'The Bachelorette' Romance in the Ordinary: Hometown Dates (review)


This week was the first week that I can remember in a long time where I can look back at the events of The Bachelorette with affection. The Hometown Dates episode was a serious comeback and I give all the credit to these four remaining guys and their wonderful families.  In addition, we finally (and thankfully) saw Ashley owning her Bachelorette-hood.  She was confident that these guys were into her and that they were each there for her. It was the first time where Ashley seemed to have the upper hand and be in control of these relationships – like they were hers to lose. SIGHHHH – that’s what we’ve been waiting to see all season!

I think I may have completely offended The Husband this week. While watching Constantine walk around his Cummings, Georgia restaurant, smiling as the Greek Tarzan-like guy explains why he owns an Italian restaurant, I felt like we were meeting a new person. And once we met his warm and loving mom, Elleni, his father, Dmitry and his sister, Maria, I fell in love. As I was watching them greet, hug each other and cry, I couldn’t help but scream out at the television, “I want to marry him!” Which I think came out the wrong way because The Husband got pretty quiet until we got to Sonoma. Oh come on, Husband, I just meant I’d like to marry the family in a Bachelorette Fantasy kind of way – of course I am already married to the best former bachelor out there! Am I forgiven? I am not sure that Constantine and Ashley’s chemistry is off the charts (the way she greeted both Ben and JP was completely different than how she was with Constantine), but I think she saw a whole new side of Constantine that nobody knew existed. I cracked up watching the restaurant staff ladies peek out at Ashley and Constantine’s private time. I also laughed at the outtakes watching Ashley wait on the male customer in the restaurant, asking him if he wanted breadsticks. According to Chris Harrison’s blog, this customer had no idea who Ashley was and he didn’t order pizza. Ah well, I’m sure he knows who she is now. Ashley was kind of funny during this part of the episode.

When Constantine’s aunts walked in the door of his parents’ house with 100 people behind them, I was grinning from ear to ear. And The Husband’s little smile came back. I wanted to dance with them in their living room and catch the money being thrown out. Did anyone else want to reach through the television and just hug his parents repeatedly? I found it interesting that Ashley revealed she is very willing to move to where her fiance is. Let’s remember that for the record in case she refuses to move later on! I also really liked Constantine’s sister, Maria. I thought she was warm, pretty and had very nice teeth. She seemed very into Ashley and was impressed with her dancing. Compare that kind of sister with Ben F’s sister who in my opinion was more than slightly intimidating. It was no wonder that Ashley confessed this to be her favorite hometown visit.

I was more than a little curious to see where Ames came from. They didn’t show right away where this elaborate country estate was, but now I know it was Chadds Ford, PA. Multiple people were texting and calling me to question why Ames’s jacket was pinned back. Apparently this was very offensive. I just think that Ames in a bright plaid shirt is kind of an oxymoron. He’s a Harvard/Yale/private school boy with the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen and a perfected tan. He just doesn’t seem to be a down to earth type, blue collar type that can carry a plaid shirt. When I think of appropriate plaid shirt wearers, I think of Chris Lambton, the landscaping hottie, who rocked a flannel shirt like no other. But I digress. Ames’s mother, Jane, seemed also to be very warm and insightful. I loved when she asked Ames whether he’s seen Ashley handle difficult situations and how she did. Ames can barely open his teeth to assure his mother that Ashley is as cool as a cucumber. Then there is the briefest of pauses and you see Ames kind of rethinking this. He must be having a flashback to the Roast comedy night where she had a mental breakdown.

I liked Ames’s sister too. She was so on to Ashley’s nonchalance concerning Ames. She was quick to recognize that her brother’s got it bad and that Ashley was not that into it. While Ashley tries to convince the sister that she finds Ames’s talk about romance more exciting than the possibility of co-owning a vineyard in Sonoma with Sexy Ben, nobody’s buying it. It was kind of cringe-worthy watching Ames try to romance Ashley under that beautiful magnolia tree. I felt like we were in a Monet painting. If she can’t find romance with him there, it’s just not going to happen. Even when she gave him the boot, he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. He just thanked her for the time they had together and said he would always remember it. I kind of wanted to shake this guy and get some anger out of him. But Ames left with one of the classiest exits to date. Will he be returning to the show Fiji style to express his love to Ashley? I’d say there’s a 90% chance. Will it do any good? Absolutely not.

Seeing what Ben’s life is like out in Sonoma, it’s kind of not fair to the others. I mean, you’ve got this vulnerable, good looking, smart and laid back guy who seems to finally be ready to open up and let someone in – and Ashley just happens to be in the right place at the right time. Not to mention he owns (or co-owns with his buddy?) this incredibly amazing property, is extremely sophisticated and doesn’t even seem to have an ego. Who is this guy? Then watching him open up about his father and everything he’s been through, seeing him apologize to his mother for not being there enough right after his father died and discussing with Ashley what his father would be like if he was there to meet her. I got choked up with tears while listening to Ben wishing his father could see how happy he was. The one and only reason that this relationship would not work out has everything to do with Ashley’s comfort level around Ben and his family. Did you see how nervous she got with his mother and sister? Given, Ben was basically like – if my family doesn’t love you, you’re done. Then she gets there and they are welcoming enough, but more reserved than the other families she has met. The sister admits to being skeptical and I just don’t get the warm and fuzzies from mom and sis. He seems to have an extremely close relationship with his sister, and I’m wondering if Ashley is questioning how she could ever compete. I’m not sure that I see Ashley and Julia becoming best friends. This doesn’t seem to be the type of household where money is being thrown out in the living room while line dances take place. That said, Ben F is one of the most articulate, loveable and all around great guys that this show has had in a very long time. He has certainly proven himself worthy of being the next Bachelor if given the option.  Some may see his emotion as a weakness, but being able to articulate how he’s feeling puts him in an elite category of single, eligible men.

So after being whisked away to these 3 wealthy families (the houses, btw, that all of these families live in are insane!), we are taken to Roslyn, NY – in Long Island! Turns out that Jews like Italian food too – how great did Ilene’s lasagna look? Even at 7 something in the morning, the thought of it makes me hungry. I love that JP took her roller skating and even happier that Ashley was so excited just to be with JP. The disco ball, the holding hands, the romantic 80s music – it was perfect nostalgia. Of course, these guys have an 8 year age difference, so I’m wondering whether Ashley had any roller skating birthday parties growing up or whether her generation went straight for roller blades. Regardless, I hope the roller skating rink offered them some Elio’s pizza and an ice cream or cookie cake for good measure.

I loved JP’s family. Watching as Ilene almost fell off the stairs when JP and Ashley arrived reminded me of any one of my relatives trying to remain calm when meeting an outsider. I liked that Ilene drilled Ashley about not breaking her son’s heart. She seems very genuine and loving and who didn’t crack up when she busted out his bar mitzvah sign in picture?! Let me sum up every message on that picture poster in case you couldn’t read it, “Mazel Tov! You did great! I am so glad that we are such great friends. I love you!”

JP seems very confident that Ash has no other connection like the one she has with him. I tend to agree with him, but am wondering whether his insecurities may make him explode on Ashley at some point. He was a boiler room during the last episode and I’m not sure whether he can take the pressure on the exotic dates. From the previews it looks like there may be some rough road ahead for them. Speaking of previews, it looks like some sisterly fights will be brewing next week. I liked Ashley’s sister during Brad’s season. She was bubbly, just like Ashley, but in a funky alternative kind of way. I wonder who it is that she didn’t see Ashley with. And I also wonder who comes back to surprise Ashley – Brad? Ames? It’s gotta be Ames.

I hope you caught the quick preview of Bachelor Pad that came on near the end of the show. If not, go back and watch – it’s worth it. They featured Jake and Vienna as if this was a pro-verbal wrestling match.  The preview of Bachelor Pad was more draw dropping and dramatic than the entire season of Bachelorette to date. Let’s just say, nobody is ever going to think of Jake as the “Sweet Pilot” ever again.

Ok, I’ve stopped sweating and the bathroom scent is now seeping into my clothing, so I must almost be at work. Hope everyone is drinking lots of water and staying cool. We’ve got the exotic overnights next week – which are always interesting despite the dated overnight date card inviting the couple to spend the night together. Til then – let’s hear your thoughts. Did Ben F make you cry? Were you offended by Ames’s clothes? Do you own a winery and want to be on the next Bachelorette?  More importantly did you think the show improved?

Some comments that I received via text, phone call and email about the Hometown Dates episodes:

“Ben F is DREAMY!”

“Did you not notice during the last two rose ceremonies that (Ames” has had his jacket pinned in the back? What’s up with that?”

“Why can’t they get Ames a jacket that fits?”

“Ben made me cry.  If he’s not the biggest catch in the world, not sure who is but his Sis and Mom were slightly scary.”

“Welcome to the show, Constantine!”

“I tried. Really I did. I made it through 10 minutes of the Bachelorette and then decided that pretty much anything would be more fun to watch…She is so painful (to watch) and insecure.  I hate seeing women like that and I think that’s the main problem with this season.”

What did you guys think?  Was this the best show to date? Or are you still fed up?

Stacey B