although I was kinda terrified by that made-in-Pennsylvania Poutine! But Rachael’s skyfall on her face turned out to be an apt metaphor for her. And Bri’s off-roading date did nothing for me.
By bringing the families in not only do we miss out on a day in the life in the ladies’ hometowns, we also miss out on all the friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches and extended family that Matt would have encountered. The expected tropes of the skeptical family member (“he’s dating three other girls”), the concerned family member (“I just don’t want you to get hurt again”), and the reassuring family member (“we’ll support your decision no matter what”) are all still there but they’re stale when they get brought on location to a hotel room. The family drama is more dramatic when the lead meets them on their turf.
I also need to know how Michelle’s mom has such perfect form on her shot. #baller
That said, the I-didn’t-see-that-coming moment was sparked by Serena P.’s sister telling her that she doesn’t appear “smitten” as she has been in past relationships. This woke Serena P. up to the fact that she couldn’t get herself to believe in the make-believe and her eventually telling Matt that he’s not her person.
This surprise brought the first semblance of real emotion from Matt all season. OK, actually, the first was when Sarah left back in episode 3. And, oh yeah, he was kind of upset when Kit said, “You’re not on my life trajectory so hasta la vista, baby.” OK, so he seems to be into everybody. Still, he was visibly shaken when Serena P. dropped a bomb on him [go ahead and cue up The Gap Band], so much so that it got me wondering if she was intended to be The One or at least The Other One.
Can I talk about Bri for a minute? How am I just realizing how gorgeous and awesome she is (MDD follows her socials and concurs on gorgeous and awesome)? Was it the editing? Per @Bachelordata, seven girls have more screen time than her so far this season. Six of them were white girls. Hmmm . . . .
This season can’t end soon enough. The previews of The Finale look provocative whether real or misdirections. But we have to suffer through The Women Tell All next week first.
P.S. No wine during the episode. I’m not sure why. The blogging wine is Crimson Ranch Red Blend. Not wild about it. The Zinfandel in it makes it too fruit forward for my taste. I’ll definitely need something good for sure to get through The Women Tell All.
 Their weekly podcast Here to Make Friends was a must-listen for me back when I used to travel a lot pre-COVID.