Hollywood tax incentives, shmax incentives. Who needs ’em when you have a Hoosier hometown visit on the reality-show docket? Welcome to season 20 of ABC’s The Bachelor, starring tall, dark, and handsome Ben Higgins, a former Warsaw Community High quarterback whose parents, Amy and David, live on Winona Lake.
Did I mention Warsaw? Because the Kosciusko County CVB must feel like they got the final rose after last night’s two hours of free advertising for the bucolic burg. And heck, with all that blue sky, golden light, and peak leaf-peeping, gorgeous Indiana in the fall got plenty of sweet promotion, too. “This is a great place to raise a family,” one of the bachelorettes says. And she didn’t even appear to be reading from a pamphlet!
Ben seems like a great, normal guy, which—I can say from (guilty-pleasure alert) hours laughing till I cry at the Bachelor/Bachelorette series—makes him a terrible Bachelor. Where is the drama in normal? Let’s see if the 26-year-old’s time back home again in Indiana lives up to the down-to-earth software salesman’s reputation. Here are the top Hoosier moments from the episode.
First, are we sure we’re in small-town Indiana?
Train crossing? Check.
American flag waving? Check.
Plenty of confessionals set with a backdrop of prime foliage? Check.
Waving to friends on the street from your vintage red Chevy? Okay, Ben. We get it.
Meeting Mom and Dad at a throwback diner? NO REALLY, WE BELIEVE YOU, IT’S INDIANA.
Are you sure? Because maybe we should invite Paul George, George Hill, Frank Vogel, and Boomer to a one-on-one date good-guy Ben scheduled at the Baker Youth Club where he used to work. Nevermind that Vogel looks like he was hoodwinked into this whole situation as a practical joke. Bad Boomer!
Maybe for good measure, we should show flight attendant Lauren B., Ben’s date that afternoon, emphasizing how much she LOVES BASKETBALL. With basketballs in the background. DID WE MENTION BASKETBALL???
No? Still not Hoosier enough? How about if we show Ben making out with Lauren at the basketball court? Good now?
Phew! So much sports and spit-swapping. Better cool off at another Hoosier mainstay: the dive bar.
You know what, I’m inspired. All this in-depth analysis needs some fuel. And I found the perfect thing.
The next one-on-one date, with real-estate developer JoJo, is a jaunt to Chicago and Wrigley Field. “Here I am at Wrigley, and I can’t take my eyes off you,” says Ben. Unsolicited commentary from my husband: “God, I hate the Cubs. Why do people in Indiana like the Cubs?”
I think I’m going to need another drink.
Red barns, tractors, bales of hay, mums: Ben’s group date with software sales rep Caila, chiropractic assistant Becca, and esthetician (and mom of two) Amanda at Fort Wayne’s charming Marian Hills Farm event venue might as well have a giant HONEST TO GOODNESS stamp on it.
The propmaster clearly had fun with this one. “Let’s add a tractor. And a bale of hay! And a patchwork quilt! More hay! MORE!!!!”
HONEST TO GOODNESS MAGIC! [Trademark pending, copyright pending, patent pending.]
Ben picks Amanda to spend the rest of the date with, and oh no. What is this? Ben. Ben, you’re going off script. “I thought that the whole purpose of coming to my hometown is to do the things that are normal to me. So I want to take you to McDonald’s.” Yes, that’s right. McDonald’s. They both eat Egg McMuffins. They share fries like Lady and the Tramp. They take orders from customers. “Being with Amanda in the drive-thru was an unexpected moment!” You don’t say.
Phew, a fall street carnival! Indiana is back in business. “It’s just so cute, this, like, small town that all came together for him,” Amanda says, clearly relieved the night was not going to end with her saying, “Welcome to McDonald’s, may I take your order?” They play games, they hop on the carousel. After a particularly jolting ride, Ben says what we’ve all been thinking for years: “Fair rides scare me, they do. They get set up in, like, a day!”
Someone else who should have been queasy? Emily (only listed occupation: “twin”), whom Ben takes home to meet Mom and Dad. After a particularly cringe-worthy run of verbal diarrhea, Emily finally shares her hopes for the future with Ben’s mother: “I’ve dreamed of being an NFL cheerleader for as long as I can remember.” Ben’s mom’s reaction?
Mom tips Ben off to her doubts about Emily’s maturity. Ben dumps her immediately, not even waiting for the soon-to-come awkward rose ceremony on the Warsaw courthouse square. Then Becca gets the boot, and feels blindsided by Ben. “I’m going to get a glass of wine and a doughnut, and I don’t give a s#@*,” she says as she climbs in the limo. No, wait. That was my husband again.
And fin. Goodbye, America! Feel free to come on back and join us for intimate moments in front of farm implements whenever you like!