This week had us heading to the bustling metropolis of Warsaw, Indiana (population: 14,042).
I never understand why some seasons of “The Bachelor” have seemingly unlimited budgets (grand tours of Europe, expensive dates spent dangling from the sides of tall structures) and other seasons seem to be funded directly out of my own checking account. We’ve had too many lackluster dates this season in terribly boring places. In this episode, one date is LITERALLY standing in a field near a barn and flying a kite, then rowing a rickety old pile of firewood around a pond for a couple of laps. If I paid money for this movie, I’d ask for a refund.
Isn’t the whole non-ironic point of “The Bachelor” to be escapist? It’s hard to indulge in the fantasy of finding love in a six-week whirlwind romance when the dates are the kind that I went on in college, where the single goal was: “How can I spend the LEAST amount of money possible and still have a marginally enjoyable time?” Just kidding, I didn’t go on any dates in college.
We’re treated to a montage of Ben driving around his all-American hometown in a vintage red pick-up truck. This is the stuff Ted Cruz’s wet dreams are made of. They act like Ben still lives in Warsaw even though he took the first train outta that one-stoplight town the moment he turned 18.
Remember, the Bachelor always needs a shtick. Chris Soules: Farmer Joe. Juan Pablo: Latin American sex god with the interior of a philandering, middle-aged real estate developer. Ben: 1950s-esque All-American Quarterback from Small Town USA. Basically, Ben grew up tall, and he grew up right, with them Indiana boys on them Indiana nights.
While the ladies wait on a nearby dock, Ben is shown cruising across the lake at a sensible speed in a giant pontoon, like a geriatric James Bond. Caila, who has moved 17 times but apparently never near a lake, attempts to stop the boat with her biceps and is nearly knocked off the dock in the process. We were thisclose to medical attention points.
Lauren B. gets the first frugal date, which consists of Ben driving her ass around town in a pick-up and waving at the people he could not wait to move far, far away from. While riding, he points out his high school and Lauren B. asks him what position he played on the football team. He could NOT contain his smile when he answered, “Quarterback” and I donno, maybe at that moment, I bought into this Small Town USA fantasy too.
Lauren and Ben shoot hoops and play recess games with local chickadees. After they kiss, one kid says to the camera, “Lauren and Ben did the smushy smushy.”
Ronny, the Half-Court King of Warsaw came down from his castle to dunk a half-court shot and the coach LOST HIS MIND. Then Ben, former local quarterback, calls in some favors and the Indiana Pacers come through the door—several men with either the first name or the surname George. Lauren says she can really appreciate the Pacers because she used to play basketball.
Ben and JoJo go to Wrigley Field on the next one-on-one. As a Chicagoan, I’m annoyed that this corn-fed Hoosier boy is claiming WRIGLEY FLIPPIN’ FIELD as part of his “Special Places in his Hometown” Grand Tour. Wrigley is 128 miles from Warsaw.
JoJo is chattering away on the pitcher’s mound. Ben steps up to the plate and is like, “Seriously, just shut up for a second, lady” and he tries to block her from his line of vision. He says this has been a dream of his for 26 years and he wants to pretend she’s not here.
JoJo has potential as the next bachelorette, non? She has a good amount of personality and sass (I think).
Everyone’s pissed on the group date. Caila, Amanda, and Becca accompany Ben to a random field, where the frugal date is: flying a kite. I’d be like, “Seriously, fuck this, I’ll be in the limo scrolling through Instagram if you need me.”
Caila expresses a fear about not having Deep Roots because her family has moved 17 (!!!) times throughout her life. She makes a weird metaphor about being a moss who wants to find a tree to stick to? She’s just a moss-girl, standing in front of a tree-man, asking him to let her grow on him.
Becca isn’t really digging the show anymore. She liked it better when Farmer Chris was basically begging her to love him. She asks Ben not to blindside her. Spoiler alert: Ben blindsides her.
The group date rose goes to Amanda so she is rewarded with extra one-on-one time. She can barely conceal her disappointment when the evening’s date is revealed to be…SERVING MCDONALD’S IN A DRIVE-THRU. It’s such a thinly veiled promotion for McDonald’s new all-day breakfast menu. Here’s your future in Warsaw, Amanda: being the prettiest girl at the drive-thru window. I feel like The Bachelor really sold its soul down the river for this product placement.
Amanda and Ben then stroll through a carnival, which has since been ruined for me because I read an article that stated the Bach producers set the carnival up solely for the show. They apparently charged these townies $25 a pop to get in and ogle at the mere presence of two people who have lived outside of Warsaw, Indiana.
The last one-on-one date goes to Emily, and their cheap-ass date is literally just meeting Ben’s parents, which is next door to where the girls are staying. Because yeah, the girl you want to bring home to meet Ma and Pa is the 23-year-old aspiring NFL cheerleader/identical twin from Las Vegas. Ill-advised, Benjamin. Mrs. Higgins actually wept at the prospect of Emily becoming her daughter-in-law.
When Ben lets Emily go, all the girls burst into tears on the couch, hugging her and crying together. Clearly she was a house favorite. She certainly seems like the funnest girl on your dorm floor. Probably not ready to enter a legally binding lifelong contract, though.
In the end, we say goodbye to Becca too. Better luck next season, Becs.