It’s finally here, pals! After anticipating it keenly for weeks (mostly because this season has largely been so incredibly fucking boring), we have arrived at LOCKYDOWN.
That’s right. It’s time for Zoom dates.
This sounds like a recipe for bad television – especially considering we all spend our lives on Zoom at the moment anyway – but I wanted to spend a bit of time unpacking the potential impacts of Lockydown in my nerdle tonight, because I suspect this might be much more successful than they could have dreamed.
Let’s start with the cons: because there are cons, obviously.
One: the contestants are all in separate places, which makes it very difficult to get a lot of that big intercontestant drama that the show is so obsessed with.
However, I think we can all agree that the manufactured intercontestant drama has been incredibly dull and dire this season (the bright shining light of my queen Areeba aside, and even then, they stretched it far too thin), and so if going online means we lose some of that, I’m all for it. I would love it if they spent some time developing some of the more important relationships between the women – Irena and Bella, for instance – and I think they’ve got a great opportunity to do this in a smaller tête-à-tête Zoom situation, rather than a Zoom free-for-all where half the people have forgotten to unmute their mics.
The other major con is that there’s no pashing (or pecking, will I ever be able to scrub my brain of the cursed phrase ‘pecked on’?). But I’m not convinced that’s a bad thing either. People who’ve been following my recaps for a while will have heard me talk about David Shumway’s (2003) theorisation of passion vs intimacy a lot of times before – broadly speaking, the former is based in immediate attraction (the love you fall into) and the latter in communication and conversation (the love you work on).
Locky, from all we’ve seen, adheres mostly to the passion discourse. He’s told us a lot of times that he falls in love hard and fast: something we’ve seen in particular in his relationship with Bella, where he was basically ready to marry her the second she appeared on the red carpet. But this is going to force him to put a lot of those passion tools on the backburner (that was a horrible phrase, I’m sorry), and focus more on the intimate: on getting to know the women as people. It’s not entirely dissimilar to the premise of Love Is Blind (with the obvious caveat that Locky knows what the women look like).
So what initially seems like a con might actually be a pro. Locky is going to be forced – forced! – to have conversations with people rather than just pashing them.
…of course, we haven’t exactly seen evidence that he’s a thrilling conversationalist, but we can live in hope.
The other thing that’s really interesting about this – and could potentially be a real pro – is that it mirrors real-life dating much more closely than the artificial format of the regular show does. So much of our romantic lives now takes place online, in virtual spaces like apps (of the dating and the purely messaging variety). It might not have the sparkly fairy light high romance feel of the show proper, but this could be quite a refreshing take on what love looks like when you take the sparkle away: something much more instantly familiar to a lot of the audience. Plus, it’s worth noting that there is a pre-existing, albeit subcultural, audience for livestreamed dates: people have used existing platforms like Instagram Live but also dedicated apps like MeetMe to try this out.
But enough of what might happen and how it might play out. Let’s look at how it does, in the first episode of LOCKYDOWN.
We begin tonight with Locky doing typical Bachelor things – ie. swimming sadly in a photogenic body of water. But it’s not the same! because instead of being sad because he doesn’t have a girlfriend, he’s sad that a global pandemic is keeping him from his ten girlfriends!
(Eight of said girlfriends are blonde and two are brunettes, which is going to make it so difficult on those tiny Zoom squares. I feel like there’s a certain redhead who might have a spicy take on this situation.)
Luckily, just because the world shuts down doesn’t mean Bachie does. They’ve got one of their couriers (or possibly Osher) classified as an essential worker, and he goes around and leaves a rose-emblazoned laptop on the doorsteps of the eight blondes/two brunettes. On said laptop is a message from Osher. ‘Welcome to love in lockdown!’ he announces.
NB: he does not say ‘Lockydown’. The joke was right there, and he missed it. I rarely say this, but I’m disappointed in you, Osher.
Osher goes on to tell everyone that everything is going to be on Zoom now: group dates, single dates, rose ceremonies, the works. Then he might have said something else, but I missed it, because I was thinking about how stressful but how THRILLING it must have been to mastermind this pivot to digital.
(Of all the times not to call me, Bachie. God, I could have helped.)
Then Osher brings Locky into the Zoom room. ‘Tell them who’s going on the first single date, big guy!’ he says.
‘Izzy!’ Locky announces.
Look. We have spent a lot of time stretching out not a lot of content over the past few weeks. And yet somehow they still didn’t find the time to tell us who Izzy is? Literally the only thing we know about her is that she likes chilli because she made Locky eat one on the red carpet, to which he said ‘capsicum is usually too spicy for me!’ and cemented his status as the whitest man alive.
But Izzy and Locky have apparently been hitting it off in Lockydown (unlike some of the other women – there’s a revealing chat between the women where some are like, ‘oh yeah, we texted and Facetimed and whatnot every day!’ and others were like ‘we’ve had like three text messages, the end’), and so she has this single date.
And what do we learn about Izzy?
She… likes chilli. It’s a Zoom cooking date, and Locky has reached deep down within himself to suggest that they make tacos.
(For context: I really like the idea of a Zoom cooking date! the fact that Izzy’s personality is ‘chilli’, however, when we’re halfway through the season, is a bit different.)
Oh, and we also discover that Locky doesn’t like coriander. For a man that professes to love Mexican food, I’m not sure he’s ever actually eaten any.
They sit down to eat their dinner, and get precisely zero bites in when Locky’s like, ‘guess what! there’s a second half to this date! it’s in a bath! see you then!’ and drops the call. BEFORE THEY EAT THEIR DINNER.
I’d be livid. Are you just supposed to not eat your dinner? Or eat it there sadly alone, because the consumption of food is not sexy? THE DINNER DATE IS A ROMANTIC STAPLE – ugh, fine, I’ll stop.
Let’s get to the bath bit, where we get one of the most upsetting images I’ve ever seen: Locky, river boy tattoo on full display, naked except for a swimming cap, goggles, and floaties.
They might have had a conversation, but I think I blacked out for a while there. It was not an image I enjoyed.
Anyway, it goes well, and Izzy gets a rose (which has been hidden in a bath towel? would she just be forbidden to look at that bath towel if the date had gone badly? how many Bachie workers are in these women’s homes setting up these dates? how do you get credentialed as an essential worker for such a thing? I have so many questions).
Next up is a group date, where the franchise has taken a page straight out of Paradise’s book: they might not call it such, but it’s a Bula Banquet, y’all. The women and Locky all get the chance to submit anonymous questions, which they then answer on their group Zoom call.
We learn such things as:
- Kaitlyn has got really into gardening in lockdown
- Locky will not cop to the obvious truth that Bella is his favourite
- Juliette has been celibate for twelve years
- Rumours are swirling that Roxi has a secret boyfriend?
This last question has Roxi declaring that THIS IS A STITCH-UP! and HOW DARE YOU?! and she rage-quits the Zoom call. ‘No,’ she tells… someone (a producer? WHO IS IN THESE WOMEN’S HOUSES?). ‘I’m done. I’m out.’
The seriousness of this is undercut by the fact that she – like everyone on the date – is wearing a onesie, which I’m fairly sure has been recycled from the onesie date episode of Sophie Monk’s season. Can’t fool me, Bachie.
I would also like to note that everyone is drinking wine on this date, but no one is eating cheese. I have been developing a theory that Locky has a deep and abiding hatred for cheese, because there have been zero cheeseboard shots this season (a staple! my favourite staple!), and now his anti-cheese agenda is spreading.
(Think about it. He doesn’t like chilli or coriander – cheese would be a logical addition to this list for a man who Definitely Loves And Has Eaten Mexican Food Before.)
There is also no cheese at the cocktail party, so once again, everyone is drinking on an empty stomach. I truly hope that this eventually descends into people digging out the leftovers in their fridge once they’re onto their fourth and fifth drinks, or they are all going to be very hungover.
The mechanics of the cocktail party are like a regular Zoom meeting – a main room, with Locky constantly going in and out of breakout rooms with various women. (It looks like you can Zoom bomb someone’s breakout room, though, so never fear: ‘can I steal you for a second?’ still works here!)
And once again, we see basically nothing of Locky at this cocktail party, beyond a brief bit where he tries to work out whether Roxi is all right. The majority of the drama is between Roxi and Juliette, as the latter tries to work out why the former got so upset about a) the boyfriend question and b) everything all the time, and the former being all I REFUSE TO RECOGNISE THE PREMISE OF YOUR QUESTION!!
The best bit about this is watching all the other women going from ‘drinking wine and watching this avidly’ to ‘bored’ to ‘ugh, I’m leaving’ and noping out of the Zoom room. Finally, Roxi just shuts her laptop on Juliette, proving that there are communicative methods that are more effective in the digital space than the physical one.
Finally: it’s time for the rose ceremony, which honestly might be some of the best unintentional physical comedy I have ever seen. Each of the women has a rose beside them, which they’re allowed to pick up if Locky gives them a rose. If he doesn’t, then it has to remain beside them, abandoned.
That’s not the funny bit, though. The funny bit is the fact that Locky has only one rose, and they make him PICK IT UP AND PUT IT BACK DOWN AGAIN before every single woman. I don’t know why it’s so funny, but it killed me.
On that subject: we farewell Bel. Looks like the psychic was wrong yesterday. Score a point for Dr McAlister (and please hire me as the romance expert next time instead of a psychic!).
It’s more Lockydown next week, friends, so I will see you then. Eat the cheese that Locky is denying his girlfriends for me.
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