Despair over this season’s spectacular failure to create a narrative. With a bit of Marxist criticism on the side.
According to the scholar Catherine Belsey, ‘To be in love is to be the protagonist of a story.’
This is, when you think about it, fairly self-evident: think about how intertwined the words ‘love’ and ‘story’ are in Western culture. Love is one of the key organising principles of our lives: it’s one of the narratives we attempt to live (and live up to).
Bachie is based on this principle: we live in a culture that perpetuates and re-perpetuates love stories, and this show is meant to be an illustration of the fact that love stories can happen in real life, too (even if it takes place in the peculiar fantastical space of reality television). But this is something that the team behind the construction of this year’s Bachie seem to have spectacularly — like, SPECTACULARLY — failed to understand.
This season of Bachie has no plot. Even though reality television is meant to be just that — reality — it needs a narrative arc to be understandable and comprehensible to its viewers. Last year’s Bachie did a beautiful job with this: in particular, in their construction of the relationships of Bachie Sam and Snez and Bachie Sam and Heather. But this year, they seem to have completely — and literally — lost the plot. Everything we know about Richie we learned from his tenure on The Bachelorette [ Best of Richie, Ch 10 ]: we’ve learned nothing new. And Keira aside, we only have the barest window on the ladies: there are no characters there we can root for either.
And if you can’t get behind the characters, why would you get behind the love story? So much of this season feels phoned in, and the issue is evident at multiple levels: I’ve talked several times about the half-arsed dates and how they aren’t well-constructed, but there are some broader narrative issues as well — ie the fact that they don’t have one.
Sigh. I had such high hopes for this season of Bachie — Richie being a perfect golden albatross and all — and it’s super bumming me out.
But on to the recap. We open today with the original ladies grumbling about the intruders and HOW DARE THEY COME IN AND TRY AND STEAL OUR COLLECTIVE BOYFRIEND RRRRAAAAAHHHHH, before Osher interrupts with a date card. It’s for a single date, and apparently this week, there will be not one but two single dates, as well as the group date. DRAMA.
This single date goes to Olena, making it the First Second Date™. It also challenges us to remember who Olena is, because she’s done pretty much nothing since her first date. See notes above re poor construction of narrative.
The clue is ‘up, up and away’, because dates in this poorly planned season of Bachie are less dates than modes of transportation. The ladies speculate that it will be a hot air balloon, but it’s not: it’s a plane. Eh, whatever whatever.
I wish we saw more of Olena, because the way Richie talks about her is quite interesting in terms of romantic discourse.
1. He refers to her as ‘mysterious’, and this is something he finds very intriguing. This is a bit old-school in terms of romantic discourse: the lover as totally other, a mystery that the other lover must attempt to unravel but can never really solve.
2. And yet, she wants to know all about him and he wants to know about her. This speaks to a much more modern view of romance, which is based on intimacy achieved through communication.
Mystery is the enemy of communication, so Richie, in his desire to solve the mystery — to be Indiana Jones and uncover the treasure, as he puts it — is, as always, quite cutting-edge in his approach to romance. He is a thoroughly modern man, so it seems: even if the (arguably deliberately) mysterious Olena is occupying a more old-fashioned romantic space.
Their plane lands in a winery, and they wander around, have a picnic, and chat. Richie laments that he has to ‘work hard’ to get Olena to ‘open up’ — geez, Rich, I feel so bad for you, let me shed a tear — but he is satisfied, and she gets a rose.
We never see any staff at this winery — it seems like a ghost winery, like the wine magically makes itself. This is fairly common to a lot of the dates: we might possibly see one extra person (like the rum guru on the poorly planned pirate date last night), but never more than that. This is something that Bachie has in common with a literary genre called the pastoral, which is mostly about shepherds and shepherdesses frolicking, flirting, and fucking while their sheep magically take care of themselves. It’s a utopian genre, in which labour has magically been disappeared.
Needless to say, many critics — especially Marxist critics — have had a lot to say about the way that labour is disappeared and thus symbolically devalued in texts like these, and a lot of these criticisms could be applied straight to Bachie. This is doubly true because of the obvious fiction that the Bachie plans all the dates — eg ‘I thought I’d set up a picnic for us here,’ Richie tells Olena, when it’s obvious that he had nothing to do with that. This is part of the utopian fiction that is Bachie — the Bachie bubble — but it’s also very problematic if we want to do any kind of economic ideological analysis.
And I bet that’s just the kind of analysis you came here to read — everyone wants a bit of Marxist criticism in their Bachie recaps. Don’t they?
Let’s continue. Next up is the group date and — ugh, guys, this is so depressing. The ladies are picked up by Richie and Osher on a fishing boat. Their destination? The Sydney Fish Markets. Their task? To buy fish and then cook one of Richie’s favourite seafood meals. The winner gets extra time.
FLAMES. FLAMES ON THE SIDE OF MY FACE.
…I’m sure I don’t have to explain why ‘cook for me, woman, and I shall judge you!’ is a problematic premise for a date. (My goodness, imagine if someone proposed that as a date activity IRL. IMAGINE.)
Anyway, they all cook, and the winners of the extra time are Rachael (aka excellent face lady) and Noni (Queen of Bacon). They go to dinner, where Noni tries to eat an oyster and fails miserably. Rachael reflects that this is a sign of Noni’s immaturity, and says that it shows that Noni isn’t ready for love with Richie.
This idea of being ready vs not being ready for love is soooo modern in the grand scheme of things. It speaks to a very twentieth century notion of love being something that you do rather than love being something that happens to you. In the passive form, love can happen to you whenever, but in the newer, active form, you have to be up to the task of doing love: you have to be ready.
Then it’s time for a single date: and THANKS HEAVENS the recipient is Keira, aka by far the most interesting person here, on account of being the only person allowed to have a personality. ‘I know Keira has hated the group dates, so I’m going to take her on a date in her comfort zone!’ Richie says brightly.
That date is a yoga date, and despite the fact that I would run in horror from anyone suggesting exercise as a great date activity, Keira is pretty into it. She’s a bit TOO into it for Richie: there’s an instructor (gasp! visible labour!), but Keira keeps talking over her and criticising Richie’s yoga moves.
I guess we have learned one thing about Richie today: he does not enjoy being yogasplained to.
And so, in the post-yoga champagne picnic, he tells Keira that he doesn’t think there’s a future for them: that they’re ‘two different people’.
(I haaaaaaaate this phrase ‘two different people’, by the way. I mean, you’re obviously two different people, so the underlying meaning is so insidious: ‘you have refused to adequately sublimate your identity into mine’.)
NOOOOOO HOW WILL WE COPE SHE WAS LITERALLY THE ONLY INTERESTING PERSON HERE.
‘I’m not worried about finding love,’ Keira proclaims in her exit interview. ‘I’m going to be fine.’
I’d be 100% here for her confidence if she didn’t pair it with a rant about what enormous bitches all the other ladies in the house were.
The ladies are already at the cocktail party when Osher breaks the news to them that Keira is gonnnnne. Everyone is SHOCKED but also happy, as they all confide in each other. ‘You’d have to be a real strong man to take on someone like Keira,’ Alex says, perhaps unaware that this is a bit of an insult to Richie.
She’s not happy with Richie, actually, because he pulls Nikki aside and performs what Rachael prosaically calls a ‘pash and dash’. (So much Australian romance-jargon is so prosaic, and I love it so much.) Look for Alex to assume supervillain status now Keira has gone: how dare she be bothered that the boy she likes also likes someone else?
Oh, and then the rose ceremony is cancelled, perhaps because they ran out of time, leaving us all to lament the loss of Keira. But maybe, in her absence, the show will be forced to construct some kind of narrative in order to compensate for her loss? A lady can dream.
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.