Where is the cheese budget?!
We are coming close to the end, dear friends! If my calculations are correct and this is indeed another truncated season of the Bach, we’re in the penultimate week. Not long now until I can hang up these weary recapping fingers for the year and rest.
(Seriously. We’ve been at this since July. I know time has no meaning in lockdown, but that is still a lot of Bach, and even I can’t handle that much in a row.)
Time has been a real problem in the show this year. Double the Bachies means half the screentime for their love stories to develop – especially since the episodes have, for the most part, been much shorter this year. With half the contestants to each Bachie, you’d think this would be mitigated somewhat, but that hasn’t really been the case. Despite the fact that we’ve been on the 2020 Bachie train FOREVER and we’re all looking forward to getting off, this season has felt very rushed.
There have been a couple of reasons for this. One is the mechanical: two Bachies, half the time. But the other is tied to the storytelling, which hasn’t really given us much of a chance to see narratives progress.
To unpack this a bit: narrative is one of the primary ways we mark our experience of time, to the extent that we can distinguish between ‘clock time’ and ‘narrative time’ (Abbott 2008, 4). Another term for describing narrative time is ‘human time’ (Ricoeur 1984, 3). The difference between the two is that one is measured by, well, measurements, and the other by experience: it’s ‘Monday’ vs ‘the day Dan told us we could all get back on the beers’. One is a measurement: Monday happens regularly, just like 5pm or sunrise. The other is a milestone, a moment by which we measure in human terms where we are in time: at the end of a long, tough lockdown.
(My fellow Melbournians will well know how time all blends together in lockdown: it’s precisely because we have so few of those milestones to anchor ourselves. Clock time has marched ever onwards, but narrative time has been crawling by because thing stayed so relentlessly the same. It’s the same reason why it felt like March went for a thousand years – everything was happening so much.)
The Bachieverse has an inbuilt mechanism for providing us with this narrative time through the date structure. Indeed, its whole premise is that by speeding up narrative time, it can make the relative lack of clock time irrelevant: it hits milestone after milestone much faster than in real life.
But I kind of feel like they’ve lost sight of the subtleties of this in this season. There are not a huge amount of cases where we’re getting a real sense of the progression of the romances: how a Bach and her suitor are progressing through the more subtextual milestones of a love story.
The one exception to this is Becky and Pete, who we saw progress through attraction in the second episode (the behind the akubra kiss) to a more intimate connection in their first date (where he disclosed he’d been divorced) to a consideration of practicalities (the boat date, where they thought through how they’d make Newcastle to Adelaide work). There’s a reason that it’s pretty clear Pete is going to win, and that’s because they’ve put the energy into developing his story.
But that energy isn’t evident elsewhere. For a show like this to be suspenseful, we need alternatives (think back to Georgia Love’s season, where the Matty alternative was so compelling everyone was incredibly bummed he didn’t win). And there’s another problem in terms of characterisation, which impacts even the Becky and Pete story: while we’ve found out a lot about Pete, I know maybe two things about Becky, and it’s really hard to invest in a love story where you know nothing about one of the major players.
What I’m getting at here is that the Bachieverse really needs to get back to basics in terms of its storytelling next year, and have a long hard think about how stories fit together. And if they need an expert on romance stories to come and consult for them, well… wink.
Enough of this long advertisement for my potential consultant services. On to the recap.
We begin tonight with my least favourite kind of date: a parenting date, wherein all the men are saddled with a fake baby. Seriously, Bachie, you need to stop doing these, as they are extremely gross.
That said, the framing of this is probably the least objectionable it’s ever been. ‘Becky and I are modern women,’ Elly says, ‘so it’s time for you lot to do some domestic labour. Here’s your list of chores. Take care of your babies at the same time. We’ll be back later.’
Testing of people’s desire to parent? Hate it. Making men do domestic labour? Yes please.
Becky’s men perform markedly better at this task than Elly’s, in that they all try. Only Adam and Joe are really holding their end up for Team Elly, with James and Frazer spending their time fucking around outside, but all the Becky boys really pull their weight… even if some of them clearly don’t know what they’re doing (eg. Bad Mopper Shannon).
Notably, it’s Becky’s men that talk the most about whether they want to have children (they do, for the most part). The exception on Elly’s side is Joe, who talks about this with notable tenderness.
The women are watching upstairs on one of their panopticon screens. They have to pick a dude each for some single time. The choice is fairly easy for Elly, but Becky’s men all seem to… not suck? Which makes it more difficult?
I’m sorry, I can’t believe I just referred to a group of men on this show as ‘not sucking’. Bring me my smelling salts.
Anyway, Becky picks Shannon, and they have a little conversation about how much they like each other and then do a lot of pashing.
Elly picks Joe, and they also have a little conversation about how much they like each other. In this conversation, they reveal that there was no real reason their pre-show thing ended. To my mind, this makes it worse – if you just sort of forgot about someone, they’re probably not your forever person – but they’re like, ‘oooh, maybe we can pick up just where they left off!’, and then they too do a lot of pashing.
I have to confess that I wasn’t terribly compelled by either conversation. I was fixated on two things:
- They drink a lot of Kings of Prohibition wine on this show, but they never really focus on the bottles. Is KoP a wine sponsor they’re doing a very bad job of showcasing? Or do they just coincidentally drink a lot of it, leaving huge wine wankers like me to ask questions like these?
- WHERE IS THE FUCKING CHEESE BUDGET, WHY ARE YOU SERVING ALL THIS WINE WITHOUT A SINGLE CHEESE PLATTER IN SIGHT, THIS IS THE FUCKING BACHELORETTE, THEY DESERVE CHEESE.
I’m really mad about the cheese thing, friends. Maybe it wasn’t Locky who had an anti-cheese agenda. Maybe this goes all the way to the top.
The next day, there’s a single date. It’s a Becky date, and she picks Adrian to go with her (for some reason: honestly, how her fuckboi radar doesn’t start going haywire at the mere sight of his haircut is beyond me). Sam is pretty upset that he hasn’t been picked, and he starts making noise about how if he doesn’t get more time with Becky he won’t feel comfortable introducing her to his family for hometowns. File this one away under Chekhov’s Discomfort.
But back for now to Becky and Adrian, who take a convertible and head to the beach. They spend a good deal of time on a not terribly interesting conversation they have in the car, where they discuss how they both want kids. Why this show spends so much time on transportation will never, ever make sense to me.
Comparatively little time is spent on them at the beach. Apparently they prepare a whole barbecue together, but we skip straight from ‘let’s have a barbecue!’ to them eating. This seems like yet another opportunity for character development that’s been skipped over, because you can learn a lot about how harmonious you can be with another person when you cook with them.
Not a lot notable is said, but Adrian does utter a phrase which is an instant RUN AWAY for me: he refers to himself as a ‘big kid’. I don’t want to tell you how to live your lives, fellow straight ladies, but if a man calls himself a ‘big kid’, he lowkey wants you to be his mother, especially in the way that involves you doing all the domestic and emotional labour. FLEE.
Back at the mansion, it seems like we’re headed into a fairly standard cocktail party, when the newly returned Adrian and Shannon discover a date card. In lieu of the regular party, they’ll be having what the show calls ‘the last supper’ but is really a Bula Banquet: yet another opportunity for
the producers them to ask anonymous questions.
The first question goes to James, when someone asks him ‘what is your fetish?’. He replies that he likes dominance, but it really isn’t clear whether he likes dominating or being dominated, which seems like a very important distinction to make.
Not that it matters, because James spends the rest of the dinner party getting increasingly sulky. It starts when Becky says that the other three lads are all more Elly’s type than he is, progresses through yet another round of questions about what really happened on that weekend away Elly and Joe spent, and culminates with him storming away from the table.
‘That’s a bit of a red flag,’ Elly comments sagely. It’s unclear if she missed the forty-seven prior red flags, but at least she’s caught sight of this one.
And indeed, James is the Elly boy who is cut at the rose ceremony. Becky cuts Sam – I guess he won’t need to make any calls himself based on Chekhov’s Discomfort.
So here we are: with three men left for each Bachelorette, and hometowns on the horizon! We’ve been here so long and yet for no time at all (especially in terms of screen time for sweet rock boy Adam. MOAR ADAM).
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