Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelorette: Episode 8

Opera singer Sharleen Joynt—fellow Canuck, FLARE columnist and former Bachelor contestant—shares her take on last night’s episode of The Bachelorette

Those of you who’ve read my recaps for awhile know by now that I’m a sucker for Hometown dates. It’s a much needed change of pace after the rigamarole of date cards and group dates. The guys are noticeably more relaxed after not having to live in a hotel with each other anymore, and the sap in me really does like seeing where these guys come from. That said, Hometowns are tricky because, without the in-mansion tensions, it’s easy for the episode to become all unicorns and rainbows (read: boring). As heartwarming as they are, an episode can’t only be happy reunions, high school tours, and, as JoJo put it, “by far one of the best BBQs” she’s ever had. (Andy was hung up on this sentence: “That makes no sense! It’s either by far the best or simply one of the best!”)

I don’t believe in two wrongs making a right, though, so painfully manufactured drama plus boring niceties do not interesting television make. I don’t know the intricacies of Robby’s ex or what she or her roommate put “out in the world” (I found this choice of words by Robby’s mother amusing), but I’m told it’s some juicy tidbit to be found on Reality Steve (which I’m still, believe it or not, managing to avoid with all my spoiler-free might.) You know the show is struggling to spark up drama when they’re using Reality Steve content, the show’s archenemy, while still refusing to mention the site. This combined with Episode 5’s In Touch magazine scandal showed a sort of grasping-at-straws desperation for drama, no matter the source, taking anything “out in the world” and injecting it into the Bachelor bubble (which is supposed to be free of such issues) while filming is still underway. I mean, at this point, they might as well let contestants have magazines and internet access, right? (HA. Fat chance.)

Let me be clear: not all Hometown date drama is created equal. There is a distinct difference between the Jordan Hometown drama and the Robby Hometown drama. Not to belittle it, but the Rodgers family issue with Aaron Rodgers is really good television. And the fact that Aaron is (apparently; this was news to this sports ignoramus) a huge star makes it all the more (in that gossip rag way) fascinating. Sure, there’s a sense of an invasion of family privacy, but that’s basically the point of reality television to begin with; Jordan surely knew this would air out at some point (which unto itself is also fascinating). Above all, there’s clearly a story with roots and substance there, and as a viewer that’s compelling and makes me want to know more. Meanwhile, the Hayes family “issue”wasn’t really an issue at all. Whatever Robby’s ex is spewing about him is (or at least should be) irrelevant to the Hometown dynamic, and I feel like producers preyed on Robby’s mother, convincing her to use her precious time with her son (whom she hasn’t seen for months now) to talk about a rumour. If the story his ex is spinning really is so inaccurate, why let it take up so much real estate on a valuable Hometown date?

(Photo: ABC)

On top of the world, okay, Colorado, with Chase (Photo: ABC)

My predictions for next week might look familiar…

1. Jordan, 27: It bothers me to hear people call JoJo “fake” or a “bad actress.” (I predicted viewers would turn on her, as they do every Bachelorette, in my Episode 1 recap. It’s like clockwork.) If JoJo were fake, I wouldn’t be so confident in who she’s choosing in three episodes’ time: Jordan. The woman cannot pretend to be even remotely as into any of the other guys as she is Jordan. Watching his Hometown, it felt like she was savouring it, imprinting it into her memory. In this episode alone, JoJo mentioned discovering a “newfound care for him” (which is more powerful than it sounds), saying Jordan is “nobody’s brother” (she’s protective of him), and she’s “SO excited about what could happen” between them. ’Nuff said.

2. Luke, 31: This date confused me. First, while I liked the sentiment of inviting everyone who’s played any part in your life to a BBQ, that’s something you do at your wedding, not your girlfriend’s first family meet-and-greet. Second, in their eventual 1-on-1 time, JoJo seemed to be emotionally pulled back in a way we haven’t seen from her with Luke (which supports my theory above). Further, the whole Rose Ceremony “interruption” seemed staged to me. I can’t imagine a producer didn’t tell Luke to do that, encouraging him to get his ILY “out in the world.” (Sorry, I can’t stop saying that! IT APPLIES TO EVERYTHING.) And, speaking of ILY, remember all those flower petals and candles? The path to his heart? Does it really make that big a difference (to the point where he stays or he goes) whether he tells her sincerely that his whole heart is hers, or whether he actually uses those three little words? The latter is certainly proving to be the key to JoJo’s heart, but semantics!

3. Chase, 29: Guys, did you know Chase is from a family of divorce?! A BROKEN FAMILY? Funny how rare and terrible they make this sound, considering the divorce rate when he was a kid was a solid 50 percent. It struck me how suddenly very invested Chase was. His response to his father asking him “what if” he’s not picked: “I’m not gonna deal with the what-ifs at this point. I’m diving into this one, Dad.” That’s a far cry from the reserved Chase we’ve seen all season long, and leading up to a Hometown he gets NO time with JoJo, so I have to assume there’s been a lot of producer fluffing. That said, I like Chase a lot, and his sister and mother were standouts for me.

Going home next week…

4. Robby, 29: I don’t really have an opinion on whether or not I think there’s truth to Robby’s ex’s roommate’s version of the story. I make an effort to form my opinions based solely on what we see on television, so as I said above, that rumour is irrelevant to me. What is relevant to me, as a viewer, is that I feel nothing between Robby and JoJo. I don’t see any sparks, any chemistry, or any good conversation. (I’m not saying there isn’t any; I’m saying I haven’t seen any.) There are never any adjectives used when describing each other; just generic “strong feelings’ and “falling in love” with one another. WHY do you love her? WHAT IS IT ABOUT HER? We need the adjectives to make up for the conversations we don’t see between them. I’m just not buying this romance.

For more on this season of The Bachelorette from Sharleen Joynt, visit her blog, All the Pretty Pandas.

The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on City. Catch up on past episodes at citytv.com.

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