Welcome back to The Bachelorette, the only show that makes you feel like climate change might be a good thing.
This week, Rachel has the great honor of meeting all four of her boyfriends' families, including the converted kundalini yogi father of her 25-year-old start-up recruiting boyfriend, Dean.
In fact, Dean's family situation was so bonkers that I'm going to break the sacred code of recap chronology and start with him because I'm all too aware that the modern human brain can only digest up to 500 words at a time and media consumers only scroll about a quarter of the way down any page not filled with pictures of goats.
We don't know much about Dean's father before touching down in Colorado with the cameras besides the fact he wasn't there for Dean emotionally after his mother passed away.
What we find out pretty quickly is that Dean's father is the main character of a decent short story written by a young female writer with promise: that of a grieving widower who seeks to selfishly heal his pain with a newfound spirituality, sacrificing the love of his children in the process.
To hear Dean speak of and interact with his father is to witness the Apple cringe emoji spring to life. Poor Dean doesn't have the proper composition to adequately deal with this kind of family dynamic.
Dean's pain, of course, is two-fold. He's embarrassed — it's deeply, deeply embarrassing! — but he's also a human child who needs and wants his father to express love. And Dean’s dad is not fulfilling that desire. Take, for example, this actual conversation they had about Dean’s journey to find love.
PARUMRUP: I’m glad you’re doing what you love to do.
DEAN: What’s that, Dad? What do I love to do?
PARUMRUP: Hang out with a beautiful woman.
UH WOW DAD. WAY TO MISS THE MARK. DEAN IS ACTUALLY ON A JOURNEY TO FIND LOVE, YOU ASSHOLE.
Look, I love Bachelorette parents who refuse to honor the show’s bottom line as much as the next person, but coming from Dean’s father, it just sounds kind of callous.
As the gifted child of two parents who took my kindergarten state test scores very seriously, I could never understand what it's like to have a parent who wouldn't immediately change all their plans to go get ice cream with you.
And frankly, I wouldn't WANT to understand it.
Anyway, Dean's father's chosen name is Parumrup, which means "divinely beautiful." Dean's father chose it for himself. Dean's father seems like a massive, massive dick.
Dean’s siblings are a veritable grab bag of “hot or not.” Growing up, I’m pretty sure my sister and I both thought we were “the hot sister.” This is an extremely healthy way to raise two young girls, and I feel privileged every day that this is how I grew up. Now that I’m older, I understand that my sister and I appeal to totally different aesthetic sensibilities. I’m an Anna Kendrick type, she’s a Jenna Jameson type.
DIFFERENT BUT EQUAL.
I’m not sure Dean’s siblings were able to lean in to this kind of diplomacy unless they were straight up lying to themselves.
Back to chronology.
Let's talk about Eric from Baltimore.
A few facts about Eric from Baltimore for those of us who are just tuning in: he looks good in clothes. Most of the men in his family turned to the streets to make cash (and were very successful, according to Eric, in those street endeavors, which was an endearing aside). His Aunt Verna is a HOOT.
Baltimore sounds like a tough place to grow up — or, at least, Eric's Baltimore does — and Eric sounds like he had to be strong, smart, and narrowly focused to achieve the success he has.
And, again: his aunt Verna is just about the most delightful person on television.
Eric has the kind of family made for The Bachelor/ette franchise. Big, raucous, warm, lots of love, but also just enough light wounds that will elicit tears when re-opened. Eric has a moment with his Papa, a moment with his Mama, and Rachel has a special moment with Aunt Verna. It's a bevy of special moments, including one on the basketball court with Eric's cousin Ralph.
COOL NEXT UP: WELCOME TO MIAMI (Bienvenidos a Miami).
Miami is cool guy Bryan's hometown. Bryan speaks a lot of Spanish and does a lot of salsa dancing and Rachel, probably, does a bunch of underwear changes. Spanish and salsa is practically cheating on this show. We get it — Bryan is highly bangable. He's like a bangable wind-up doll that comes with 1,000 pre-programmed phrases like "Your eyes are the skies of my ocean" and "Tus ojos son los cielos de mi océano".
Before arriving in Miami, we still have no conception of who Bryan actually is past the terrifying synthetic version of a hyper desirable man. After arriving in Miami, we are given some hints.
Bryan is what we call "a Mama's boy," which is to say there is some weird, psychosexual tension between him and the woman who birthed him. His mother is OBSESSED with him. She's the kind of mama who makes jokes about killing his girlfriend without really laughing about it.
I don't trust Bryan. He has all the trappings of a sociopath but for some reason, I guess Rachel is into that. She liked Nick Viall, after all.
Anyway, Bryan's mom seems fine with Rachel, as long as Rachel doesn't hurt her son, in which case Bryan's mom will kill her.
Peter, the man you could most readily picture existing outside of a Bachelorette fantasy world, is from Madison, Wisconsin. Last time we saw Peter, he was riding on a sled dog sleigh with Rachel as one of the dogs pooped mid-run. Today, we are meeting his friends.
After walking Rachel through the streets of Madison and lying to her about going to art museums every weekend, Peter and Rachel meet up with Peter's friends at a bar. It is immediately apparent that Peter is the hot one out of his group of friends. The motley crew has the aesthetic vibe of a bunch of theater kids who joined forces with the Dungeons & Dragons kids to create one unstoppable force. They seem nice though. And they're like "Rachel's fine." So that's good.
Then they meet his mom, who has a very severe haircut. His mom tells Rachel that Peter might not be ready to propose after spending only 25 hours with her, and that concerns Rachel. So then Peter is forced to talk about his "walls" and how he's struggling to make them come down, as if my parents didn't date each other for twelve years before finally deciding to wed.
Life is hard when you’re a physically desirable young man trying to decide whether the money you’ll make from Instagram sponsors that comes with proposing to the beautiful woman you've known for two months is worth the loss of your freedom. I GET IT, PETER.
At the end of the week, in the cruelest twist yet, Rachel decides she is not about to marry into Dean’s unorthodox family and sends him home.
Where is home for Dean??? That part’s not entirely clear but he knows he can crash in my bed until he figures it out for himself.
Join me next week to find out if Bryan is actually just a doll inside another doll inside another doll.