Bachie-with-Jodi is back again! Our ritual structure is established and we’re well into the getting-to-know-you phase now, as national treasure Sophie Monk works out what kind of man is the man for her.
I’m strongly beginning to suspect that none of these men is the man for her, because they seem like a bit of a dud crop. I mean, sure, she is Sophie Monk, national treasure, and so no one in the world is anywhere near good enough for her, but there is no one here that really seems especially compatible with her. The only exception I’m willing to make at the moment is James, who shines in tonight’s episode and who memorably shut down Sam when he was crudely objectifying Sophie on the photo shoot date, but even then, it’s a bit early for us to draw too many conclusions.
And yes, I know I called Jarrod to win this right at the beginning, but I think I’m going to have to retract that prediction, because I’ve gone right off him. More on that later.
Normally we would start off with a single date, but – perhaps because none of the men are worthy of being alone in the glorious presence of Sophie – tonight we’re starting with a group date. And it’s a doozy (while simultaneously not being very interesting television).
You know how in every season of The Bachelor, there’s always the mum test date, where the ladies have to demonstrate how kind and nurturing and potentially good at changing nappies they are? (For example, here’s my recap of the relevant date from Matty’s season.) This date is – well, it isn’t quite the reverse, because it’s not a dad test date, but it’s close. The mum skills date tests things that are typically coded feminine. This date tests things typically coded masculine – i.e. fixing stuff and building stuff.
In essence, this is Hire A Hubby in date form. And if you were thinking, ‘hey, I bet Dr Jodes is not too keen on the models of masculinity and femininity this implies,’ you would be correct! In Straight Sex: Rethinking The Politics of Pleasure, Lynne Segal writes that:
At the heart of the problem [i.e. patriarchy] lies the polarity of ‘active’ and ‘passive’ which, roped to ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ via the existing conception of heterosexuality, must itself be challenged if we are ever to turn around the oppressive cultural hierarchies of gender and sexuality (1994, xv).
Segal suggests that we need to retheorise heterosexuality in a way which moves away from the constant reiteration of these polarities, these binaries, of active masculinity and passive femininity. This date – in which the men must prove their worth by being active manly men doing manly things – does not exactly do that. In fact, it kind of does the opposite: especially considering it’s literally called the Real Man Games.
…however, that said, I appreciate a partner who can take the lids off jars and get things off high shelves for me as much as the next person, so I understand the appeal.
Challenge #1 in the Manly Man Games: The Planking Contest
There is definitely a joke to be made here about who can be stiff the longest, but it’s too easy, so just pretend I made it and let’s move on. There are twelve dudes, but only eight can go on to the next round, so the four who drop first are eliminated.
And… look. I am willing to suspend my disbelief a lot for Bachie and pretend that things are real when they’re clearly constructed. But you cannot tell me that Apollo the hot magician would be one of the first four to drop. He is 99% muscle, 1% smile. He could plank for days. He could outplank the rest of the dudes on one arm.
So why did they make him tap out early, hmmm? What’s going on?
Challenge #2 in the Manly Man Games: Tyre changing
The remaining eight dudes are divided into two teams: the talls and the shorts. It’s a relay: each member of the team has to change one tyre on a car. The team that changes them the fastest is the team that wins.
There’s not much to recap here except that the shorts win. It turns out watching people change tyres is not terribly interesting television, even if it’s really a dick-measuring contest and national treasure Sophie Monk is looking on and sipping champagne.
But… guys. We need to talk about Jarrod.
When he first appeared, I was like, ‘oh hey, this guy seems sensible and grounded and Here For The Right Reasons’. Then he mentioned he owned a vineyard and was an ex-soldier and his framing was a combination of so many beloved Bachie contestants from years gone by (Chris ‘Prince Farming’ Soules and Luke Pell the hot veteran from US Bachie, for one) and I was buying what he was putting down. He did well on that first single date when he didn’t pressure Sophie to do things she didn’t want to do, and I was extremely here for it.
But he’s been getting… intense. And hovering. And staring with heart-eyes across rooms. And saying that he needs to ‘protect’ Sophie from the other guys. He’s the fourth dude up on his team (the talls) in this challenge, and even though the shorts win he insists on aggressively finishing the task, in order to, like, prove something to Sophie, because he needs to prove! his! love! for! her! EVERY! SECOND!
And look, maybe some of this is editing. But at the moment, he feels like the guy you have a good first date with, only to wake up to 27 texts from the next day. ‘Hey.’ ‘Hey you.’ ‘Hey beautiful.’ ‘I had such a good time with you.’ ‘Just thinking about your smile.’ ‘Just thought about it again, haha lol jk.’ Then he calls and calls and won’t stop calling, and maybe you go out on a second date with him just to shut him up – and hey, that first date was fine, wasn’t it, so maybe it will all be all right, right? But it’s not all right, and the texting and calling just gets worse and worse.
When you try and cut him off and end it, there are two ways it can go. One is another nine million texts, starting off with ‘I just miss you so much!’ and ending with ‘fuck you bitch, I would have treated you like a princess, why do girls never go for nice guys?!?!?1?!’ And the other is that he stands under your window serenading you/with a boombox/playing piano until you move house because it seems like the easiest option for getting away.
Maybe Jarrod is a super chill and lovely guy in real life. But this is how he’s coming across right now. This is the character edit they’re giving him. And so it is with great sorrow that I must rescind my initial pick – proving that even I, Dr Love, scholar of all things romantic, can be blinded by a vineyard.
(Spoilers: I can definitely be blinded by a vineyard. If you want to date me, having a vineyard is a definite plus in your favour.)
Challenge #3 in the Manly Man Games: Flatpack furniture
Sophie divides the four remaining men into two teams: the olds (Mackane and James) and the youngs (Ryan and Harry). Their task – to put together a flatpack IKEA wardrobe. The team that does it the fastest wins.
This is a classic tortoise and the hare scenario. The olds lay out all the pieces and order the screws according to size and – GASP – read the instructions. The youngs dive right in, emboldened by the confidence of Ryan, who is a carpenter/builder/something construction-y IRL.
Watching people build flatpack furniture is more interesting than watching them change tyres, but only marginally. We get another episode of Red Flags Ahoy when Ryan, knowing his team is going to lose, just starts smashing the drawers on his wardrobe in with a hammer and destroying the whole unit. What a good omen that seems like, re how he deals with frustrating situations.
But we always knew Ryan was a villain. This isn’t exactly a dark turn.
Challenge #4: Fuck it, let’s just steal a challenge from Survivor
We all know times are tight at Channel 10, but this challenge is literally stolen from Survivor, props and all. The two remaining dudes – James and Mackane – have to use a flint to make fire. The first one whose fire burns through the rope wins.
It’s not really a contest. Mackane hasn’t even managed to create a spark when James’ inferno snaps the rope in two. And so lo! James the short mild-mannered financial advisor from Manly becomes the Official Manliest Man.
(And you can bet that Jarrod is smiling through gritted teeth about that one. Dude does not like to lose.)
But you know what? James seems lovely. I’m not prepared to make another pick for the winner until we meet the silver fox intruders coming in next week, but of the dudes that are left, he seems like the best option. He and Sophie have a lovely chat on their Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation, and Sophie describes him as ‘like Tarzan, but with a calculator.’
I had not realised that these were the words I needed to describe my aesthetic in terms of my taste in men, but Sophie Monk, national treasure, has done it once more.
The next day, it’s time for a single date, and Sophie can’t escape it any more. She promised manbun-combover Sam two dates, and it’s time to pay the piper and take him on at least one of them.
There’s not a lot I can say about this date. They go to some kitchen somewhere and try and make red velvet cupcakes, at which they are both extremely terrible. I’m pretty sure it’s the same kitchen where Tara so vocally appreciated Matty’s arse, and so I started daydreaming about what it would be like if Sophie and Tara teamed up and had a show where they, like, solved mysteries together, and I got a bit distracted.
And then I got distracted again during the Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation, because I just can’t stop looking at Sam’s hair. It’s so confusing. How can something be a manbun and a mullet and a combover all in one? He looks like the slightest breeze would turn him into Poida, and yet there is a clearly a bald patch somewhere on his head that he is concealing, but I can’t work out where it is. It is the most architecturally confusing hair I have ever seen.
Sophie does ask him, though, what he can bring to a relationship. Sam’s answer is that he ‘injects magic’. I feel like this isn’t an especially good thing to say when Sophie is also dating an actual magician who was carved from granite by some divine sculptor and who seems to be a ray of sunshine personified, but sure, Jan.
Sophie seems satisfied with the answer, because Sam gets a rose. He doesn’t get a kiss, though, so she clearly hasn’t forgiven him for all the gross ‘cans’ comments he made on the photo shoot date. (Good.)
Going back to the sexy magician thing – Apollo shines at the cocktail party when he does a bunch of magic for Sophie, and she is just completely in awe. Which is understandable, honestly. I’m not sure he’s right for Sophie (I mean, he’s 24), but he just seems like such a cinnamon roll, too pure, too good for this world. And you know who is age appropriate for him…?
NATIONAL DARLING TARA PAVLOVIC.
Look, for all I know, Apollo and Tara have not and never will meet, but I will go down with this ship. If Tara loved Matty’s arse, imagine all the things she would have to say about Apollo’s!
Less impressive at the cocktail party is Jarrod, who is once again trying to prove! his! love! to Sophie. This time, he’s got some extended metaphor going about how they will grow their relationship together if they just put in the care and make sure they look after it and each other and shit like that, but all I care about is that he’s doing it through the medium of potplants.
As in, he seriously expects The Sophie Monk to pick up a trowel and plant seeds with him. Right now. At this minute, at a cocktail party, when she is wearing a fancy dress and has had her nails done and is drinking champagne. He expects her to just not care about that and scuffle about in the dirt with him while he mansplains basic gardening to her.
I can’t even. Like, I literally can’t even.
Sophie doesn’t seem to mind too much, though, because she gives Jarrod the first rose at the rose ceremony. Tonight’s unlucky victim is Bingham, who made it surprisingly far for someone whose name is Bingham.
But to be fair, it’s not like Sophie has so many awesome dudes to choose from that eliminating the Binghams is an instant no-brainer. James seems lovely, Apollo is a darling, and Luke seems fine if a bit forgettable, but I am suuuuuuuuuuper not feeling the rest of her dudes. Even the ones that seemed relatively solid on the first night – in fact, especially the ones who seemed solid on the first night, i.e. Jarrod and Sam – have gone to shit.
But never fear. Next week, some silver fox intruders are coming in, and judging by the glimpses I got of them in the preview, they look smoking.
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.