Much has already been said about last night’s episode of The Bachelorette, which included the long-awaited hometown visits. The centerpiece of the episode was Rachel’s visit to Dean’s unconventional family. Dean, the son of a widower who clearly dove deep into spiritualism while avoiding the emotional responsibility of being there for his kids, has some daddy issues that weighed down his father’s floor cushions as the elephant in the room. Still, the intense focus on these two men and their troubled past was nearly overshadowed by two of the final four suitors' relationships with their mothers.
Bryan essentially warned Rachel about his mom during last week’s episode, when he shared a suspicious story about his last girlfriend not getting along with her. I didn’t think that meant she would be a walking example of the mother-in-law from hell trope. His mother, Olga, threatens to kill Rachel if she doesn’t make Bryan happy, and Olga repeatedly refers to him as the love of her life. It’s not my business how moms show love to their very adult sons (Bryan is 37). However, an overprotective mom and a son who is willing to let his relationships suffer for the approval of his mother is a red flag.
The most obvious threat to Bryan’s potential boo is that she may always have to compete with Olga for attention and affection from him. What's even more alarming is that Bryan might expect for his lover to dote on him in the same way that his mother does. I can’t help but reflect on the way Bryan’s eyes lit up a few weeks ago when Rachel let him drive a Bentley and bought him an expensive watch. Was this the enthusiasm of a man enjoying a gift from bae, or the glee of a man who has been spoiled by women all of his life?
Not everything set off warning bells during the hometown dates, though. Rachel was forced to step aside from her duties as leading lady after viewers were introduced to Eric’s Aunt Verna. She made my heart melt when she checked in on Rachel’s well-being in a tender moment between Black women. She is already a fan-favorite to be the next Bachelorette, or at least host a talk show on OWN. However, Eric’s intimate conversation with his mother shed some insight into the man he is and proved once again that dads aren’t the only parental figures that leave a complicated mark on their kids.
As the polar opposite of Olga, Eric’s mom admits that she took a more hands-off approach when raising Eric because she did not want him to grow up completely dependent upon her. She wanted to break a cycle that she witnessed with the other men in their family. For what it’s worth, it appears to have worked: Eric prides himself on taking care of everyone else, while his own emotional needs go by the wayside. Rachel will probably never have to worry about coddling him or catering to whatever demands he has of her, but can his budding emotional capabilities catch up to hers?
Eric and Bryan present two very different sets of problems, neither of which I’m thrilled with. And we can all see the roles that their moms have played in them. I think a remix to Beyoncé’s “Daddy Lessons” is in order.