It turns out, Ben Higgins actually can be endearing every now and then. Apparently, it just takes a trip back to his hometown to pry out the likeable qualities.
Most of this week’s episode of The Bachelor was stale. Ben brought the ladies back to Warsaw, Indiana, were he grew up. Three of them got to go on one-on-one dates, while the other three were relegated to a grouper. (The date format, not the horrific looking fish. Plus, I got to crack inappropriate and off-color holocaust jokes (the last time there were this many white kids in a town called Warsaw…) all night.
But before we get to our weekly breakdown of the ladies’ performances, let’s focus for a moment on Ben’s home, and hometown. For one, we now know why Jubilee never stood a chance; there seems to be some rule against black people living in Warsaw. I counted one on screen all episode (a kid at the local rec center) and then looked up the most recent census data — as of 2010, nearly 90 percent of the town’s residents were white. All those times Ben told us that he was “intrigued” by Jubilee, well, now we know why.
Other thing we learned about Warsaw: it’s home to the world’s first orthotics manufacturer. No joke there, that’s just a true statement.
— Bachelor GIFs (@BachGIFs) February 16, 2016
We also got to spend some more time with Ben’s parents this week, who received a detailed scouting report on each remaining contestant from their son. I think he led more than half of them with some looks-related compliment, but, yeah, he’s here purely for love. We’ll touch more on the elder Higginses in a bit, but for the record I was turned off the second I saw them get up from their seats at the grubby-looking small town diner without even ordering a cup of coffee or a plate of eggs. That tells me all I need to know about them. Then again, the fact that I had to listen to my wife repeatedly mention how good looking Ben’s father is might have made me bitter.
Overall the episode started slow but ended with a bang. Below are the power rankings for the remaining ladies (with last week’s ranking in parenthesis).
• Emily (6): We all had a feeling she was going to be the next one sent home. But no one could have foreseen this dreadful of a performance. Emily was Ben’s third one-on-one date of the week, and was given the honor of being brought back to his childhood home and meeting his parents. Why he thought she was worthy of this is unclear. All we know is that he was impressed with how she supposedly matured in the month or so since undercutting her twin sister on the show. Not once have we seen this maturity manifest itself, nor do I believe that a person can fundamentally change who they are over a two-week span. But Ben seemed pretty overtaken by it.
And so he decided to introduce her to his parents. It went about as well as any Bachelor viewer would have guessed. “If I could sit around and watch movies all day long I would,” she said during a private conversation with Ben’s father. That, I believe, was after she told his mother that her dream job is to be an NFL cheerleader and before she told both his parents that she just loves ducks. Watching Ben’s mother try to come up with compliments to relay to Ben while debriefing him on her chat with Emily was the most entertaining moment of the episode.
Emily seems like a sweet girl. But she never stood a shot. Why Ben had to dump her in front of the rest of the house, though, I’ll never understand.
• Becca (1): First off, I need to take umbrage with something Becca said to the cameras early on: “I need more validation and reassurance.” Girl, you were No. 1 last week in these rankings, what more do you need? As for her Week 7 performance, well, suffice to say I found Ben’s decision to send her home a bit surprising. I thought Caila’s time had come. Becca didn’t do anything wrong this week, but the competition is now getting fierce and she didn’t do anything to separate herself from the pack this week, either. That, apparently, was all it took to create some questions within Ben, which, apparently, is all Ben needed in order to reject the Chris Harrison life vest — the offer to keep both Becca and Caila on the show — and send Becca home.
I do, however, believe that the answer to the question posed below is yes.
— Bachelor GIFs (@BachGIFs) February 16, 2016
1. Lauren B. (2): Leah tried messing with Lauren B last week by telling Ben that Lauren B was kind of a bitch to the rest of the girls. It was an unfounded accusation, but one that got into Ben’s head nonetheless. So, how did Higgins respond this week? By giving Lauren B. the first one-on-one of the week and bringing her to the local rec center where he grew up playing ball. That’s where we learned, among other things (such as Ben not being very good at giving motivational speeches), that Lauren B can flat out ball.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 16, 2016
After about 30 minutes of messing around, Lauren B. and “the kids” were treated to three special guests: Indiana Pacers star Paul George, guard George Hill and head coach Frank Vogel showed up. George seemed ecstatic to be there.
Yo @Yg_Trece and George Hill in the house!
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 16, 2016
Not so sure the Bachelor’s fans would be thrilled to have George crash their weekly gush fest if they were familiar with some of his history, but I don’t make the rules here. In any event, George and the Pacers proceed to lead the kids through some basketball drills. One nerd, for some reason, began to cry. I’m convinced he was a well-planted prop. Two minutes later Higgins was with him, being Super Counselor and impressing Lauren B. by getting the kid back onto the floor. That’s great and all, but if he was really so amazing with kids he never would have allowed the cameras to catch the moment in the first place. (Ed note: the cameras catch everything…)
For the nighttime portion of the date Ben took Lauren B. back to his place. Software sales seem to be going mighty well! They spoke for a few minutes and then Ben hit her with his token, “so tell me about your thoughts on this day.” They cleared the air about all that Leah nonsense. She said I love you. They kissed some more. He probably took a cold shower later on. And they all lived happily ever after.
2. JoJo (5): Date No. 2 for Ben, only she had to sit in a two-and-a-half-hour car ride to get there, with “there” being Chicago, specifically Wrigley Field. That it took JoJo a long time to figure out that the Windy City being mentioned on her date card meant that she was going to Chicago is a bit disheartening, but hey, they can’t be perfect in every area, am I right?
As for the date itself: it included some baseball in Wrigley Field, some opening up while eating dinner on the outfield grass, some hands on Ben’s ass. All in all, a pretty typical Bachelor day. We even had a token psychological reversal. At one point JoJo admitted to Ben that she’s scared to open herself up to a serious relationship. Ben then responded, as Ben tends to, by telling her she shouldn’t be. One minute later JoJo was proclaiming to the cameras that she was cured.
Seems like a real complex creature, this one.
3. Caila (3): Sometimes being adaptable can be a good thing for a relationship. For example, if a husband tells his wife that he doesn’t mind picking the kids up after school, that’s a positive trait.
Other times, however, it’s nice to show some principles. For example, when a man you’re trying to impress, one who just learned that you had like 243 different homes before college, asks if you think you’d be happy staying in one town for a long time, answering him by saying “I’m adaptable,” isn’t a good thing. This was the second straight week where we saw Caila blow her one-on-one time with Ben. This time it came during the group date, and this horrid performance almost got her sent home. At one point Ben almost asked Caila if she’s stable. I think he should have. She might have said, No.
4. Amanda (4): She seemingly remembered this week that she’s a mother of two, which is a good thing. For the kids, I mean. Amanda won the group date, and so got to spend the evening alone with Ben. The two spent a nice night at a carnival and kissed and yada yada yada. My issue with the whole thing was that bullshit, obviously paid for, McDonalds trip. Listen, Bachelor producers, you can’t claim to be the show about true love and the shove product placement into the middle of dates. And even more infuriating: at least try to cover it up a bit more. (Ed note: we think he’s just riffing here. Nobody can be actually this mad, right?) We’ve all seen this commercial:
— Chris Soules (@souleschris) February 16, 2016
We all know the Golden Arches and The Bachelor have some deal going on. And we all know that no one likes eating McDonalds’ breakfast for dinner, no matter how many promotional tweets you post about it. (Ed note: not actually mad, right? Right?!?)
— The Bachelor (@BachelorABC) February 16, 2016
What’s next? A trip to the Apple Store where JoJo tells how us that her night spent learning code was the greatest date she ever had? Or perhaps Ben and Amanda deliver Jared’s special Subway subs to kids at a local park. The point is: cut the shit. If we wanted to watch a bunch of sponsored fake dates we’d tune into an episode of Entourage. (Ed note: I have no idea. Maybe he’s actually mad.)
Lines of the Night:
1. “I’ve always wanted to get the behind the counter of a McDonalds.”—Ben
This is what I’m talking about. They’re not even trying to fool us.
2. “I dreamed of being an NFL cheerleader for as long as I can remember.”— Emily
As Tay Tay said at the Grammys on Monday night, never give up on your dream.
3. “Emily has just become a whole new person since Haley left. I’ve seen a whole new side of her.”— Ben
This was uttered in about 43 different instances Monday night. It sounded even dumber each subsequent time.