Michelle Young is the newest Bachelorette. (Hustler Multimedia/Emery Little) (Emery Little)
Michelle Young is the newest Bachelorette. (Hustler Multimedia/Emery Little)

Emery Little

Here for the Wrong Reasons: Episode 7 of ‘The Bachelorette’ Season 18

A recap of the seventh episode of the latest season.

December 6, 2021

Welcome to “Here for the Wrong Reasons,” where each week I’ll be recapping all of the champagne-guzzling and petty “Can I steal you for a second?”s of the 18th season of “The Bachelorette.” Nothing boosts your confidence about your own love life like watching a bunch of desperate 20-somethings competing for a stranger’s affection! Check in every Wednesday for episode recaps and updates on Michelle Young’s journey to become an Instagram influencer find love. Make your picks in Vanderbilt’s (very un)official Bachelorette Fantasy League.

Hometowns sweet hometowns … Michelle’s hometown, that is. If you thought we were getting normal hometown dates this season, guess again. Following the pandemic precedent set by Tayshia, Matt and Katie’s seasons, the families of Michelle’s final four men come to join them in Minneapolis, rather than Michelle traveling to them. I could (and will) say a lot of things about these families, but—not to be a bitch here—how are three out of four of these guys conventionally attractive (sorry Rodney), when their families, like, aren’t? Truly thought-provoking.

 

Keeping up with the Joneses

Portland native Brandon gets the first hometown date and decides to take Michelle skateboarding—he never gave off crunchy Oregon hipster vibes to me, but I would love to see him whip up an organic, gluten-free, non-GMO feast for Michelle. I was excited to see Brandon shed his sweet demeanor in favor of a little West Coast swagger, but as it turns out, Brandon is terrible at skateboarding. Michelle isn’t exactly impressed.

When it’s time to meet the Jones family, we learn that Brandon’s brother, Noah, delayed his start date with the Navy in order to meet Michelle. Now, I don’t know a lot about the Armed Forces, but I’m pretty sure that the excuse of “I can’t start yet, I have to go support my brother on a reality dating show” would not pass muster. Also, there are Brandon’s parents, David and Carmen. This date is a textbook hometown—everything goes smoothly, from the Jones’ approval of Michelle to Michelle’s declaration that she’s falling for Brandon. The only hitch is Brandon’s awkwardness being a minor recurring theme, and even that is endearing. 

If I had to choose one phrase to describe Brandon, it would be “earnest, but a little delusional.” When his mom asks him why Michelle is the one, he responds, “The way that she holds herself, the strength … she’s one of the strongest women I’ve ever met, aside from you” (we’ll ignore the Oedipal implications here). He also tells her, “The first time I met her, I knew who my person was, Mom,” which should be total BS, but like, I kind of believe that Brandon the Golden Retriever means it. In a role reversal, Michelle tells Brandon that she’s falling for him, largely because she felt so welcomed by his family. 

 

How ‘bout them apples?

Next up is Rodney’s hometown, and in keeping with “apples” being one of his main personality traits, he and Michelle go to an apple orchard, even though Rodney is from California where grapes are the fruit of focus. They pick apples, ride bikes and do another blindfolded taste test. (I’ve got to hand it to Rodney, because he might actually have a kinky side underneath the Jolly Green Giant facade.) 

Next, we meet Rodney’s mom, Carrie, and stepdad, Tyree. The apple doesn’t fall far from the Matthews family tree, because Carrie and Rodney share the same round face and overeager attitude. She tears up at the mere sight of her son—who has referred to her as his “Wonder Woman”—telling the camera, “We’re close to being best friends, not just mother and son. Really very close.” This is a red flag for several reasons, but I can’t get past how much she reminds me of Barb Weber, Pilot Pete’s sycophantic mother. Both women are obsessed with their sons to the point that they’ve gone past the “doting mom” trope into some weird, Oedipal territory (can you sense a recurring theme here?). Alas, Carrie can’t marry her son, and luckily for Michelle, Rodney is a far better catch than Peter.

Mama bear Carrie sits Michelle down to discuss which qualities attract her to him (Michelle to Rodney, just to clarify). Michelle identifies Rodney’s playfulness and lovability as his main virtues and expresses that she wouldn’t mind being stuck in an airport with him, which is super sexy. Carrie warns Rodney that she’s worried he’ll end up heartbroken, but he tells her that Michelle is worth the risk. At the end of the date, Rodney tells Michelle that he’s falling in love with her, to which she more or less responds, “Thanks for sharing.”

 

Not your average Joe

On their last one-on-one, Joe and Michelle visited her high school, so Joe, a Minneapolis native, returns the favor during their hometown date. In true high school fashion, they spend most of the date making out in the hallway. Joe, who never went to prom, takes her to the gym, where there’s a pseudo-prom set up for them. As you might recall from the poetry date earlier this season, Michelle was the last girl to be asked to the high school prom, so Joe offers her a redo complete with streamers, a photobooth and slow dancing. It’s really cute and definitely less dramatic than Paradise Prom. Before they leave to meet the Colemans, Joe gets handsy with his prom date and they make out even more. At least he bought her a corsage first.

The Coleman crew consists of Joe’s mom, Julie; dad, David; brother, Dan; and sister-in-law, Hanna. It’s obvious where Joe gets his quiet, reserved nature from—between his dad and brother, there’s a maximum of 10 words spoken by the Coleman men this episode. Hanna leads the charge in interrogating Joe and Michelle, noting, “I hope this works out, because we will see each other in the grocery store.” She asks Joe if he’s in love with Michelle, to which he replies, “I think I’m falling for her, for sure,” and Hanna is skeptical at best. Reading in between the (pretty obvious) lines, Michelle really just likes Joe because he’s a male version of her—he’s a Minnesotan and former basketball player, as well as tall, biracial and conventionally attractive—and she is thrilled to hear his usually reserved self tell her that he’s falling in love with her and feels like she could be his “special person.”

 

Nayte the grayte

I have to go on record: the way that Nayte spells his name will never not piss me off … they really should have spell check on birth certificates. Moving past that egregious “y,” the Austin native takes Michelle paddleboarding, something he claims to do three or four times a week. We learn that Nayte has tattoos all across his chest and that Michelle feels an “instant, kinetic energy the moment I’m with Nayte.”

He explains that he’ll be introducing her to his mom, Lianna, and stepdad, Charles, who got divorced a year and a half ago but are still “coming together to support me.” He also explains that his family isn’t “touchy-feely” and rarely speaks about emotions. As an added bonus, he’s never spoken seriously about his romantic relationships with them, so tonight will be new territory for the Olukoya family.

After observing the Olukoyas’ inhibited family dynamic, family-focused Michelle has some important things to think about. Nayte admits to his mom that he’s never been in love before, and his stepdad tells Michelle that he’s not sure if Nayte will be able to get to the point of an engagement by the end of the show. There’s a sweet moment with Charles, when Nayte tells him that he wants to be the kind of father figure to his future children that Charles was to him, and then tells him “I love you” for the first time ever. Notably, he does not tell Michelle that he’s falling for her during this date.

 

The morning after

The day after hometowns, our Bachelorette is really going through it. Her hometown with Nayte left her feeling “nauseous, worried” and anxious that he is not ready to propose. There to coach her through are Bri Springs and Serena Pitt, the fourth-place and third-place runners-up on Matt James’ season of “The Bachelor,” respectively. (“Bachelor in Paradise” fans will know Serena as my beloved Grocery Store Joe’s fiancée.) Michelle tells them that she’s “falling for multiple people” and that her finalists are “the best guys I’ve ever met in my entire life,” which is a somewhat depressing statement. All in all, Bri and Serena don’t give very much advice, but Michelle somehow gleans enough from the conversation to move ahead to the rose ceremony. (Also, where are Kaitlyn and Tayshia? Coaching Michelle is literally, like, their only job.)

 

The rose ceremony

Going into the rose ceremony, it’s pretty obvious to any viewer who she’s going to choose. While she is having some doubts about Nayte, their chemistry is undeniable, so there’s no way she’s ready to say goodbye just yet. Brandon and Joe’s hometown dates went as smoothly as can be, and while nothing was awful about Rodney’s date, it’s clear that Michelle vibes more with him as a friend than a romantic partner. (And, I’m sorry, but how could she bring someone named Rodney to the Fantasy Suite?) 

The first rose goes to Brandon and the second to Nayte. Then, Kaitlyn and Tayshia finally appear for half a second to announce that it’s the final rose of the night. As predicted, Joe moves ahead to Fantasy Suites and Rodney gets the boot. Michelle’s goodbye speech sounds more like she’s consoling one of her students that has self-esteem issues than breaking up with a partner—my favorite quote is, “I don’t want you thinking that you weren’t enough … you’re this amazing person, and everything that makes up Rodney is so special”—but again, friend vibes, if not a little condescending. At least Mama Carrie will be happy to have her precious son back!

 

Something I noticed about hometowns is that each of the four finalists and Michelle are not only all biracial, but they all have white mothers and Black fathers. In general, Michelle seems to gravitate towards those with a similar family situation to hers—she clearly felt the most comfortable with Brandon’s family, who are affectionate and open about their emotions, like hers is—and I’ll be interested to see how big a role her final guys’ families play in her decisions from here on out. Tune in next week (well, tomorrow, because I majorly slacked this past week and ABC moved the next episode to Monday to make airtime for “A Very Boy Band Holiday” on Tuesday) for Men Tell All, when Michelle will face the troublemakers of the season and some of the ones that got away. (You can expect lots of yelling and interruptions.)

 

Bachelor Nation news

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or aren’t as addicted to pop culture websites as I am), it’ll come as no surprise that Clayton Echard was just announced as the next Bachelor, even though no one asked for him. While he’s tall, athletic, white and cishet, Clayton is inexplicably being marketed as “The Underdog,” stealing a play directly out of Rodney’s book (way to kick a man while he’s down, ABC). We can expect a lot of talk about football, Missouri and how desperately Clayton wants a wife and kids. Rumor has it that there might be a second season of “The Bachelor” after Clayton’s, because ABC doesn’t want me to have a moment to breathe, and you heard it here first: if Michael Allio, Andrew Spencer or Mike Johnson aren’t the next Bachelor, I quit.

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