RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S4 E05

RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S4 E05
The Bachelor Australia Season 4
Background photo: Robert Sheie (Flickr)

If Bachie do not throw Richie into this lake at some point in a puffy white shirt, they will be doing us all a disservice. Even if he is a Bingley, not a Darcy.

It’s time for Bachie-with-Jodi again! We’re getting to the point in the journey (DRINK) where things are starting to get more established. We have a real sense of the lay of the land: we have a sense of who our golden boy-king likes and who’ll be around for a while, and who’s there just marking time.

Much has been written about how unnatural the construction of romance is in Bachie, and how forced and scaffolded the relationships are. But I think one of the things we don’t talk about are the contestants who clearly are there as filler: we know, as an audience, that they’re not going to win or be serious contenders, but they’re still there to make up numbers.

These characters — I say characters, but they are real people — are forced, essentially, to be extras in a bunch of other love stories. And I think it’d be a bit naïve to assume that these people have no idea they’ve been sidelined: they can surely tell by the amount of time (ie none) that they have with the Bachie that this is not destined to be their love story. And because they’re not primary characters in the love story, they’re effectively ignored.

It obviously makes sense in the narrative of Bachie, which is about the establishment of romantic relationships, but it does point to the ubiquity of the love narrative in our culture, and how few other narrative possibilities there are, particularly for women. The only other one there is, really, is the villain narrative: and our culture is not kind to women who are deemed villainous.

At least Keira has carved out her own narrative space, though. Good on you, Keira.

But back to the recap! The first date this week is a single date, and the recipient is Alex. As Alex is also the holder of the Special White Rose of Specialness, which gives her alone time with Richie whenever she desires at any cocktail party, this goes down like a lead balloon with the other ladies. There is much grumbling about ‘fairness’: which contravenes the notion of ‘all’s fair in love and war’ and really establishes this as a competition, rather than an emotional playground.

… Emotional Playground is now officially the name of my first album.

The most interesting thing to note about this pre-date BUT WHO WILL GET THE DATE shenanigan is that I’m pretty sure Keira is drinking coffee out of a wine glass. Respect.

The date that Richie takes Alex on is pretty ill-defined. Honestly, Team Bachie is doing a pretty poor job at structuring their single dates this season. I feel like they need a date consultant. Someone with encyclopaedic knowledge of dating history and tropes. Someone with expertise in the field of romance… perhaps PhD level expertise.

Ahem.

Richie takes Alex to a clothes shop, because ladies like clothes, right? (Literally, he says this: he’s like, ‘Being raised by two ladies means I know that ladies like clothes!’) She tries on a bunch of dresses, he desperately searches his vocabulary for every synonym for ‘beautiful’ he knows, and then blushes a little bit when the shop assistant suggests Alex tries an ‘undies tuck’ — ie. tucking the dress into the front of her undies.

Is that a thing? That people do? Genuinely interested.

Anyway, it’s a) not that interesting, and b) deeply, deeply embedded in capitalist fantasy. ‘Man buys lady things’ is not, shall we say, my favourite genre of date.

Next, they head off to what Alex calls a ‘high tea’, but which is actually just a random assortment of pink food and drink: it’s, like, pink biscuits and cosmos. (The cosmopolitan, incidentally, is a clear intertextual nod to Sex and the City, which would fit with the consumerist fantasy of this date, although not so much with the greater romantic fantasy of Bachie.) There, they have the standard Single Date Deep Talk™, during which two things of interest are said (kind of):

1. When Alex asks about how Richie would feel about becoming a stepdad to her son, he says he’s thought about what kind of man he wants to be, and then DOES NOT ELABORATE. My papers on ideal masculinity in Bachie are not going to write themselves, Richie! Pony up your thoughts, you golden albatross.

2. Alex tells Richie that she thinks ‘love has no boundaries’. This is fascinating (to me, anyway) when we couple it with the omnipresent discussion of the emotional ‘walls’ contestants in the show have up. It suggests that you need to collapse the boundary of the self in order to have a successful relationship. Two must become one: individual identity must be sacrificed in service of the greater collective identity of the couple. This seems … problematic.

Then they go and dance to some singing guy and have a pretty epic pash (like, it’s definitely a pash — it could not be mistaken for a mere kiss). Richie very smoothly removes the wine glass from Alex’s hand mid-snog, which makes me think it’s a move he’s rehearsed, because there’s no way he, the awkward dork prince of the sunflower people, could do that without practice.

The next date is a group date. The date card reads ‘nobody puts Baby in the corner’, which obviously causes the women to speculate that it’s a dancing date, because hello, Swayze quote.

But that’s not what it is. It’s a parenting date. There are realistic baby dolls, and the ladies on the date have to look after them. ROMANCE AMIRITE.

We can all see the problems with this date, right? I feel like I don’t need to explain why ‘hmmm, who will be the best mum?’ is a problematic premise for a date. So I will reserve my anger for the misuse of that Dirty Dancing quote.

BECAUSE DAMN IT, BACHIE, THAT IS NOT A QUOTE ABOUT BABIES. BABY HOUSEMAN IS NICKNAMED BABY BECAUSE IT’S A COMING-OF-AGE STORY. IT’S A SEXUAL DEBUT NARRATIVE. IT’S A NARRATIVE ABOUT DISCOVERING AGENCY. IT’S A NARRATIVE ABOUT HELPING OTHER WOMEN AND DANCING SEXILY WITH SEXY DANCERS. NOBODY PUTS BABY IN THE CORNER BECAUSE SHE HAS DISCOVERED HER IDENTITY AS AN AGENTIC SEXUAL ADULT WOMAN. IT IS AN AMAZINGLY SEXUALLY PROGRESSIVE FILM FOR ITS TIME AND IT WANTS NO PART OF THE REGRESSIVE CONSERVATISM OF THIS DATE.

… I have a lot of feelings about Dirty Dancing, in case you hadn’t noticed. I also have a lot of feelings about misappropriating texts (I mean, hello, I’m an English lecturer). This is not how you do intertextuality, Bachie.

So the ladies try and look after these baby dolls on a weird mini-golf date. Because that is what you do with newborns, apparently: you take them to play putt-putt. The best reaction of the date goes to Noni, who demands a glass of champagne for every child present on the date (which is seven). She is really diversifying her pro-bacon campaign platform for Richie’s heart, and I’m here for it.

It turns out these babies are actually SURPRISE PANOPTICON BABIES and have been surveilling them to tell who’s the best mother. I can’t tell if this is better or worse than Richie making the ‘best mum’ call himself, but it’s definitely super creepy.

The winner (though did any of us really win in this experience?) is Nikki. Richie takes her home to his Bachelor Pad, and they stare out at his personal lake together. If Bachie do not throw Richie into this lake at some point in a puffy white shirt, they will be doing us all a disservice. Even if he is a Bingley, not a Darcy.

It’s a regular One Direction song in this date: Nikki is all, ‘I don’t know I’m beautiful!’ and he’s like, ‘That’s what makes you beautiful!’ and she’s like, ‘Can I kiss you?’ and they snog, and she’s all, ‘Nice kiss!’ and he’s like, ‘I normally say that!’

Which reveals that he knows he does that performance review post-mortem thing on his kisses. He KNOWS. And he STILL DOES IT. Oh, Richie.

Then it’s time for the cocktail party, where once again, some drama is manufactured out of nothing. Nikki admits she pashed (not kissed: important semantic difference) Captain Cool Bananas, and this causes much to-do with the other women, who assumed that Richie was as pure and innocent as the driven snow. ‘I was just talking to my friends about the boy I liked!’ Nikki protests, somehow conveniently forgetting that all her friends like the same boy, too.

Essentially, it’s pretty basic harem politics stuff. Call me when you have some real drama, Bachie.

Tragically, the eliminee in the rose ceremony is Eliza, the awkward songstress, which is very sad but will probably limit the amount of winces we all endure while watching this. As she leaves, she advises the other women to ‘look after their hearts’. This sounds nice, but the dedicated Bachie viewer knows this is actually OMG SABOTAGE, because looking after your heart will get you nowhere on this show. You have to ‘open up’. You have to ‘let down your walls’. You have to ‘be vulnerable’. Because if you don’t do these things, how will they get you to cry on camera when you leave?

The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.

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Jodi is a literary historian currently working as a lecturer at the University of Tasmania. Her research focuses on the history of love, sex, women, and popular culture, so reading romance novels is technically work for her. Shed a tear for Jodi. Jodi is also an author, and her debut YA paranormal novel Valentine is due out in February 2017. One time, she was invited on a special private tour of the set of The Bold and the Beautiful, and it was the single best hour of her life.

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