Just give me a man who wears good jumpers and loves his grandma and we’ll be happy forever.
We’re halfway through! Angie’s whittled her band of bros down to ten, and theoretically, we’re now in the heart of the shit-gets-real stage, where real feels become involved.
I wrote ‘theoretically’ for a reason. This season feels like it has gone really fast – probably because it’s been genuinely enjoyable. But this also might have emotional reasons. It still feels like we’re near the beginning, emotions-wise. Like, we’re nowhere close to anyone dropping an L-bomb. We don’t even really have a clear frontrunner at this stage, although we could make a few assumptions.
I’m going to be interested to see, over the coming weeks, how – and if – the show amps up this emotionality. At the moment, we’re still very much in the getting-to-know-you stage, and it feels a little bit weird if anyone expresses stronger emotions or tries to operate within a space which would require a stronger emotional connection than has been established. Think, for instance, of Mitch last week, who gave that ultimatum to Angie around not giving him a rose if she couldn’t see him there at the end. That ultimatum played very oddly – understandably – and Angie promptly cut him, because, like, she’d only spent like ten minutes with him.
The other example is, of course, fireman Jamie, who has been so! intensely! into! Angie from Day One that it’s been uncomfortable. Occasionally, it’s manifested in quite sweet ways: eg. I genuinely liked his gift of the socks last night, even if he did preface it with a long exculpatory monologue about how he didn’t think her feet were ugly, okay?! But most of the time, it’s manifested in a way that’s been, well…creepy.
Compared to some of the bros from earlier seasons of The Bachelorette, I’d contend that although Jamie has done some very awkward, weird things – eg. when he tried to interrupt that chat with Angie and Ryan so he could turn it into a threeway hang – he’s has actually been fairly mild in his obsession. He doesn’t come across as terrifying as Charlie last year, for instance, or as desperate as Jarrod. But his obsession has come across as particularly strong this season because the emotional angle with Angie and a few of the bros hasn’t been emphasised that much.
I don’t want to say that none of the bros are into Angie. That’s clearly not the case. She’s obviously got some fun things going on with munted philosopher king Timm and the internet’s boyfriend Ciarran, and definitely something with Ryan the Instagram Dog Man, even though he has no discernible signs of a personality. There’s a bit of something with Carlin too (although he commented last night that it’s fading). But it still feels very much like we’re in that getting-to-know-you stage. There’s only been one or two places where it feels like we’re brushing up against the shit-gets-real stage, eg. Timm and Angie’s snog in episode 4, and Ryan and Angie’s mutual declarations of ‘wow, this could be it’ after their kiss last night.
To illustrate, let’s compare this to the Astro Bach’s season of The Bachelor. At this point in the season, we were mired in the middle of the Dogcunt Incident. And remember how the Dogcunt Incident occurred? Largely, it was because Matt and Abbie were making out in a pool – a textual signifier of how intense their connection was – and she told him that Monique was upset about how many people he was snogging, presumably because she thought their connection was really strong. He’d also formed really strong bonds with contestants like Chelsie and Elly. It was being made really clear to us where the potential love stories lay.
We don’t have quite that same clarity this season. Given the truncated length of the Bachelorette seasons, this is a little surprising to me. I’m going to be keeping my eyes out for stakes-raising tactics over the next few episodes, because this has to get into Feels Territory very soon, or fun as this season has been, they’re going to have a hard time selling the ending.
This episode itself represents an attempt to incur into Feels Territory, I think, because it involves Angie’s family. Family is normally something we see towards the end of Bachie seasons, and there’s a reason for that: it’s a distinct milestone in the way we think about romance in contemporary culture. You don’t introduce someone to your family that you’re just hooking up with, or you’re having a casual thing with (or maybe you do, I don’t know your life, but it’s not the culturally perceived norm). Rather, you introduce someone to your family when you’re serious about them, when they’re someone you can envision yourself being with longterm.
Obviously, you generally wouldn’t introduce your family to ten of your boyfriends at once, but what I think happens in this episode is that we see a heightening of one of the roles the family often plays: as adjudicator. When you introduce someone to your family, you are, in a way, asking them to pass judgment on that person: are they right, or are they wrong for you? (This is, of course, how many family arguments start!) Here, Angie’s brought her family options – and the options also function as peer review.
But to talk about that we need to talk about the episode itself, so let’s get to the recap.
We begin tonight just after the last rose ceremony. All the boys are gathered, and Jamie is monologuing about how HE GOT THE FIRST ROSE AT THE ROSE CEREMONY OMG and how ANGIE IS HIS ONE TRUE LOVE AND NOW THEY WILL BE TOGETHER FOREVERRRRRRRR while everyone else rolls their eyes.
Osher rolls in with a single date card, and Jamie is positive – POSITIVE! – that it’s going to be him.
It’s not. Of course it’s not. Instead, the recipient of this single date is your boyfriend and mine, Ciarran.
‘I feel like Ciarran’s a one trick pony,’ Jamie sulked. I’m fairly sure the nation screamed HOW DARE YOU?! as one in response.
Angie picks Ciarran up at the harbour in a boat. This is one of those dates that’s clearly meant to test the contestant, and here the test is simple: they’re testing to see how Ciarran will cope getting his hair wet.
He doesn’t love it. (Which, like, I respect, because I have a deep sympathy re what salt water can do to one’s hair.) But he laughs and puts on a good face and delightedly calls everything ‘absolute madness’, and it’s about as interesting as two people riding around the harbour in a speedboat yelling WOOOOO can be.
cough EPIC TRANSPORTATION IS NOT A DATE, BACHIE, HOW MANY TIMES DO WE NEED TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION cough
When they’re back on shore, Angie tosses Ciarran some keys and they jump into a fancy car. Then they drive…somewhere? And then it’s suddenly night, and they’re at their Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation. I’m fairly sure there was a whole portion of the date that was cut out, and I refuse to believe it wasn’t interesting, given Ciarran is such a delight.
Speaking of interesting: this is a really interesting little Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation scene. ‘Why are you the way you are?’ Angie asks Ciarran.
He shrugs. ‘I’ve always been this way.’
‘A bit,’ he says. ‘My childhood…it was a bit crap. We had no money, we moved around a lot, there were a lot of shit men in my mum’s life…I had to learn to make friends fast, all the time.’
Angie nods. ‘Oh wow,’ she says. ‘I feel like a bit of a dickhead for judging you, thinking you were all surface.’
You guys, then he reveals that he talks to his grandma on FaceTime nearly every day, and my heart melted. ‘Men who love and take the time to spend time with their grandmas’ are one of my very favourite, very specific, archetypes.
You know how I was talking about emotion before? Ciarran and Angie have had alone time before, and they’ve laughed and made out, but here, we see it get elevated to that more emotional level. They kiss before she gives him the rose, and then they kiss again. ‘Wow,’ Angie says. ‘You’ve surprised me, Ciarran. You really just…snuck in there.’
You and me both, girl. And Australia also, probably.
Next, it’s a group date. Angie rocks up at the house. ‘Surprise, boys!’ she says. ‘We’re all spending today together, and I brought my parents!’
She divides the bros up into two groups. Timm, Ciarran, Carlin, Jackson, and Matt (interestingly, most of the contenders are in this group) go with Angie’s dad. The rest sit down one-on-one with Angie’s mum.
This wasn’t the most compelling version of this date I’ve ever seen. Timm was like, ‘yep, I see a future with your daughter!’ Ciarran admitted that he’s been naked in front of Angie. But the major reveal comes from Carlin, when Angie’s dad asks him who he thinks Angie should steer clear of. ‘I think we all have the same answer for this,’ he says. ‘Jamie is a bit intense.’
All the other bros agree. ‘Exactly,’ Ciarran says. ‘He’s the kind of guy that’d be texting you every ten minutes, “what are you doing?”, “what are you wearing?”’
Intercut with this is Jamie sitting down with Angie’s mum. ‘I’M SO INTO YOUR DAUGHTER!’ he proclaims. ‘SHE HAS SUCH POSITIVE ENERGY! IT’S HER BEST QUALITY! I CAN SEE A FUTURE WITH HER!’
‘Mmm-hmmm,’ Angie’s mum says, clearly trying to edge her chair away. ‘And have you had a date with her?’
‘NO, NOT YET!’ Jamie says. ‘BUT I GOT THE FIRST ROSE AT THE LAST ROSE CEREMONY!’
He then crows to camera about how well it went and how genuine Angie’s mum must think he is, while everyone else nearby makes the face from that one Chrissy Teigen gif.
The lads also have a go at dragging Ryan the dog man to Angie’s dad, but the reasoning is less clear. It seems to boil down to him not wanting to be friends with them? And he seems to use some line of rhetoric about sticking to his story, and they’re all like, WHAT STORY?
I feel like the edit is doing a lot of work here. I sense that they want to set Ryan up as a romantic lead, so they’re to an extent minimising some of the complaints from the other men about him, which means that they’re taking out a lot of the context so they don’t make sense.
…or maybe the bros are, as Angie suggests later, just jealous of Ryan. That’s not outside the realms of possibility.
What seems frankly remarkable to me is that Ryan has become the locus of so much drama and dislike without displaying a single sign of personality. How can you be such an interest vacuum and yet consume so much narrative time and space?
Afterwards, Angie debriefs with her parents. Her dad recommends Carlin, if she wants to settle down and have kids immediately, and Ciarran, if she wants to mess around and have fun for a bit before she does that. ‘Timm’s nice, but he’s hard to get a read on,’ Angie’s mum said.
‘Nah, he’d get a bit much for you,’ Angie’s dad says. ‘He’d always be in your face. He’d pester you at the dinner table, I reckon.’
That munted philosopher king charm: it’s not for everyone.
They also raise the Ryan thing, as well as Jamie. Angie takes the latter a lot more seriously than the former (which probably tells us something about where her feels truly lie). ‘If both Mum and Dad are telling me to steer clear of Jamie, that’s something I have to take seriously,’ she says.
It comes to a head at the cocktail party. The bros make Jamie aware that they flagged with Angie’s parents that he’s a bit too needy, and he rebuffed this claim by sprinting over to Angie the second she appeared and whisking her away.
This is about how well their conversation went.
ANGIE: So…it seems like the boys think I should steer clear of you. They think you’re needy.
JAMIE: Maybe I am a bit needy. But it’s because I’m too much of a good guy.
ANGIE: Too much of a good guy…for me?
JAMIE: No! I’m just too genuine, and they’re jealous. There’s only like three genuine guys in this house.
JAMIE: I don’t want to name names.
ANGIE: Name names.
JAMIE: I just care about you.
ANGIE: You can’t tell me something like that and not name names.
JAMIE: I’m all about positivity, not negativity. This conversation isn’t going the way I want.
And then Ciarran – dressed in a way I can only describe as ‘Goblin King attends the Year Ten Formal’ – comes over and interrupts, and you can basically see how relieved Angie is not to have to be in Jamie’s company any more.
‘I’m just so genuine!’ Jamie sobs to camera. ‘I can’t believe I’ve ballsed this up!’
Wild how you can always tell who’s genuine by who screams I’M GENUINE!!!!11! right in your face, hey.
It doesn’t go quite the way the bros had hoped in the rose ceremony, though. Jamie is in the bottom two, but he gets the final rose (over…Glenn? who was…a person who was present?). ‘I’m here for Angie,’ Jamie says. ‘I’m here for love. Fuck the brozone. I don’t care about any of them. Only. Angie.’
The only way I can describe the music they put over the top of this is ‘serial killer’.
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.