We stan an assertive queen.
One more step on this four-night marathon slog with the horny singletons of Paradise, pals. Who knows how many episodes Channel Ten will want us to watch next week? My current guess is between seventeen and three hundred.
One thing they’re definitely going to want us to watch, when this finally ends, is The Bachelorette. Today, they announced who that will be for 2020: Elly Miles, who you might remember from the Astro Bach’s season, as well as her sister Becky.
(Let’s just skate past the fact that one of our Bachelorettes is literally going to be a white woman named Becky. We all know about the franchise’s diversity problems.)
So! Two Bachelorettes!
This is not without precedent. New Zealand just had a season of The Bachelorette with two heroines: Dr Lesina Nakhid-Schuster and previous runner-up Lily McManus (also an alum of the Bachelor Winter Games, a TV event in which contestants from various national franchises came together, and in which she coupled up with Courtney Dober from Georgia Love’s season here, remembered best in these recaps from me screaming GIRL, RUN every time he was on screen).
However, they didn’t have the two leads from the start. Lily was introduced several episodes in, and it was pretty widely criticised: Lesina is a woman of colour while Lily is white, and a lot of the commentary revolved around the fact that a WOC heroine was quite literally being displaced in her own narrative. The other side of the coin was that Lesina was 32 and Lily 22, and there was quite some age disparity in the contestants as well suggesting they’d been cast specifically with the two different heroines in mind, but that is, ah, perhaps not the strongest reasoning in the world. Lesina decided not to pick anyone in the end, so a lot of the criticism re her displacement in the narrative seems fairly well-founded.
Another double Bachelorette situation happened in the US in Season 11 of The Bachelorette (2015), where they cast two Bachelorettes – Kaitlyn Bristowe and Britt Nilsson. On the first night, the contestants had to vote for which one of the women they wanted to be ‘the’ Bachelorette. Kaitlyn won the vote, and Britt had to leave (pursued by one of the contestants, Brady Toops – a frequent button on the episodes in that season tracked what Britt and Brady were up to).
I doubt that’s the model they’re going to pursue here, however. If they voted one of the Bachelorettes off in the first episode, we all know Elly would be the one who stayed, because she’s the one with the name recognition. And they’re clearly not pursuing the New Zealand model either, because we know straight away there are going to be two Bachelorettes.
What I’m guessing might be a closer analogue – in format though not in tone – is VH1’s Real Chance of Love, which ran for two seasons in 2008-09. It was a spinoff of a spinoff. It featured two heroes – brothers nicknamed ‘Real’ and ‘Chance’, who together formed the rap group the Stallionaires – who had previously been contestants on I Love New York, a Bachelorette-style show starring Tiffany ‘New York’ Pollard, the runner-up from the first two seasons of Flavor of Love, a Bachelor-style show starring Flavor Flav. (Need to pause and take a breath? I’ll wait.)
This had a Bachelor format, but the contestants were divided quite strongly into ‘Real’s girls’ and ‘Chance’s girls’. There was an episode, IIRC, where Real tried to poach one of Chance’s girls, but for the most part, that demarcation remained quite solid after its formation in the first episode, where the two leads selected their contestants, as the Wikipedia page so prosaically put it, ‘dodgeball style’.
(I need to pause here to emphasise to you that Real Chance of Love was wild. WILD. Like, there was a whole set-up where they genuinely made the contestants believe that one of the brothers had shot someone and they had actors come in playing cops and interview them all. Surprise! It was a challenge, and the contestant that lied to the police best won a date. VH1’s take on the Bachelor format was… something.)
I’m not sure 2 Bachelorette 2 Furious will go quite as clinical in terms of the dodgeball aspect, but I assume there’ll be some kind of demarcation between the contestants there for Elly and those there for Becky. What’s kind of more interesting to me is how they’ll police that, and whether there’ll be fluidity.
And you know one of the reasons why I think it’s interesting? Jeopardy – that exact same jeopardy I was talking about yesterday, when I was discussing the potential for a queer take on the franchise. The argument is generally that if you did the show with a queer romance at its heart, a lot of the jeopardy would be removed, but I contend there’s actually more, because there’s a genuine chance the Bach could be rejected. And what we could end up with in The Bachelorette this year is ‘no, I can’t accept this rose… I’ll only accept one from your sister’.
But anyway. We’re here to talk about Paradise, not the franchise proper. Let’s get back to the beach.
So we ended last night with Niranga casting about for someone to ask on a date, asking Conga Line Brittney, and her promptly bursting into tears.
‘I don’t even like him!’ she sobs. ‘Why am I everyone’s second choice? Why am I only ever the backup friend?’
Brittney is so deep in her feels that she seems to have forgotten that she’s allowed to say no to the date. Thank goodness for Paradise MVP Renee, who takes Niranga aside, and is like, ‘bro… this isn’t a good idea.’
And what did Niranga do? Did he flip a table? Did he insist that Brittney MUST DATE HIM OR ELSE? Did he demand that all the womenfolk bend to his will?
No. He had a very sweet chat to her, was like, ‘look, if you have a spark with Jackson, I’m not going to stand in your way, so I’ll ask Cass instead,’ all while having a flower behind his ear.
Justice for Niranga. Send him back to Paradise next year with a bunch of people who’ve been, ‘you know who I want to see there? THAT GUY.’
Cass accepts the date, even though she was pretty firm on the NO, NO ROSE FOR NIRANGA messaging earlier. It turns out to be very awkward, because… sometimes you can’t just smash Barbies together and make them kiss. And when Niranga’s like, ‘are you sure there’s no possibility of anything?’ and she’s like, ‘ew, no!’ he’s a bit put out by that, given she agreed to come on a date with him.
I’m guessing the edit has a lot to do with it – I mean, it’s not like she didn’t quite clearly express her lack of interest earlier – but Cass comes across pretty mean here. And… look, I don’t think that any of the men on this show deserve especial praise, but see my prev notes re justice for Niranga.
On the subject of none of the men on this show deserving especial praise, Timm returns to Paradise after having spent a few days away at a wedding, and promptly yeets himself straight into the bin. ‘Wait, you’re shacked us with Ciarran’s ex-missus?’ he demands, when he hears BMX Matt and Renee are a Paradise couple. ‘You dog! You snake!’
RIP everything we thought we knew in Bachelorette 2019. May there be far fewer dickheads in 2 Bachelorette 2 Furious, and if there are dickheads, let they be more obvious instead of fooling the nation into thinking they’re actually sweet until they’re unleashed on the beach of perpetual horniness.
But there’s some nice things too! Over in Super Sweet Smoochville, Mary is teaching Conor Cleanskin to dance, and it’s super cute! and Glenn and Alisha are smearing body paint all over each other and pashing in the bath!* and PAGLIACCI BRITNEY AND JACKSON THE PIE MAN KISS!
If there is one person in Paradise who deserves good things, it’s Brittney. What a tear this brought to our collective eye.
If it brought a tear to Cass’ eye, though, it was a tear of frustration and rage. ‘But I’m interested in Jackson!’ she fumes. ‘I’m going to give him my rose. See what Brittney thinks then!’
And then, like it’s fucking Survivor and she’s crafting a blindside, she goes and tells Brittney that she’s going to give her rose to (apparently one T) Scot.
I know it’s hard to be able to tell who will win the mantle of Australia’s Darling™ in a given season (sometimes it’s Timm and Ciarran, for reasons which are somehow so hazy now), but if you’re mean to both Niranga and Pagliacci Brittney in a single episode, chances are you’re going to get a villain edit.
(Speaking of villain edits: did we all hear how Jamie is suing, presumably because of how he’s been represented in the show? Once again they refuse to do him any favours by showing him weirdly sobbing to Timm about how much he loves and misses Helena the island therapist. What a time to be alive.)
This sets the scene for some rose ceremony drama. There’s some fairly set couples, but beyond that, there’s five guys competing for two roses – Brittney’s and Cass’. And they both want to give their rose to Jackson the pie man. DUN DUN DUN.
…not that Brittney knows that yet, even though she might be beginning to suspect. ‘You know I like you, yeah?’ she says to Jackson. ‘We have a spark, right?’
‘Right!’ he confirms, as she beams. ‘I mean, we have the same birthday!’
If they say this counts as a spark, it counts. I’m not going to gainsay Pagliacci Brittney.
…but then Jackson tells Cass that even though he likes Brittney he’d accept a rose if she gave him one. This is some rose maths drama™, pals.
‘Hey babe, how would you feel if I gave my rose to Jackson?’ Cass asks Brittney airily.
‘Do whatever you want, but you know he and I have a connection,’ Brittney replies.
‘If I chose Jackson, who would you choose, babe?’
‘I don’t need to tell you that.’
And she doesn’t laugh. For the first time in her life, Pagliacci Brittney doesn’t laugh through a sentence.
‘Wow,’ Cass says. ‘I just wanted to have a civilised conversation!’
‘I am having a civilised conversation,’ Brittney says icily. ‘So you should know that if you pick Jackson, I’m still going to pursue him.’
WE STAN AN ASSERTIVE QUEEN. PAGLIACCI BRITTNEY HAS FOUND HER POWER.
‘She’s so weird and rude and angry,’ Cass says, but we cannot hear her over the sound of our stanning.
…and, realistically, over the sound of Niranga’s sobs elsewhere. He is crying because he doesn’t want to leave Paradise, and Mary is crying too and hugging him because she doesn’t want her friend to leave, and JUSTICE FOR NIRANGA and SEND HIM BACK TO PARADISE NEXT YEAR.
(Jamie is crying too, but I care less about this. Allegedly. Don’t sue.)
So it all hinges on who gets to give their rose first – Brittney or Cass?
The established couples all go first. Mary gives her rose to Conor Cleanskin, Britt gives her to Timm, Alisha gives her to Glenn, Renee gives hers to BMX Matt, Kiki gives hers to Ciarran, Keira gives hers to Alex.
‘Cass,’ quoth Osher.
OSHER, YOU DOG.
And she gives her rose to Jackson.
But does our new queen Brittney waver? Does she bend? Does she break?
No. She holds her head high, and gives her rose to Scot.
I’m sad she didn’t give her rose to Niranga, but we cannot fail to notice that SHE DIDN’T GIVE IT TO JAMIE. ‘I’m sorry,’ she tells him. ‘I just couldn’t do it again.’
Of course, Jamie doesn’t leave without a weird manologue about how he’s obsessed with Helena (?), but if this Paradise has given us nothing else, it’s given us Conga Line Brittney coming into her power, and that’s not nothing. ‘Yeah, after hearing that speech, I’m definitely solid with my choice,’ she says.
No choice but to stan, friends. No choice.
*although Alisha starrily-eyed states that she’s thrilled by Glenn’s ability to talk in paragraphs, which was truly a very depressing statement of how low the bar is.
Sneaky end-of-recap reminder: not only do I write about rose ceremonies, but I’ve written a book with a rose on the cover! If you like my writing (which, if you made it to the end of this monstrously long recap, I assume you do), don’t forget to check out my YA Valentine series, and you can always check in on me at my website: jodimcalister.com.au
The show airs on Channel 10. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.