RECAP: The Bachelorette Australia – S3 E09

RECAP: The Bachelorette Australia – S3 E09
The Bachelorette Australia Season 3
Background photo via Canva

We’re getting close to the end now! Sophie has five dudes left, and somehow, she is supposed to choose a boyfriend from this posse of men.

Remember how, when I was recapping Matty J’s season, I talked about the shit-gets-real phase? In the structure of Bachie, we start with the getting-to-know-you phase, move into the shit-gets-real phase when everyone has feelings, before the really serious phase, which kicks in from hometowns onwards.

This season … hasn’t really had a shit-gets-real phase. (Unless you’re Jarrod, in which shit has been VERY VERY REAL from Day One, GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY POTPLANT.) It feels like we’re still in the getting-to-know-you phase, but somehow it’s hometowns next episode and we skipped all the middle bit.

Some of this is because The Bachelorette gets a shorter season than The Bachelor (12 episodes to 16, because SEXISM and PATRIARCHY). But a lot of this is because the casting of this season has not been that good. Even though we all love Apollo (you perfect cinnamon roll) and we’re all pretty fond of James (OMG you guys, that moment last week when they tried to make their childhood stuffed bunnies be friends? Oh my heart), I’m just not sure that the dude for Sophie is here. It feels like shit has never got real. I mean, Blake is still there – how are we supposed to believe that anyone has real feelings?

(Except Jarrod. I don’t think anyone has any doubts about Jarrod’s terrifying feelings.)

Anyway, this season has basically been carried by the fact that Sophie Monk is a national treasure and an all-round glorious person. And without taking anything away from her glory (because all hail), imagine how awesome it would be if she actually had any real chemistry with any of these men.

But let’s stop complaining and get on to the recap. They’ve messed around with the regular order of the ritual structure this week, and have begun with a group date.

And … you guys. You guys. There have been so many terribly thought out dates this year. The creepy primary school date was the worst offender, but there have been a lot. But this one – GASP – makes sense!

It makes sense in the world of Bachie, anyway. They’ve wheeled out some guy from eHarmony, and they’re making the five remaining dudes (Blake, Jarrod, Apollo, James, and Stu, if you’ve lost count) take compatibility tests, with the winner to have some alone time with Sophie. Obviously if you invited someone on a date in the real world and were like, ‘okay, so I’ve also invited four other people on this date and now you have to take a test!’ that would be very weird, but in Bachie-land, this is copacetic.

The first test is a pie chart. The dudes have eight different personality elements to choose from, and they have to put them together in a pie chart in a way that most accurately represents their personality. These are things like ‘ambition’, ‘intelligence’, ‘humour’, etc – and also, interestingly ‘disorganised’ (surely the inverse would make more sense, as would phrasing it as a noun instead of an adjective?) and ‘romance’.

I have so many things to say about the way ‘romance’ is being constructed as an innate personality quality here. So many. Because what does that even mean? Does it mean that you’re fond of candles and roses and ballgowns and all the trappings of romance? Does it refer to a kind of romanticised passion? Is it romance in the very modern sense, where romance and self-improvement are intrinsically linked? Is it romance in the sense of self-sacrifice, where you put the other person above yourself, always?

I honestly don’t know. And to construct this as a quality separate to other personality aspects appears to make it a thing that exists apart from other parts of your personality, and … I have a whole tangled knot of thoughts about this I will spare you from, because it would probably turn into some kind of illegible word vomit very quickly.

It is worth noting, though, that this eHarmony model seems to be one which privileges ‘like attracts like’ rather than ‘opposites attract’. Sophie actually notes this, saying that Paula Abdul has always said the latter but clearly the eHarmony guy has a different viewpoint. It seems to me like the eHarmony guy has taken this a bit far – when Sophie asked whether it would be good for her, a disorganised person, to be with an organised person, he very firmly said NO, and I’m not sure that’s entirrrrrrrrely true – but broadly, I think I agree.

I’ve talked a bunch of times about how modern romance tends to rely more on communication and conversation than it does on a kind of eroticised ‘passion’, and the ‘like attracts like’ model fits better with that, I think. ‘Opposites attract’ is something that works in books, but that’s because the romance narrative, like any narrative, requires conflict to remain interesting. Mariam Darce Frenier once described the Harlequin romance as focusing on ‘opposites attracting through mutual fixation’ (1988, 29). Similarly, Denis de Rougemont once claimed that ‘happy love has no history’ (1939, 15) – mostly because it’s not very interesting when everything turns out right. But if you’re looking for a real-life healthy relationship, one that actually exists and doesn’t go on to merely be a happy ending happening in some nebulous post-book space, then ‘like attracts like’ is probably a more productive romantic model to adhere to.

Anyway! Moving on! James is eliminated in this round, because his pie chart reveals that he is too serious and structured. In the next round, the remaining four dudes have to dress a mannequin up for their ideal date with Sophie.

…yeah, it was clearly a late night in the Bachie office when they were trying to work out how to translate eHarmony quiz questions for the screen, because this is super awkies. It is also clearly incorrect, because the dude eliminated this round is Apollo, who dressed his mannequin in a rather fetching little sundress for a day at the beach in Byron, and we all know Apollo is perfect.

In the final round … oh my goodness, you guys. The final round.

It’s a riff on Perfect Match. And if you wondered whether I was LIVID that they riffed on Perfect Match when they had queen of Australia’s heart and daughter of Debbie Newsome Tara Pavlovic RIGHT THERE for all of Matty’s season? YES I WAS. HOW COULD YOU DO PERFECT MATCH WITHOUT DEBBIE’S DAUGHTER?

But then they called it Perfect Bach, and as this is the best joke the show has ever made, I forgave them.

If you’re not up with your 1980s Australian pop culture, the concept behind Perfect Match was that one suitor asked questions of three potential matches who they could not see. The contestant whose answers were the most compatible with the suitor’s won, and then – and only then – did suitor and winner actually get to see each other face to face.

And also there was a robot involved. Perfect Match was epic.

The winner of the inaugural Perfect Bach tournament, which they had better revive next year if/when Tara is the Bachie, is Stu. He ominously tells the camera that ‘it’s getting to the time in the process where there are topics I need to bring up’, which could mean literally anything, up to and including I need to tell my new girlfriend that my favourite hobby is killing people and sewing suits out of their skin, and I should probably bring that up before we get too serious.

But despite this, their time on the Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation is just incredibly non-eventful. Sophie’s a bit worried he’s a player. Stu tells her he’s not – that he liked being settled and married when he was, and he wants to be again. End scene.

I know Stu is the unbackable bookies’ favourite, but I just don’t see it.

Next up, it’s time for a single date, and by virtue of statistics and numbers and maths and the fact that he’s the only dude that hasn’t had one yet, the recipient is Blake. ‘I’m basically positive that Blake is a douchebag, but I just need to check,’ Sophie says.

Okay, fine, the phrase she uses is ‘too cool for school’, but I maintain that the meaning is the same.

Blake, however, prefers to brand himself as a ‘bad boy’. This is, of course, a very specific romantic archetype, but the appeal of the bad boy is generally depth: that is, they have a troubled, tormented, ‘bad’ exterior, but a vulnerable underbelly beneath. Blake tries to embody this to Sophie – and Sophie does mention that she’s impressed with his ‘sensitive side’ – but if he was trying to embody it to the audience he failed miserably. Protip, mate: don’t pretend to espouse views like ‘I don’t see why you would ever put a girl down’ when you openly admitted in the first episode that you only date hot girls for essentially eugenicist purposes.

The date that they go on is out in the country somewhere, where they feed baby goats, milk the mother goat, and then make goats cheese. I don’t have a lot to say about the actual construction of this date, apart from these two things:

  • Sophie says that she likes the country, because ‘the city is full of parking tickets and anxiety’. This is basically modernist poetry, so never let anyone tell you Bardot didn’t have lyrics-writing chops.
  • Was it an accident that they put ‘bad boy’ Blake on a date with the animal most typically associated with the devil, or…?

Once they get to the Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation, Blake busts out every half-remembered point from that self-help book on what women want he clearly read one time. When Sophie asks him what he’s like in a relationship, he replies, ‘I get, like, super cute and cuddly’ (because chicks love cuddling and shit, amirite?) And then he goes on and on about how he likes to talk about his feeeeeeelings, without any convincing evidence that he, you know, has any.

…in case I haven’t made it clear, Blake is a bit of a dick.

He doesn’t get a rose on the date, but he swans into the cocktail party brimming with confidence. This, of course, sends Jarrod into a tailspin (though for once, no one brings potplants into it). ‘I need to live a life – I need to live a dream,’ he anxiously tells Sophie, which is up there with ‘it’s getting to the time in the process where there are topics I need to bring up’ for incredibly vague phrases that could mean basically anything.

It pays off for Jarrod, though, because he gets a rose, as does resident shithead Blake. Today’s victim – sob – is perfect pure cinnamon roll James. If I had to pick one of the men I thought Sophie actually had a skerrick of chemistry with, I probably would have said James, so this is quite a blow.

It’s all right, though. James has a TON of chemistry with his BFF Apollo, and their hug goodbye was quality content.

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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