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Desiree Hartsock, man. As many friends have pointed out to me, she just can't hide how much she hates this experience. Her face is a permeable membrane through which her emotions bleed like blue ink on white linen, making her every expression a Rorschach test that can only be read one way: “Get me out of here.”  She can’t contain the horror of this "journey," and it’s made this season interestingly intense. 

For a fabulously beautiful woman, Desiree is incredibly insecure, so she seems to genuinely appreciates the dopes foisted on her by ABC, writing them poems back, appearing truly moved when they praise her, etc. Maybe the tenderness comes from years with her brother, who might be openly hostile and controlling but who also might be the realest person ever allowed on camera during this series.

Regardless, hometowns was an emotional MASSACRE. What else could it ever be?  If you invite the ABC vampire in, don’t complain when it drains all the blood from your heart. I agree with Desiree’s elimination choice this episode. She made the right call, “almost-priest” is not a good look. But let’s examine the hand of cards she was dealt, from which she exorcised the joker.


1. Zak the Almost-Priest

In what would prove to be a bit of a trend for the evening, Zak put Desiree through a bit of a test after all the coy judgement he’d endured on dates: He made her hand out Sno-Cones as fast as possible to a gaggle of screaming elementary school kids. He also appeared romping around in a penguin suit. Then he took her home to his family, who had a lot of cool children’s art framed and seemed relieved to learn that their very manic son had a normal lady attached to him in some way for presumably the first time in his life, as he would later confess that he’d “been alone too long.” Maybe this explains him playing the “abs” card for his first impression way back in week one. Zak's family seemed horrified that he had shown up at the first cocktail party sans shirt, his brother looked like bugs were crawling over him as he grimaced and said “Oh, you were that guy.” Still, nice family, nice harmonizing. Just… I think Desiree was right to say goodbye to Zak. He was too performative and manic. There’s deep sorrow behind those unblinking eyes, and until he analyzes what that is… maybe he needs this alone time. He’ll age well. No worries, Zak. See you on Bachelor Pad.


2. Drew of the Sad Eyes and Wet-Look Hair

Drew looks like a fairy-tale Prince, but he needs to cool it with the hair gel. Who told him the wet look was okay? Dude, a thick veil of history hangs betwixt us and 1998, so I don’t know how that 'do originated, but it’s time to get it stopped. Anyhoo, Drew’s dad has a flair for the dramatic, pulling Desiree aside and asking if she’d ever met an angel, and telling Drew that if he married Desiree he’d “throw a party.” Some people just know how to work this format. Maybe he’s been watching The Bachelor/ette ten years strong, like moi, and this was the tearful-yet-soundbyte-short speech he always wanted to give? Also, seriously, Drew was really proud and protective of his specially abled sister, and that’s, no lie, a panty-dropper. I’ve said my piece about your hair, Drew, but everything else about you is pretty cool.


3. Chris Who Made Des Put Her Neck on the Line


OMG, a chiropractor dad who knows a free commercial opportunity when he sees it! I appreciate the kind of hustle that makes you use a ridiculous segment on a reality show to advertise your garage-basement chiropractic service on national TV, but I wouldn’t let someone I’d known for 20 years adjust my neck—people have DIED THAT WAY—let alone someone I’d known for five minutes. Desiree took several scary-looking neck tweaks like a champ because she is not here to hurt people's feelings. And then Chris’s mother was awesome. Most memorable mom of the night. Her voice was as soft as a spider’s web brushing on a dewdrop and she was unrepentantly drunk. It’s not against the law that mom was drunk, I was really feeling her teary toasts and vague wedding blessings. Also, it looked like they needed to mow their table, one too many springs of greenery. To his credit, Chris didn’t challenge Des to a Sno-Cone apprenticeship, but he did take her to a baseball diamond. If a man pulled that on me I’d be gone so fast. “Burning scent of rubber soles in the air” gone.  Des was a good sport about it, and because she’s incredibly insecure for unknown reasons (GREW UP POOR) she even went so far as to present Chris with drawings of their time together. And so far as her drawing prowess goes, I think in another 50 years she could be the next Grandma Moses.


4. Brooks and His GAAAAMS 


All I could think about Brooks was, boy’s got STEMS. Man’s got PINS. Guy’s got LEGS. Papi’s legs are Rockette-long. Also he didn’t put Des to the test even remotely. He got her butt wet in the canoe, but that wasn’t on purpose, so points to him for not trying to make her squirm. His mom was wearing a 12-pound necklace and that made me worried for posture. Like 97 percent of Americans, my back is nearly broken from serving the man, and all I could think was, why do you need 1,200 glass beads all over your collarbones? Didn’t she look like she was STRAINING under the weight of that necklace? Also when Brooks asked his lookalike sister how she knew that her husband was the one, she rattled off a series of criteria that NO couple who’s only seen each other off and on for six weeks could meet. I think their whole conversation boiled down to him being like, “I don’t know if this is my one, sis” and her being like, “I know, and the answer is she isn’t. She cannot join our pack. Use your long legs to search the world for another mate.” Otherwise Brooks' family seemed great. He had at least 17 brothers, and that comes in handy when you move.


Hometown dates represent a crucifixion of the soul that Desiree knows only too well, as she herself was dismissed by Sean after hometowns. At least she could (and did) blame her brother, and wasn’t left to continually reconfigure what socioeconomic, maternal body shape, manners/family chemistry had chased her intended away, as almost every other contestant who exits the show during this heinous round has. If the world was more kind, two people would be let go after hometowns, because this idea of sort of family-based rejection is really horrible. If someone cut me loose after meeting my family, I’d be incensed. It takes the rejection to a mindf-ck level that is appropriate for neither primetime nor civilized society.

With all that said, at least Desiree gave Zak his ring back, although him throwing it out the window is a ridiculous response to that sort of reasonableness. Zak: It’s okay. It wasn’t your family, they were great, I could have called you being Des's fourth-favorite last week, and that is also okay.  Take some breaths. I got no doubt you can still find the partner of your dreams, or get a gig on Bachelor Pad.


Finally: The produceres have been insinuating a LOT about the finale in recent promos, namely that Desiree pulls the plug on the franchise and asks to go home. If that comes to pass, The Bachelor will have a programming block as long as Avatar to fill with who knows what, pre-paid by advertising. I look forward to a very interesting finish to this season.


QUESTIONS:

... Final two: call ‘em!

... Are hometowns vicious and hateful/psychologically damaging?

... Is Desiree trapped in a living nightmare?

... Chiropractors: miracle workers or charlatans?

... Would you/could you be a Bachelor/ette? Or does it just seem too damn hard these days?

... If Desiree ends the season without a proposal, does that make her a feminist icon or a future plaintiff in a contractual lawsuit by ABC?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 7/7/2014

Season 10 : Episode 8

Next Episode

AIRS ON 7/14/2014

Season 10 : Episode 9

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