It’s not often that themes from classic literature intersect with themes on televised dating shows, but watching this all-important hometown date episode, all I could think about was how the opening line of Anna Karenina would’ve read had Anna been competing for Count Vronsky on a 19th century version of The Bachelor: ”All happy families are alike; each happy family on reality TV is wacked-out in its own way.”
But before we begin the 2009 Hometown Horror Show North American Tour, Jason has a ”lady”-by-”lady” recap prepared to help new viewers get up to speed: Jillian is the Strong One Who Can’t Open Up; Molly is the Pretty One Who Might be Too Shallow; Naomi is the Free Spirit Who Isn’t Ready to Settle Down; and Melissa is the Hot Babe Who’s Too Good to be True. After waving goodbye to his son (Bye Ty! Daddy’s leaving again, but he put a cardboard cut-out of himself in your bedroom in case you forget what he looks like!), Jason heads off to
America’s hat Canada for date number one.
Up in Kelowna, British Columbia, Jillian is waiting in a park wearing some seriously cute pink gloves. As they overlook scenic Lake Okanagan, Jillian tells Jason about the legend of the lake monster called Ogopogo, and how it once brushed her foot when she was tubing in the lake. Oh, those crazy Canadians — it’s so cute how all that open space addles their brains. Anyhoo, after the stroll, the duo head to a winery (is it me, or did it sound like Jason was reading a cue card when he said ”The winery was beautiful, but not nearly as beautiful as Jill”?). Over two giant glasses of red (the first of many Jason and the ”ladies” will drink this episode), Jillian tearfully reveals that her mother endured a long battle with serious depression, which took a toll on her parents’ marriage. It sucks that she has to share such personal information about her family on national television… but, you know, she did voluntarily sign up for The Bachelor. The good news is, this revelation helps explain to Jason why Jillian feels the need to be so strong all the time. ”If anything, it makes me care about her more,” he says.
When Jason and Jillian arrive at her parents’ house, her dad gives Jason a traditional Canadian welcome by wrapping him first in the national flag and then in a friendly bear hug. Her mom Peggy wastes no time pulling Jason aside to grill him about what kind of guy he is. Like her daughter, Peggy is a joker: ”I just have a couple questions for you,” she says — and then unfurls a long scroll of paper. After a pleasant talk, it’s clear that Jason has passed the Peggy test; she tells Jillian that he has ”depth” and ”character.” Jillian’s dad Glen, who seems like the sweetest man on the planet, approves of Jason, too. ”She’s been exceptional in every sense of the word,” says Glen of his daughter, choking up. ”If Jillian gets married, you’re going to see a pretty happy guy.” That’s right, dry your tears, dad! You know ABC is totally going to pay for the wedding.
But all this is just a prelude to the real party: It’s Granny time! Jillian’s beloved grandma is instantly smitten with the Bachelor: ”Oh my god,” she cries as Jason, his manly biceps straining against his t-shirt sleeves, leans in for a hug. ”Jason is very, very beautiful. He’s a gorgeous guy,” says Granny, who no longer feels the need to take Jillian to northern Alberta ”and marry her off to some Ukrainian up there.” Well, don’t lose that Ukrainian guy’s number yet, Granny. We’ve still got three episodes to go.