It’s only the first episode, and we’re already seeing some different narratives here. We’re seeing organic romantic failure, and I’m here for it.
It’s that time of year again — except that time of year has arrived rather earlier than normal. Generally, Bachie season in Australia runs from July to around October, as our eponymous Bachelors and Bachelorettes find love, with varying levels of success (we’re currently batting at 3/5 serious ongoing relationships for Australian Bachelors and 1/3 for Bachelorettes, if you’re keeping track). But Bachie’s back earlier this year, because it’s added another spinoff to the stable: welcome to the Australian iteration of Bachelor in Paradise.
So: what is this, exactly?
Bachelor in Paradise has had four seasons in the United States. It was developed to take over from previous spinoff Bachelor Pad, which had kind of a game-show feel as former Bachelor/ette contestants competed for money. There’s none of that in Bachelor in Paradise: instead, a bunch of ex-contestants are dumped in an idyllic tropical location, given lots of booze, and let loose.
I’ve heard it described as Bachie–does-Schoolies more than once, and it’s not entirely inaccurate, although I should be That Guy™ and point out that it’s not entirely accurate either — there’s a bit more structure than just: here, you’re all on a beach, you’re all drunk, get pashing.
It works like this: each week, one gender has the roses. For the sake of example, let’s say it’s the women. We’ll start out the week with even numbers of men and women, but, as the week progresses, a few more men will be introduced. At the end of the week, each woman has one rose, which she gives to the man of her choice. All the leftover men then get eliminated. The next week, the men will have the power, and more women will be introduced, and … you get the picture.
There are also date cards randomly allocated by producer logic — none of that oh, the Bachie planned this entire date just for you, and also slaved away with a quill doing calligraphy on the date card business here — but unlike the main franchise, the dates are fairly tangential to the plot. The real drama is on the beach, where all our contestants are hanging out with each other 24/7.
This means that there are important differences between Bachelor in Paradise and the main franchise which can lead to different kinds of love narratives. Notably:
1. The contestants are around each other constantly. Like, CONSTANTLY. In the main franchise, the actual contestants spend a lot of time in each other’s company while sequestered in the Bachie mansion, but crucially not with the actual Bachie. Here, all romantic prospects are in each other’s company all the time: which means that when you get to the end of the season, couples might actually have spent more than five minutes with each other.
2. There’s an element of choice in Bachie in Paradise that isn’t really there in the main franchise, where you’re presented with one Bachie and told, hello, yes, here is the person you must fall in love with. In Bachie in Paradise, there are options. Lots of them.
Given this, it’s unsurprising that Bachie in Paradise has a much higher success rate in the States than the main franchise (the latter of which is currently batting at a terrible 1/22 for Bachelors — 3/22 if you count the two that are still together with their respective runners-up — and a more respectable 6/13 for Bachelorettes). They’ve managed 3 weddings out of 4 seasons — although one of those (Marcus and Lacy) turned out to be fake — 1 still-ongoing engagement, and 2 babies (born to Jade and Tanner, and Carly and Evan respectively).
However, because of all the drinking and the push towards constant hedonism, it’s also come with some pretty intense scandals. Production was shut down for two weeks on the fourth season of Bachelor in Paradise last year for reasons they’re still pretty sketchy about spelling out (but were heavily implied to revolve around a female contestant being too drunk to consent to sex), and there were some doubts about whether the show would actually continue. Apparently, because of what happened in the States, the producers of the Australian iteration have been ultra-careful, according to (excellent, queen of my heart) contestant Laurina in the media a few days ago.
Okay! Enough of the setup! If there are more aspects of the narrative we need to clarify along the way, we’ll do it then. Let’s get into the recap, starting with our dramatis personae. Who’s in Paradise, looking for love?
Tara (Matty’s season): I know I just said Laurina was the queen of my heart, but Tara also has a strong claim to that crown. I wrote all about how much I loved her in my recaps of Matty’s season last year, and it is my dearest wish of my heart that she and Sophie Monk (also queen of my heart) open a private detective agency on the Gold Coast and start solving mysteries together. Possibly assisted by Apollo, the magician, in a sort of Jonathan Creek role.
…I also ship Tara and Apollo together A LOT, and if that doesn’t happen in Paradise, I’m legit going to be devastated.
Florence (Matty’s season): Florence was the straight-talking Dutch lady who openly wondered, after Matty asked her to jump off a building on one of her dates, ‘what are you doing, you stupid bitch? Go back to Melbourne and live your life!’ She also clearly enjoyed spending time with her friends more than Matty, so I’m hanging out for a strong friendship narrative from her.
Lisa (Blake’s season): Lisa was the runner-up on Blake’s season, and when Blake ditched Sam Frost, he reportedly called Lisa to see if it was still, you know, on. Lisa said no, and Blake promptly moved onto second runner-up Louise (whom he dated for 18 months, before they did a hilarious breakup shoot for a magazine where they stood on the edge of a cliff and looked sadly in opposite directions). A strong narrative emerged about how Sam and Lisa were Best Friends 4 Lyf, so maybe Lisa and Florence can form a girl gang?
Leah (Matty’s season): Leah was the villain on Matty’s season, who was heftily slut-shamed by his sister for formerly being a topless waitress (despite this being the occupation of at least two previous Bachelors). Is not especially nice to other women, to the degree that Tara doesn’t like her, so be prepared for some draaaaaaaammmmmmmmmma.
Nina (Sam Wood’s season): Nina set a Guinness world record on Sam Wood’s season for the longest on-screen pash (with Sam, not some other rando, although that would have been way more interesting). However, I dispute this, because I saw that episode of Flavor of Love where Flavor Flav and New York kissed for like a hundred hours (and will never be able to unsee it). Nina’s Most Memorable Moment is shrouded in controversy, if you ask me.
Davey (Sam Frost’s season): I think we were supposed to find Davey charming and larrikinish in his season, but he came across as an immature fuckboy. All signs still point to him being an immature fuckboy.
Michael (Sam Frost’s season): If Davey came across as a fuckboy, Michael came across as a fuck … man, I guess? Most famous for lying about being a Socceroo.
Jake (Georgia’s season): The most I remember about Jake is that I found him extremely boring. I looked back through my recaps of Georgia’s season and … yeah. Milquetoast. But given that he and Florence apparently have A History™, he’s already more interesting here than he was there.
Luke (Sophie’s season): Was an early fave on Sophie’s season, but faded into the background very quickly. Wore a lot of questionable hats.
Brett (Sophie’s season): Was completely non-memorable on Sophie’s season, but it is immediately revealed by Queen Tara that he has a girlfriend, so be prepared for him to be slightly more memorable here.
Eden (Sophie’s season): Did some breakdancing and is from New Zealand. I have no further memories of him beyond this.
Mack (Sophie’s season): Was super into Sophie, sang her some very awkward songs, and stared nervously at her while wearing a onesie.
Blake (Sophie’s season): Has been charged with assault and, as far as I know, is currently under investigation for revenge porn, so why the fuck is he here, exactly?
Once all the contestants have entered, Osher reveals that, this week, the women will be giving out the roses, so a bunch of these dudes will be leaving desperate and dateless (or will be returning to their girlfriends, who will immediately dump them, thus leaving them also desperate and dateless).
After uttering the immortal phrase ‘PAIR UP OR PACK UP’, which I honestly can’t believe Channel Ten aren’t using as the tagline to this show, Osher hands out the first date card. The recipient is Davey the Fuckboy, who proceeds to promptly behave like a bit of a fuckboy.
So while everyone was arriving, Davey started chatting up Leah because she said she was interested in him, but he told the camera that he was reeeeeally interested in Florence and then Florence arrived so he started chatting up her, but then Jake arrived and Davey was like, oh no he has a prior claim on Florence so I’d better go back to Leah, but before he gave the date card to Leah he was literally begging Florence for her rose, so Florence is now um wtf.
And gloriously — wonderfully — the Davey/Leah date is a bit of a fail. He’s incredibly thirsty (like, SO thirsty), and Leah eventually deigns to let him kiss her.
“IT WAS A BAD KISS,” she announces to the camera. “I WASN’T FEELING IT.”
I love this. Like, I love this. In the main Bachie franchise, basically every kiss is coded as OMG! so! romantic! and! perfect!, but we’re already seeing a different narrative here. We’re seeing organic romantic failure, and I’m here for it.
…of course, in US Bachie in Paradise, Carly famously claimed that Evan gave her erectile dysfunction after a very bad kiss, and now they’re married and have a child, so Leah and Davey will probably end up being that couple at the end that gets engaged, and I’ll look back on this recap and weep.
Back at the beach, Florence is bitching about the Davey sitch to her ladies, but the conversation turns around to Jake. “Um, both he and I are from the Gold Coast, and gurl, he has a baaaaaad reputation,” Tara tells Florence.
Florence, being quite a direct person, decides to get to the bottom of this by talking to Jake. And it turns out all that time he was being dull on Georgia’s season he did have a personality! and his personality is terrible! because this is how their conversation goes:
FLORENCE: I’ve heard some bad things about you.
JAKE: From who?
FLORENCE: From people here, from outside … everyone seems to have a story about you.
JAKE: Like who?
FLORENCE: It doesn’t matter. What matters is —
JAKE: Who told you?
FLORENCE: How about you listen to the words? That I’m saying?
JAKE: This is a stitch-up.
2. Jake is definitely not going to get a job with Sophie and Tara’s detective agency if he can’t work out which of the ladies on the show is the most likely to have shared this intel with Florence.
Oh, and also Jake then proceeds to get annoyed that Florence is listening to the ladies, which I feel is an excellent object lesson, as it’s straight out of the fuckboy playbook. There’s a reason bad men don’t want women listening to their lady-networks. ALWAYS LISTEN TO THE LADIES, LADIES. ALWAYS.
When Davey and Leah get back from their date, all the ladies go off together and chat about how terrible all the dudes are, and it’s so great, honestly. And if Tara could just narrate everything, I’d be here for it: “literally, I put on the kettle for my two-minute-noodles, Davey and Leah went on their date, I finished my noodles, and they’d already pashed and broken up,” she says.
I love her. So much. And if by some cruel twist of fate she doesn’t end up with Apollo, I will flip several tables if she’s not the Bachelorette this year.
The next day, we have a new entrant! Let us add to the dramatis personae:
Keira (Richie’s season): She was the villain of Richie’s season, mostly because she kept referring to the other ladies as ‘peasants’ and saying ‘game on, moll’ a lot. I feel like she was shooting for Laurina-levels of iconicity and it never quite works. However, Paradise has successfully worked as a redemption tour for Bachie contestants in the States — cf. Nick Viall, before he ruined it by becoming the Bachie and reminding us all he’s terrible — so look out for a strong arc for Keira.
Not much happens to Keira yet, though, because she immediately becomes a new audience for Florence’s many monologues about what fuckboys both Jake and Davey are. Then she delivers a monologue of her own about which of the dudes she is not prepared to date — not Michael, apparently, because she’s creeped out by his veneers — which is classic Keira.
…it is not coincidental, I think, that nearly all the dudes openly flee from her, she who has a reputation for being outspoken.
Another date card is thrown into the mix, and the recipient is Jake. He pulls some of the dudes aside for a Council Of Bros (where they all bitch and moan about how much they haaaaate draaaaammmmaaaa, because they’ve all been studying their copies of the fuckboy playbook intently), but then ultimately decides to ask Florence, which leads to outrage from Head Bro Davey, who had renewed hopes of chatting her up, and —
Cliffhanger. Or what passes for one, after one episode.
Tomorrow: the date! Will Florence be able to see past the fact that Jake is clearly quite terrible to make out with him under a waterfall? Or will she succumb to the temptation to try to drown him? Check back tomorrow to find out!
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.