Southern Cross Tattoo: The Photo Shoot
Back (Bach) to the salt-mines, friends! We’ve met the twenty men competing for our two Bachelorettes, Elly and Becky, and now it’s time to settle into the swing of things with some dates.
If you think all the way back to last night: Elly and Becky bestowed the ‘country rose’ (vomit) on Harry. He’s interested in Elly, so he picked Shannon, who is interested in Becky, to come along with him on what has been advertised as the franchise’s first double date.
Because of the novelty of this, I thought we’d spend a little bit of time nerdling tonight about dating and… you know, what it is.
The word ‘date’, used in the sense that the Bachieverse uses it, is fairly recent, lexicographically speaking. We can date it to the late nineteenth century, but it didn’t really become A Thing until the early twentieth century, when we saw some major shifts in romantic culture. One of these was the relocation of romance from the private sphere to the public – as Beth Bailey has put it, the shift from front porch to back seat. Instead of suitors calling upon potential love interests in their homes, potential couples would go out into the world together: on dates.
Importantly, as Eva Illouz writes about at length in her book Consuming the Romantic Utopia, dates are rituals of consumption. Generally speaking, the things you do on dates cost money (1997, 66). As Illouz puts it:
By inscribing the romantic encounter into the consumption of leisure, the practice of ‘dating’ marked the symbolic and practical penetration of romance by the market. This shifted the focus of the romantic encounter from marriage as a permanent and unique union to the fragmented but repeatable pursuit of pleasurable experiences (1997, 14).
This sums up the Bachieverse quite neatly, in my opinion. So much of the structure of the show revolves around dates. The Bachie’s (or, in this case, Bachies’) oft-touted ‘journey’ takes place almost entirely through this Illouzian ‘fragmented but repeatable pursuit of pleasurable experiences’. Of course, the end goal is still this ‘permanent and unique union’, but to draw on the work of Misha Kavka, as I so often have in these recaps: the Bachieverse shows are second-gen reality TV shows, meaning that reality actually lies beyond the show, shaped and formed by the apparatus of the show (2012, 113). ‘Romance’ inheres in the dates, these rituals of consumption: the permanent and unique union will not be televised.
…except on MAFS, I guess. But that’s a whole other kettle of fish.
Anyway: double dates! This concept emphasises even further that the date is a ritual of consumption. There is something a little old-fashioned-seeming about it – you could make the case that the sisters are chaperoning each other – but in my humble opinion, it just focuses the date even more firmly on the experience, the ritual, rather than the relationality per se. How much can you truly get to know someone when two other people are there?
What’s going to be most interesting to me about the way they configure dates in this season is what they do with the Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation time. These are standard on Bachie dates for a reason: if all you did was the experiential portion of the date (eg. skydiving), then you really wouldn’t get much of a chance to get to know each other. The level of chaperonage in these Couch situations thus becomes very telling, because one assumes that there are things you’d like to discuss with a potential romantic partner that you’d rather not if it was a group chat feat. your sister.
So will the Couch be a foursome or a twosome? Let’s get into the recap and find out.
We dive straight into the double date. Harry and Shannon wait for our Bachies on the beach. ‘We’ve got a surprise for you!’ Elly and Becky declare when they pick them up.
We all know that this show has its own language. Connection. Chemistry. Journey. Here for the right reasons. Not here to make friends.
I’m here to tell you that if you hear the word ‘surprise’, there is a 95% chance that it in fact means ‘helicopter’.
I have no idea why the franchise is so horny for helicopters. Sure, you get nice aerial shots, but everyone has to wear giant headphones, and ‘oooh, look at the view!’ has really limited interest value for the audience.
Anyway, they take the helicopter to ‘the country’. Where in the country? Couldn’t tell you. What I could tell you is that Elly and Becky immediately put on akubras like they’re about to shoot photos for the cover of some ru-ro novels, so if it wasn’t already clear how hard the show is going to go on this pastoral idyll thing: let it be clear.
They separate the foursome (a good idea, tbh – cf. all that stuff I wrote about chaperonage). Becky and Shannon go and crack some whips. It’s not the best date idea I’ve ever heard – I mean, how much fun is it to do an activity where you have to stand twenty metres apart or you might lose an eye? – but it’s not the worst either. Plus, Becky and Shannon seem to have quite a lot of chemistry, and it’s very, very clear that all they want to do is pash.
There doesn’t seem to be quite as much going on with Elly and Harry. Their date task is to… pretend to be cattle dogs and herd some cattle for a terse farmer named Gaz?
Just going to put it out there: I see what they’re doing with their whole Farmer Wants A Wife schtick, but generally speaking, taking a first date to herd cows for a terse farmer named Gaz = not a good date idea.
They have even less chance to talk than Becky and Shannon, what with the whole running around thing, so when they get to the Couch of Wine and Conversation, Elly and Harry are sitting a good foot apart on the couch.
Elly looks over at Becky and Shannon, who are practically in each other’s laps. ‘Um, Harry, let’s go somewhere else,’ she says, perhaps realising for the first time just how truly awkward doing The Bachelorette with your sister has the potential to be.
Becky and Shannon talk about their timelines (aligned!), she gives him a rose, and they pash until the cows come home. Elly and Harry… do not do that.
He’s 35 and has a five year old kid. ‘I’m 25,’ Elly says slowly. ‘There’s a lot of things I still want to do. Be spontaneous. Travel with my partner. Do you want to go overseas again?’
‘Not really,’ Harry admits.
‘You’re nice, Harry, don’t get me wrong,’ Elly says, ‘but I think you might have done all the things I want to do. I don’t think our timelines really line up.’
Politely, she doesn’t ask why he, a 35 year old man, gravitated to her and not her 30 year old sister, but we were all thinking it.
And so they return to the mansion: Shannon, be-rosed and kissed, and Harry, sans either.
Next up: it’s the annual first group date photo shoot, with a side of embarrassing parochialism! ‘Elly and I are both proud Australians,’ Becky says, ‘and so the theme of this date is Australia!’
So yeah, it’s Southern Cross Tattoo: The Photo Shoot. Let’s just say they did not exactly grapple with colonialism or its legacies here.
The first photo shoot with Becky really is a bit cute, though. The best thing about these photo shoots in The Bachelorette is watching how the dudes deal with being given shitty costumes (who can forget the dramatic walkout of Wazza last year over the chook costumes?). This shoot is themed around big things: Saj is the Big Pineapple, Agostino is the Big Prawn, and Pascal is the Big Banana.
They all deal with it with good grace, and it ends up being quite a lovely, good-natured shoot. Things change, however, when Becky does a one-on-one outback-themed shoot with Pete.
Look. I am not too proud that I cannot admit when I am wrong. In my dramatis personae last night, I wrote that ‘Pete is nothing’, but… Pete is something, friends. He gets his abs out (there are a LOT of them), and Becky is clearly a bit overwhelmed. When some of the other lads (notably steampunk goggles Adrian) get annoyed at how much evident chemistry there is between Becky and Pete and storm off, Pete takes his shot. He whips off his akubra, uses it to shield them from the cameras, and lays one on Becky.
Rawr. Becky has been getting it this episode. I still know nothing about her, but she’s doing very well for herself.
Elly’s doing all right too, although she’s still behind 2-0 in the pash stakes. Her group photo is a beach scene, where all the men are shirtless and half of them are wearing ‘jellyfish costumes’ which are in fact David-Bowie-in-Labyrinth level tight leggings. There was a crotch shot of Joe that I’m amazed they were allowed to show on primetime television. We also discover that giant geologist Adam has flowing Fabio locks, and… my goodness, it’s really quite something.
Adam also gets a bit salty during Elly’s one on one photo shoot with Frazer, but I don’t think it’s because he’s jealous. ‘Frazer looks nothing like a gold miner!’ he grumbles.
Yep, this is a mining photo shoot. Can you think of anything less sexy than mining? Me neither.
(Seriously: was this section of the date sponsored by Rio Tinto? People use love stories to try and make things appealing all the time – cf. the fruitpicking story recently – and I would not put it past them to try and romanticise mining.)
Anyway, mining aside, Elly and Frazer clearly want to make out, and the boys watching on are not into it. This is especially true of Joe, who Elly already knows and has, ahem, ‘kissed’, ahem in the outside world. ‘I’ve got real feelings for her!’ he says. ‘I’ve got to make sure I tell her!’
Joe does just that, at the cocktail party. Specifically, he says ‘I love the kind of girl you are’. This isn’t exactly a love declaration, but nevertheless, it might be the earliest the L-word has been dropped in one of these seasons. Watch this space.
The real storyline of the cocktail party, though, is Harry. Because he didn’t get a rose on the double date, he’s feeling pretty precarious: so precarious that he interrupts Becky and Shannon (by sitting between them, god) to ask Becky whether she’ll put in a good word for him with Elly.
‘It’s up to Elly,’ Becky says, in a way that strongly suggests that no, she will not be acquiescing to this request.
(And fair enough. In what world is ‘could you please make your sister like me?’ really going to work?)
Oh, and steampunk goggles Adrian gives Becky a crystal in the shape of a heart, and then explains why he’s giving her a crystal in the shape of a heart. What she gets out of this is that he’s probably going to be a good kisser, which seems like a very strange assessment to make on the basis of the available evidence.
Going into the rose ceremony, though, it’s clear that none of Becky’s boys are in danger. Only one gent will be leaving, and it’s going to be one of Elly’s.
Harry is incredibly nervous. ‘I had love in the palm of my hand!’ he angsts. ‘But it’s fallen out!’
I legit missed the first half of the rose ceremony because I was laughing so hard about this.
Predictably, it comes down to Harry and one other guy: Jake (who dressed up as Cupid last night). Elly takes a deep breath…
…and then gives the rose to Harry.
This is interesting for a number of reasons. One, she’s clearly not that into Harry; but also two, Jake was the closest thing we had to a villain. We’re a whole week in to this show and we have no clear villains – what’s going on there?
You’ll just have to come back next week so we can puzzle it out together.
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