The Bachelor (Season 21, Episode 8): I Heart Hoxie.

It has been a real struggle this week, and this blog is really late. Clearly one of two things has to happen: either I find a job that actually allows me to work the hours everyone outside the profession thinks I work, or everyone who reads this has to like it and share it so I can become rich and famous and write full time, or the producers need to give me a bachelor and contestants that I actually care to write about. I admit, motivation has been very low, but I don’t want to finish something that I have started, and I am notoriously close to my century (of overall posts), so I CAN’T STOP NOW. We’re in the home straight. Literally.

So at the start of this episode we’re still in Bimini, and Corinne (who allegedly runs a multi-million-dollar business) is struggling with some simple maths:

Rachel: “So there are four girls left and typically four girls get home town visits.”

Corinne: “But what does it all mean?”

Cue the thunder.  Cue the knocking. Cue Nick.

Corinne: “He has roses, but I can’t count how many.”

And that is because Corinne can’t count beyond three without the help of a nanny.

Anyway, it seems like on Bimini The Bachelor budget only extends so far.  You can have roses, or alcohol, but not both, and since Corinne drank the island dry last week, Nick performs the lamest rose ceremony yet, right there on the couch.  Raven even gets a second rose. Nick suggests it’s in case she changed her mind, but given that there have been two dates AND two women eliminated since Raven’s last date, anyone could be forgiven for thinking that Raven’s rose was given out on an earlier rotation.

So with yet another reminder about his history with Andi and Katelyn, all the girls get a rose and we’re off to the first of the home town dates, and where better to start after the golden beaches of Bimini than the bullfrog infested mudflats of Hoxie, Arkansas.

“It would be the best thing ever to fall in love in Hoxie,” said no-one ever, until Raven uttered those very words.  And why not? Hoxie offers some of the most romantic experiences in the entire world, like mudding, hunting bull frogs and climbing grain bins.

Sign me up for the Valentine’s Tour.

According to Raven, every meaningful conversation in Hoxie is had at the top of a grain silo. Everyone knows this apparently, except the local law enforcement.  No sooner do the pair arrive at the top of the bin, than the cops show up on horse-back…or at least police cars with horses drawn down the side.

grain-bin-cop

“What are you’all doin’ up there?  You’all got any identification?”

Nick is shocked when he discovers that twice being runner-up on The Bachlorette and a favourite on Bachelor in Paradise doesn’t qualify as identification in Hoxie.

But I’m not convinced about this officer.  This all starts more like the script to a strip-o-gram rather than someone protecting the rights of citizens who don’t want by-products of meaningful conversations floating around in the same bowl as their Corn Flakes.  And then, just when he would normally rip off his Velcro police pants and ask Nick to shove a five dollar bill in his G-string, the police officer exposes himself for who he really is:

“Just kiddin’ yer all. I’m Weston Gates.”

ravin-lunatic

Weston Gates.  Not a Hoxie landmark. Just Raven’s brother. Hilarious prank completed, Weston heads back to capture criminals doing whatever criminals do in Hoxie, Arkansas, while Raven introduces Nick to the art of mudding.

nick-quickly-gets-the-hang-of-hoxie-dating-ettiquette
Nick soon gets the hang of Hoxie dating rituals

I have to hand it to Raven.  Her date goes far beyond the usual tour past her elementary school and memorials to long-dead patriots. When she says she’s getting down and dirty, she means it.

getting-down-and-dirty-in-hoxie

And I admit it.  There was actually something a little bit sexy about this date; Hoxie sexy, but sexy none-the-less.

Cleaned up. It’s time to meet the parents.  This has potential to be very, very sad.  Raven’s father has been battling lung cancer for eighteen months, and any stress could push him right over the edge. Apparently all he has been wishing for is to live long enough to see Raven walk down the aisle.

And now I understand the saying “Be careful what you wish for.”

But in some sort of Bachelor miracle, all is good in the Gates house. Weston has arrived as the harbinger of Nick and Raven’s impending arrival and mum Tracy can’t wait to tell Raven her news.  Dad Wesley is cancer-free. Well if THAT date and THIS news don’t equal a ticket into the final three, then I don’t know what does.

Now regular readers of this blog will have picked up that I am Team Raven, especially since that story about vaginas and stilettos to the skull and no-good-cheating-boyfriends. If my fandom of her was not sealed then, it was in this episode in the poignant exchange between father and daughter where she tells him that had things gone wrong with his heath, no man would have taken his place escorting her down the aisle.

“I would walk alone,” she says, tears in her eyes.

raven-and-dad

Please pass a Kleenex –  one injected with aloe vera, of course.  This show is, after all, about red roses, not red noses.

She’s totally got me, and if she wants Nick, she should have him, Goddammit!

This is backed up by the easiest family visit in Bachelor history.  This Gates family is so darned nice!  But at the end of the day, Raven couldn’t tell Nick that she loves him. Please don’t let this be the thing that gets her rejected!

On that note, it’s time to leave Hoxie for the place where long-horns roam under highway overpasses – Dallas, Texas – to visit Rachel.  Now Rachel has already been announced as the new Bachelorette, I have no idea why we are even bothering.

The date Rachel has planned couldn’t be any further removed from the Arkansas experience.  She takes Nick to church; not just a church, but one where the congregation is predominantly black because, you know, Rachel is black, and Nick might not have noticed before.

Now all season Rachel has been going on about her father, some sort of high court judge, and yet, tonight he is a no-show. It’s something about his job commitments, like if he showed his face on The Bachelor it would compromise his position as a judge and he would have to be put into some sort of witness protection program for victims of reality dating programs.

Instead, we will meet the women of the family, because this interracial stuff is a BIG DEAL and these women have their bullshit detectors on and Rachel has never, ever, ever brought a white guy home, and then…

ranga-in-the-room
WTF!

…not only is there a white man with a wedding ring on his finger, but he also appears to be a red-head; about as opposite as black as you can get.

This family is less Good Times and much more Cosby Show – except without the father raping anything that moves behind the scenes. I don’t (and can’t) disagree with them about racism in this day and age, but I’m not entirely sure that this family experiences it as much as some others. Nick is introduced to mum Kathy, cousin Andrea, sisters Heather and Constance, her child Alistair and Constance’s husband Alex, the afore-mentioned red-haired man. So much of Rachel and Nick’s story has been about how her father will react when she brings a white guy home, and it seems it has all been a furphy.

They sit Nick down to a meal, which is more than the Gates’ appeared to offer to them. One of the sisters asks him if he knows what he’s eating.

Clearly this is a trick, but Nick can not only identify the okra, as he can also pick out the macaroni cheese and the bread roll. Wow.  This guy knows his soul food. Having passed that test, Nick is taken into the formal lounge for the grilling.

Constance and Alex host this first interrogation, and in the absence of his father-in-law, Alex is clearly sitting in the big boy chair for the first time ever.  He tries to adopt a ‘man-of-the-house’ persona, but I can’t help but think that family’s racism detectors have turned off their gaydars.  Alex should be on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

alex-in-the-big-mans-chair
Pretty fly for a white guy

“I can’t help but notice that you are white,” says Alex with all the pompousness associated with the chair in which he sits. “Is this the first time for you?”

“No. I’ve been white AND straight all my life,” says Nick.  Or at least he should have.

Then Kathy calls him alone. She says she wants to address the elephant in the room, and Nick squirms and adjusts himself like she knows something and he has had a trouser malfunction. Kathy asks the same questions as Alex.  Nick answers the same way.

Nick is OK. They are always on the lookout for red flags, but Nick is OK. Great. But how does that account for Alex?

No time to dwell on that as we head off to Miami to catch-up with Racquel…I mean Corinne…you know what I mean.

For her date, Corinne decides to take Nick shopping.  Incongruously, they go shopping for winter wear – or is that foreshadowing?

shopping-for-muff
Having worn out her last one, Corinne takes Nick shopping for muff

She spends a ridiculous amount of money, yet ultimately dresses Nick in the same outfit we have seen him in all season, albeit the pants don’t come down to his ankles.

pretty-ho-man
Corinne and Nick rehearse a scene from their upcoming rom-com: ‘Pretty Ho-man’

After a hard morning of shopping, they seek out the food court, and what better place than between a couple of fast food outlets, should you tell your man you love him.

But finally, the time has arrived, where Nick gets to meet…Racquel, and the rest of Corinne’s family.

Daddy, Jim, looks a bit like the love child of Tony Soprano and Jon Lovitz. Mum. Perry, look slike she may once have looked like Corinne, but should have sent off an application for Botched.  There is also a sister, Taylor, who pales into insignificance next to Racquel.

They sit down for dinner:

thank-you-racquel
Perry and Taylor look confused about the absence of cucumber

Afterwards, Nick gets to sit down and have a one-on-one with Racquel.  This is very odd.  After seventeen years, her English is still not that great. But she makes her point.  She lubs Corinne. She lubs her like her own daughter.  And Nick had better lub her too.

Then Jim serves up what looks like two glasses of urine in a couple of fancy schmancy glasses with indents where your thumbs need to go. I suppose such a reminder could come in handy on those rare days that Racquel has off and she’s not there to position your tumbler.

Jim starts off sounding like he’s got a pair of cement shoes in Nick’s size and an unregistered motor boat moored at the back of the condo, but it turns out he’s really a bit of a softy, and the source of Corinne’s uncanny knack for metaphor.

“I like the guy.  He’s the lid to Corinne’s pot.”

Ah yes.  Corinne’s pot.  The one she offered up to Nick last week in the hotel room in Bimini.

All in all the date has gone pretty well, so it’s time to jet off to visit Vanessa.

meanwhile-back-at-the-cond
Meanwhile, life goes on for Racquel…

O.M.G.  Whoever dreamed up this date needs to get the sack.

Vanessa has decided to take Nick to visit her Special Needs class, and no doubt rub it in to the frumpy substitiute teacher who has been filling in for her that she has been swanning all over the country in her quest for eternal love.

This date is awkward on so many levels. Firstly, there is Kevin or Keith or Carey.  I can’t make it out through Nick’s mumbling, but the he is a big, bald guy who knows what a boyfriend is and looks like he wants to eat Nick’s liver and wash it down with a nice chianti and a side of fava beans.

kevin

But then the date gets really creepy when Vanessa forces the class to scrapbook pictures of herself and Nick on all their dates.

sex-in-space

and-your-bikini-shots-bring-strange-stirrings-in-my-pants
…and there is an unusual throbbing in my pants…

These people have special needs, but Vanessa treats them like they are FUCKING IDIOTS.  Justin Trudeau…do something!

the-tshirt-says-it-all
The duck sums up this home town date

Thankfully she dismisses the class before she starts rubbing Nick’s inner thigh and sticking her tongue down his throat, lest it turn into the sex ed lesson from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. I was never much of a fan of Vanessa anyway, but I really have to force myself to watch the rest of this date which is in two parts thanks to her parents’ divorce, but here’s the quick summary:

Nonna’s house. Fifteen assorted relatives. Baby offered up to the ceiling fan in some sort of ritualistic sacrifice.

baby

Overbearing sister. When  are you moving to Montreal, Nick? Montreal.  Shit.  She lives in Montreal. Like, in Canada Montreal. Weird looking brother. Another beige bedroom. Sister looks like Celine Dion. Please don’t start singing the theme from Titanic. Mum reminds Vanessa that Nick’s not from Montreal.

Dad’s house.  New wife. Cheese. Yum.  What do you like about my daughter? Nick struggles not to say boobs.  Sticks to chest area. Says he loves her big heart.  What about the other three girls? Um, yeah.  Will I  have your blessing, Dad? Non, non, non. Fuck you, Nick. I see through your bullshit. Thank you, sir.  OK. You have my blessing.

He asked all the fathers for their blessings, Vanessa. Cry. Rain. Cry. Thunder. Cry. Puddles. Vanessa can’t do this…

Oh good grief.  After the ad break, we’re in New York.  Nick thinks there’s no better place for a rose ceremony, but there’s only five minutes left of the episode and we know there’s not going to be one and I feel sorry for these girls who have been lugging a suitcase full of cocktail frocks all over the United States and its territories when they could have just chucked a bikini in an overnight bag.

Vanessa is still whining and she says she needs to talk to Nick, and there’s a pair of stiletto clad feet walking towards Nick’s door and he responds to the knock and standing in front of him is….Andi. Or Katelyn. Or some other brunette Nick has bedded on television.

Because, you may not know this, but Nick has been on The Bachelorette before…

To be continued….

The Bachelor screens Tuesdays 8:30 pm on 9 Life

Photo credits: Nine Now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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