This week on "The Bachelor," we’ve made it to hometown date week with the four remaining women hoping for a Neil Lane diamond from a man they’ve known for a month and a half. Amanda, the mom from Orange County; JoJo, who showed up on the first night wearing a unicorn mask; Caila, who should just spell her name Kayla like a normal person; and Lauren B., the flight attendant with airport jokes, all get to introduce Ben to their families and where they grew up.
HOMETOWN DATE ONE: AMANDA
Ben and Amanda greet each other on the beach because Amanda lives in Orange County. We learn that Amanda hasn’t seen her two daughters since being home, meaning that the first time these children will see their mom after a month away will be when she introduces them to Ben, a man she’s dating along with three other women on national television. That’s how this stuff goes, right?
The only thing that I can pay attention to is that Amanda is wearing a shirt she is having a hard time keeping on her body. A woman who I’m pretty sure is Kourtney Kardashian delivers Amanda’s two daughters to her and Ben and I’m still distracted that Amanda's trying so hard to keep her top on.
While Amanda, the mom from Orange County, adjusts her shirt that won’t stay on, Ben plays in the sand with the two children he’s just met. After that’s grown tired, they decide to drive to Amanda’s home to meet the rest of her family. While Amanda drives Ben and her children in her obvious SUV, one of the children screams the entire time — and at 10 minutes into the show, I’m certain Ben is sending Amanda home tonight. I’ve been on dates in restaurants with screaming kids who didn’t belong to either me or my date and wanted to send the date home, so I can’t imagine how Ben feels right now.
After greeting Amanda’s parents and sister, Ben helps Amanda put the screaming child down for a nap. When they leave the baby screaming in her bed-thing, Ben's face confirms he shares my sentiments about screaming children.
Both Amanda and Ben spend time with each of Amanda’s parents, and all I hear is Amanda saying “like” 197 times.
The hometown date ends with Ben and Amanda getting her children ready for bed. Ben reads them the “Story of Ben and Mommy’s” relationship, which entails, “Once upon a time in Los Angeles, Ben met Mommy,” because that’s the actual entirety of their story.
They say their goodbyes and Amanda doesn’t tell Ben she loves him. Ben is 0-for-1.
HOMETOWN DATE TWO: LAUREN B.
Next we head to Portland, where Lauren B., the flight attendant with airport jokes, greets Ben wearing a flannel — because Portland.
Lauren proves that women are better at planning dates than men by taking him to Pioneer Square and the “Keep Portland Weird” sign before they make their way to Portland’s famous food truck row where they “food truck hop” validating all of the stereotypes about Portland, ever.
They feed each other grilled cheese from said food trucks. If I ever move again, it will be to Portland.
After lunch, she takes him to a whiskey library, and like I said, women are so much better at planning dates than men.
Lauren reiterates numerous times that she’s in love with Ben but doesn’t want to tell him until he meets her family.
When they arrive at her childhood home, we learn that Lauren’s family calls her “LoLo,” and since Ben is 26, I bet he’s now thinking of what a threesome with LoLo and JoJo would be like.
Throughout the conversations between Ben and Lauren’s family members, Ben confesses several things like, “I can’t put words to it [his feelings for Lauren], I’m just very lucky” and “When I saw her for the first time, the world stopped,” while not so successfully fighting back tears.
Lauren shares with her mother, “I was meant to meet Ben. I’m definitely in love with him 100 percent” so basically, Lauren is one of the two women Ben has fallen in love with this season.
As the date ends and they say their goodbyes, Lauren doesn’t tell him she loves him and regrets it. Ben is now 0-for-2 tonight.
HOMETOWN DATE THREE: CAILA
Somewhere in Ohio, Caila, who should just spell her name Kayla like a normal person, takes Ben to a bench that she’s always dreamed of taking a boy to, which is confusing to me because my dreams about what I’d like to do with men I’m falling in love with are much different than sitting on a bench.
After her bench dreams have come true, Caila takes Ben to the toy-making factory that her dad is the CEO of and suggests they design a toy house together. I guess if you don’t feel like you have a hometown, you make one of your own.
Also, to reiterate, women are much better at planning dates then men.
When they get to Caila’s parents’ house, the only thing I can pay attention to is that Caila’s mom has adult braces. If you know anything about me, you know that I am fascinated by adult braces, so I am completely distracted.
As they sit down for a Filipino-themed meal, Caila’s mom, who is Filipino and also has adult braces, asks Ben, “Have you ever met Filipinos before?” before taking a drink of her ice cube-filled white wine — and I hope Caila’s mom is the next Bachelorette.
Through the conversations with Caila’s parents we learn that Caila, who should just spell her name Kayla like a normal person, is the most pragmatic contestant to ever compete on this show. She also calls her parents “Mommy” and “Daddy,” confirming again how young these kids are.
Caila’s mom, my new hero, uses everything Caila has told her about her relationship with Ben to ensure Ben that Caila is in love with him, because Caila can’t do it herself.
As the third hometown date ends, Caila doesn’t tell Ben she loves him. He’s now 0-for-3.
HOMETOWN DATE FOUR: JOJO
When we get to Dallas, JoJo, who stepped out the limo on the first night wearing a unicorn mask, arrives to the front door of what I presume is her home and finds two dozen roses on the porch. Assuming they’re from Ben, she is elated and sits on the couch to read the accompanying note. However, a few paragraphs in, she realizes they're not from Ben, but an ex.
She becomes upset by this and, through tears, decides to call said ex. As they fight on the phone, I feel just as annoyed as I do when people talk on their phones in the aisle at the grocery store when I’m trying to buy booze.
After this fight with her ex, Ben arrives and JoJo greets him with tears. When he asks her why she is upset, she shares with him that the ex-boyfriend had left the flowers and a note.
Ben tells us that he is really uncomfortable with this, but little does he know, his night is about to get increasingly worse.
JoJo goes on to say that on the phone she let the ex know she was over him and what is important to her now is how she feels for Ben.
Ben tells her that he wishes he could have been there next to her while she had to make that tough call, and I honestly cannot think of anything worse than fighting with an ex while a new fling was sitting next to me. But I’m not 26.
When they get to JoJo’s parents' house, her brothers shout her name really loudly and then kiss her all over her face and mouth. I’m close with my family, but if my brother ever tried to mouth-kiss me, I’d emancipate myself. Can you do that when you’re in your 30s?
After all of that bizarreness, it’s made apparent that JoJo’s mother has had more work done than anyone I’ve ever seen. And I live in Beverly Hills.
Basically what happens during the night is that the true colors of JoJo’s family shine brightly. One of her brothers is a former contestant on a reality show called “Ready for Love” and is clearly still craving his five minutes of fame because he continues to say things like, “We’re really, really, really attached to Joelle so you need to tell us if she is gonna get hurt or if she is gonna get happy,” which validates how put together his life is because neither that sentence, nor the show he was on, makes sense.
JoJo’s sister asks Ben the ever-telling question, “Where do you see yourself in a couple of years?” and the mother who has had a lot of work done tells JoJo, “You’re not going to get hurt, you’re beautiful,” because it’s clear what is important to her and her plastic surgeon.
After JoJo’s mom sheds that gem of advice, they kiss on the mouth and I Google emancipation.
After all of these strange conversations, Ben heads back to the kitchen to regroup with JoJo’s family, without her, and says, “There’s a lot of noise in here,” which makes me laugh out loud for the first time all night. All season, really.
The weird drama doesn’t end, as JoJo’s brother continues to interrogate Ben and, at the same time, search for five more minutes of TV fame. While this is going on, JoJo’s mom picks up a bottle of Veuve Champagne and chugs straight from the bottle. She has got to be from Beverly Hills.
As Ben and JoJo say their goodbyes, JoJo does not tell him she loves him and Ben is 0-for-4. I’ve been watching “The Bachelor” franchise for 31 seasons (sadly) and this has never happened. Is Ben really “unlovable”?
Back at the mansion in LA, the four women arrive individually, and Ben offers the three final roses to Lauren, Caila and JoJo — meaning Amanda, the mom from Orange County, is headed home.
Ben walks Amanda out to say goodbye and when Amanda leaves, he cries because he is grateful she allowed him to meet her children. I know women say they want to date the “nice guy” but come on, dude. If chicks can’t fake things, dudes shouldn’t be able to either.
Amanda, the mom from Orange County.
FINAL TWO PREDICTIONS
Lauren B., because airport jokes.
Caila, who should just spell her name Kayla like a normal person, because she feels like Ben’s type to me. Since I know him so well and all.
LINE OF THE NIGHT
“How does it feel to be a part of what I call ‘microwave fame'?" — Caila’s dad to Ben.
As always, let me know what you think on Twitter @abbydraper. See you next week!