This recap definitely isn’t ninety percent dedicated to me intellectualising and justifying my crush on Ciarran. Not at all. Shut up.
It’s Bach o’clock once more, and I don’t know about you, but I’m all turned around. Sure, the structure of the show is the same, the framework of the show is the same, but I thought I could ID exactly which archetypes the men would slot into based solely on their pictures, and here I am with a little bit of a crush on Ciarran, despite the fact he looks like a Lord of the Rings elf grew facial hair, discovered leopard print, and then went to the Met Gala (ie not my type at all).
I nerdled last night about how Jamie could have easily slid into the wifey role – I mean, he’s a hot fireman, it wouldn’t have been a stretch – but he totally fucked himself over by being a controlling nightmare person. Ciarran, on the other hand, was clearly cast to be a bit of a fuckboy. He’s the kind of man that would typically get described as ‘cheeky’: and if I hear a man described that way, I usually start running so fast in the opposite direction that I leave a Jodi-shaped hole in the wall.
I know I’m not the only one who’s been completely surprised by how likeable they’ve found Ciarran, and I feel like it’s my responsibility, as your resident Dr Love, to work out why he’s so appealing. I’ve been mulling over this all day, and this is what I’ve come up with: Ciarran is impossible to embarrass, because he doesn’t ever seem to get self-conscious.
This is a man who on the first night described his look as ‘sexual Willy Wonka’, but didn’t seem to feel an ounce of shame about it. Within thirty seconds of talking to Angie last night, he’d told her – not, importantly, admitted or confessed or anything with that nuance, but just straight out told her – that he’d a) been a mostly-naked dancer in a gay bar, and b) had a nose job. Moreover, he was very clear and up front about how he felt about those things: a) he loved it, and b) he hated his side profile, so he changed it. He’s also enthusiastically discussed his love of facial products – something coded typically feminine – and doesn’t give a shit about anyone else’s opinion re them. His masculinity: it’s not fragile.
He’s been described as ‘confident’ a few times in the show, and while that’s not wrong, I don’t think that quite captures the right nuance. ‘Confident’ can often turn quickly into ‘arrogant’, and that’s not the vibe we’ve got here at all. Rather, Ciarran is just completely at home in his own skin. He knows who he is, and he is not at all embarrassed by it.
There’s a tremendous amount of appeal in this, because if you’re not ashamed, then you don’t need to cover over or conceal parts of yourself (something which is enacted quite literally in this episode, which Ciarran spends most of sans clothes). You’re not embarrassed, so you don’t need to lie to make yourself look better. That’s got a couple of implications:
1. This is one that is very important in the Australian context (on this, I don’t think it’s coincidental at all that Ciarran’s not Australian): the person who is not ashamed is sincere, because why would they not be? In the Australian context, we’re often very embarrassed about the mere existence of our emotions, especially love: ‘the public rhetoric of romantic love [in Australia] has been characterised by awkwardness, self-deprecation, and even bathos,’ writes Hsu-Ming Teo (2006, 178). This means we’re generally, at a broad cultural level, pretty bad at things like admitting to other people that we have the feels, even if we have them – think here about how many truly awkward feels conversations we’ve seen in the Bachieverse. This becomes even worse if you’re an Australian man, because then you’re also running into that notion of hegemonic masculinity which positions emotions as girly and embarrassing. Ciarran, though, is at home with who he is and how he feels, and honestly that must be such a fucking relief to deal with that I can’t even truly imagine it.
2. Relatedly: because he’s not ashamed or embarrassed about who is, Ciarran is honest, and that’s fundamental to the construction of a romantic relationship. This is especially true if we’re working within the paradigm of modern love that David Shumway calls ‘intimacy’, where ‘love is something that happens between the lovers’ (2003, 27), as opposed to earlier discourses of romance, where you had no control over who you fell in love with – it just happened to you. In an intimate model, love is something at which you work, and which requires communication: as Lynn Jamieson writes, it’s characterised by ‘mutual disclosure, constantly revealing your inner thoughts and feelings to each other’, thus leading to ‘a very specific form of knowing, loving and “being close to” another person’ (1998, 1). If you’re honest – like Ciarran seems to be – then you’re naturally disposed to be very good at this kind of love, because you’re never going to be hesitant in revealing your inner thoughts and feelings. Rather, you’ll just tell them straight away, ‘yep, I had a nose job’.
There’s something else going on here about shame that I need to think about more, because I haven’t quite worked it out yet. Lisa Fletcher, following Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, discusses shame as innately performative. It’s something that’s written on the body: you turn red, you look away, you hide your eyes. Interestingly, there’s something similar going on with love. In the way we think about it in stories, love is something also enacted by the body – it leads to ‘blushing, trembling, swooning, melting’ (Fletcher 2008, 36). A lot of these signs are the same, on the surface. Take blushing, for instance: it could be embarrassment, or it could be what we sometimes call ‘limerence’ (ie an intense and heightened emotional state usually engendered by romantic attraction). It can be really difficult to know which is which…
…unless it’s Ciarran, because he just straight up doesn’t seem to perform shame at all. Instead, we can safely read a lot of his physical signs as romantic attraction: something which mitigates our embarrassment, because there’s nothing more embarrassing than thinking someone likes you and then being wrong about it.
Anyway. Ciarran is sexy. There are reasons. My little crush on him is justified. To the recap!
We begin tonight with a group date – well, with the lead-up to a group date, anyway. There’s a solid five minutes devoted to how Jamie is the worst and his anxiety over whether he’ll be going on the group date (spoilers: he is).
This group date is hen’s night themed (honestly, how has it taken this show five years to hit on something as obvious as ‘bachelorette party’?). Hosting it is Yvie, who was Angie’s Gogglebox partner for many years and who describes herself as her ‘soul sister’. If I’d watched Gogglebox I could probably tell you something much more engaging about their relationship, but from what I can tell, it is a very pure and lovely female friendship of a kind not frequently depicted (ie between an older and a younger woman).
Angie is delighted to see Yvie, so it takes a while before we get to the crux of this hen’s party date. It’s going to be a life drawing class – which means one of the bros has to volunteer to be the nude model.
Guess whose hand shoots up immediately? Spoilers: it’s someone who doesn’t have any concept of the emotion of shame.
‘Oh my god!’ Angie says, as Ciarran runs off to de-robe. ‘I never thought I’d be going on a date with the boys and see one of their doodles!’
1. She actually uses the word ‘doodle’. Bless.
2. Technically, she’s already seen Timm’s balls, so this isn’t that big a step, reeeeeeally.
Here’s the thing about this life-drawing date: it’s actually not very interesting television. Everyone laughs uncomfortably (except Ciarran), and everyone scribbles some half-arsed drawings of Ciarran, and there’s only so many ways you can spin that, you know? It certainly wasn’t like that art date on Dr Matt the Space Bachie’s season, where Chelsie had her self-worth built up by a drag queen and Abbie created the world’s most terrifying self-portrait. It’s dull.
Even Yvie taking various bros off for single time is pretty dull. She talks to Intruder Ryan the dog man, whose entire personality seems to be ‘likes dogs’. She talks to beautiful wood-nymph Carlin, whose entire personality is ‘nice handsome boy’.
The whole thing would be dull as dishwater…if not for Ciarran.
It’s not that he does anything especially interesting. He does a variety of humorous poses – one where he’s lounging and flexing and he has a bunch of grapes over his peen is particularly memorable – and laughs. He goes off with Yvie and they talk about not very much (while he’s still completely starkers, but for the grapes).
But he’s got so much charisma and he’s having such a good time and he’s so incredibly unashamed that it’s magnetic and WHAT IS HAPPENING I DID NOT SIGN UP TO BE EVEN A LITTLE ATTRACTED TO A MAN WITH A MOUSTACHE LIKE THAT.
Anyway, there seems to be some vague competition over who will get single time with Angie, and Angie and Yvie go off to discuss it, but if someone wins it, they don’t show it, which is kind of strange. Yvie gives her assessment of the bros, which is basically: yes to Ryan the dog man! yes to Ciarran! yes to Carlin! but might Carlin not be a bit serious for Angie?
And then also this two lines of dialogue takes place, which I have reproduced verbatim because I love them so much:
YVIE: Do you think you could go out with a guy with a made up name like Carlin?
ANGIE: Yes! Don’t be a moll!
#straya. Also, what a wholesome variation on the usual Bachieverse idiom ‘game on, moll’. I do like to hear women call each other moll in love rather than competition.
Next up: it’s a single date. Today’s recipient is Timm, because Angie, in her own words, needs to find out whether he’s the kind of crazy which will drive her crazy or the right kind of crazy for her.
They don’t do a lot on this date except wander around a park and take Polaroids and eat ice cream, but it’s really very wholesome. Perhaps the most notable thing is that Timm is in at least his third different look, by my count, which could be best be described as ‘old-timey sailor’, and I’m intrigued to see how far he can ride this particular sartorial train.
Later that night, perhaps because their date had no gimmick, their Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation gets a gimmick. Angie’s got a slideshow of pics from Timm’s life for them to look through together. Timm’s initially apprehensive, but he settles down quickly. ‘That’s the look I still rock today – flannie, no shoes,’ he says proudly of a picture of himself as a toddler. ‘That’s going to sweep you off your feet, hey.’
Timm is not what we would typically describe as an eloquent man. Some of the things he says have an almost mechanical cadence to them – cf. his pronunciation of the phrase ‘ro-man-tic mo-vie’. But there’s also an underlying sincerity which is really very appealing. ‘Oh yeah, absolutely!’ he says to Angie, when she asks him if he’s really interested in her. ‘You give me goosebumps and you make me nervous, and that doesn’t happen to me very often. When I first saw you… for me it was like [fireworks noises], straight up.’
Take it from someone who’s published academic research on the declarations of feeling in this show: this is one of the better declarations of feels I’ve heard in the Bachieverse.
(Quite a lot of the stuff I wrote in my pre-recap nerdle about Ciarran can also apply to Timm, tbh. In particular, his broad and obvious ockerness stands in direct contradiction to his relative eloquence in expressing his emotions, and there’s something very appealing about that juxtaposition. If he didn’t remind me so much of one of my brothers, I might also have a little crush on him.)
And you know what? I think I might ship Timm and Angie a bit. He goes out of his way to take her aside at the cocktail party later, even though he already has a rose. ‘I just want to let you know,’ he tells her, ‘I froth ya.’
Then they pash (again), and it’s a good pash. They just seem really into each other?
And it’s also pretty amusing seeing all the other bros have to adjust their worldview to account for Timm being a legitimate long-term threat for Angie’s heart. This season is doing a pretty good job of showcasing the appeal of some masculinities that aren’t your typical tall/dark/handsome archetype (although we should note that they are still all white guys).
The other thing of note that happens at the cocktail party is that Jamie tries to interrupt a chat between Angie and Intruder Ryan the Dog Guy not by stealing Angie away, but by sitting in. ‘Yvie likes Ryan,’ he tells Angie stubbornly. ‘I want to know why, so I can do the same thing.’
Angie and Ryan are both like, ‘um, no, that’s creepy,’ and send Jamie away. I’m fairly sure that if those red flags weren’t already evident for Angie, they are now.
Jamie makes it through the rose ceremony, though. Tonight’s casualties are Jesse and Niranga, who have done nothing of note on screen – besides, in the case of the latter, be the one non-white guy left. It’s a solid loaf of white bread from here on out, guys.
This season has been a lot of fun so far – perhaps one of the show’s best yet! – but in this arena, it is just the same as usual. There’s massive political implications re who we tell love stories about, who we position socially as worthy of love, so: do better, Bachie.
Sneaky end-of-recap reminder: I write books, and you should read them. Also, apparently people want to hear my uninformed takes on professional wrestling now? I appeared on my second wrestling podcast in as many months last week – check it out here.