It feels like just yesterday we sent Dallas woman Rachel Lindsay off on her journey to find love on reality TV series The Bachelorette. Alas, she has almost made it — but not before her toughest decision yet.
Monday night, Lindsay took four trips to her final four contenders' hometowns to meet their families and, ya know, see if this whole marriage thing could really work. Avid watchers know this can be a make-or-break moment in any reality television couple's journey — it's the closest inkling of real life each gets before they have to enter the dreaded post-show world most of us call, ehem, reality.
Rachel said she was hoping for clarity on what to do, but "the only clarity I'm getting is that I really, really have feelings for four men."
So, which hopefuls' families thrived and which lead to a dead end? Here are Rachel's hometown dates ranked by hot messiness, including pictures of her smooching on each one.
Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
I previously called Eric Bigger the surprise of this season. Even though he hasn't traditionally been a frontrunner, he could have sealed the deal with his hometown date.
Rachel met several of his exuberant family members, who cheered like a pep squad on any given occasion. For instance, when the couple walked in the door and after a toast. The personal trainer's family simply exuded positivity, which wasn't what Rachel expected considering the environment he grew up in — "the streets" is how Eric most commonly described it. The bachelorette felt right at home the moment she walked in the door.
After the date, Eric was too shy to drop the "L" word, instead opting for an "I really care about you." But no matter — he effortlessly glided into the top three.
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
Bienvenido a Miami!
This season's token playboy, Bryan, welcomed Rachel to the beautiful sand beaches and cultural epicenter that is Maimi to meet his family. But there was something of a dark cloud over the experience: As Bryan tells it, his last relationship ended because his girlfriend couldn't get along with his mother. Red flag?
Despite the (totally misleading) previews, Bryan's family took to Rachel like peanut butter to jelly. The only reason this date, which included a day's worth of eating local food and playing dominoes, comes in second place is because Bryan's mother dropped a casual "I will kill you" if things don't work out. Ha ... ha?
Bryan ended the date with a solid profession of his love for Rachel, which guaranteed he advanced to the next round. His was the first name she called during the rose ceremony, hosted at Dallas' Hilton Anatole hotel.
Hometown: Madison, Wis.
Peter is the equivalent of last season's Vanessa: beautiful, talented and totally naive to the point of this show.
He invited Rachel to his hometown in the Midwest, where the couple perused the farmers market and met several of his friends at a local bar before heading home to meet the fam. Rachel passed the friend test and the family test — yet somehow Peter still may not be ready. Even his mother admitted that while he is down for a commitment, that may not mean a diamond ring. (Thanks, mom.)
Ultimately, Peter left Rachel in limbo. Walking her out, he admitted he's "just not there yet."
Hometown: Aspen, Colo.
Dean, Dean, poor Dean. There could not have been more pressure on this hometown date.
Recap: The 26-year-old lost his mother to breast cancer when he was a teenager. As Dean tells it, his father didn't step in to fill that place and, in fact, his whole family lost touch. Before bringing Rachel home, Dean hadn't seen his father, a devout kundalini yogi, in two years. It had been eight since he was in the same room as his father and his siblings at the same time.
Recipe for disaster? Try more like heartbreak.
Dean confronted his father about the problems in their relationship, and let's just say it was as you might expect. Honest, heated, heart-wrenching and perhaps a little too damn real for reality TV. Dean's father slammed the door on their conversation and then when Rachel asked him to talk privately, he gave her the cold shoulder.
"I'm pretty much over this," he said.
For a moment, it seemed the family drama brought Dean and Rachel closer — the former offered up an "I'm falling for you," which the bachelorette verbally reciprocated. Nonetheless, she sent him packing.
"I meant it ... I meant every word I said to you," Rachel told Dean. "But I don't know if you're ready for a marriage."
Tough love. But that means the top three are headed to the Fantasy Suite, where Rachel gets to test drive the cars (if ya know what I mean). Tune in to the steamy drama Monday, July 24 at 7 p.m. CST.