RECAP: The Bachelorette Australia – S5 E01

Dare we hope for a few more beautiful wood-nymphs in the inevitable sea of toxic masculinity?

Guess who’s back, back again, Bach is back…

What is not necessarily back is my brainpower. The Bachelorette Australia deciding to screen its season premiere about five minutes after I got off a plane from Manila has not exactly been conducive to incisive thoughts and comments. During Dr Matt Bachie’s season of The Bachelor, I did a whole lot of nerdling at the beginning of my recaps. There’ll be nerdling this season too, but for this episode at least, it might be a little, ahem, thin.

So let’s get right into it, and talk a little bit about our Bachelorette for this season.

Unlike the Space Bachie, who was a total unknown (except in the astrophysics world, I guess?), our new Bach Angie Kent is a… known? Is that an all right way to phrase this? (oh god, you guys, I am so jetlagged.) She did a few seasons on Gogglebox with her friend Yvie. She also did a stint on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

In terms of celebrity, Angie occupies an interesting space. She’s not an instantly well-known figure in the way that Sophie Monk and the Honey Badger were. They had what Chris Rojek calls ‘achieved celebrity’ (2001, 18), in that they achieved their celebrity status by being good at something (singing and sport, respectively). Instead, Angie has what Rojek calls ‘attributed celebrity’, which is ‘largely the result of the concentrated representation of an individual as noteworthy or exceptional by cultural intermediaries’ (2001, 18).

Often, this noteworthiness of the attributed celebrity comes despite an emphasis on their ordinariness, which is what we see with Angie, who literally rose to prominence by being filmed sitting on a couch and watching television. Other Bachie alums have also been attributed celebrities: eg. Sam Frost, Richie, Matty J, Ali, who were all ex-contestants who went on to be Bachies. Angie’s point of difference, though, is that she’s not a Bachie alum. Instead, her celebrity has been produced within other realms in Channel 10’s reality TV programming.

Does this point to a Channel 10 Reality TV shared universe, a la the MCU? Given that Osher is now wearing sparkly suits on The Masked Singer, you have to think that the whole gamut of shows – not just the Bachieverse itself – is being considered as a potential breeding ground for Bachies. Depending on how well Angie’s season goes ratings-wise, it might not be long until we see our first, like, Survivor Bachie.

Also, the fact that as part of Gogglebox Angie actually watched The Bachelorette on TV is super interesting. There’s a point there about mediation that I want to make, but I’m too jetlagged to work out what it is. Check back when I’m more awake.

So: that’s where we are in terms of celebrity (which is something that Channel 10 seems to be actively experimenting with this year, so I’ll be interested to see what casting decisions they make next year). Let’s talk about where we are in terms of personality.

Disclaimer: I didn’t watch either Gogglebox or I’m a Celebrity, so my exposure to Angie has been limited. But judging by the promos, Angie seems to be more closely aligned with Sophie Monk than any of the other Bachies that have come before. She’s from Queensland (‘please don’t marry anyone from New South Wales,’ her dad pleads, ‘they can’t play State of Origin’), and, like Sophie, she self-describes using the word ‘bogan’. But there seems to be deeper similarities there in personality: Angie says that even though she’s historically been a jokester, she’s taking this seriously – something which mirrors a lot of the rhetoric that came up in Sophie’s season.

Here’s hoping that Angie has better luck than Sophie did. I’m fully prepared for her coterie of men to be heavily populated with nightmares, much like Sophie’s and Ali’s were in the last few years, but let’s hope there’s at least a few Apollo-types and Todd-types to break up all the toxic masculinity.

(On beautiful wood-nymph Todd from Ali’s season last year: according to that notorious reliable source New Idea, he’s now dating Abbie? If this is true, I’m absolutely fucking delighted for both of them. Consider me a #Tabbie shipper. And dibs on writing the romance novel about a former male runner-up coming to the defence of the current female runner-up when she’s being slut-shamed on Instagram, and her responding ‘send me a date card already, you feminist icon’.)

On the subject of toxic masculinity and our deep hopes for at least a few alternatives to it: let’s meet Angie’s Band of Bros. Time for a dramatis personae.

Timm: Fabio-haired bro #1, too-many-m’s Timm emerges from the limo with a giant bunch of sunflowers. These are apparently Angie’s favourite flower, so she’s thrilled – especially because she treats them as her ‘signs’ that she’s in the right place and doing the right thing. He also gives her his jacket because she’s cold, so this was a quality wifey entrance.

Carlin: took me a minute to work out who he looks like, but I finally figured it out: Dominic Monaghan, AKA Merry from Lord of the Rings. Angie is super into his white suit. He seems nice.

Jamie: fireman who enters with a puppy. ‘Who doesn’t like firemen and puppies?’ he says, which… fair, dude, fair. However, despite the dog/muscles combo, he seems a bit awkward, so this might not go quite the way he hopes…

Kayde: fairly obvious fuckboy who enters with a Baywatch gimmick and says he looks like Zac Efron.

Matt: professional BMX rider who enters doing, like, bike tricks. I’m sorry. I don’t know the words for BMX flips and shit. Also, I think he stole one of Dr Matt’s lilac suits.

Jackson: enters with a meat pie which he wants Angie to eat, and she has to gently let him down and tell him she’s both vegetarian and coeliac.

Ciarran: Fabio-haired bro #2. We immediately see a montage of him doing his grooming regime, including a shot of, like, his entire arse. Describes his red carpet look as ‘sexual Willy Wonka’, which I guess someone somewhere must be into? Also he’s from Manchester, and tries to sell it as a sexy accent.

Adam: Fabio-haired bro #3. Angie clearly requested some long-haired bros, because I don’t think we’ve ever had so many.

Jess: enters in a cape, carrying a throne. He’s a local politician, gives Angie the key to Noosa and then the key to his fucking apartment (!!), and is clearly the villain of the season. (Oh, and how dare he go from a medieval entrance gimmick?! Beautiful wood-nymph Todd already did the knight in shining armour thing last year.)

Brad/Mark: Brad is not a contender. Brad is – DUN DUN DUN – Angie’s brother, going as Mark! ‘It’s not every day that you’ve got to pretend to fancy your sister,’ he says, which is… a real sentence. My goodness.

So: let’s discuss this undercover brother twist. This is not the first time something like this has been attempted. Way back in 2004, in the fifth season of the US Bachelor, Jenny Schillari went undercover as a spy on Jesse Palmer’s season. She was married to his college roommate, so there was no danger of actual falling-in-loveage (although they did kiss?!), but she did dish a bunch of dirt to him before she got eliminated (at a rose ceremony, how embarrassing) in the third week.

Notably, Jenny was part of a rivalry with another contestant called Trish, in a very Monique/Sogand/Elly vs Abbie way. I’ll be interested to see if that’s how the storyline with Brad plays out… because I kind of hope it doesn’t. Rather, I’d like to see Brad dragging all the bros in the house for their awful toxic masculinity. If there are any human-swarm-of-wasps Bill types in there, I want those nests smoked out.

Ahem. Back to the plot.

Once all the bros have entered, Osher emerges and announces this season’s first episode twist. The man who receives the yellow rose from Angie at this cocktail party will get 24 hours with her on their first single date.

…24 hours means that it’s overnight. This seems a little bit sexy for the usually sex-averse Australian franchise, especially at such an early stage. Bring me my smelling salts.

Once Angie enters, almost immediately, the usual feeding frenzy starts, and they all start jockeying for position. The phrase ‘cutting people’s grass’ is used approximately one thousand times, leading to Zac-Efron-Kayde saying that he plans to be Jim’s Mowing. He’s clearly a dick, but I have to be honest: I laughed.

Specifically, he cuts Fireman Jamie’s grass, and they cut in so much of Jamie moaning about it that I think it’s fair to say that he’s the one that’s going to be getting the Stage Five Clinger edit this season.

The real star of the cocktail party, though, is Carlin. On the red carpet, he told Angie he had a surprise for her, and he delivers: he’s written a song for her.

Now, songwriting in the Bachieverse is fraught. It’s high-risk – think of Mack in Sophie’s season, moaning ‘meeeeeeee! yooooouuuuuuuuu!’ into her face. But it really works for Carlin.

…and then Kayde jumps in, picks up the guitar, starts strumming it, and is like, ‘hey – can I grab five minutes with you, Angie?’

It’s very clear from everyone’s reaction – including Angie and Carlin’s – that this is extreeeeeeemely not on. ‘Nup,’ proclaims Brad the undercover brother, which surely has to be some foreshadowing re Kayde’s future shitfulness.

Speaking of Brad: he also seeks some time with Angie, mostly to report to her on what he’s heard about Politician Jess. ‘He said that if he got a rose, he’d give it away,’ he tells Angie.

(Something very funny about this is that as all the bros observe Brad and Angie chat, they’re like, ‘oh wow, he’s a dark horse! What a stallion!’ This raises some major questions about romantic literacy and observing chemistry, hey.)

Angie is obviously pretty mad about the Jess thing, so she goes and confronts him. ‘So, is it true that you wouldn’t accept a rose?’ she demands.

‘I’m here for you, darling!’ he says. ‘I said that if you didn’t give me a rose, I would accept that.’

…fucking politicians, man.

Jess immediately tries to work out who, in his words, ‘dogged’ him, and decides it was Fireman Jamie. ‘Why did you tell her I wouldn’t accept a rose?’ he says.

‘Um, I didn’t?’ Jamie says.

And then all the dudes try to frantically figure out who’s leaking shit to Angie, while Brad smirks to himself in the corner. I’m normally opposed to panopticonical observation, but I’m very glad that their locker room talk is being observed and exposed.

I do feel a bit bad for Jamie, though, who starts crying (which, fair, considering he’s basically been gaslighted by Jess). ‘I’ve been blindsided!’ he sobs.

Unrelated: but given the language of blindsiding comes from Survivor, this is further evidence for the Channel 10 Reality TV shared universe.

Also, in something a little pure and wholesome, Timm tries to cheer Jamie up. ‘What Suzie says about Sally says more about Suzie than Sally,’ he says earnestly. Awwwww.

Timm also does pretty well with Angie when he gets a chat with her. ‘I know how beautiful falling in love is,’ he tells her. ‘It’s sick. It’s mad.’

…#straya.

Near the end of the cocktail party, Osher emerges. ‘Hey lads,’ he says. ‘Surprise! One of the men here is not who you think he is!’

‘OMG,’ Timm says to camera. ‘It’s Jess the politician. He’s like fifty years old. He’s her dad, isn’t he?’

‘Someone here is Angie’s brother!’ Osher says. ‘And he hasn’t been using his real name. He’s been telling you his name is Mark, but he’s really Brad, Angie’s brother!’

All the lads immediately start shitting themselves re what they’ve said around Brad, while Brad and Angie go off to have a chat.

I don’t love this reveal, tbh. I think there was a lot more mileage in this gimmick, and given the absolute cesspit of toxic masculinity that the male casts have been for the last two years, these lads could use some more long-term observation. I mean, after just one night they’re all like, ‘oh no, what did I say?’ That tells you something about how gross most of them were being, n’est-ce pas?

Anyway, here is what Brad tells Angie. ‘I like Matt, and I like Carlin,’ he tells her. ‘They both seem nice and genuine.’

‘Did they have any bantz?’ Angie asks.

‘Yes,’ Brad reassures her.

‘What about Timm?’

‘I can’t get a read on him,’ Brad said. ‘I haven’t seen him be openly disgusting, though.’

I’m very interested by the fact that they’ve edited in all the positive stuff, and not the negative – even though surely Brad told Angie about which bros really were being openly disgusting. Maybe the show isn’t openly willing to call out the very obvious toxic masculinity problems it has?

When Brad leaves, Angie picks up the 24 hour rose. To pretty much no one’s surprise – apart from Fireman Jamie, who is like, ‘oh no! devastated!’ – the rose goes to sweet, handsome, guitar-playing Carlin. ‘You went out of your way to write that song for me, and honestly I would normally find that quite cringe,’ Angie says, ‘but I loved it, and also Brad liked you too.’

This is a super solid choice. I know it’s early days, but Carlin seems lovely. Dare we hope we have another wood-nymph in the house?

Finally: it’s time for the rose ceremony. The last two roses go to Kayde and Jess, so they’re clearly marked as our villains for the season, especially after Jess leaves a massive pause before answering ‘yes’ to ‘will you accept this rose?’.

But better a villain than to be forgotten. Our eliminees tonight are Oliver and Josh, who… who?

Tomorrow: apparently Angie sees someone’s balls on the traditional photo shoot date and then yells at Jess, so we’re off.

(Oh, and PS: I think we can all see that Fireman Jamie’s not going to win, but hear me out: him. Emma from the Space Bachie’s season. Paradise. True love?)

Sneaky end-of-recap reminder: I write books, and you should read them. But I’m sure you know this by now.

Jodi is a Lecturer in Writing and Literature at Deakin University. 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 series about smart girls and murder fairies is published by Penguin Teen Australia. One time, the first book, Valentine, was featured on Neighbours, and she nearly fainted with joy.

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