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''The Bachelor'': Falling in love with the folks

Falling in love with the folks: Just when it seems like everyone on ”The Bachelor” is irredeemable, the women’s relatives come to the rescue

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The Bachelor: Bob D'Amico

”The Bachelor”: Falling in love with the folks

No one in the world can embarrass you like your family. Regardless of how hard you try to project an air of worldly sophistication or unparalleled confidence, those mortifying blood relations always know how to drag you back to earth. Your family keeps in storage those seventh-grade photos you wish you could burn. They remember details of your most disastrous early dates. They might even tell folks about the two occasions in the ’90s when you saw Paula Abdul live in concert. (Don’t laugh, people! You know you loved ”Straight Up” too.)

But while families can drive us all a little crazy, they usually manage to keep things real — even in the realm of reality TV. On last night’s Bachelor, for example, four clans managed to provide a respite from the uninterrupted bacchanal of beer, bikinis, and bitchery that has defined this season.

Nowhere was this more welcome than during Charlie’s visit to the Rhode Island homestead of Krisily, that spitting, hissing she-beast who all season long has displayed her fondness for taking long walks on the beach, letting guys use her as a human shot glass on the first date, and screeching at her fellow bachelorettes. Of course, Krisily’s tough-chick facade has hardly disguised her raging insecurities, but in the presence of her kin, she actually came across as — dare I say it? — kind of fun.

Not that I noticed all that much of Krisily or anyone else at the dinner table — did her dad just go ”poof” and disappear? — in the presence of her wild Nana, the randiest grandmother to hit network TV since the Golden Girls. As if bumping booties with Charlie and running her hand up his thigh weren’t enough, Nana also doled out some of the most hilariously inappropriate dating advice in Bachelor history. ”What you’ve gotta do now is get him in bed,” Nana cackled to her granddaughter, her voice a mixture of mischief and pure lust. ”Get him in bed and jump on him. She’s got to use her powers. How else is she gonna get a man?” It wasn’t exactly Dr. Phil, but it was damn good television — so good that ABC might want to consider making room on its schedule for a matchmaking reality series called Supergranny. I hear the network’s Monday-at-9 ratings need help.

While Charlie and Krisily looked like they could’ve used some of Nana’s pointers during their strained makeout session on the porch, it couldn’t have helped that Charlie apparently gets a little bashful about swallowing dates alive with his giant mouth when he’s in close proximity to their families. (Although apparently, he has no qualms about doing exactly that in front of a camera crew.)

Again, even after several rounds of Ukrainian beer, the bachelor wouldn’t so much as give Kimberley a peck on the cheek in the back of her parents’ Edmonton restaurant, The Pyrogy House. Of course, he might’ve been turned off by the lingering scent of the sardine pyrogies sitting nearby — gah!

The biggest surprise of the Edmonton trip, though, wasn’t that Eastern European combination of salty fish and dough. Nor was it the ”spontaneous” appearance of ghoulish fame-seekers Jenny and Jason (more on them in a minute). Nope, what got to me was the fact that, surrounded by her sweet, genuine parents and siblings, Kimberley became more than this season’s walking swimsuit-model joke. When Charlie observed he and Kim had been ”physically getting along more than talking or anything like that,” it actually stung. That was suddenly somebody’s daughter he was talking about — in fact, the daughter of a totally endearing woman who would later say the words, ”I really like Charlie. I really like Charlie. He loves to make pyrogies with me.”

I wonder who took it harder when Kimberley got passed over at the rose ceremony: her or her mom. The former at least had a chance to thicken her skin when her ex-boyfriend John and recently booted bachelorette Jenny showed up tag-team style in the middle of her date with Charlie. I loved the way ABC wanted us to think this duo from the bottom of the reality-TV food chain just so happened to stumble across poor Charlie and Kim. Lucky for us, they already had cameras trained on them as they approached the bar!

Of course, without cameras, we wouldn’t have experienced the sheer creepiness of hearing John (completely aware of the cameras) call Kimberley by her notorious old nickname, ”the Kim Wild,” or refer to his own retired moniker by asking her, ”Do you have the ‘Meatball’ connection?” You just know this guy was thinking that 10 minutes on American primetime would help him land future on-air work; I just hope he gets exactly the amount of work he deserves.

Speaking of deserving, doesn’t Sarah B., with a secure job, a house of her own, and a reluctance to hurl herself headlong into Charlie’s open mouth, seem far too well-rounded for a reality television dating series? Call me a cynic, but I have a suspicion that, sitting there in Texas in her near-fluorescent scrubs, Sarah B. figured she’d try to stay in the game long enough to earn herself a nice tropical getaway during the ”fantasy dates.”

What I’m not buying, though, is any kind of serious heat between Charlie and Sarah B. Why else would our Bachelor begin his date with her by declaring he wanted to be ”more than buddies,” and by the end, still be asking if they have any ”sexual chemistry”? Get real: Charlie exhibited more sparks with another female in Sarah B’s life than with the bachelorette herself.

No, I don’t mean Sarah B.’s hilariously point-blank sister, Rachael, who was unafraid to ask Charlie if he was appearing on The Bachelor to boost his acting career, then noted that his answers to her inquisition seemed ”so rehearsed.” I’m talking about Sarah B.’s dog, Lucy the Spaniel, who got more kissy time with Charlie than her owner. If that’s not a bad sign for the Texas maternity nurse, than what is?

Charlie also exhibited a sizzling chemistry with one of Sarah W.’s family members: her dad. Of course, good old Mr. W. had just paid Charlie the ultimate compliment that he seemed like ”a real easy guy to have a beer with — that’s for sure.” Which led Charlie to exclaim, ”I think if her dad and I had any more alone time, he’d be getting a rose.” I wonder why this new bond didn’t set Sarah W. into a jealous fit, although maybe she was too busy admiring her own ethereal beauty. As the blonde narcissist put it herself, in front of her entire family, ”I do get noticed. I have a presence in a room and there’s nothing I can do about it.” Which gets me daydreaming: Where’s Krisily’s Nana when you need her?

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Should Charlie have sent Kimberley packing? Did anyone notice the evil look Sarah W. gave Sarah B. during the rose ceremony? And should Krisily’s Nana get her own series? Post your thoughts here.