Well, dear readers, it looks like you and I will be watching MTA together and celebrating All The Pretty Pandas’ 5 years!
If you plan on attending the blog’s 5th anniversary + Bachelorette viewing party on July 22nd, PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING. If you aren’t attending, feel free to skip to the recap!
If you RSVP’ed to last week’s hypothetical poll but not the official invite, you are not confirmed. Since sending out the invite I’ve noticed people still RSVP’ing on the poll but not to the actual invite—that poll was just for a tentative head count. As I said I would do last week, I sent out the official invite via the mailing list. If you’re subscribed, you should have received it Thursday evening.
If you are not subscribed (or you got the memo late and subscribed after Thursday evening) but still wish to attend, please contact me.
There are currently a lot of first names only on the official RSVP list—I understand the desire for privacy but please add at least a surname initial. There will be a guest list at the door and just giving “Sarah” when there could be multiple Sarahs might cause confusion. Just trying to avoid any door trouble.
Thank you all for your prompt involvement and enthusiasm—I sincerely look forward to meeting, watching, and partying with you! 🎉
“Luke was the first guy to tell me he was falling in love with me.”
—Hannah. We get a variation on this sentence every season but it never gets old. :)
Hometowns first bring us to Westlake Village, CA, except I strongly doubt this Hometown was filmed first given the week would close with a Rose Ceremony in nearby Los Angeles. At any rate, this was an appropriate “starter” Hometown: light, fun, filled with lots of family love.
You guys KNEW I’d be making a .GIF of the moment Hannah rummaged around Peter’s car and found a condom, causing Peter to reference the cameras…
What a delightful tap at the 4th wall. I had a few of you tell me you found Peter a bit too conscious of cameras and thus his edit based on this scene, but it honestly just made me like him more. First, I happen to like it when people reference the cameras in any capacity (hell, I was talking about cameras ALL THE TIME). Second, he didn’t bristle or become too uncomfortable in a moment where he was clearly caught off guard and some people might—he seemed fully able to laugh at himself. And third, yay safe sex!
The following spot is thanks to you guys. Several of you (with eagle eyes superior to mine, evidently) wrote me about the moment when, during Peter’s flight over Los Angeles, the plane appeared to be flying backwards…
I have to admit this is pretty great. Talk about taking editing to new, aerodynamics-defying levels.
I often pick favorites when it comes to contestants’ parents during Hometown week, and Peter’s without question took the cake. His mother, Barbara, beyond being soooo adorably sweet and effusive and adoring of her son, was the perfect balance between concerned but acquiescent during her conversation with Hannah…
I love the “I just wanted to share that.” She clearly expresses her natural motherly concern yet never lays blame on Hannah. She recognizes and accepts the situation, as well as the position Hannah is in. She isn’t demanding an explanation or for Hannah define her intentions with Peter, as so many parents tend to. She’s simply stating how SHE feels, not demanding answers that can’t be given.
Peter’s father, Peter, is also downright lovely. I dig a man who isn’t afraid to cry and if this moment didn’t tug on your heartstrings then there’s something wrong with you…
The LOVE is simply oozing out of his parents, out of their every pore, and there isn’t an ounce of reticence in showing it. I said over at Flare that you can tell Peter will be a great partner one day. Beyond just being an all around great guy all season, not involved in the drama but not without edge, he has clearly been very well raised.
Tyler’s Hometown brings us to Jupiter, FL, where Tyler takes Hannah for a boat ride before bringing her home. There were a few heartstring-tugging moments here as well (particularly Tyler’s lengthy hug with his recently ill father) but the moment I had to capture was from Tyler’s chat with his mom, Andrea. I love love LOVE the question she asks him…
Too often, the questions families prioritize are along the lines of “Is this for real?”, “Can you see yourself proposing to her in a matter of weeks?”, “What are you going to do if she doesn’t pick you?” But wise Andrea focuses on what I’d argue is the most important takeaway from the Bachelor/ette experience: the opportunity for introspection, for personal growth. It’s ripe for the taking if you’re willing to go there. Many alums have said they learned more about themselves in their weeks/months filming than they did in the entire decade prior. I don’t know if I’d go quite that far, but you get the point.
Finally, after bidding his family adieu, Tyler pulls ahead in the Bachelorette affection profession race by joining the “falling in love” group. My only slight beef with this moment was the lack of sustained eye contact…
I know I’m splitting hairs big time, I just happen to have a personal peeve about good, sustained eye contact when dealing with matters of the heart, and especially when the person you’re talking to is leaned in and engaged as Hannah is. I sometimes feel younger people (God, I sound old!) are getting worse and worse with eye contact. (Did anyone else watch the new Temptation Island? It was my worst nightmare in this regard… but also admittedly GREAT television.) In Tyler’s defense, I feel like admitting this was a BIG DEAL for him, and eye contact hasn’t been an issue for him in past weeks. (If anything, he’s usually pretty locked in on her.) So consider this is the gentlest of criticisms. :)
Finally, though there was no ITM shot of Hannah on this date, there was a telltale Pick-up. Note the background—the odds of this room being in Tyler’s house are pretty slim. File this away for later…
Luke’s Hometown brings us to Gainesville, GA, where he brings Hannah to his Sunday school group. I received a fantastic email from one of you with a perspective I really want to share.
This reader wrote me in response to what I wrote over at Flare, about how only one episode can change the way you view a contestant, and how “in real life, outside of a pressure cooker designed to bring out your worst traits, it would seem even a narcissist has his tribe." This reader wrote to tell me Luke reminded her of a family member. This family member lived in a very small town in Tennessee and attended a Methodist church. She said that, while she loved him, he was “a complete a**hole”, “to everyone in his family.”
She wrote: “He was of the generation raised to not respect the rights of women or people of other ethnicity. I tried to give him a little grace given that he wasn't raised to be as accepting as I (and my generation) was raised, but no matter how you slice the cake, he was an a**hole.
He passed away last month. I was completely shocked at the sheer volume of people who came to his visitation to express their condolences and told me how friendly, nice, easy-going, etc. he was to them. Every single person who spoke so fondly of him was from his "church family." He and Luke are so similar in that regard. In my opinion, they are each a respective wolf in sheep's clothing. They put on a facade at church. They're the guy who laughs the loudest at everyone's jokes and goes out of their way to "make friends" with people. However, they don't have real, lasting, in-depth relationships with the people with whom they worship and they are always trying to make everyone in their respective church families believe they are (i) perfect, (ii) the nicest guy they know and (iii) a "perfect Christian." Don't get me started on that last one. I grew up in the bible belt of Alabama and have dealt with my fair share of Christians who give Christianity a really bad name. There are no perfect Christians - but I bet Luke secretly fancies himself one.
Quite frankly, I wasn't surprised that Luke's community (especially a church community) adored and respected him. They don't know the real Luke. He is always putting on a nice guy front. Additionally, Luke was raised by his biological family to be Luke - meaning his parents and siblings contributed to the manipulative, controlling, faith-shaming narcissist he is today. I'm sure they're proud of how he turned out and see no fault in their baby/brother.”
So, first of all, you guys are the best readers in that you’re also great writers—you let me be the reader, too. I am continuously thrilled by the intelligent, thoughtful, thought-provoking commentary I read from you guys. The above was excellent food for thought for me. It’s hard for me to have a valid opinion on the ins and outs of the varying degrees of Christianity and things like “faith-shaming” and being a “perfect Christian” since I in no way identify as religious. I haven’t been to church (outside of a wedding or funeral) since I was 13. Therefore, I’ve been enjoying reading the takes of readers for whom church is (or has been) a prominent part of their lives. It goes without saying that if you have thoughts, share them in the comments!
In the evening, Hannah’s voiceover while she and Luke head into his parents’ house caught my attention….
This sentence struck me as hilarious given we’re all in agreement that Luke is a narcissist. Like, OF COURSE Luke would be more at ease around people who love him. He’s not in a state of having to prove himself to anyone, which appears to be where things really go awry. He can only function—can only be “who he is”—when in the company of people who adore him. This sentence should be put to music and made Luke’s theme song.
What’s crazy is the transformation. In the presence of people who know and love him, Luke is a different person entirely. Exhibit A, self-awareness…
Exhibit B, an ability to laugh at himself…
Finally, a .GIF had to be made of the moment between Luke and his mother, Elizabeth (who, by the way, has the most incredible hair I’ve ever seen). I just found this hug and Luke’s face to be cartoonish in cuteness…
I admit the above moment softened me a teensy bit to Luke, a testament to what I said in my Flare recap about Hannah giving him the ULTIMATE GIFT by bringing him to Hometowns. He’s now one notch above terrible.
Jed’s Hometown is the season’s requisite controversial one, so it is obviously aired last. The formula is nothing if not consistent.
I’m torn on Jed. I’ve heard the girlfriend rumors and I know folks want to know my thoughts on them. However, I prefer to recap based on what we see on the show proper (sometimes including relevant, official interviews that come out along the way), but not based on what People articles or rumors come out during the season. It’s a tricky line to tread and it’s sometimes tough to know where to draw that line. It’s all too easy to let outside information skew your perception of a person, and we’re also so quick to go from loving someone to hating them, from hating them to loving them. In that sense, I would prefer to sit back, observe quietly, and let that cookie continue to crumble. Yes, it’s a bad look for Jed, but he also can’t defend or explain himself for the obvious contractual NDA reasons. It just feels pointless to layer on judgment when we’re thisclose to the end and we’ll surely see everything addressed officially very soon.
HOWEVER. I’ve got to say, while I generally like Jed fine and have defended him and his frequent bouts of guitar-strumming and ballad-crooning, I’m not exactly wowed by him as a personality—especially with a woman he a) has told he loves, and b) hasn’t seen in awhile. Something that really stuck out to me on this date was how dry and unfunny he was. Perhaps it was nerves, like he was without cameras on him for long enough to forget how it felt. But there was a key moment where he was giving Hannah a tour of the studio and she excitedly called something an amp, and he just shut her down…
First of all, my guitar-playing husband is 99% sure that’s a preamp. Assuming he’s right, it wasn’t like Hannah’s guess was so far off-base to warrant such a thud of a response. And even if it was off-base, you’d still think he’d be like, “Close! It’s actually a preamp/mixer/thingamajig.” But the way he just shuts her down, given how excitedly she’d guessed—and especially to define it as where “you plug in, like, the mics and stuff”—was a MASSIVE turn off for me. There was just a lack of affection and appreciation for her and her enthusiasm in this moment, like he’s taking himself and the whole situation too seriously to even notice. In other words, I’m not sure I can picture a condom being found in his car and him being able to have a hearty chuckle at himself over it.
THAT SAID, I have major beef with anyone online dissing Jed’s actual musicianship and skills. This is going way too far in my opinion. First, a lot of his music this season has been unprepared, or him composing on the spot. Like, so what if his “Mr. Right” ditty wasn’t a Top 40 hit; HE WROTE IT THAT DAY. Even if he’s the one to have put himself in that position, that’s still fucking impressive, I don’t care what anyone says. Further, this is the guy’s LIFE we’re dealing with. You can dislike his personality, critique his behavior, or distrust him based on the girlfriend rumors, but for people to go out of their way to call him a bad singer or musician online (which A LOT of people are doing) makes my stomach turn. If people had done that with me when I briefly sang on my season—a moment that was sprung on me, that I wasn’t able to warm up for, and that in no way represents what I can actually do—I would have been completely crushed. Devastated. The guy is pursuing his passion and has likely sacrificed a LOT to get to this point. He’s also just legitimately good—how good may be up for debate, and we may be overexposed to it and therefore sick of it, but no one who knows what they’re talking about can listen to the guy compose/play/sing and just say he sucks. That’s simply the truth. You may not like his style, his voice, his lyrics, but that’s a matter of TASTE. Objectively, he is a good musician. Subjectively, you may not like his music.
Being a singer/songwriter and a shitty boyfriend are separate categories. You can think he’s a scumbag but calling him a bad musician because you think he’s a scumbag is crossing the line.
When finally greeting his family, Jed’s dad runs up to him with the most perfect Jump-Straddle…
… and I immediately fell in love with the man. There wasn’t enough of Jed’s dad on his date—presumably because he was the nice, open-minded family member.
Speaking of nice, open-minded family members, Hannah has a sit down with Jed mother, Gina. I laid into Gina pretty hard in my The Morning After video, but as often happens when assembling Pretty Pandas posts, I’ve softened my stance a bit after having gone through this scene with a fine tooth comb. I maintain that Gina has an irritating tendency to be a passive aggressive with a smile on her face, but I am quite certain this conversation was edited out of order to make her appear worse than she is. Hannah’s (extremely subtle) hair difference is the giveaway…
By her interaction with Hannah, you can tell Gina doesn’t watch the show. It’s funny how families obviously fall into one of two categories: They’re either super nice to the lead because they watch the show, have a bit of fangirl/fanboy in them, realize what the bubble can do to a contestant, and are a bit more understanding of the lead’s delicate position. A great example was Tyler’s mom with her “what have you learned about yourself?”, as well as Tyler’s dad, who was incredibly sweet to Hannah and called her “Hannah B”…
… something he’d only know if he’d watched Colton’s season.
The other family type is the people who think The Bachelor/ette is garbage TV—let’s be honest, this many years in, if you don’t even passively watch this show it’s because you actively think it’s garbage TV—and think that they’re above it. I know this because I meet these people ALL. THE. TIME. I’m convinced Gina is in this category, especially by her assumption that this show is a “dreamy” way to meet someone. She really showed her Bachelor Nation greenness with that line.
Finally, note what an ITM of this Hometown date looks like, side by side with a Pick-up…
Now compare that Pick-up with the aforementioned Pick-up from Tyler’s Hometown…
Not only is the ITM room the same, her hair is identical. It’s clear this was a Pick-up session and she just switched between outfits to recap each Hometown… in the present tense, of course.
I shared my brutally honest thoughts about this Rose Ceremony over at Flare and since analyzing further, I am only more convinced than ever this entire thing was fake. I actually think staged scenes like this are on the rare side, but there is no doubt Hannah was assigned acting duty here.
Remember how emotional and freaked out Hannah was about sending Mike home last week. She was crying uncontrollably, almost shaking. That’s the reference. Now observe how she greets Chris Harrison in the mansion, even slipping up and saying she’s “good” before changing it to “OK”…
It’s funny to me how Chris Harrison carefully asks, “Yeah?” Gotta steer the act back on track.
The first time I watched the following, I appreciated it as many leads have expressed variations on this—that this far in, you leave each 1-on-1 date walking on air. But the next one is just as good if not better, and you end up confused. So for the record, I believe what she’s saying here. However, look at the ease and lack of anxiety with which she describes it…
I don’t care what anyone says, Hannah knew she wasn’t going to be sending anyone home. The very thing I love about watching her—her transparency—is what makes this act unbelievable. It’s not that I think she’s a bad actress—that’s actually not the case at all—it’s that she was playing the wrong role. She is a WRECK when it comes to sending someone she cares about home, while her performance was too calm and collected. She was playing a cool-as-a-cucumber Bachelorette, not herself.
Finally, the patronizing eye-roll moment, when Chris Harrison arrives with the two roses behind his back. Speaking of actors, this man is Academy Award-worthy. How he keeps a dead straight face in moments like this is beyond me. Meanwhile, observe Hannah NOT able to keep a straight face. You can see her stifle a knowing smile in his direction, and then recover by faux-sniffling…
For the record, I have no issue with Hannah keeping all four guys. It’s not like, “Oh, what a waste of my time” or anything—I was going to watch and will continue to watch. It’s the execution that bugs me. There are always a few points every season where this show insists on insulting our intelligence to some degree. This was definitely the biggest intelligence-insulting moment so far this season.
As always, my initial takeaways and frontrunner round-up based on this episode can be found over at Flare.
There were no requests that aren’t included below…
I am on the fence with this. On one hand, I like bomber jackets, especially those with fun prints. I think they’re practical and retro and cute. And while I like the concept of a floral bomber (we’ve seen them on this show before), I just don’t love this particular floral print. It looks really cheap to me in a Forever 21-ish way (and look, I like F21 once in awhile but the whole point is that it not LOOK like it’s from F21). That cheap-looking factor completely ruins this look for me. It’s otherwise fine and casual, perfect for a flight (though maybe a hair too casual for meeting Peter’s parents), but yeah… I can’t get past that print. If you disagree with me, Hannah’s bomber is the Saltwater Luxe Blossom Print Jacket (HERE). There are (better) alternatives selling HERE, HERE, and HERE. Her Peggi Li Sunrise Earrings sell HERE, and her Robyn Rhodes Griffith Ring sells HERE.
Nothing to actively dislike here. It’s a low-maintenance sundress, perfectly used as a cover up over a fairly basic bikini. I do think there could be a bit more of an elevated feel (everything feels like something you could pick up at your local mall), but on the whole while I’m not wowed, I’m not disappointed either. Hannah’s Aqua Floral Faux-Wrap Dress is sadly sold out (HERE), but there are great alternatives HERE and HERE. Voda Swim Envy push-up bikini (in Magenta) sells HERE. Her Peggy Li Chubby Gem Hoop Earrings sell HERE.
This was hands-down my favorite casual look of the week. There are clear choices being made—good choices—and it feels way more fashion-forward than the other Hometown outfits this week. In my eyes, this looks like something Jojo might’ve worn on her season. The blouse is the perfect amount of conservative, but in its sheerness, a bit edgy. The white jeans are an unexpected choice to wear with this top (regular blue jeans or other dark bottoms would have been safer) but they still totally work. I personally would have liked a low ponytail here—a slightly elevated hairdo to go with a slightly elevated outfit—but I’m being picky. She looks beautiful and, best of all, confident in this outfit. Joie Elzie silk blouse sells (half price!) HERE. The same top also comes in Marigold (HERE). Since her blouse is almost sold out, there are alternatives (and looks-for-less) HERE and HERE. Her AG white jeans sell HERE. Her jewelry is by Robyn Rhodes: The Freda earrings (HERE) and the Lela ring, which you’ve seen her wear before (HERE).
Ooof. This is bad. Let it be known that I despise that tank. This would have been a perfectly fine (albeit safe) outfit if it weren’t for that hideous top. I have no issue with lace trim camisoles but the problem is the color. Kelly green is super finicky and in my opinion should only be worn on its own as a solid color (case in point, the Rose Ceremony look below). It’s too bold a color to have a floral print and lace added, especially with leather on top. The worst part is that even though this tank looks hella cheap, it’s actually pricey. NOPE. Hannah’s Iro Ashville leather jacket sells HERE. There are good looks-for-less selling HERE (faux) and HERE (real). If you disagree with me on the tank, her Veronica Beard Gil cami sells HERE. The same tank comes in Black and sells (on sale) HERE. In terms of looks-for-less, the closest remotely green option I could find sells HERE, but if you’re open to non-green options, there are good ones HERE and HERE (IMO this second one is WAY nicer than Hannah’s). In my search I found a dress in the same color and similar print to Hannah’s tank, HERE. Her Peggi Li Diamond and Tahitian Pearl earrings sell HERE.
I like but don’t love this. It’s a nice enough dress but feels like something we’ve seen many times before. It’s the quintessential I’d-only-buy-it-on-sale piece. I know Hometowns are rarely about major fashion statements, though, and on the whole this felt perfectly appropriate for the day’s activities. Hannah’s FiveSeventyFive Fil Coupé Silk Wrap Dress sells HERE, but since it’s on the pricey side, I hunted down some looks-for-less, HERE and HERE. Her Peggy Li Gemmed Hoop earrings sell HERE.
Okay, NOW we’re talking. You all knew I’d love this delicious backlessness. It’s sexy but still elegant, it’s timeless but the color makes it fresh. Also, in looking at how they edited the dress (versus the version on the model), my above point about Kelly green is made: look how much more refined the gown feels without those black straps. The contrast and pointless addition of those only detracts (and distractst!) from the dress’ beauty. Less is more! Hannah’s dress is of course by Randi Rahm—as 98% of the season’s gowns seem to be—from the Spring 2018 Collection (HERE). The closest alternative I could find in this color sells HERE. If you can live with other colors, there are options super similar to Hannah’s HERE and HERE.
This week’s Best Dressed is none other than Tyler with his spiffy Rose Ceremony look…
The salmon jacket has been a favorite all season but it gets bumped into Best Dressed territory with that tie. I’ve expressed my affinity for floral ties before and this one’s really up there. I love how despite being, well… floral (not exactly a subtle print), it’s kind of muted and vintage-feeling, almost like it’s faded. Tyler already has an Old Hollywood vibe to him and this supports that, while still being an unexpected (yet successful) risk. 👏🏼👏🏼
Well, this is a first. I’m not sure we’ve ever had the same outfit manage to be simultaneously best and worst. The lengths of Tyler’s pants are just getting out of control. They legitimately look like something went wrong, like he had to borrow them at the last minute from a shorter man, or the tailor made a refund-worthy blunder in hemming. I might assume one of those scenarios if it weren’t for the fact that ALL his pants are this short.
Until next week, fellow pandas!