Just when you think ABC’s “The Bachelor” franchise can’t get any stranger, one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks suddenly becomes a big storyline on the show – without appearing once on camera.
And it’s all because of Jordan Rodgers, one of the final four men vying for JoJo Fletcher’s love this season on “The Bachelorette.” Last week, in advance of JoJo coming home to meet his family, Jordan revealed that he has no contact with his famous brother Aaron Rodgers, also known as the Super Bowl-winning star quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.
On Monday night’s episode, viewers saw just how strained things are between Aaron and the Rodgers family, as Jordan took JoJo to his hometown of Chico, California, and introduced her to his parents and older brother, Luke. Aaron was noticeably absent. At one point, the cameras showed an old photo of the three Rodgers brothers and their dad – but Aaron’s face was blurred out. Later, things took an emotional turn: “I miss my brother a lot,” Jordan admitted.
Given that this is the first time the franchise has been able to capitalize on drama surrounding a famous sibling of a contestant, here are five questions we have going into the penultimate episode next week:
1) How much more drama can ABC milk out of this clearly painful family issue?
It all depends on whether Jordan, a frontrunner since the first episode, wins – the producers left viewers hanging with a cliffhanger about whom JoJo selects as her final three. But if Jordan does make it to the end and gets engaged to JoJo, that means he is contractually obligated to sit on a couch during the live finale and answer any question from host Chris Harrison, and we can pretty much guarantee Aaron would come up.
2) Seriously, what happened between them?
So far, viewers have gleaned it has something to do with Aaron’s immense fame (Jordan implied Aaron has different priorities now) and Jordan’s lifelong insecurity at being the far less superior athlete in the family. After Jordan took JoJo to see his old high school, JoJo noticed a picture of Aaron on the wall. “Yeah, we got pictures everywhere,” Jordan responded vaguely. His hesitation about going into the issue again made JoJo even more curious.
“You could tell Jordan just didn’t really want to talk about it and that it hurts him to bring it up. For the last year or two, his brother hasn’t been a part of his life,” JoJo pondered. “It makes me wonder just, you know, where did things go wrong? Like, how did that happen?”
You and everyone else, JoJo. “Is that something that we don’t talk about?” JoJo asked Jordan after the high school tour, just before she met his parents.
Jordan confirmed that indeed, it is not something the Rodgers family discusses. “It doesn’t need to be a topic,” he assured her. “I’ll just tell (my family) we talked about it, and … yeah.”
3) So what was Jordan’s dad implying?
Jordan’s father, Ed Rodgers, seemed to say a whole lot by saying very little when he met with JoJo, who asked him what he thought about the whole “Bachelorette” process.
“It’s kind of a weird environment to meet somebody. And our family’s in the media a lot, and especially, you know, all the boys, especially one,” he said, not naming names. “And fame can change you. But one thing I know about Jordan – he’s so strong-willed. He’s not gonna let that change him in any way, you know?”
4) What is Jordan trying to accomplish here?
Last week, it seemed like Jordan was just going through the motions of proving to JoJo that he had a sensitive side, a time-honored tradition for macho “Bachelorette” contestants. This time, it appeared to be almost a nationally televised plea to reach out to Aaron.
Jordan’s eldest brother, Luke, helped illustrate this. “It pains both of us, like, not to have that relationship. We miss our brother,” Luke told JoJo. “We just are trusting that that God brings things full circle … it’s a wish that everything would just get back to, you know, us being a family.”
Jordan added a similar sentiment to the cameras. “It would have been nice to share JoJo with not only my parents and my brother Luke but Aaron as well,” he said. “I miss my brother a lot, especially moments like this, because my family means so much.”
While hanging out with the Rodgers family, JoJo couldn’t help but notice two empty chairs at the dining room table – one presumably for Aaron, and the other (maybe?) for his longtime girlfriend, actress Olivia Munn.
“There’s two empty seats, and I know that they all probably wish Aaron was sitting in one of them,” JoJo sighed. “It’s hard, because, like, that’s Jordan’s brother. That’s Luke’s brother. That’s Ed and Darla’s son. I have no idea, nor could I even imagine why Aaron wouldn’t want to be a part of their lives.”
5) When is Aaron going to weigh in on all of this?
Speaking of Aaron’s point of view in this whole situation … it has been non-existent. So basically, even after the show wraps up in early August, Aaron can expect some really fun questions from the media when football season starts up again.