We’re nearly at the end of what has unfortunately been quite a dull journey! Hometowns are just around the corner, and the Honey Badger has nearly revealed which of the ladies he’s chosen to be his lady.
…I mean, we all know it’s Brooke, but still.
(There are also some rumours circulating that the Badge is going to end this season alone … which means we might get Brooke as the Bachelorette next year? I cannot tell you how awesome it would be to have an Indigenous bisexual Bachie.)
But we still have an episode to go before hometowns, so let’s get straight into it.
We start off with a group date. ‘I’ve met some proper good sorts,’ Nick tells us, ‘so I’d better take them on one last group date to sort ‘em out!’
This date is at a bowling alley. As far as settings for romance go, this one isn’t too bad – taking someone bowling on a date is a legitimate romantic trope – but because no one else is at the alley and it’s all quiet and empty apart from the Bachie people, it seems really eerie and creepy. One of the most notable features of the genre of the American Gothic is the abandoned carnival, and this is tapping into some of the same feels. It’s the same thing you get when the Bach and their date go to a theme park and it’s been closed down for everyone except them: it should feel special, but instead it feels creepy af.
One of the reasons the bowling alley is regularly imagined as a site for romance is because it emerged as a site of middle-class domesticity during the 1950s (Hurley 2001). It was somewhere you could take someone on a date, but it was also a family-friendly place that you could take your children on a Saturday afternoon. It’s tied to a sanitised, quite conservative notion of romance: nothing too naughty or transgressive can happen in a bowling alley.
I’ve spoken a few times about how de-sexed the Australian version of Bachie is, so this is kind of a perfect date site for them. In fact, they double down on this and make everyone dress up in 1950s garb.
I do not love this (and interestingly, neither does Osher, who coyly mentions that as a decade, the 1950s ‘had some problems’). The long 1950s is the last decade in the common cultural imagination we think of as having ‘traditional’ gender roles: that is, the man as provider, and the wife as the homemaker. We tend to imagine that these roles were exploded by the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Whether or not this is an accurate reflection of what actually happened is questionable (a lot of Foucault’s History of Sexuality vol. 1 is about this, but I’ll spare you the details), but in a way, that doesn’t matter: this is the ideology we romanticise when we romanticise the 1950s.
Thankfully, they’re not good enough at theorising these dates to really take it too far beyond costuming. This date is a straight up competition. All the ladies have to bowl against each other. If one bowls a strike, they get alone time with Nick in the back of a Cadillac until the next one bowls a strike, and then they get evicted, so on and so forth.
Obviously this is because there is no trait more prized in a romantic partner than the ability to bowl a strike. Nothing is more romantic or more desirable. Everyone knows that.
Anyway, so they do this for a little while until they have enough footage, and then Osher announces a gear shift. ‘Time to write a letter to yourself in 2028, ladies!’ he says, because we all know there’s nothing sexier than a date with an essay portion.
(Also, how does the essay portion relate to the bowling alley and the 1950s thing? This makes no sense.)
Once the ladies have written their letters, they have to read them aloud – because if you thought your essay portion date was sexy, wait till you get to one that follows it up with a sneaky viva. Incredibly awkwardly, they have to read the letters in front of each other, which is just … weird.
Well, no. It’s not that weird, really, because although some of them have romantic content – Cass’s especially, unsurprisingly – these aren’t love letters. This is an exercise in self-development, not in romance.
This doesn’t not make sense: love and self-development and actualisation have been tied together in romantic discourse since at least in the mid-20th century (Cancian 1987). However, it is just very strange for the ladies to have to do all their actualising in front of each other like some kind of group therapy, especially considering Nick doesn’t write a letter of his own. One thing the people putting together the dates this season just have not thought about is whether or not they’re in any way romantic, and god I find it frustrating.
Brittany writes a letter than is genuinely quite funny, and so Nick picks her to have some post-date alone time. They go and sit on a Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation and drink some wine and eat some chocolate, and have a conversation that boils down to Brittany asking, ‘so, do you like, like-me like-me?’ and Nick winking and saying, ‘sure diddly-doo!’ and them having a bit of a pash.
In the last episode, Nick selected Sophie for his final one-on-one date, after she drew some confusing diagram about murderous butterflies on a whiteboard for him. ‘Sophie’s quite closed off, but she found a way to express her emotions with that whiteboard!’ Nick enthuses.
Look, I refuse to believe that Sophie is somehow magically better at expressing her emotions through Pictionary than she is with words, especially because her emotional wall seems to exist mostly in Nick’s head, but … Badge is gonna think what Badge is gonna think, I guess.
This date is an ice hockey date. No Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir ice romance for these two: instead, they throw on pads and start competing to see who can score the more goals. There’s lots of playful tackling and it ends up with them making out on the ice in one of the nets.
I’ve been quite tough on the construction of dates this season (mostly because they’ve sucked), but this one isn’t too bad. Sophie and Nick are quite cute together.
They’re cute on the ice, anyway. Nick takes her back to the hot tub at the Bach Pad afterwards and the first thing out of his mouth is a warning not to pee in it. #romance
They have a conversation, but it can’t have been too interesting, because I don’t remember any of the content. What I do remember is them HARDCORE making out … after an uncomfortably long pause. Sometimes I don’t know whether the Honey Badger a) isn’t quite sure what the right moment is to go in for the kiss, or b) kisses the ladies when he runs out of things to say, but either way, the timing always seems slightly off.
Sophie doesn’t seem to care, though. They put some serious soap opera sexophone over this one. Rawr.
Next up is the cocktail party. ‘It’ll only be serious chats tonight, I reckon,’ the ladies agree… Five seconds after Cass leads Nick away, they both put on Hawaiian shirts, and then start jamming on ukuleles together.
(Nick’s reaction to this whole setup of Cass’s, by the way, is ‘holy snapping duck poo!’, which is not a phrase I thought I would ever hear uttered on this show.)
Most notably at the cocktail party, Dasha sits down Nick down and shows him pictures of her son, who she tells him is her whole world. Nick looks visibly uncomfortable, so it’s not hard to predict what happened next.
…so yeah, we farewell Dasha at the rose ceremony. We also say goodbye to Emily, recipient of the one truly good date from this season, who is wearing some frankly amazing electric green eye shadow that I covet for my own.
Both Dasha and Emily go off into the night a lot more peaceably than Shannon did last episode. Honestly, neither of them seems terribly upset. We’re up to hometowns now – Nick will be jetting off to visit the families of Brooke, Brittany, Cass, and Sophie in the next episode – and I’m still not reeeeeeally convinced we ever made it to the shit-gets-real stage.
No wonder those rumours are flying around that he’s still single.
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.