It’s our second night in Paradise! Last night, we met our cast of characters (which we’ll keep adding to as we go through — Paradise, unlike the main Bachie franchise, is PACKED with intruders) and the beginnings of a plot emerged.
Said plot went thusly: Florence and Jake have previously hooked up. Davey, upon entering Paradise, wanted to date Florence, but started talking to Leah. When Florence arrived, Davey dropped Leah for Florence, but then Jake arrived, and Florence got distracted. Davey got a date card, offered the date to Leah, and Florence got pissed. Florence decided to be henceforth Team Jake, but was then apprised of the fact that Jake is, to use her words, ‘a manwhore’. When Florence confronted Jake about this, he snottily declared it was a ‘stitch-up’. Meanwhile, Davey and Leah’s date went terribly, and finding Jake and Florence on the outs, Davey decided Florence might be worth pursuing again. Jake got a date card, and consulted with his bros — including Davey — on what to do. Davey, thinking Jake would choose someone else, started chatting up Florence, but then Jake asked Florence out, and whisked her out from under Davey’s nose, to Davey’s great chagrin.
If you need a diagram to understand all this, don’t worry, because if you break it down to the thematic level, it’s really quite simple. The theme here is that men are tools.
(Not all men, I know, I know, slow your roll, offended ones.)
One thing I want to touch on before I launch into what actually happened on Jake and Florence’s date is Jake’s assertion from last night that he ‘hates drama’, which he said several times on deciding whether to ask Florence on the date, and then uttered again a few times in tonight’s episode. It is my opinion that this phrase is a red, red, do-not-pass-go-do-not-collect-$200-go-to-jail-and-think-about-what-you’ve-done-red flag when uttered in the concept of a relationship, and this is because it is a phrase with distinct and overt — and pernicious — narrative implications.
To elaborate: our understandings of love are fundamentally intertwined with the notion of story. I think I’ve quoted this several times in these recaps before, but it’s a neat way of expressing this idea: in The Single Woman and the Fairytale Prince, Jean-Claude Kaufmann says ‘for someone who wants to be in a love story, the story is just as important as the love’ (2008, 62). We have a certain understanding of what a love story entails, certain milestones we expect to pass through: you meet, you fall in love, you get married, you have children, etc (think here of people saying that they’ve done things ‘out of order’ if they have children really early on in a relationship, for example).
One of the things a love story entails is conflict. Every romantic narrative has some reason why the two lovers can’t be together, some conflict or obstacle that keeps them apart, because that’s the driving force of narrative: they need something to overcome. They need to work — to overcome adversity — to get to the happy ending. Pamela Regis identifies this as one of the essential elements of a romance novel (2003, 30), and she calls it the barrier, noting that barriers can either be external (ie arising from circumstances outside the lovers’ control) or internal (ie arising from some issue between them).
What we have between Florence and Jake is an example of an internal barrier. She’s upset that he hasn’t been entirely forthcoming with her about his sexual history. In a love story, the characters would have to negotiate a way to move past this: in the most literal sense, this is drama.
But is this what Jake wants to do? No. By raising this issue, to him, Florence is ‘creating drama’. She’s literally inscribing their relationship into a love narrative, and he’s reacting badly to this.
We could read this in a couple of ways:
- He’s not interested in a romance — in a love story — and all that entails with Florence. By ‘creating drama’, and thus inscribing their relationship into this narrative, she’s imbuing it with meaning he’s not comfortable with.
However, he just asked Florence on a date, so this seems unlikely. Which leaves us with:
- He’s not interested in their story having dual protagonists. A romance is a story with a hero and a heroine (or two heroes, or two heroines, etc etc). By ‘creating drama’, Florence is complicating his lone-hero narrative in a way that he doesn’t want it to be complicated. He wants her to sublimate her will to his own, and not create a narrative which conflicts with his, in which he is straightforwardly heroic, with no hints of villainy.
I should note here that this is a broad brushstrokes reading, and I’m treating ‘Jake’ and ‘Florence’ as characters rather than people: I’m sure the psychological realities are more complex than this. However, the lesson here is that when someone tells you you’re ‘creating drama’, be wary — this has narrative implications, and it can make you realise what sort of narrative they want you to be in (which might not be the one you’re think you’re in).
Okay! On to the recap.
Florence and Jake go on their date, which is a classic Bachie picnic (in this case, next to a waterfall). Like Leah and Davey’s date in the last episode, this is obviously a Budget Bachie date — a rug, a few cushions, and a bottle of even middlingly decent champagne are not very expensive. This might have economic reasons behind it, but it also shapes the romantic narrative: it means that conversation, rather than adrenaline-driven passion and bonding, is being privileged.
Conversation, as I’ve written many times in my recaps of the main franchise, is the main ingredient of a romantic model we can call ‘intimacy’, which relies on communication and emotional closeness. But are Florence and Jake conversing particularly well? No, not really. There are long silences, she has extremely closed-off body language, and he says that he wants to talk to her about all their drama without ever, you know, talking about their drama.
Saying that you’d like to talk about something and then assuming that this means you’ve talked about it is like ‘hating drama’, straight from the fuckboy playbook. I’m going to start keeping track of fuckboy playbook manoeuvres as we go through, so look out for that fun regular feature.
Nevertheless, despite their conversational troubles, Florence and Jake immediately start making out once they start swimming. I suppose if you’re there and there’s a waterfall, you don’t have many other options. It’s not all sunshine and shampoo-commercial-esque make-out seshes, though, because the music Channel Ten put over this is straight-up ominous.
Back at the beach, Davey is complaining about how Jake put ‘dates before mates’ when he chose Florence to go on a date — and I am definitely going to have some things to say at some point about how ‘mateship’ is mobilised in this show, so keep your eyes peeled for that — when we get a new arrival. Add to our dramatis personae:
Sam (Sophie’s season): Got Sophie’s ‘double-delight’ rose, and then immediately revealed himself to be an enormous douchebag. Like, at one point he actually attempted to mansplain the music industry. To Sophie f^&*ing Monk. Also has incredibly architecturally confusing hair.
Sam says he’s single because he has ‘high expectations of what he can bring to a relationship’ which HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Ahem. Basically, he’s a dick, but he’s still not the worst douchebag on this show (cough Blake cough why is he here cough NO SERIOUSLY WHY IS HE HERE cough).
Sam quickly hones in on Keira as his best option for getting a rose at the upcoming rose ceremony, and attempts to turn on the charm. He isn’t very charming, but, as she notes, she doesn’t have a lot of options. Siiiiiiigggghhhhh. All these dudes are so terrible.
Someone who isn’t turning on the charm to try to get a rose is Brett, who is reportedly dating Steph (from Matty’s season) on the outside. Tara has reportedly tried to get Keira to give him her rose to keep him there in case Steph turns up. This doesn’t seem especially sensible, as multiple other contestants note … but look, if Tara asked me to do something, I’d do it. She’s Tara. She has her reasons.
When Jake and Florence return from their date, Florence pulls Tara aside and is like, ‘yeah, Jake and I totally made out under a waterfall, but I still don’t want to give him a rose’, which is possibly the first time I’ve ever seen anyone in a Bachie franchise not succumb to the magic of a waterfall make-out. When this information is related to Davey, he perks right up and starts remounting his charm (well, ‘charm’) offensive. ‘Do you think we could hang out more?’ he asks Florence.
And then Florence utters what might well be the greatest sentence ever uttered in this franchise: ‘We’re hanging out now. Be appreciative.’
I love her so much, you guys. If only she had better taste in men.
I can tell you who I do not love, which is basically every dude on this show. Jake and Davey get in a passive-aggressive argument over Jake cutting Davey’s grass, and the Council of Dudes basically agree that Jake Done Davey Wrong, and not one of them acknowledges that Florence is a person with agency instead of a toy that these two little boys are fighting over.
Next — it’s another new arrival! Let us add to the dramatis personae:
Laurina (Blake’s season): Practically perfect in every way, Laurina is most famous for being extremely unimpressed when Blake Garvey took her on a date to Harry’s Café du Wheels: ‘everyone else gets Ferraris, super-yachts, and private jets, and I get a dirty street pie!’ she said. This incident was so massive in Australian cultural consciousness that academic papers have been written about it…
…by me, sure, but still. I love her.
However, my love is immediately tested, because Laurina comes in with a date card, and who does she choose to go with her?
That would be the worst garbage person on this whole damn show (amid some pretty stiff competition): Blake.
Despite the fact that he is garbage, their date is mostly inoffensive. It is also the most Budget Bachie date yet, in that literally all they do is smear mud on each other and then wash it off in the sea. Blake is on Cloud 9, raving about how he’s just ‘clicked’ with Laurina, and there’s such a ‘spark’ between them.
Laurina’s assessment of the date is a little different: ‘I politely accepted his kiss. I would give that date a 6.2 out of 10.’
Every single lady on this show is unbelievably unimpressed with every single dude, and they’re so open about it, and it’s so great.
I’m less impressed by the fact that Tara somehow ends up in tears (she’s upset that people might think she has ulterior motives in wanting to keep Brett in, when all she really wants to do is be a fairy godmother for him and her friend Steph), and if I ever find out whichever producer engineered this drama and made her cry, I will be having words with them, let me tell you.
Florence calms her down — and if this whole show ends up being about the friendship between Tara and Florence, I am utterly and entirely here for it — and proposes a very sensible strategy: that they go and talk to Brett, and sort this whole drama out.
So Tara does, and it leads to something wholly unexpected: a producer getting involved in the diegesis.
This happens occasionally, and now, in the post-Unreal era, we’re all thrilled by it, but it’s generally only a line here or there. This, however, is a full-on conversation.
‘Why is Tara telling us you’re in a relationship?’ the producer demands to know.
‘Ummm…’ Brett stammers.
‘Are you and Steph in a relationship?’
‘We’re, um, seeing each other. But we’re not, like, in a relationship.’
‘Are you single?’
‘We’re not, um, Facebook official. There are degrees!’
Both Tara and the producer are very unimpressed.
And look, I couldn’t see the producer’s face, but he had a pretty impressive man-bun and looked to be of an age to mix it with these contestants, and given he’s now had more lines than a lot of them, I’d look for him to fall in love with one of them sometime soon.
Not Tara, though. If anyone messes up my beautiful dreams of Tara + Apollo 4eva, I’ll be cross.
Finally, it’s time for the rose ceremony. Most of the roses are spoken for, but the one rose that is genuinely up for grabs is Florence’s. Will she pick Jake? Will she pick Davey? How do you choose, when both your options are terrible? Is she allowed simply to set her rose on fire, and cast the ashes before her on the sand?
Alas, no. The cruel exigencies of Paradise force her to make a choice, and Florence chooses Jake.
I wanted to yell NOOOOOOO, but to be fair, if she’d picked Davey, I would have yelled the same thing. No good options here.
And so we say farewell to Davey and to you’re-not-a-couple-until-you’re-Facebook-official Brett, and to the first week of our journey into Paradise. Apparently next week Jarrod (yes, potplant Jarrod from Sophie’s season) turns up and multiple people express attraction to him, so be prepared to be baffled on every single imaginable level.
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.