It turns out there are at least forty-seven ways to look like an old-timey sailor, and Timm knows all of them.
Can you believe that we’re coming up on halfway through this Bach season? We barely just met Angie and her pack of bros, and yet somehow we’ve already made it many, many steps down the garden path to true love.
Part of this is because Bachelorettes get less episodes than Bachelors in Australia (12 to 16). There’s some obvious underpinning sexism there re the marketability of a female lead, but if we squint, I guess we could say that maybe it means that women are just more efficient at finding love.
Something that I’ve been quite interested by this season is that we have no clear frontrunner. Quite a few contenders have emerged, but it hasn’t been as obvious as in some previous seasons, where it’s been fairly clear from relatively early who was going to win. Take Sophie Monk’s season, for instance: I think we all knew as soon as Stu Laundy waltzed in that he would be waltzing out the winner, even though he didn’t seem to have many desirable qualities beyond ‘rich’ and ‘age-appropriate’.
One of the reasons we don’t have a clear frontrunner yet this season is because, unlike previous years, there actually seems to be more than one or two men who are acceptably nice people. I mean, if we look at Ali’s season last year, Todd was a beautiful wood-nymph, Taite was…fine, and then we basically just had a festival of nightmares, led by Bill and Charlie. We’ve definitely had a few nightmares this season – cough Jess cough – but the overall shithead:not-a-shithead ratio seems to be much more balanced.
But there are some other reasons as well, and I think a lot of them have to do with the type of men we’re seeing, many of whom who don’t fit quite into the archetype of hegemonic masculinity. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing a certain kind of masculinity idolised in the Bachieverse: the tall, dark, handsome romantic hero archetype. Think here, for instance, of what we might consider our ‘successful’ Bachies: Tim Robards, Sam Wood, Matty Johnson, and Matt Agnew. If you stood them all up next to each other, you could easily believe they were brothers. It’s not dissimilar to the kind of masculinities we’ve seen embodied by the four winners of The Bachelorette thus far: Sasha Mielczarek, Lee Elliott, Stu Laundy, and Taite Radley have all also been tall, dark, and handsome.
We’ve got our tall, dark, and handsome potential winner this season in Carlin. He’s handsome (like, so handsome), he’s lovely, and there’s a strong chance that he, like Todd, might be a beautiful wood-nymph. But this is the first season I can remember in which pressure has been put on that tall/dark/handsome archetype (excepting, perhaps, in the Honey Badger’s season, and look how that turned out), because something that got raised last week, especially by Yvie, is that Carlin is also boring: too boring, perhaps, for Angie?
We still view Carlin as a frontrunner – hell, there’s a strong case to be made that Angie herself views Carlin as a frontrunner – because he’s the kind of man we’ve been trained to see as one. He is what has been positioned as desirable, over and over again. But this season, whether by design or by happy accident, we’re seeing some other forms of masculinity be positioned as desirable, and it’s a really interesting structural change.
I wrote at length about Ciarran last week, who’s a great example of this. Everyone (me definitely included!) has fallen in love with him, and it’s been one of the greatest Bachie surprises ever, because you would never guess that he’d be positioned as a hero if you looked at him on paper. But no: Ciarran, despite being aligned several times with what are generally considered feminine attributes (think here of his love of skincare products, for instance), has come across as one of the most desirable men this season.
We can argue the same of Timm, who is clearly being given a wifey edit despite the fact that he’s nothing like what we would normally expect of a Bachie winner. He’s got the long Tim Minchin hair. Like Ciarran, he’s occasionally aligned with more feminine things (eg eyeliner, braids). He goes off on strange flights of fancy that don’t always make sense: the best way I can describe his vibe is ‘munted philosopher king’. In other seasons, he’d be positioned as either disposable or as all wrong – but this season, he’s become not just a protagonist, but a romantic one.
Some of this might be due to Angie’s own romantic tastes (which I feel weird congratulating her about, but it’s made good television). Some of it might be due to more experimental editing. Perhaps they’re actively trying to set up a cast of more compelling characters for Paradise – I’m not sure what the overall motivation is. But the result is that this season has felt quite refreshing in many ways, because it’s not like any of the other seasons we’ve seen before. We’ve got different versions of masculinity being showcased as desirable, and it’s making the narrative genuinely unpredictable for the first time in years. Is Angie going to end up with the traditional tall/dark/handsome Carlin? or is she going to go down an alternative path, with someone like Timm or Ciarran? I don’t know, but I’m sure as hell keen to find out.
One other possibility is Ryan the Instagram Dog Man, and he features quite a lot in this episode, so let’s get to it.
He’s not in it straight away, though. We begin tonight with a group date. Angie has brought a selection of the lads to a comedy club, where their assignment is to write and perform a stand-up routine. The bro who performs the best will get some extra time.
Timm – dressed, as always, in an outfit that makes him look an old-timey sailor – is confident that he’s got this one in the bag. ‘Yeah, everyone knows I’m the funny one!’ he declares. And then he gallops around in front of the comic coaching them in rehearsal and recites a variety of lines that might or might not have been an explanation of the untitled goose game (?), and it’s…a lot.
‘What do you think of Timm?’ a producer asks the comic.
‘Mate, I can’t stop thinking about Timm,’ the comic says, clearly shellshocked.
Timm ends up killing when they get to the actual performance: although to be honest, I’m not 100% sure why? He describes some dream he had about all the lads stepping on ducks, and it’s all very…dada? I don’t know. Maybe you had to be there in person for his munted philosopher king charm to work.
The winner, though, is Australia’s new boyfriend Ciarran, who, predictably, is hilarious. (He understands how timing works! And punchlines! Bless him and his lack of cotton socks.) He and Angie go off and have some alone time, and it’s honestly lovely.
It starts – I don’t want to say serious, but they have a chat about how flamboyant Ciarran is, and how they both have diverse groups of friends and family in terms of sexuality, gender, etc. ‘I’m not a masculine guy!’ Ciarran says. ‘If you ask me to change a tyre, I’ll be like, “luv, I just had my nails done”!’ I’m very pleased by him conveniently articulating my thesis about how this season is showcasing what Mimi Schippers (2007) calls ‘male femininities’ as desirable in a way that we’ve never really seen before.
But then he stumbles over the word ‘sibling’, they both get stuck, and laugh hysterically for like five minutes. ‘Sometimes you need to just have a laugh over the word sibling!’ Angie declares. ‘Oh, and also Ciarran and I have huge sexual chemistry.’
She gives him a rose, and they pash, and…yeah, Angie’s not wrong. I would so not be upset if Ciarran won this whole thing.
He’s got competition, though: and among that competition is Ryan.
Angie drives up in a fire engine to pick up Ryan for this date (which I feel like is an extreeeeeeemely transparent way for production to try and rile up intense fireman Jamie). Turns out their date is basically firefighter work experience: they have to work together to overcome a series of various firefighter workplace challenges.
Word to the wise: if you want to take me on a date, and you’re like, ‘you know what Jodi would like? work experience!’ then do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go to the corner and think about what you’ve done.
This is, essentially, the traditional rappelling/abseiling date dressed up in new clothing (namely, hi-viz). Ryan has to rescue Angie from a burning balcony and then they abseil down a building together, that kind of thing. I have to respect their attempt to breathe life into an old favourite, and judging by the angelic choir of strings they put over the top of it, we’re supposed to think this date is going very, very well.
I have to be honest, though: it was a bit of a snooze. Ryan seems fine and all – if you’re going to have only one personality trait, you could do a lot worse than ‘likes dogs’ – but you can’t put him next to Ciarran and expect him to come off as interesting.
He does better at their Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation, though. He and Angie bond over how they both have incredibly sweaty hands, and then he reveals to her that he always wanted to be a firefighter, but that he can’t, because he has a congenital heart condition, and he’s had a couple of open heart surgeries.
Angie asks to see his scars, so he opens his shirt: just far enough so that we can see he has a tattoo across his stomach, but not far enough so we can see what it was.
Come on, Bachie, surely you have a vested interest in him getting the shirt all the way off! Have you learned nothing from the WAZZA incident?
(I mean, at this point I’m guessing it just says DOGS DOGS DOGS DOGS. And I wouldn’t hate that, tbh.)
Angie gives him a rose, and they pash, and she seems reeeeeeeally into it: more into it, I think, than she was with the internet’s boyfriend Ciarran.
‘That could be my last first kiss,’ Ryan tells the camera, rocked by the experience. ‘Wow.’
‘I think we could really work together,’ Angie enthuses in her own confessional. ‘He’d be all straighty-one-eighty, and I could be the crazy one. He could be all, “you pee in that bush, honey! You pee in that bush!”’
This is only slightly paraphrased (for length). Angie really is such a fun and different Bachelorette.
Next, we’re at the cocktail party. Two things of note
1. Jamie pulls Angie aside to give her a gift. I think we were all braced for this to be some weird Jarrod/pot plant shit, but it was actually quite sweet. He gave her a pair of rainbow socks, and told her to put them on at night, so she’d wake surrounded by love and positivity. ‘At the end of the rain, there’s a rainbow,’ he says earnestly. It’s incredibly fucking twee, and I’m definitely not here for Jamie and his possessive tendencies, but considering there’s nary a sock to be seen in the Bachie mansion, I have to respect these as a form of currency.
2. Ryan takes Angie aside for some one-on-one time. This annoys the other bros, who are like, ‘m8, you have a rose, you’re being a dick!’ He responds that he’s there for Angie, not them, and the internet’s boyfriend Ciarran responds with a monologue about respecting your friends. I’m not 100% sure our collective boyfriend is right, per se – algorithmically, at least, Ryan is – but I do like the sentiment. I also like the way he flounced off saying ‘I can’t be arsed with this!’ and hope someone makes it a reaction gif, because I’ll definitely have use for it.
Oh, and Timm wears another old-timey sailor outfit (this one with some piratical influence). How many does he have?
We don’t lose any big names at the rose ceremony – farewell Tom, Scot, and Adam, we hardly knew you (like seriously, who are you?) – but we definitely get a few emotional reactions. Carlin, for one, is starting to worry that his connection with Angie is fading. And Jamie, who gets the first rose, is becoming ever more certain that he’s going to win Angie’s heart. ‘She liked my socks,’ he declares. ‘I’m in the top ten. Next stop: Angie will be mine.’
…I think we can all see how this is going to end.
Sneaky end-of-recap reminder: I write books. You should read them. And if you’re in Adelaide or Brisbane, you can come meet me at Supanova on November 1-3 and 8-10 respectively, and I’ll sign them for you.