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Despite Never Actually Getting to Go Home, this ‘Bachelorette’ Season’s Hometowns were the Best Ever

If you’ve ever doubted the validity of the saying “home is where the heart is,” it’s time to watch this Bachelorette season’s hometown dates and think again. Because somehow, without leaving Palm Springs, Tayshia’s final four delivered four flawless dates. 

What made this round so satisfying?

Creativity over fluff

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Nothing will ever top Corinne Olympios forcing the bachelor to trail her through high-end clothing stores in Miami, but a fake bagel stand was honestly a close second. Tayshia played makeshift carnival games with Brenden, hailed a cardboard cab with Zac, learned to cook lumpia with Ivan, and roller-bladed down “Venice Beach” with Ben. 

Without the luxury of wandering around their actual hometowns in person, the men each had to think more seriously about what their hometowns meant to them, and how they might bring that meaning to life from afar. Doing so undoubtedly brought the Bachelorette PAs some grief, but the result was a look into how each finalist thinks about where he’s from, how it’s shaped him, and what life after the show could look like.

Families you’d actually want to meet

Hometown dates can, understandably, come with a lot of cringe-worthy moments. There’s nothing quite like having your previously MIA son show up at your house with a woman you know nothing about and a camera crew in tow. Add the fact that she’s dating three other guys, et voilà! You’ve won the most uncomfortable dinner of all time. But even Zac’s father, who expressed his misgivings through the ol’ “I’m from a small town” speech, seemed charmed by Tayshia, and he fully bought into the whole idea by the end.

In some ways, the Palm Springs location put the families on even ground. There was no fussing over presenting a perfect home and a perfect family — just the people who meant the most. Plus, kids! Even someone like me, who’s rarely moved by the sight of a miniature human, couldn’t help but let slip an “aww” or two at the various nieces who showed up to prove to our bachelorette that her men were dad material. Ivan’s niece (who he introduced as “one of the best Filipina cooks in the world”) taught them to cook via video, while Brenden’s niece appeared in person to play games and show off their secret handshake.

We also got the bonus, heartwarming surprise arrival of Ivan’s brother Gabe, who Ivan spoke at length about earlier in the season, and whose daughter he treats like his own. In the end, tears were shed, Tayshia weirdly matched everyone’s mothers, and everyone agreed that they hadn’t seen their sons and/or relatives this happy in a long time. 

No distractions

[bf_image id="wsfwwf3tt3ftp5fxgrtggt5w"] Perhaps the best part of this year’s hometowns was also the reason this season (post-Clare) has been such a standout: they had substance. Unlike Bachelor Nation’s last visit home, this week featured no agonizing over the lead’s willingness to stay celibate (cough, Madi) or petty fights that cut the date short (lookin’ at you, Victoria F.). 

Instead, Tayshia continued to have sincere conversations and genuine fun with her top men and their families. So do we have the setting or the casting to thank? Maybe it's a little of each.

It’s as true this upcoming week as it was for the last: Tayshia has a tough choice ahead of her, but it’s hard to see how she could make the wrong one.

Zoë Randolph

UC Berkeley '15

Since graduating, Zoë's served as a content marketer for non-profits and tech startups. She worked remotely and traveled the world full-time with her fiancé before becoming a freelance writer and settling (at least for now) in Montréal, Quebec. She likes reading good books, learning new things, and watching Real Housewives argue on TV. You can keep up with her writing over at zoerandolph.com.
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