The perfect example of the Amazing Waterskiier Fallacy
We are so close, pals. Don’t give up now. Only a little more bin juice to swim through before we see the horizon.
…in less dramatic terms: we’re up to the penultimate episode of Bachelor in Paradise Australia, after what feels like both three minutes and three hundred years. (Coronatime. What a phenomenon.)
I want to spend a bit of time, before we fling ourselves back onto the beach of horny drunk singletons, talking about something I pointed out a couple of times in my recap last night. We’ve reached an interesting point of the season where the show seems to be having an existential crisis. The contestants are beginning to fret about whether their romance is ‘real’ or not – by which they mean they wonder whether it will translate to the outside world.
This preoccupation with the ‘real’ is fascinating, given that this is ‘reality’ television. We know these are real people, and we’ve been seeing them really love each other up (perhaps a bit too much, in the case of Ciarran and Kiki). But even though they’re real, and their feelings are real, their worry that their relationship might not be real is well-founded. Timm and Britt are a great example of this: according to Britt, their relationship, which was portrayed to be very Paradise-strong, lasted a grand total of seven days on the outside before he ghosted her.
This is a slightly different (although closely related) issue to the one I wrote about a few days back, where I talked about Jamie’s lawsuit and how that will offer some very interesting commentary on the reality of reality television. This is less about whether the contestants are being portrayed as they truly are. Rather, it’s a recognition of the extreme unreality of the situation that the denizens of Paradise find themselves in: isolated on a beach with other horny singletons, encouraged to get drunk (on red wine, WHY?!) and hook up.
Bachelor in Paradise, like its older Bachie siblings, belongs to what Misha Kavka calls ‘second generation’ reality television (2012, 113). Unlike first generation shows, which were more documentary-style and were all about capturing real life as it happened – think here of those ridealong cop shows that we still can’t escape from – second generation shows put their contestants in artificial situations with highly structured and very different-from-real-life rules. In real life, no one is going to make you do a rose ceremony or go to a Bula Banquet, but in Paradise, those are key structures of the format.
This means, Kavka argues, that where actual ‘reality’ is located shifts: it becomes ‘something that lies “before” the participants, that is, in the participants’ future as a result of the interventions of the reality TV apparatus’ (2012, 113). The situation is artificial, but it’s going to wreak real change on the lives of the contestants afterwards – or, to be That Guy™ and quote myself, ‘[t]he promise of the show is that while the situation that the Bachelor/ette and contestants are placed in is unreal, the love that will follow is real’ (McAlister 2018, 346).
And here we have the heart of the contestants’ worry – is their love real, or has it been manufactured by the situation? Paradise is a place where it’s basically compulsory to fall in love: as we’ve seen many times over, if you don’t, then you get the boot.
It’s kind of a more extreme version of the holiday romance. When you’re on holiday, you’re in a whole different kind of world than your regular life. There’s no guarantee that a relationship that starts under holiday conditions – a kind of dreamy unreality – can be sustained once you come home and go back to work and whatnot. And there’s no guarantee that a relationship that begins in the Bachie bubble, where all there is to do is lie out in the sun and drink the red wine that’s inexplicably on tap, can sustain itself either when real life crashes back in.
That said: there’s no guarantee that a relationship that starts in any circumstance is going to be able to sustain itself. The residents of Paradise have as good a chance as any of us, really.
Okay. Let’s head back to the beach.
We begin, rather than end, with a rose ceremony. In this ceremony, instead of members of one gender giving a rose to the other, the couples exchange roses, which indicates their desire to meet each other’s friends and family. If one member of the couple doesn’t want to give out a rose, though, then the whole couple has to leave.
We go down from six couples to four. Sadly, we say farewell to Pagliacci Brittney and Jackson the pie man, who agree pre-ceremony that it’s too soon to meet each other’s friends and family. However, they still want to be together, so they agree to try and make it work on the outside.
During the ceremony, we – unsurprisingly – lose Scot and Mia, who have been together for a whole two days at this point. ‘Look, it’s too soon, but we’ll give it a go outside,’ they agree, and depart.
For both couples, this makes sense. I’m even willing to give Jackson the pie man a special pass, because we all remember from The Bachelorette that if his family is away from the pie factory for a second then the world will collapse.
YOU’VE JUST SCREWED ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY OUT OF A FREE TRIP TO FIJI!
Seriously, must you think only of yourselves? If one of my siblings was on Paradise and they decided they just couldn’t take getting drunk on a beach with a person they presumably like for one more day and the consequence was that I got denied a free trip to hang out with Osher, I’d be fucking furious.
Ahem. Let’s take it couple by couple, as everyone meets each other’s friends and family.
Glenn and Alisha
‘Mum, the only thing I’m worried about is that he’s too perfect,’ Alisha tells her mother.
‘…well,’ her mother says after she meets him, ‘that might be because he is perfect.’
Clearly she didn’t see Glenn’s Southern Cross tattoo.
However, we also learn that Glenn has an identical – down to the sunburn, which is quite something – twin brother called Neil, so perhaps the Southern Cross tattoo was just a poorly-thought-out way of telling them apart.
They sit down together later that night for some wine and cheese. ‘I was worried you were too perfect,’ Alisha whispers to Glenn.
‘You’re perfect,’ he whispers back.
‘I’m not,’ she says.
‘But you’re perfect for me,’ he replies.
I think we can all agree that if Glenn and Alisha can’t make it work, then love on reality TV is just straight up impossible.
Conor Cleanskin and Mary
Conor and Mary each have a separate issue. He’s worried that he feels more strongly about her than she feels about him, and she’s worried that he might not be ready to be a stepdad.
That first issue is put to rest when Mary meets Conor’s mum and pretty much immediately lets the L-word slip. ‘Oh shit,’ she says, clapping her hands over her mouth. ‘I can’t believe I said that.’
‘Just tell him how you feel,’ Mama Cleanskin urges her. ‘He probably doesn’t know.’
Meanwhile, Conor is talking to Mary’s friend Kylie. ‘How do you feel about blended families?’ she asks him.
‘I’m part of one,’ he replies. ‘My stepdad was a huge part of my life, and that’s a role I’d absolutely be prepared to take on.’
Needless to say, the peer review on both sides is great! And then when Conor and Mary sit down to wine and cheese, they both confess to the other that they love each other, and agree that they are now officially boyfriend and girlfriend.
And… it’s just so nice, pals. Remember Paradise last year when the strongest couple we had was Alex Nation and Bill the human swarm of locusts? We’ve been truly blessed with some genuinely lovely couples this year.
BMX Matt and Renee
‘I really like Renee – I just worry she’s not over her ex,’ Matt tells his dad (who looks exactly like you would imagine the dad of someone called BMX Matt to look).
‘I like Matt a lot – but, ugh, Ciarran’s here,’ Renee tells her grandparents.
‘Ciarran,’ Renee’s grandpa snarls.
Let’s just say that it’s fairly clear that discount Lucius Malfoy was, ahem, not popular with la famille de Renee.
Turns out Renee’s grandpa is an ex-cop, and he fancies himself a bit of a Steve the Human Lie Detector. ‘How do you feel about Renee?’ he demands of BMX Matt.
‘She’s a beautiful girl,’ Matt replies. ‘I really want to see where this goes.’
Apparently Renee’s grandpa was satisfied with the nuance of BMX Matt’s body language – but Papa BMX was not so satisfied with Renee’s responses. ‘Are you over your ex Ciarran?’ he asks her.
‘It’s tough to be in Paradise with your ex,’ Renee responds, ‘but I wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t want to be here with Matt.’
Papa BMX thinks this is a bad sign, but surely it would be a worse sign for someone to be like, ‘oh yes, I dated a dude for two years and we broke up two weeks ago and I’m now a hundred percent over it!’ Like, who processes emotion that fast? That would be a totally disingenuous answer – Renee’s is way more reasonable (I think, anyway).
The doubts of Papa BMX aside, it all turns out all right. ‘I want to be here with you,’ Renee tells Matt that night, over wine and cheese. ‘I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.’
‘I want to make this work on the outside,’ Matt tells her. ‘Will that be all right with you?’
‘Yes,’ Renee says, smiling the smile of someone who yeeted an $800 ring and a bad man into the sea. ‘That’ll be all right.’
Ciarran and Kiki
‘So,’ Kiki tells her mum. ‘Ciarran. I thought he was great! But then he slept with another girl, and also his ex is here, and I just found out that he spent the night with yet another girl the first night they were here. So I really need you to tell me… Y/N.’
It is extremely evident that Kiki’s mum’s opinion is very much N.
‘So,’ Kiki’s mum says to Ciarran, ‘you slept with another girl. Don’t you think that was a bit of a dog act?’
‘I, uh –‘
‘And why did Kiki have to find all this out from other people?’
‘Um – I – I’m the most honest person here!’
While Ciarran is trotting out some of his favourite lines in the hope that one of them will stick, Kiki has promptly burst into tears in front of Ciarran’s friend Brad. Brad looks very uneasy, which I hope is because he’s realised that his friend is a nightmare, but it might just be because he’s realised he’s going to have to learn some new Excel formulas to keep track of Ciarran’s various antics.
‘I – uh – maybe just tell him how you feel?’ Brad stammers eventually. Instead of telling me, is heavily implied.
Understandably, there is considerably more tension in the wine and cheese portion of Kiki and Ciarran’s date than there have been in the others. ‘So here are all these things you haven’t been honest about,’ Kiki tells him, giving him the list.
‘You don’t understand – I’m the most honest person in here!’
A few years ago, watching (I think) My Kitchen Rules, my sister and I devised a principle we dubbed the Amazing Waterskiier fallacy. There were some cooks who kept insisting over and over again that they were amazing cooks, despite having fucked up literally everything they’d touched in the show – something which had the same energy as she or I insisting that we were amazing waterskiiers, despite a considerable amount of evidence to the contrary.
Basically, the Amazing Waterskiier fallacy works on assertion over evidence* – and if you want a clear example of it, you have to look no further than Ciarran repeatedly insisting, over and over again, that he’s honest.
But will he get away with the Amazing Waterskiier manoeuvre? This episode ends on a cliffhanger, so you’ll have to wait until next time – the finale! – to find out.
*yes, I know this logical fallacy is typically called Proof by Assertion. That is clearly not as good a name as the Amazing Waterskiier fallacy.
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.