RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S4 E07

RECAP: The Bachelor Australia – S4 E07
The Bachelor Australia Season 4
Background photo: Robert Sheie (Flickr)

There’s no point half-arseing all these dates. Whole-arse a few of them, for heaven’s sake.

So I came straight home from a seminar on Simone de Beauvoir to watch Bachie, because my feminism is, like, multifaceted and complex. And there’s a de Beauvoir passage from The Second Sex [ BT | Amz ] which is quite interesting when applies to Bachie:

The worst horror of woman’s condition in a harem is that her days are deserts of boredom: when the male is not using this object that she is for him, she is absolutely nothing… For her to exist, then, her lover must be by her side, taken care of by her; she awaits his return, his desire, his waking; and as soon as he leaves her, she starts again to wait for him. (718)

This speaks a lot, I think, to the condition of women in Bachie: they’re so utterly bored and deprived of other stimuli that of COURSE they’re going to fall in love with the Bachie. We’re not allowed to see much of their existence outside this love relationship.

However, when Bachie limits this too much — which I think they have this season — we end up with no one to root for, no one to ship. When all we know about someone is that they’re trapped in the Bachie’s harem, and that they’ve fallen in love with the Bachie primarily out of boredom and proximity, that isn’t that compelling a narrative. And that is what Bachie is missing this season: we don’t know WHY, precisely, anyone actually likes Richie.

Source: Unknown

…Well, I mean, he’s an adorkable golden sunshine man, so there’s that, but I think we need a little more. Like, does anyone have any idea of his personality beyond ‘nice boy dork with lots of abs’? Because I don’t.

But onto the recap! We begin with Osher delivering a date card for this week’s single date.

A lot of our romantic iconography comes from the classics, BTW, and Osher is no different: he is Hermes (in the Greek) or Mercury (in the Latin), the messenger of the gods. If only he wore cute little gold wings on his shoes, or had Hermes’ love of trickery. Hermes also slept with Aphrodite, goddess of love, so … make of that allegorical allusion what you will.

Source: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (I think? — Kat)

Oh, and Hermes was the god of commerce. I’ve talked before the links between the vision of romance put forward in Bachie and the capitalist fantasy, so that seems fairly apt.

Anyway, the date is for Rachael, who has stood out thus far mostly for the quality of her facial expressions and not much else. Once again, like many of the other dates this season, it’s suuuuuuper ill-defined: they have, like, one of those old school tall ships, and they do a rum tasting, so they seem to be going for something a bit piratical, but they never really lean into it that much.

And it’s not like they couldn’t. Anyone who’s ever read 1980s romance will know that there are plenty of romance tropes you could draw on from pirate romance. (Can you imagine a Windflower-themed date? That would be BANANAS. Cool ones.) But no: Richie and Rachael climb up to the crow’s nest, awkwardly don’t kiss, decide that the introduction of another person — the rum guru — will make their date more natural, and then eat some cheese.

There’s just no COMMITMENT in this season of the Bachie. There’s no point half-arseing all these dates: they just seem a bit insipid. Whole-arse a few of them, for heaven’s sake.

While this single date is going on, Osher delivers the next date card to the ladies back at the house (who have, per de Beauvoir, clearly been going out of their mind with boredom). This time, it’s a group date! and all the ladies are invited! ‘It’s the perfect girls-to-Richie ratio!’ one of the women exclaims, proving she is not perfectly monogamous enough to win.

But OH NOES THERE IS A TWIST. While all the ladies dress up all pretty and start, like, playing bocce at the garden party, Richie has been whisked to another location, deep in the bush. ‘Guess what, m8,’ quoth Osher. ‘You have three new ladies to meet!’

‘Maybe I’ll fall in love with one of them!’ Richie says brightly. I don’t want to read too much into this, but this really seems to suggest that he, Mr Bingley, has not yet found what he needs among the Musgroves.

And so he meets three new ladies: Steph, Sarah, and Khalia. They ride up on a quad bike, a dirt bike, and a horse respectively, and he has a picnic with each of them.

(In theory, Richie eats three picnics in a row, and I feel like this should be a bigger part of the narrative. Who does that? It should be like that one episode of The Vicar of Dibley where Dawn French accidentally commits to four Christmas dinners.)

The contrast of these very modern forms of transportation (apart from the horse, anyway — there you go again, Bachie, not thinking these things through) with the old-school vibe of the garden party is very telling. This is a distinct intrusion: but given that this is a show about modern love, it’s maybe the right sort of intrusion.

A couple of things to note here:

1. Richie apparently has a Great Dane who is ‘his world’. SUNFLOWER PRINCE REPUTATION RESTORED.

2. He also has a habit of asking women ‘have you been in love before?’ when he first meets them. This has an interesting nuance: the question behind the question is ‘are you competent at love?’ This is a very modern idea — the idea that love is something that you do and have to be good at vs the idea that love is something that just happens to you. What we see of Richie’s romantic ideology is quite up-to-date: he’s romantically cutting-edge, so to speak.

After these three mini-dates are over, the three intruders catch a chopper to the cocktail party, where, predictably, the other ladies are PISSED… Perhaps because, as one lady says incredulously, ‘She’s been on a motorcycle AND a helicopter?’ Epic transpo = True Love in the Bachieverse, and the more of it you’ve accessed, the more the boy likes you.

At the cocktail party, the intruder ladies are apprised by Kiki that Keira is apparently ‘ungrateful’. This leads to some minor drama, which is of course totally natural and not at all engineered by producers, oh no no no. Keira calls Kiki a ‘peasant’, and the phrase ‘emotion high and logic very, very low’ is uttered, which is a modern but neat summation of how women were generally perceived post- the Enlightenment: creatures entirely of emotion incapable of rational thought. So that, um, happened.

The general feeling among the ‘original’ ladies is that it’s unfair for the intruders to come in now: ‘they haven’t been through what we have,’ is the generally expressed sentiment. This linking of love to overcoming obstacles is MEGA archetypal. Denis de Rougemont, one of the earliest scholars of love, argues that happy love has no history: that all our love stories are driven not only by obstacles, but characterised by a need to find obstacles to overcome. To love is to ‘go through things’: and so for intruders to come in now, having skipped this element of the obstacle course, is intrinsically unfair — even though that relationship between love and fairness is also so, so fraught.

Then, at the rose ceremony, there is an actual shock! Richie offers Megan (who likes mermaids) a rose, but she turns him down, on account of how she can’t cope with all the competition!

I am 100% here for ladies rejecting the Bachie: they are, after all, in a position of very little power, and this is the one way they have of asserting it. But I can’t help feeling that the show should have shaped this narrative a bit better. Megan has been a favourite the whole time, and her exit is just a bit of an, ‘oh well, shrug’.

It is — dare I say it — a little bit too real. I feel like there’s just not a lot of effort being put in to construct the romance narrative this season, whether it’s in instances like this or in the planning of dates. So much is phoned in. Quinn and Rachel of UnReal [ Amz | iT ] fame would be horrified.

All the intruders stay in the rose ceremony: the other evictee is Georgia (aka the only brunette left in the house). She proclaims, in her exit interview, that the intruders look like ‘skanks’, which … yeah, is not exactly my favourite thing a Bachie lady has said about other ladies.

But hey, there was no ritualised humiliation today, so that was cool! I mean, Richie was like, ‘hey harem, I’m not satisfied, so I’m boosting your numbers by three,’ but at least no one had to wear a kangaroo suit while he did it.

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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