Putting your family on national television is a frightful notion for many. But for “Bachelorette” contestant Dean Unglert, the idea was near petrifying.
And this week’s episode of the competition reality TV show made Unglert’s worst nightmare a reality. Welcome to the highly anticipated round of “hometown dates” — a one-on-one date when bachelorette Rachel Lindsay meets each contestant’s family and friends on his own turf.
As teased on last week’s nail-biting episode, Unglert voiced some serious apprehension on having the 31-year-old Dallas-based attorney meet his “eccentric” father.
Candid confessions to the camera revealed that Unglert and his father had been estranged for two years because of family tension caused by the passing of his mother. He told Lindsay:
“He’s just not a person that has any bearing on my emotional experience, I guess you could say. He’s become quite a bit more eccentric. What I wish you could see was the family I had in my most developmental years … and not the family that abandoned me at the most vulnerable time in my life.”
Fans waited with bated breath for this week’s episode, anxiously wondering how unorthodox Dean’s father could actually be:
Is Dean's dad a genie? Da fuq? #thebachelorette
— Vinny Guadagnino (@VINNYGUADAGNINO) July 11, 2017
— Lauren Zima (@laurenzima) July 11, 2017
— olivia ? (@LIVtheVIRGO) July 11, 2017
The 25-year-old responded to the rumors ahead of Monday night’s episode, asking members of Bachelor Nation to approach the episode with understanding and acceptance:
View this post on Instagram
Hometowns are 2 days away! ..and I'm asking for a favor: when I said my father was eccentric, I was not referring to his Sikh faith or the turban he wears on his head. I'm not asking you to spare his feelings (or mine) but instead to be cognizant and accepting of the millions of people that belong to the Sikh community. Although he and I are not close, I respect my father’s decision to follow his heart and pursue the life he has chosen. Let us not criticize him for his appearance or his beliefs because by doing so we are disparaging an entire faith and culture that includes millions of people. And I know we are all better than that. That is all (for now) #endrant HAPPY SATURDAY PEOPLE ?
His heartfelt caption read, in part:
“Hometowns are 2 days away! ..and I’m asking for a favor: when I said my father was eccentric, I was not referring to his Sikh faith or the turban he wears on his head. I’m not asking you to spare his feelings (or mine) but instead to be cognizant and accepting of the millions of people that belong to the Sikh community. Although he and I are not close, I respect my father’s decision to follow his heart and pursue the life he has chosen. Let us not criticize him for his appearance or his beliefs because by doing so we are disparaging an entire faith and culture that includes millions of people. And I know we are all better than that.”
And, after a week of guessing, citizens of Bachelor Nation finally got what they wanted — a front row seat to Dean’s arguably forced reconciliation with his father, and it was as awkward as anyone could ever imagine.
In what seemed to be reality-show rubbernecking, fans were forced to watch Dean and his father, who now goes by the name Paramroop S. Khahsa, unpack years of unresolved trauma.
One particularly moving scene featured an accusation where Khahsa’s love for his own son was called into question.
Through gritted teeth, Unglert directed a loaded question at his distant dad:
“Do you feel like you’re still you’re still fulfilling things as a father? Do you think you and I have changed from the arguments that we had?”
It seemed his father was taken aback. He quietly retorted:
“How can I understand your frustration? I have no idea what it’s like … to lose your mom.”
From there, the conversation escalated into a full-blown argument, with Unglert begging his father to address problems they’ve both been side-stepping for years.
As tears welled in his eyes, Unglert pleaded:
“Please, we’re both adults at this point.”
This seemed to be his father’s breaking point:
“It was horrible watching your mother die. … Watching her shrivel. Watching her get smaller and smaller and smaller. All my life I did everything I can do to make the best life for my family.”
But this conversation proved too emotional for the father to handle. He stormed out of the room, away from cameras, away from his son and away from the potential bride for his child.
This didn’t work out for Dean, either. In arguably the biggest upset of the season, Lindsay sent Dean packing, trauma and all.
Viewers were shocked at what many claimed to be a gross invasion of privacy into Dean’s home, calling ABC’s decision to air the episode “not morally right at all”:
Shame on the bachelorette producers for making Dean go through this on national television. Not morally right at all. #TheBachelorette
— selina (@selinarebekka) July 18, 2017
— LORI ?? (@Lori_NT) July 18, 2017
If??she?? sends?? Dean??home??after??that??trauma??I??will??sue??this??show?? #theBachelorette
— Nicole Thonn (@nicolethonn) July 18, 2017
this isn't Rachel meeting Dean's family. this is abc taking advantage of Dean's toxic family situation #TheBachelorette
— The Bachelor Diaries (@thebachdiaries) July 18, 2017
Producers were accused of taking advantage of the “toxic” storyline in order to drum up views:
Many even turned on beloved front woman Rachel for dumping Dean in his most vulnerable moment:
— m ?? (@maddyglasgow) July 18, 2017
— tonya harding’s crispy bangs (@amdeeeeeee) July 18, 2017
One pointed out how death and grief manifests in a real way:
All joking aside this is a really sad example of how death can take a toll on ppl's lives..I feel for Dean & his whole fam? #TheBachelorette
— J.S. Bella (@Bella_Joolz) July 18, 2017
Though it seems that Dean was able to bounce back after his heartbreaking elimination:
— Bachelor in Paradise (@BachParadise) July 18, 2017
He joined the cast of the recently controversial “Bachelor in Paradise” to take another shot at love, hopefully finding the one woman who can repair his shattered heart.