RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S4 E03

RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S4 E03
The Bachelor Australia Season 4
Background photo: Robert Sheie (Flickr)

‘I wonder if there will be drama tonight,’ one contestant innocently wonders at the beginning of the evening, proving that they know NOTHING about the way this show is constructed.

I’ve been trying to work out exactly what it is that our Bachie Richie reminds me of, and it’s finally hit me: this piece from the Toast (RIP) called If Channing Tatum Were Your Boyfriend. Seriously, you could go through and replace pretty much every instance of ‘Channing Tatum’ with ‘Richie Strahan’ in this piece, and it would describe the appeal of Richie to a T (well, maybe the Pony joke doesn’t make quite so much sense … but we can dream, wink wink). He is a big dorky sunflower of a man who will never, EVER try to tell you about Slavoj Žižek. And that is a hell of a fantasy.

Source: Vulture

… and so, on that note, it’s time for another week of Bachie with Jodi!

We open with the ladies — well, some of them, anyway — still being angry that Alex (single mum Alex, possessor of the Special White Rose of Specialness) had the NERVE to use her magic white rose powers to spend time with the unicorn man they’re all trying to date. Like, how DARE SHE.

Bachie is a very structured show in most regards. Like, we all know the formula of single dates and group dates and hometown dates and whatnot, right? But the ethics of when it is all right to spend time with the Bachie outside of these allotted date times are deliberately kept blurry for dramatic purposes. If there was some kind of structured cocktail party system where the ladies could, like, sign up for fifteen minutes with Richie, the drama would dissipate. Conflict is created by the contestants negotiating the ethics of romantic pursuit.

And this is interesting, because we haven’t, as a society, really quite worked out if love is ethical and what the ethics of its pursuit are. When ‘romantic love’ first appeared as a discourse in eleventh and twelfth century France, love was imagined as something deeply destructive: a passion which could rip societies apart. (Think here of Lancelot and Guinevere in, like, any Arthurian romance). As time went on, it began to be viewed as constructive, as the building blocks of families: love kind of got tamed a little bit.

But there’s still this idea that love is subversive: the ‘all’s fair in love and war’ attitude, the ‘love conquers all’ notion, even when ‘all’ constitutes ‘literally every boundary of courtesy and human decency’. And that’s what we see a lot of in Bachie, often expressed as ‘I’m here for love, but not to make friends’. However, the people that express this attitude almost never win: winners tend to be well-liked in the harem house. So adhering to some sort of ethical code — which was made quite literal in Richie’s season of The Bachelorette, with the establishment of the ‘bro code’ — wherein the contestants have relatively equitable access to the Bachie seems to be part of the happy ending for the winner. Hogging the Bachie is like cheating and thus you may not win: even though all you’re doing is prioritising the Bachie above the contestants.

The winner has to woo two suitors, is what I’m saying: Bachie and contestants. And maybe also audience. There’s a lot of polyamory happening in Bachie.

But back to the recap! A date card is delivered. It’s a single date, and the recipient is Megan (who likes mermaids, and who was spotted eating Nutella from the jar with a spoon last episode, making her the official Everywoman).

The date is just a normal, everyday date: something you might do on any first date. It’s a picnic!

… which takes place about a hundred metres above the sea on a tiny glass platform, because of Bachie reasons.

Richie is, as he tells us, pretty good with heights (this has something to do with his mysterious oil rig job which I don’t understand but which I am POSITIVE means he spends his time sexily smeared with grease while wearing, like, a white singlet). But this date is less about Richie’s affinity for heights and more about the notion that falling in love is risky. It’s what we might think of as a ‘leap of faith’ idea: and indeed, many similar dates often involve jumping off high places, although this one doesn’t have the literal leaping aspect. If you will do the dangerous thing for love … then maybe your love is strong enough to last.

Megan, however, is not particularly worried about the height, and spends most of the time enthusing about the beautiful scenery, so a lot of that ‘oh, scared lady, I, manly man, will comfort you!’stuff which such dates are often intended to engender is subverted. It’s kind of refreshing. Good on you, Megan.

Of course, I immediately had to take back this ‘good on you’ when Richie went in for the kiss and Megan awkwardly managed to get his lips to land on her cheek instead. Like, lady, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? But it all turns out okay, because they have a second go at it when he gives her a rose, and this time she gets it right. Maybe she’s just awkward and dorky enough for our perfect Channing Tatum Boyfriend after all.

As with his date with Nikki last episode, Richie rates the kiss as ‘nice’. Like, to Megan’s face. Maybe this performance review aspect of his making out technique explains why he, a literal ray of sunshine in Adonis-like human form, is still single?

In his conversation with Megan, Richie also reveals that he lives by one of the most important rules of fiction writing: show, don’t tell. ‘I’m not a good wordsmith, so instead of telling a girl that I love her, I show her, with, like, random flowers during the day,’ he announces.

Richie. Mate. Remember how everyone went nuts last year for ‘cool bananas’? I wouldn’t underestimate the power of your dork words.

The next date is a group date, and it’s one of those ‘compete for my love’ dates which are especially gross and so at which Bachie excels. In this date, the ten or so ladies present must compete in a roller derby challenge for the prize of extra time with their sunflower boyfriend. However, because roller derby is an awesome sport played by hardcore ladies and is thus not humiliating enough for the show’s purposes, they must do it while wearing sumo suits.

Keira — our villain – is swift to tell us that she Does Not Like This. And … like, fair enough, really? It does not seem fun.

One of the few contestants we’ve had in Bachie (Australian Bachie, anyway) who has pushed back against this structured dating system and its ritualised humiliation is Laurina Fleure, in the famous ‘dirty street pie’ incident in season two, where she ripped into Bachie Blake Garvey. Lauren — although she might potentially have been edited as a villain — was pretty much universally beloved by viewers, and is one of the few contestants to have made a public career for herself outside of the show, largely because of this rebellion.

However, Keira — although exhibiting many of the same characteristics — is unlikely to be so beloved, and I’m thinking that’s because the nuance to her numerous ‘I Don’t Like It’ pronouncements is a little different. Laurina spoke directly to Blake and eviscerated him for the ritualised humiliation of her as an individual. Keira, on the other hand, is campaigning on an ‘I don’t want to be around other women’ platform.

There is some interesting cognitive dissonance here, because Keira is the champion of A Fair Go For All when it comes to equal opportunity access to Richie at cocktail parties, but when it comes to dates, she doesn’t want to compete with other women: ‘I’m over being around other women’ are her words. This is partially a question of space and place, I think — a date is generally a time when you are the centre of attention, while you don’t have to be at a party — but that isn’t really an obvious layer of meaning, and so Keira comes off as looking: a) contradictory; and b) like she hates other women. Laurina, on the other hand, came off looking like she disliked Blake … and that turned out to be a sentiment we could all get behind.

Anyway! There is much skating and fighting and biffing, and Richie gets a bit excited about how competitive the women are. ‘They wanted blood!’ he exclaims gleefully, which would maybe be all right if he were a vampire on a date in a paranormal romance, but is probably not the greatest sentiment for, like, a regular date, even one in which multiple women are involved.

(If someone wrote a paranormal romance starring an awkward dork vampire who is paradoxically sunshine personified, I would be so there for it. Send me your reading recommendations.)

Keira’s team does not win, and she is predictably huffy. Richie takes the ladies of the winning team for ice cream — specifically, Gelato Messina, in a sort of deserted street fair set up. Not much of note happens, on account of none of the women who have become central characters being there, but we do see one lady virtually eliminate herself: Tolyna, who has hitherto been a background character, tells Richie that she is virtually incapable of opening up. ‘Opening up’ is one of the key things a Bachie contestant must perform, although what this constitutes is surprisingly nebulous. If you refuse to open up? Au revoir.

Oh, and the other thing that happens is that another contestant talks to Richie about making snow angels, but with vomit. Vomit angels. Awesome romantic™ conversation.

And then it is the cocktail party! ‘I wonder if there will be drama tonight,’ one contestant innocently wonders at the beginning of the evening, proving that they know NOTHING about the way this show is constructed.

Predictably, there is drama. It comes in two varietals:

Megan drama: Oh noes! Megan told some people she kissed Richie on their date, but to others she admitted it was actually a pash, and as this is a VERY IMPORTANT DISTINCTION, this is explosive news. Once it gets to Keira, anyway.

Alex drama: Alex does not use her white rose, but oh my! Richie whisks her away to the actual ivory tower anyway! This causes much drama, because she should have refused on the grounds of EQUITY and FAIRNESS and ETHICS and MORALS and suchlike. Plus, Alex is wearing a black choker, which might signal her slow shift from angelic single mother into villain… watch this space.

It’s still too early for the rose ceremony to mean much, but one notable eliminee is Janey the Disney Princess. I found this genuinely surprising — who would have thought she’d be outlasted by Eliza the incredibly awkward songstress?

… but then, considering this is Richie, the dorkiest Bachie to ever Bach, maybe this is not so surprising after all.

The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.

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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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