In which the cheeseboard is absent, and contestants suffer the consequences.
Welcome back to Bachie-with-Jodi! This is episode 2, which is where we start getting down to business. We’ve met all our cast of characters — have a look at my recap of last night’s season premiere if you want to get caught up on who’s who — and now it’s time to settle into the regular routine of dates, drinks, and eliminations.
I’ve talked about this in my recaps of previous seasons before, but just as a refresher — this is what the typical Bachelor/ette Australia episode looks like, from episodes 2 through to about 8/10/12 (depending on which show it is — The Bachelor gets more episodes than The Bachelorette in Australia, presumably because of a little thing called the patriarchy).
The Bachelor/ette will go on:
A single date. On single dates, the Bach plus one contestant will spend the whole day together. Sometimes they do some sort of activity, often death-defying (there’s lots of leaping off high places). Sometimes the producers mistake epic transportation (helicopter, yacht, seaplane, etc) for a date, without realising that transpo is what you use to get to the date. When the core date activities are over, the Bach plus their date will sit on a Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation and talk about their feeeeeeeeeeeelings until they’re like ‘ewww, gross, enough emotions, wanna pash?’
A group date. On group dates, the Bach plus anywhere between three and fifteen contestants will spend the day together doing some kind of activity. Often this activity is competitive: you can win or lose a group date. The winner or winners will then get to spend some more time with the Bach. If it’s a solo winner, they’ll go and sit on a Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation and talk about their feeeeeeeeeeeelings until — you get the picture.
A cocktail party. This is the pre-elimination piss-up where everyone gets hammered and tries to find ways to get time with the Bach without offending too many other people.
A rose ceremony. This is where the elimination happens. The Bach gives roses to the contestants that s/he still wants to spend time with, and the roseless leave sad and alone — and at this stage, not even famous.
There are occasionally some variations to this — the Thunderdome date, for instance, where the Bach will take two contestants on a date but only one will continue on the show (I would lay some pretty good money, after last night’s episode, that Cat and Sophie are going to end up on one of these at some stage) — but that’s the basic gist from now until we get down to four contestants and they head to hometowns.
So. How does this process play out in tonight’s episode? Let’s dive into the recap and find out.
The lucky (?) lady selected for the very first date with Nick is Shannon, who you might remember from such events as her nearly being swallowed whole by the Bachelor mansion lawn when her heels sank into the grass. She’s clearly making a run at the Most Giffable Facial Expression crown, because her face when her name is announced is … something.
Nick meets her at a footy field, where he is throwing a footy up in the air over and over again. (Guys, I think he might play … footy.) ‘Righto, we’ve got two choices,’ he tells her. ‘We can stay here and toss the footy around and have a yarn, or there’s another choice. It’s a mystery.’
‘MYSTERY,’ Shannon says at once, because just about anything has to be better than take-one-of-your-25-girlfriends-to-work day.
That mystery turns out to be a helicopter, because of course it’s Bachie, and there’s always, always, ALWAYS a helicopter.
And where there’s a helicopter, there’s a scared contestant being forced to jump out of it, because #romance. Guess what happens here…?
Although, look, I am being a bit unfair when I’m like, ‘lol, jumping out of things, hashtag romance, amirite?’ I feel like I’ve written this paragraph at least ten times before in various Bachie recaps, but there are a few reasons why the show is so fond of pushing the Bach and the contestants off high places and otherwise forcing them into death-defying feats.
One is chemical. When you undertake intense stunts like these one, your brain is filled with adrenaline and a whole bunch other chemicals, some of which can lead to bonding. You may notice from this very specific description that I am not a scientist, so disclaimer: I don’t know if this is actually true or not. But conventional wisdom says it’s true — that is, people think it’s true — and the producers of The Bachelor are people, so … you do the maths. (Not a mathematician either.)
One is symbolic. We ‘fall’ in love. We take a ‘leap’ of faith. There’s a whole heap of vernacular about the process of falling in love that mirrors a lot of these death-defying stunts. Even if we don’t necessarily consciously make the connection when we’re watching this, you can bet that a lot of us are making these subconscious links.
(Sidebar: like I said above, I’ve written some variation of the above at least eleventy billion times, and I only just realised I do exactly the same thing in my first novel, Valentine, where the heroine Pearl describes a major romantic episode in her life by saying ‘I feel like I’m about to walk on a highwire, millions of miles above the ground.’ No one ever said I was original. Or did not think the same way as the producers of The Bachelor/ette. This parenthetical ad for my book has now turned into my semi-regular plea for the franchise to hire me as a date consultant.)
Back to the date. Shannon and Nick are winched out of the helicopter and she has to wrap her legs around him, so … they found a third reason to use the helicopter, wink wink.
Down on the beach, Nick reveals to us his dating philosophy, which he calls the five Ps: Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
He then immediately proves that he’s terrible at following his own philosophy, because he starts barbecuing up some salmon, which turns out to be the one thing in the world Shannon doesn’t eat. She does her best, but she physically gags when she take the first bite.
It’s amazing that this is being framed as a good date, honestly. Imagine if you went on a first date and they pushed you out of a helicopter and then made you eat something that made you vomit? (Book Thingo Queen Kat might appreciate it, because we all know she keeps a vomit list, but the rest of us…)
[Kat’s note: Vomit is infinitely more fun in books than on screen.]
What I’m getting at is that we have certain expectations out of a date — ie to have a nice time. The expectations out of a Bachie date are a little different — like, you expect the helicopter and the jumping and whatnot — but you also expect wine and cheese afterwards, and all Shannon got was her least favourite food in the world. Royal Commission into why they made this poor woman jump out of a helicopter and then didn’t even give her a cheeseboard, honestly.
But Shannon makes a good go of things, and despite the whole fish/vomit incident, seems to have a good time. She laughs a lot, anyway.
Importantly, though, they do not kiss — because Shannon has, as she tells us, ‘morals’. This is a subject of much glee to the other ladies: ‘There’s still the first pash up for grabs!’ one enthuses. ‘I’m happy for you, Shazza,’ another tells Shannon, lest we ever forget that even though this is a global franchise, it is also aggressively local.
Next up: group date time! The first group date of every season of The Bachelor/ette Australia is always a themed photo shoot of some kind. One year — the best year ever — it was a photo shoot for Mills & Boon, and it was AMAZING, because that made so much thematic sense. This year’s photo shoot, which is for NewsCorp, makes less thematic sense, but there’s no need for that kind of thing when they’re paying you that sweet sweet cash money.
And I suppose that it does actually kind of make some thematic sense. As Eva Illouz claims in Consuming the Romantic Utopia, ‘romantic love is a collective arena within which the social divisions and the cultural contradictions of capitalism are played out’ (1997, 2). The contestants are more than capable of producing the social divisions, and if there’s a bigger cultural contradiction than Rupert Murdoch being at the root of something meant to be deeply romantic, well… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
There are four themed photo shoots in this date:
- 80s rock band: most notable for Cass looking smoking hot and doing her best to get some face time with Nick, but getting cockblocked by Romy, who is apparently another contestant on this show.
- Firefighters: Nick picked Brooke up and spent a solid half an hour staring lovingly into her eyes while Vanessa Sunshine stood nearby holding an axe while having amazing hair and saying ‘ugh’. I know it’s early days, but if Brooke doesn’t win this, I am going to be SO surprised.
- Schoolyard: there was some vague drama as house mean girls Cat and Alisha were paired with Cayla the very vague energy healer, but I honestly couldn’t pay attention to it, because it was giving me flashbacks to this episode of last year’s Bachelorette, ie the worst thing that has ever happened in the history of the Australian franchise. (Protip: grown men in schoolboy uniforms? EXTREME OPPOSITE OF SEXY.)
- Yoga: in this one, Nick was paired with Sophie. In a move he described as ‘upward serpent/suggestive dog’ he commented meaningfully that their ‘eyeballs were very close’, which was the strangest euphemism for ‘wow, I have a boner’ I’ve ever heard.
Now, if you were following the outline I provided at the top of this recap, you’d be like, ‘a-ha! Now it is time for the cocktail party!’ But Nick is the honey badger, and honey badger don’t give a shit, so he sails blithely into the mansion and whisks Romy away on a single date.
Romy — who is, as I said above, apparently another contestant on this show — had little personality established last night, but tonight, things become a little more clear. Her personality is ‘aggressive’. They’re framing it as sexually aggressive — like, they make a big deal out of the fact that she reeeeeeeeally wants to make out with Nick, but I think it’s just plain old aggressive. They make pizza, and when he playfully sprinkles a bit of flour on her, she smears her hand in tomato sauce and straight up punches him in the jaw. And then when she’s trying to make out with him later, and he’s clearly not that into it, she settles for trying to gnaw the ear clean off his head.
The lack of cheeseboard situation is getting dire if contestants are trying to eat the Bachelor. Just saying.
Romy gets a rose, but more notable on this date is that Nick describes a jalapeno as a ‘bum burner’, which … would not happen in the American franchise, let’s just say.
Actually, another thing that you don’t see a lot of in the American franchise is this reticence around kissing. Nick says he wants to be respectful of the other women, and that he feels a bit weird about getting his mack on with Romy when there are twenty other ladies back at the mansion. You see this rhetoric in some other franchises — eg New Zealand, where in the 2017 season the Bachelor only kissed four women total — but in the original American one? It’s wall-to-wall pashing. It would be a BIG subject of discussion in Bachelor Nation if the US Bachie wasn’t sticking their tongue down the throat of everyone in their orbit, let me tell you.
Maybe Romy is a student of the American version. The social contract in place in the Australian version dictates that the only place that kissing is appropriate is on a single date: making Nick fair game when Romy went in for it the first time. However, when she goes in for the second time — at the cocktail party — he was very much not fair game. Trying to make out with the Bach at a cocktail party is extremeeeeeeely not done in the Australian version (although it is in the US). Elora tried to do it last year, and they basically had to get a fainting couch and some smelling salts for Matty J. Nick’s reaction is a bit more muted — ‘wowee’, he says, eyes widening as Romy sinks her teeth into his other ear — but still, all the other women are horrified, HORRIFIED, at what a massive faux pas Romy has committed.
But she survives another week. So does everyone else of note, even though I’m fairly sure they tried to edit in a suggestion that Shannon might leave (she got upset when she heard Romy kissed Nick, when she’d turned down the opportunity). I’m pretty sure the two people who got eliminated have never actually been on the show before.
Godspeed. I hope there are cheeseboards waiting for you on the outside, because there are none in here.
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.