We’re halfway(ish), friends! I don’t know how many episodes this season will have, but either way, we’re approaching the midpoint, which means that a routine of single dates and group dates and rose ceremonies and whatnot has been established. This is the stretch of the season I usually call “shit gets real”, as people start developing feelings… but if that Brooke/Jamie-Lee pash on Night One showed us nothing else, it’s that there are plenty of very real feelings already.
Tonight, I want to talk a little bit about ratings. I don’t want to cover ground that’s already been adeptly covered by Heterosexual Nonsense and Bachelor of Hearts, but a brief summary of where we are: the show is drawing pretty dreadful overnight ratings (roughly, a measure of how many people watch on TV), but is doing fairly well in consolidated ratings, released a week later (which includes on-demand viewing). For example, the premiere drew only 397,000 viewers in the overnight ratings, but that figure rose to a much healthier 754,000 in the consolidated ratings – the highest premiere ratings for the Australian Bachieverse since Angie Kent’s season in 2019.
Two questions, then: what does this mean, and what does this do?
In terms of meaning, the answer is fairly self-evident: the ways in which people watch this show are dramatically shifting, and it’s happening fast. If we use Angie Kent’s season as a point of comparison: the overnight ratings featured 716,000 viewers, and the consolidated 811,000. That’s a growth of 95,000 in on-demand/etc viewing, as opposed to the 453,000 we see in Brooke’s season. That’s a huge change in a very short period of time.
It’s not necessarily surprising, though. The Bachelor/ette is constructed as appointment television, kind of in the same way sport is: they want you to tune in every week and hold your breath waiting to find out who stays/goes/wins/loses. However, the last couple of years in particular have seen the emergence of reality romance shows designed to be binged, particularly on Netflix: think of Love Is Blind, Too Hot Too Handle, Sexy Beasts, etc. Effectively, people are being trained to consume reality romance shows in a different way. It’s not surprising, then, that the on-demand audience would grow.
It also signals, I think, that the show is catching different demographics – specifically, younger demographics, who are increasingly less-and-less familiar with what it used to mean to watch TV (ie. you turn your TV on at a specific time, and you watch whatever programming is scheduled, rather than watching what you want when you want). Love Island, which we know draws a younger audience, has seen a similar pattern. It’s even more pronounced there: in the same week in which the Bachelor/ette premiere lifted its ratings 51% from overnight to consolidated, Love Island lifted a massive 99%.
This leads us to our second question: what does this do?
The lift in ratings from overnight to consolidated is great. However, networks still do want people to actually tune in to their programming, especially when that programming is primetime (something that the younger demographics definitely don’t tend to do as much – I mean, this is a demographic where a substantial portion don’t even own a television).
We know The Bachelor/ette has been renewed for 2022. However, I would not be at all surprised if it moves to a different timeslot. Love Island, for instance, airs at 8:45 most nights (and 9:30 on some). If the principal audience for the show continues to be an on-demand audience, it makes sense to take it out of your juicy primetime 7:30 timeslot.
This would have implications (budgetary ones among them, I would imagine – presumably we would see a lot less choppers and superyachts). But I wonder if it would lead to a shakeup in the way they tell and shape stories. There are things you can do with a later timeslot that you can’t with primetime. Perhaps it would lead to the show taking some new and interesting risks.
That’s something we’ll need to check back in with in 2022. However, it’s still 2021, so let’s see what Brooke and co get up to tonight.
Our heroine starts out with a single date, on which she’s taken new entrant and top villain candidate Luca. On this date, she wants to conquer a fear… which apparently seems to be “going extremely fast in military jets”.
I’m not sure this is a fear one needs to conquer? But when you’re being sponsored by the Top Gun reboot, I suppose to have to do what you have to do.
They frame this very explicitly as a Top Gun date. It’s not subtle. It’s also a direct ripoff of a date they did in the Space Bachie’s season, and it has precisely the same flaw: Brooke and Luca go up in the air in SEPARATE PLANES.
If you must have a transportation date, then at least sit next to each other. And isn’t the whole point of the partnership in Top Gun that your little friend sits in the same plane as you?
(And then you do something foolish and accidentally murder them? On second thoughts, maybe putting them in separate planes was a better idea.)
In case it is not clear, I do not like either this date or the movie Top Gun. I mean, I’m not going to begrudge the Bach those sweet sweet sponsorship dollars, but why not do an homage to the one truly good scene in that movie and play sexy volleyball?
Brooke and Luca do not do any meaningful bonding on this date, mostly because they’re apart the whole time and can’t do anything except mime the word WOOOOO at each other through the jet windows. When they get to their Couch of Wine and Intimate Conversation, though, they at least get time to talk, although they don’t say much of anything. Brooke is like, “you helped me overcome a fear! my very sensible fear of going in fighter jets, which is definitely going to come up again in our relationship!” and he’s like, “I’m so glad I could!”.
It’s not particularly scintillating conversation, TBH, especially given that the bar has been somewhat higher this season. I did like, though, that when Luca was like, “Brooke, you tick all my boxes!” she was immediately like, “cool, what are the boxes?” That is a very sensible and good question!
His response was, “um, just… you,” which is a useless response, but she gives him a rose, they kiss, etc. It’s the first kiss this season which has really been a truly standard Bachie pash – ie. I felt pretty much nothing about it.
There’s scandal back at the mansion, because it turns out Luca is also going to be on the group date. Because the intruders just entered, it’s a classic OGs vs Newcomers challenge, where the four newbies (Luca, Will, Jess, and Millie) are pitted against four of the established contestants (Kurt, Darvid, Holly, and Steve) in an obstacle course.
If the only way you learned about romance was through the Bachieverse, you would assume that romantic relationships include SO MANY obstacle courses. I am yet to encounter one in any of my relationships (although maybe I am an outlier, maybe you’re all out there doing obstacle courses, maybe my lack of desire to do obstacle courses is why I am currently single, IDK).
It’s not purely an obstacle course (thank goodness). There are compatibility question milestones built in. If a team gets a question wrong, they can’t proceed until they get it right.
Because the OGs have been there longer, you’d think they’d do quite well in the compatibility questions. However, they get quite a few wrong, much to Brooke’s chagrin, and the ultimate result is quite close…
…but the OGs defeat the newbies by about twenty seconds, and Brooke chooses Kurt to get the bonus single time.
This date was really not very interesting. The show spent a lot of time on it, but let’s be real, friends, no one is coming to this show for the obstacle courses.
You know what is interesting, though? Brooke’s single time with Kurt!
We haven’t spent that much time with Kurt so far, and that’s a shame, because he seems like such a sweet himbo. The reason Brooke picked him for the single time was because he actually knew almost all the right answers to the compatibility questions in the obstacle course, but he kept getting overruled. The whole time he’s been on the show, he’s just been standing quietly in the back, actively listening to everything she says, and if that isn’t the sweetest, I don’t know what is.
He isn’t massively good at picking up what Brooke is putting down when she’s right in front of him. She gives him every signal in the world that she wants him to kiss her, but it isn’t until she’s like, “hey, I would really like you to kiss me,” that he does. But this kind of adds to the appeal, tbh. Kurt doesn’t assume he knows what you want, he listens to what you say.
Obviously, he gets a rose. You don’t let a good listener get away that easily.
Then it’s the cocktail party. The centre of our narrative here is Carissa. You might remember from last week that she had a very underwhelming kiss with Brooke, and then hasn’t been able to talk to her since. Therefore, she is absolutely determined to speak with Brooke at this cocktail party, even though the whole “can I steal you for a second?” thing does not come naturally to her.
It’s not just to touch base, however. “Hey,” Carissa tells Brooke. “I really like you, and I think we had such a good initial connection. But I know you’re having great connections with so many other people here too, and I can’t handle it. I can’t fall in love in this situation. I’m sorry.”
“I understand,” Brooke says. “I totally empathise with what this situation is like. I’ve been there. I like you, and I like our connection – but obviously I can’t force you to stay.”
And so Carissa goes.
The reason this season has worked so well, for the most part, isn’t because it’s queer (although don’t get me wrong, that aspect of it rules, and has definitely helped). There’s a new emphasis on storytelling and continuity here that we really haven’t seen that much of in a while. Carissa has had a whole narrative arc: a strong initial spark which faltered and then eventually sputtered out. Darvid and Holly and Konrad and Jamie-Lee all have their narratives going on. Even that little segment with Kurt had a whole narrative in it. It really makes it clear when they phone their storytelling in – eg. the Luca date.
It doesn’t stop here, either, because Carissa leaving sets up a beautiful cliffhanger question for next time. Brooke cancels the rose ceremony and walks away from her contestants. “If I could misread Carissa like this,” she wonders, “then who else am I misreading?”
10/10. Chef’s kiss. No notes.
Sneaky end-of-recap reminder: you have to wait until 2022 for my reality TV rom-coms Here For The Right Reasons and Can I Steal You For A Second?, but my Valentine trilogy is available right now for your lockdown reading pleasure. You can also catch me on my website: jodimcalister.com.au