It’s that time of week again! Bachie-with-Jodi has returned for Episode III of 2017, in which Dr Jodes is horrified by Bachie’s poor historicity. Not surprised. But horrified. HORRIFIED.
Oh, my god, you guys. What they did to poor old romantic history this week. It’s … just … no. I literally can’t even.
But that will take us a while to get to, so let’s start at the beginning, when Osher turns up in the house with a message for the ladies from Matty.
‘Why couldn’t he just call us?’ one of the women says.
‘Because he has me!’ quoth Osher brightly, for verily, he is Hermes, carrying the messages of Aphrodite, goddess of love.
He doesn’t have Hermes’ winged shoes, but he does have magic pockets (though I swear this time the date card just appeared in his hand. I think his powers are getting stronger), and leaves a date card behind.
It’s a single date, and the recipient is Laura.
If you’re only following Bachie via recaps, here is a little about Laura:
- She looks a bit like Georgia Love, AKA Matty’s Bachie ex-girlfriend, AKA my TV best friend.
- She is a jewellery designer, and so far as I can tell, has the career of Ivy Forrester, AKA the one Australian character on The Bold and the Beautiful.
- I am calling it now: she is my pick to win this whole thing.
Matty picks her up in a dinghy, because apparently every single date has to be a boat date this season. They take that boat to another boat, where they eat grapes and chat on the way to their destination.
Laura talks a lot, and confesses to the camera that she’s babbling because she’s nervous. But! I theorise that is actually a good thing, because of a little concept I like to call the erotics of talk. (NB: I did not coin this term – feminist theorist Carla Kaplan did – but it is such a useful concept for thinking through modern romance, imho.)
Remember how I made that call last episode that Elora wasn’t going to win, because Matty was saying things like he was ‘drawn’ to her and that he didn’t have to speak to her much to feel that attraction? Laura is the opposite, and what we see on this date is a romantic connection founded on conversation and an immediate sense that they each understand the way the other communicates: ‘we have the same sense of humour,’ Laura tells us.
This is, as Matty’s turn on The Bachelorette has shown us, much more in line with his preferred mode of romance. He’s a talker – he makes eloquent speeches, as I discussed in my recap of the first episode – and he’s also, as he shows us here, a listener. ‘I wanted to show you that I listen,’ he tells Laura, because he’s heard that Dr Jodes (via Carla Kaplan again) discusses an archetype called the ‘ideal listener’ in her work and he really wants to make her life easy. ‘I know you’re artistic. So for the next stage of this date, we’re going to draw each other.’
And … you guys.
It’s actually really nice.
‘Laura might have five years of tertiary fine arts training, but I won the Brookfield art competition when I was seven,’ Matty says, but we know – and he knows – that he actually sucks at this. They laugh their way through the drawing process, during which time Laura produces a reasonably serviceable portrait of Matty, and Matty produces a picture of Laura which she describes as ‘the most offensive thing I’ve ever seen’ while completely caning herself laughing. It comes across as a lovely, gentle, comfortable bonding experience and I’m here for it, because a man not caring that a woman is better than him at something – and actually celebrating her talent – is one of my favourite romantic tropes.
Interestingly, we can also see either a) an even stronger parallel narrative with actual queen Georgia Love being established here, or b) that Matty has a recognisable set of moves he uses on the ladies.
‘You have incredible features, by the way,’ he tells Laura.
If, like me, you have recently rewatched last year’s season of The Bachelorette because your research life revolves quite a lot around Bachie at the mo, you immediately went AAAHHHH, because the first real move Matty put on G Love? ‘You are stunning, by the way.’
As far as moves go, it’s not a bad one. A strong compliment followed by ‘by the way’ to make it seem casual and not as intense as adjectives like ‘stunning’ and ‘incredible’ might make it seem? That’s a pretty nifty opening salvo, Matty J.
The conversation falters for a moment. ‘What are you thinking?’ Laura asks.
‘I don’t know,’ Matty whispers, and then – and then –
And then the pash, it is on, like Donkey Kong. They put music over it that is like a massive angelic choir, and they’re framed by the sunset, and Laura’s like, ‘What were you saying?’ and Matty’s like, ‘Can’t remember,’ and they pash some more, and just fast-forward her to the final two right now because she is FOR SURE going to be there.
Next up is a group date! This is a medieval-themed date, where the ladies have to compete in various tournament events while wearing period dress in order to win some alone time with Matty. And I start jumping up and down and clapping my hands, not because I’m jazzed that the women are competing (I’m not), but because this is actually well-rooted in some cool romantic history.
Courtoisie, or courtly love, is one of the earliest discourses of romance we have in the West. CS Lewis says that it ‘appears quite suddenly at the end of the eleventh century in Languedoc’. I think he’s being a wee bit hyperbolic here, especially because we can see similar traditions in other cultures, but still, courtly love has definitely influenced some of the ways we think about love in the West.
Probably the most famous example we have of courtly love is Lancelot’s love for Guinevere in the Arthurian romances (which are, of course, set much earlier than the eleventh century, but many of which were written during this period). Lancelot publicly declared his romantic love for Guinevere by doing things like appearing as her champion in tournaments and wearing her favour upon his sleeve.
However, crucially, in the model of courtly love, the beloved – always a woman – was always unavailable, and did not reciprocate this love. In the case of Guinevere, she was unavailable because she was the queen of the country. In medieval romances, Lancelot’s performance of courtly love for her was acceptable, but when Guinevere reciprocated this love, and when – GASP – they consummated their relationship, then shit (ie like, the actual nation-state) fell apart.
Anyway, there are a few things I’m getting at with this brief history of courtly love and which I was immediately excited about when I saw the setup for this date:
- This group date, however humiliating it is to actually compete for a beloved, has got its roots in romantic history: and, indeed, in romantic competitions.
- Also it’s gender-flipped! While I’m not in love with a bunch of women competing over a man, in the original model of courtly love, the women weren’t allowed to be the active lovers, only the passive beloveds, and were basically denied feelings. I like the activity ascribed to the women in this reimagining.
- In courtly love, the beloved does not reciprocate the lover’s love. This is basically true for Bachie as well. Many are competing for Matty’s love, but only one can actually be his special Matty friend. So in that sense, the non-reciprocation inherent in courtly love works well here, if in a cutthroat sort of way.
Okay, educational portion over. Recap of group date starts NOW.
Or it would have started now, if Bachie hadn’t gone and evoked completely the wrong time period. ‘The year is 1509 and Henry VIII has just been crowned king!’ Osher announces brightly, as knights joust behind him.
No. Just no. This is why:
- Henry VIII was in a horrific jousting accident in 1536 which, many have theorised, toooooooootally screwed him up. Combining jousting and Henry VIII? Not romantic.
- Henry VIII was also not someone you would, ahem, want to be the Bachie. Did the refrain ‘divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived’ just totally pass the date organisers by? And that’s not even mentioning all his mistresses.
- YOU HAD COURTLY LOVE ICONOGRAPHY RIGHT THERE FOR THE TAKING AND YOU DECIDED TO SET YOUR GROUP DATE 400 YEARS TOO LATE WHYYYYYYYY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME.
Though maybe it’s a good thing that they didn’t lean on courtly love iconography, because this date does not exactly involve the events of a medieval tournament.
There are three competitions in this date (what has happened to me that the phrase ‘competitions in this date’ just looks completely normal to me?), in which four ladies each take part. The two winning ladies from each then get to go to a ‘royal banquet’ with Matty, while the others … starve, I guess.
Challenge #1: Pig-catching. Osher tells us that this is because medieval women had to roll up their sleeves and manage the household and suchlike. This isn’t wrong, per se, but you’ve dressed up your Bachie in full Henry VIII garb, and I can tell you right now that this is not the class group that old mate Henry was picking his wives and mistresses from.
Challenge #2: Quoit-throwing. Matty tells us that this is a challenge of agility, stamina, and hand-eye coordination, which as we all know are the most important attributes in any romantic partner. It also involves sack-racing, purely because they wanted to make someone say ‘Matty got me in the sack’.
Challenge #3: Medieval football. You can almost pinpoint the exact moment the Bachie producers went, Fuck it, and stopped trying to find medieval sports on Wikipedia they could repurpose for this date.
I have said this before, but seriously, Bachie, call me. You want to design romantic dates with historical resonances? I can help you. All you need to do is ask. (And pay me.)
Anyway, a bunch of ladies (including Leah the villain) win through and get to go to the banquet. Lisa also wins through, but even if she hadn’t, she’d be a winner in all our hearts for uttering the phrase, ‘I literally have sweat from my neck, back, and crack.’ #straya
The main drama at the banquet comes from that ever-present area of Bachie uncertainty: the etiquette of interruption. Matty is chatting to Alix (who, BTW, I’m also calling to make it to the final four), but they get interrupted by Elise, who is definitely a person that has been on this show the whole time that I have 100% seen before, shut up, I totally have. Their conversation has barely got started when GASP Leah the villain comes over and evicts Elise so she can have her own conversation with Matty.
And then DOUBLE GASP Leah starts tearing up as she tells Matty about her mother but TRIPLE GASP it is, as she reveals to the camera, all an act to garner Matty’s sympathy, so she can stay around a bit longer after the embarrassing debacle last week that Tara best summed up by saying, ‘She pashed and he dashed – you’d be devooooooooooooo.’
It’s unclear how well this act has worked on Matty. ‘Maybe Leah is here for the right reasons,’ he muses, as all of us playing Bachie bingo rush to check that square off. But then he has a rose to give out before the rose ceremony, and even though he makes us think it’ll be going to Leah – ‘I’ve seen a softer side to this person,’ he says – it goes to Alix.
Leah does get a rose at the actual rose ceremony, though. Tonight’s fallen heroine is Akoulina, the rhythmic gymnast with a love for blue eyeshadow that can only be equalled by the year 1986. May she find some other man to, as she put it on the first night, wrap up in her love and her ribbon and her twirling and herself.
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.