The Bachelorette already looks pretty different this year. There's no mansion or international travel and Chris Harrison has been temporarily replaced with JoJo Fletcher. But one tradition that's sticking around is The Bachelorette's hometown dates — only that's a pretty inaccurate name for them this season. Because the show isn't traveling outside of its La Quinta Resort & Club bubble in Palm Springs, the hometown dates will really just be dates with the contestants' families on the La Quinta property. That doesn't flow quite as well as "hometown dates," though.
According to Bachelor blogger Reality Steve, contestants' families and friends were brought to the resort and quarantined and tested before they could participate in filming — much the same way the contestants themselves had to be quarantined and tested ahead of production starting or any guest stars (like Margaret Cho, Wells Adams, and Jojo Fletcher) had to in order to film their episodes. This may seem like a lot to coordinate, but this crew usually organizes four separate, full-on tours of Albuquerque or Dayton — or wherever the frontrunners are from — on a quick turnaround in a regular season.
(SPOILERS): “Bachelorette” (Tayshia) filming IS bringing family/friends of contestants to the La Quinta Spa and Resort, & they are being quarantined and tested before appearing.— RealitySteve (@RealitySteve) August 18, 2020
The Reality Steve spoilers also suggest that one man's family declines to come. If these spoilers pan out, the family in question can hardly be blamed. We are in a pandemic, after all, and while we're all very happy the show figured out a way to film, safety should absolutely be the priority. A Zoom hometown meeting would be a first, but this season could has proved this show can turn anything — including a family no-show — into its own mini-drama.
You also shouldn't be surprised if only the contestants' closest family members are brought out to La Quinta. In a regular season, Bachelorettes have met moms, dads, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, dogs, and even mutual friends. For financial, practical, and safety reasons, the hometown dates will have to be limited, so prepare for a smaller set — and possibly just parents. Any downsizing of the hometown groups will certainly minimize potential drama (something we should be well used to this season). In the past, major moments have been spurred on by hometown encounters with siblings and distant relatives. Never forget when Desiree Hartsock's brother laid into Sean Lowe about him dating multiple women at once and it totally derailed her relationship with the then-Bachelor. Or the time when The Bachelorette basically forced Dean Unglert to reconnect with his estranged father. Or even just when Raven Gates showed up for Tia Booth's hometown on Arie Luyendyk Jr.'s season because they were friends, and sure, why not?
However these dates end up being orchestrated, the set-up will also give us a sneak peek at how meeting Tayshia's family could go during the finale. Her loved ones (and her father, of "you don't microwave relationships" fame from Colton Underwood's season) will likely be flown out, tested, and quarantined as well to meet her two finalists.
This is an unconventional season, and few things look the same as usual. Hometown dates will be similarly shaken up, but at least they're still taking place (thanks for the confirmation, Jojo!). It's the best we can ask for under the circumstances.