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The Bachelorette aired a difficult episode on Monday night — one that has divided viewers of the ABC reality franchise, who are collectively referred to as Bachelor Nation.
Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay visited the hometowns of her final four men and met their families. But one, 25-year-old Dean Unglert, would be confronting his estranged father and reuniting his family under the same roof for the first time in eight years.
Unglert had opened up to Lindsay the episode prior about how he felt abandoned by his father after his mother died when he was 15. He called his father “eccentric” and said he hoped that Lindsay would accept his “dysfunctional patriarchal family.” On Monday, viewers were able to see what Unglert had been referring to when his father, who now goes by his chosen name of Paramroop Singh Khalsa, welcomed the family — and millions of ABC viewers — into his home.
Unglert explained how his father, now a Sikh Kundalini yogi, converted to Sikhism and that the contestant has suppressed his feelings about their strained relationship, having not seen each other in two years. The episode shone a light on the religion, which counts a following of over 20 million people worldwide and yet is rarely represented in pop culture or on TV. What ensued was a heartbreaking confrontation that highlighted a broken relationship between father and son.
After the episode aired, some viewers praised the exposure to Sikhism, while others criticized the reality series for exploiting Unglert’s father for ratings. When Lindsay decided not to give Unglert a rose shortly after, his elimination did not quell the latter half of Bachelor Nation. (The hashtag #DeanForBachelor was also quickly circulating.)
Speaking to On Air With Ryan on Tuesday morning, Lindsay told host Ryan Seacrest that her decision to eliminate Unglert was related to what she witnessed during the heartbreaking hometown date.
“Dean was learning a lot about himself, and I felt like some of the emotions he had with me in regards to love were wrapped up in that. I was still going through a lot of ‘firsts’ with him,” she explained, citing how she was the first girl he brought home to his family, and the first to be there as he handled those emotions. “I felt like he was still learning so much about himself and he wasn’t ready for the same things I was.”
Lindsay, who is 32, had previously told The Hollywood Reporter that her one requirement to casting her men was an age range. “I did say that I didn’t want any babies in their 20s, their young 20s,” she said. But on Tuesday, she clarified that her decision had nothing to do with her and Unglert’s seven-year age gap and confirmed their mutual attraction to each other.
“Dean is young but he’s been through so much it makes him older; I call him ‘my surprise,'” she said. “He was learning so much about things that had happened in his past, and he was flushing that out with me, and I felt like some of his love was wrapped up in that more than it was in me as a person.”
On Tuesday, Unglert, who will next appear on this summer’s Bachelor in Paradise, took to his social media to say that he felt “nothing but the utmost love and respect” for Lindsay and is “excited to watch the rest of her love story unfold.”
Ahead of the episode, the contestant had asked viewers to be “cognizant and accepting” of the Sikh community. “When I said my father was eccentric, I was not referring to his Sikh faith or the turban he wears on his head,” he wrote. Adding, “Although he and I are not close, I respect my father’s decision to follow his heart and pursue the life he has chosen.”
The episode resulted in The Bachelorette‘s biggest audience of the season.
Lindsay, who has already revealed that she is engaged to the winner, will bring her final three men — Peter Kraus, Bryan Abasolo and Eric Bigger — home to meet her family next week. Instead of heading into the annual overnight dates after hometown week, the star throws the guys a curveball and brings them back to Dallas. (Watch a preview here.)
Listen to Lindsay on On Air With Ryan below.
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