Time for another four nights (OH GOD FOUR NIGHTS) where the Powers That Be take what little inherent narrative there is in attractive people getting drunk on a beach and throw it away! Welcome back to Paradise.
I think I’ve identified what the key problem with this show is, and it’s that whoever’s editing this is sacrificing ‘story’ for — to use a Bachie buzzword — ‘drama’.
To elaborate: conflict is the driving force of narrative. This is particularly true in romance narratives, because ‘two people meet, discover they have a lot in common, and get together’ is not that compelling. You need some obstacle for them to overcome so they can symbolically earn their happy ending.
This show has conflict. It has conflict in spades. But what the editing staff are not doing is are balancing conflict with narrative development. ‘People meet and fight a lot’ is not compelling if we don’t know why they’re fighting, because you’re robbing the narrative of stakes.
As with most things, good storytelling needs balance, and Paradise is not delivering. The emerging triangle between Luke, Lisa, and Michael last week was an excellent example. We’ve been told Luke and Lisa are a couple, but we haven’t been allowed to see that develop, so when conflict does interject itself into their relationship in the form of Michael, we don’t care. Likewise, we’ve had no inkling thus far that Michael is secretly yearning for Lisa, or even that Michael and Luke are particularly good friends. Michael bursting into tears over dogging his mate is meaningless when we’re not invested in the friendship.
This is the knowledge about narrative and romance you can have every day if you hire me as a consultant, Bachie. Call me.
Also, if you were wondering whether this narrative thread about Michael, Luke, and Lisa was going to go somewhere: HAHAHAHA, of course it isn’t. Luke and Lisa have a conversation, decide they’re committed to each other, and then proceed to become part of the furniture for the rest of the episode. Narrative balance? What’s that?
The other element of the story that has been way out of balance has been the dudes, on account of they are all garbage people. For example, let us take Eden, who seemed fine to begin with, but then ditched Nina (she didn’t want to kiss him, and he ‘had needs’, ugh) for Elora.
(Also trash? Sam, for telling Eden ‘you’re far better than the situation you were subjected to’. I’m afraid going a week un-pashed does not high trauma make, buddy.)
We begin today’s episode with Eden getting a date card, and it’s time for some comeuppance. He promptly takes Elora, who reluctantly accepts — presumably out of gratitude for the rose, because she freely admits that she’s not attracted to him.
They go boogie-boarding down some sand-dunes — a hand has clenched tight around the purse strings again — and Elora spends the whole time backing away from Eden and laughing so as not to hurt his feelings. ‘I hope this doesn’t get too awkward,’ Elora says, making this the most realistic Bachie first date of all time.
But it gets even more awkward when they get to the wine and cheese portion. Eden is all ‘I can’t read her signals!’ which we all know is code for ‘she doesn’t like me, and I don’t want to acknowledge it’, so he starts smearing food on her while she keeps yelling at him to stop.
Eden is officially cancelled.
But there is some light on the horizon today, because GUESS WHO’S HERE?! Welcome to the dramatis personae:
Apollo (Sophie’s season): He’s a magician. He’s basically made of abs. He’s named himself ‘Apollo’. All of these ingredients should add up to ‘unbearable douchebag’, but Apollo is possibly Bachie’s purest ever cinnamon roll (with the possible exception of James, also from Sophie’s season, who is one of his besties).
I want Apollo to be with Tara more than anything in the world — well, no, that’s not quite correct. I want Sophie Monk and Tara to team up and fight crime, and for Apollo to help them out a la Jonathan Creek, but if I can’t have that whole fantasy, then Apollo dating Tara would do.
When Tara sees Apollo, she shrieks in joy. ‘I love Apollo!’ she yells, in what should be the final, triumphant line of the season, as they ride off into the sunset together.
But — sigh — her Paradise boyf Uncle Sam is hard on her heels, and they agree to help Apollo decide which lady to take on a date.
Keira is the first to approach, much to the chagrin of Jarrod (‘Apollo’s a boy!’ he says sneeringly, because we all know that being a super intense stalker is the sign of a Man™). Keira tells us that ‘Australia’ would like her to kiss Apollo, which is one of the more creative excuses I’ve heard for wanting to kiss Apollo, but when she’s finished chatting with him, she goes straight over to Jarrod and they get back together, which: siiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.
The person Apollo does end up clicking with is Simone, whom he immediately identifies as the ‘penis-sticker girl’ from Matty’s season (in reference to this episode, if you want to relive the magic. There’s part of me that kind of hopes Apollo and Simone can make it work now, because saying that Matty’s peen brought you together would be, ahem, a thing). But this immediately causes drama, because a) Simone has been besties with Elora since they were on The Bachelor together, and b) Elora has been extremely open about her ladyboner for Apollo.
When Elora gets back from her date, she turns into the human version of the heart-eyes emoji when she sees Apollo. She is extremely not pleased to find out that her BFF has accepted the date, but she’s like, ‘oh well, Apollo’s still fair game’, and pulls him aside to chat.
This does not impress Simone, who is all, ‘OMG, she’s stealing my dude!’ However, this in turn does not impress the other denizens of Paradise, who are like, ‘ummm… you’re not married, Elora can talk to whoever she likes, and also didn’t you know that she was into him? If you’re going to be this territorial straight up, you are not going to do too well here, kid.’
Simone grumbles, mightily displeased.
The next day, this leads to some serious friend drama. ‘I’m happy for you to go on your date with Apollo, but please don’t mention my name,’ Elora says to Simone. ‘I don’t want him to know that I like him. If it doesn’t work with you, him knowing I like him might put him off.’
‘…?’ says Simone.
This response is fair enough, because Elora’s request is a bit Year Five, but when Simone processes this request, her reaction is a bit OTT. She decides that Elora is trying to OMG STEAL APOLLO, and is a BAD FRIEND WHO MUST BE STOPPED.
While this relationship goes off the rails, another relationship gets back on them. (Is that a thing you can do with rails? IDK, don’t @ me.) Jarrod takes Keira on a picnic — I’m not unconvinced that he’s simply stumbled on a picnic pre-set for a different date, and just moved in on it — and tells her he wants to be with her, and then we have to endure him kissing her, and uggggghhhhhh.
It really is terribly convenient that Jarrod is earnestly interested in a serious long-term relationship with Keira whenever the ladies have the roses. Just saying.
The picnic that Jarrod stole might have been for Apollo and Simone, because they go on their date (while Elora monologues ad nauseam back at the beach about how attracted to Apollo she is, as everyone politely nods and says ‘mmm-hmmm’). They go canoeing, but this turns more into falling in than actual canoeing.
Also, the milestones they’re canoeing around are a few tragic half-inflated balloons that look like the saddest escapees from a six-year-old’s birthday party, so the fist on those purse-strings is clenched, yo.
Simone says the date itself is a disaster, but that she and Apollo have an absolute blast together. And they do seem to have quite a nice time — they laugh a lot — but … sigh. Moment of silence for what might have been if Apollo and Tara had entered Paradise at the same time.
Tara, tragically, is committed to Uncle Sam. He’s built her some kind of love shack situation out of bamboo and ferns — ‘Is this because I like tradies?’ Tara demands to know — and they declare their feelings to each other in its shadow.
‘I always wanted to date a funny girl, but you are beyond funny,’ Sam tells her. ‘You make me pee when I don’t need to pee.’
‘You make me want to pee too,’ Tara says.
This is not a paraphrase. This is verbatim.
I have spent several days transcribing declarations of love from this franchise for research purposes, so trust me when I say that as far as a declaration of love goes, this one is … unusual. To say the least.
Also I completely refuse to be charmed by Uncle Sam. Not today, Satan.
One of the worst things about Tara and Sam being all loved up is it means they’ve been functionally written out of the storyline, which is now revolving almost entirely around Elora and Simone and their friendship drama. Word on the ‘Bachelor grapevine’ — ie a gossip loop that all Bachie contestants are on, not, like, the Daily Mail — is that Elora and Simone have competed for a guy on the outside before, and it didn’t go well.
The fact this rumour is spreading around the beach leads them to have an argument, and it’s framed as being straight out of the Women Can’t Be Friends With Other Women Because Bitches Be Toxic handbook. Intriguing, really, that Michael and Luke’s mutual desire for Lisa is a Manly Turf War, with Noble Man Feelings, while Elora and Simone’s mutual desire for Apollo is framed as catty. Whoever could have seen that one coming?
So let’s just sidestep away from that and focus on how interesting it is that a Bachelor grapevine exists. Barbara Rosenwein theorises the existence of the ’emotional community’, which is a group ‘in which people adhere to the same norms of emotional expression and value — or devalue — the same or related emotions’ (2007, 2). If you go deep enough down the Bachie rabbit hole, it seems like you become a member of a special Bachie emotional community: one where, perhaps, they finally let you know what those ‘right reasons’ that people are there and not there for actually are.
Tomorrow: more Elora/Simone friendship drama, and Michael seeks answers from Lisa, so look for the show’s constructions of female and male friendship to be cast in sharp relief.
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.