Welcome to another instalment of National Treasure Sophie Monk Looks For Love! We’re all settled in now, and well into the swing of things. This is the getting-to-know-you stage, where we’re trying to work out who is There For The Right Reasons™. And woe betide those who are not…
In case you were wondering, no, Bachie has never provided an itemised list of what the Right Reasons™ are. However, this catchphrase is something which – kind of perversely – comes closest to breaking the fourth wall of the show. Someone there for the right reasons is there innocently, artlessly: they’re there because they’re looking for love. Someone who’s not there for the right reason, though, is looking for fame, and so this constantly repeated refrain makes it clear that Bachie isn’t just a pathway to love: it’s a pathway to cultural notoriety as well.
Bachies often struggle to work out who is there for the right reasons. The assumption is that they themselves are there for the right reasons – to find love – even when that is patently untrue (see, for instance, every Bachie who has been there to promote a business). Therefore, one of their jobs is to work out which of their suitors is true. To be a viable romantic protagonist in Bachieville, you have to be the same person saying the same kind of things all the time, in all places, to all audiences.
(This is one of the reasons why it is so common for the Bachie to have been a fan favourite contestant on a previous season, btw. Their Here-For-The-Right-Reasons-ness has been tested, and they have been judged a worthy romantic protagonist by the audience. And if it turns out they were not there for the right reasons – if they were there for fame, or for sex, or for any other reason other than lasting love? If you’re a villainous contestant, there’s a possibility you can be redeemed, but it’s almost impossible for a villainous Bachie. See Blake Garvey here, or Jordan Mauger in New Zealand, or Juan Pablo Galavis in the US.)
Tonight’s episode is all about Australia’s favourite daughter working out who is there for the right reasons and who is there just to get famous. This is something which is an additional source of anxiety this season, because Sophie is independently-from-Bachie famous. She’s repeatedly asserted that she wants ‘a normal, down-to-earth Aussie bloke’ – she’s over fame and its trappings, and so that already-present Bachie dichotomy between fame and love has been turned up to eleven. Working out who is there for the right reasons is more important than ever this time around.
This is very much the rhetoric behind the group date, but it’s also something we see in the single date. Tonight’s lucky recipient is Luke, who has mostly been notable so far for a) being tall, and b) wearing a questionable number of questionable hats.
However, hats aside, he is easy on the eye, and Sophie is not immune. ‘I think it’s obvious why I’ve invited Luke today,’ she says. ‘He’s hot.’
And, indeed, the entire theme of this date is basically THE THIRST IS REAL, as it mostly revolves around them admiring each other on a beach. But just because the thirst is real doesn’t mean that Sophie doesn’t have to make sure Hot Luke’s there for the right reasons. She’s hidden a bunch of questions in sandcastles (I know, I know, just go with it), which she and Luke ask each other.
‘How old were you when you lost your virginity?’ she asks him first. And while he blinks, he rolls with it, diegetically proving he is a good sport and prepared to be honest. (You have to be honest to be there for the right reasons. Love and truth are tangled together so tightly it would be impossible to untangle them.)
That schism between ‘love’ and ‘fame’ is also explored a bit more. Luke tells Sophie that, from her media persona, he’d guess that she was a city girl. She tells him no, that she doesn’t like being in big crowds, and if she does a red-carpet event she’ll usually skip the actual party and go to dinner with someone she likes. There’s this overt contrast being set up all through this season between the public sphere (which is performed) and the intimate life (which is real), and it is so SO fascinating to me that it’s happening in a show as obviously artificial as The Bachelorette.
This line of questioning carries on to the Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation. Sophie tells Luke that she never gets asked on dates, and he’s like, ‘that’s ridiculous’. She says it’s because she’s famous, and asks him whether he’d approach her (or any other female celebrity) in public and ask them out. ‘No,’ he admits.
This is so interesting, because it effectively backs Sophie into a diegetic corner. In order to find guys bold enough to approach her, yet normal enough to qualify as those normal down-to-earth Aussie blokes that she’s after, The Bachelorette is basically her only option. She’s walking a tightrope between love and fame, a knife edge between public and private, and her only solution is to literally make the private public. I won’t say too much more about this here, but Sophie’s celebrity status is inflecting the narrative of this season in some intriguing ways, so this is something to keep an eye on.
Oh, and if you’re wondering whether Luke passes the Here For The Right Reasons test, he clearly does, because he gets a rose. He also gets a kiss, albeit after an awkward pause. He hasn’t demonstrated a whole lot of personality yet, but I suspect he’ll be around for a while – the ones that usually develop personality early on are the caricatures.
(Which, by the way, my initial pick Jarrod seems to be becoming – he’s increasingly getting the desperado edit, so I’m worried I might have been wrong about him winning…)
Speaking of caricatures, we get quite a few of those on the group date, because it is an art date. However, it is an art date IN DISGUISE, because – in order to work out who is there for the right reasons – Sophie’s family have gone undercover to see which dudes are genuine and which dudes are fuckbois.
First up, Sophie’s parents go undercover as the chauffeurs for the group date. Sophie’s mum has a fairly uneventful ride – the most drama is that Jarrod and Mackane disagree over whether Sophie has blue or green eyes – but Sophie’s dad has a much more interesting time, courtesy of confusing-manbun-disguised-mullet Sam. ‘Jarrod reckons he’s in love with Sophie already, but you can’t be in love after one date!’ he declares. ‘You can be in lust, though. Lust is where you want to bang ‘em, and love is where you want to take care of ‘em.’
(If we take the big logical leap of assuming Sam’s definition of love is correct here, Jarrod is indeed in love with Sophie. He never shuts up about wanting to protect her.)
You can basically see steam start to pour from Sophie’s dad’s ears in the front seat, but Sam’s not done yet. When one of the other dudes says that they want a friendship with their partner, he says, ‘nah, man. I want, like, volcanos. Not the rude kind. Well, yes, the rude kind. But not immediately.’
I’ve written a lot about how Australian Bachie privileges communicative intimacy over eroticised passion. Sam, here, is espousing the opposite discourse. So basically, if you have Sam in your office sweep, you’re pretty screwed, because Sam’s not winning this.
Osher tells the boys that for their group date, they’ll be doing scribble art, which will then be analysed by a scribble art analyst. Said analyst will then pick the one most compatible with Sophie, and they will get some alone time with her later that night.
But – SHOCK! The scribble art analyst is not a scribble art analyst! There is no spoon! It’s actually Sophie’s sister, doing her best impression of Marion from Kath and Kim! And the guys have no idea!
As one might expect from a date which hinged on scribble art, it’s not especially interesting. Sophie’s sister throws some side-eye at Sam, tells Jarrod she can see that he’s genuine, and manages to drag a confession from Ryan the villain that he has a hard time committing to women because his mother died, but there’s not a lot you can say about incoherent drawings of trees. We find out that Mackane is colourblind, I guess, which makes that whole argument he was having with Jarrod about what colour Sophie’s eyes are a bit pointless, but that’s about it.
But the drama is not in the date, but in the reveal! Or at least, it should have been, but it ends up falling pretty flat. All the advertising for this episode suggested that Sophie’s dad would basically DESTROY Sam, but even though Sam is braced for it, nothing really happens. We were all prepared for Sophie’s family to call out all the dudes who were not here for the right reasons, but… *tumbleweeds*
All that really happens is that, in collaboration with her family, Sophie decides that she’s going to spend the alone time with Ryan.
Here is only a very slightly paraphrased version of their conversation:
RYAN: What do you want in a guy?
SOPHIE: Someone that likes me.
RYAN: What did you think of me the first time you met me?
SOPHIE: That you didn’t like me.
SOPHIE: So what do you want in a woman?
RYAN: Someone who doesn’t swear.
SOPHIE (to camera): Shit, I’m fucking screwed.
That last line is verbatim, by the way. So just in case you thought the villain framing wasn’t enough to get rid of Ryan, it’s pretty clear that he is not the man for our national treasure Soph.
Interestingly, for an episode which has been – theoretically, at least – all about finding out who’s not there for the right reasons, the cocktail party ~drama~ isn’t about that. Instead, it’s mainly a pissing contest between Jarrod and Sam. Sam thinks Jarrod is coming on way too strong and is too jealous of the other guys spending time with Sophie, and he’s worried he’s going to get murdered in his sleep when he finally gets to go on his double delight dates. Jarrod thinks Sam isn’t acceptably adult enough for Sophie – he’s a child, not a man.
They snipe at each other about it (which, of course, they frame as manlily sitting down to manfully talk it out, man to man, in a manly way), but the best moment of the cocktail party comes from Sophie, when she tells Sam off for making all those comments about her boobs on the photo shoot date. ‘It makes me wonder how you see me – and how you treat other women,’ she says.
So just in case you were doubting that Sophie Monk was a national treasure, rest assured that she is, and she does not let idle misogyny lie.
Sam does get a rose at the rose ceremony, though. So does Jarrod. And so does Ryan, which can only be because the producers are making Sophie keep the villains, because it’s clear that she knows how wildly incompatible they are (as well as, you know, really disliking him). Tonight’s victims are Pete (???), Jefferson (I vaguely remember him bringing a pizza box the first night?), and Eden, the Kiwi who opened by breakdancing and negging Sophie. So, all in all, not especially big narrative losses.
But it looks like we’re going to be making some narrative gains soon. It won’t be in tomorrow’s episodes, but the ads have already started running for next week: THE SILVER FOX INTRUDERS ARE COMING.
The show airs on Channel 10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm. You can catch up on previous episodes via TenPlay.