Tired yet, friends? I sure am! But here we are again, wading deep into the buffet of terrible men that is Th3 Bach3lors.
Before we get stuck into the recap part of this recap, I want to talk a bit about breakups. Along with our regulation rose ceremony eliminations, we had two notable ones last night, when Yuri dumped Felix and walked out (a queen, we simply must stan) and Jasmine dumped Jed for Thomas (switching flavours of terrible).
And tonight, we have even more. We’ll get into them in the recap, but these walkouts were the hook for all the ads for this ep: not one, not two, but three women walk out on the Bachies.
(However, for reasons we’ll get into, these ones don’t hit quite the same as Yuri telling Felix that he doesn’t have the qualities that she’ll looking for. Though few things could be that delicious.)
In my academic life, I’ve been doing some thinking about breakups (very slowly, turns out writing one thousand books per year puts a cramp in your research projects, cough buy Here For The Right Reasons cough pre-order Can I Steal You For A Second? cough). Breakups are a fascinating social ritual – and the way the Bachieverse does them is a great example.
Speaking extremely broadly: breakups are a modern thing. If we go back even a little way into history, they just… didn’t happen that much. Not just breakups, either – this applies to everything that Helen Rose Ebaugh calls “role exit”. In her book Becoming An Ex, she writes:
“Except at times of war or political upheavals, in earlier periods of history people were much less mobile in terms of role changes. They stayed in one marriage for a lifetime, prepared for one occupation which they followed regardless of how satisfied or dissatisfied they were, identified with the religion of their upbringing, stayed quite close to home geographically, and were not exposed to a variety of self-help groups that can become anchors for identity formation or transformation. In other words, role exit, while it did occur in cases of widowhood, unemployment, or ostracism from a group, was much less common that it is today (1988, 2).”
As a result, people are pretty bad at breakups!
I mean this in multiple senses:
- We’re not great at the actual process of breaking up, because what that ritual looks like hasn’t fully crystallised.
- We’re not always great at knowing when to break up, because (again, broadly, this is all sweeping generalisation) we’ve been societally encouraged to stay for so long – especially women who are partnered with men.
We’re all familiar with the idea of the “messy” breakup. This is part of the reason why. We’re bad at breaking up – and many people (cough often men cough) are even worse at being broken up with, because the expectation for a huge chunk of history is that one’s partner will stay.
Enter the Bachieverse.
I wrote a book chapter for the Routledge Companion to Romantic Love where I argued that Bachieverse breakups are fantasy breakups, because they are, for the most part, not messy at all. They’re clean. They’re clinical. Either you get a rose or you don’t.
Even when we get to the more devastating breakups – especially with the runner up – it’s still clean, even if it’s emotional. The runner up gets a speech. They at least know where they stand (often not the case in many modern breakups!).
But what I didn’t talk about in that chapter was the much rarer pleasure in seeing people broken up with: specifically, people in a position of narrative power, especially when they are men, like our three Bachelors.
All our Bachies – especially Jed and Felix, but let’s not count Thomas out either – have demonstrated a degree of entitlement to the women they’re dating. Think of Jed getting miffed when the very first woman he dated him refused a rose (“I thought I was supposed to be making those decisions!”). Think of Felix getting mad that his contestants would dare find it disrespectful that he’s sticking his tongue down other women’s throats in front of them.
It’s not often we see the imbalanced power relations of heteropatriarchy so clearly illustrated as in The Bachelor/s, where the man is explicitly as well as implicitly in a position of power, carrying a certain set of expectations. And you know when you have a female friend who’s with an absolute dipshit, and she just won’t break up with him?
So often, that’s what watching The Bachelor feels like.
Only this season: some of those female friends with the dipshit boyfriends ARE breaking up with them. And we get to watch.
It’s satisfying for a few reasons. The main and most obvious one is that it is always nice to see dipshits get their comeuppance, but also because it adds just a little more to the cultural lexicon of breakups, every time we see it. We are bad at breakups, but every one we see makes it a little bit easier. It just might make it a little bit easier for that female friend to dump her dipshit boyfriend if she’s seen someone do it on TV first.
Let’s get into the recap, so we can see which dipshit boyfriends get dumped tonight.
…it’s Jed and Thomas. It happens literally right at the beginning of the episode. Before anything has happened, Tash (our villain, who was dating Jed), along with Marjorie and CJ (her sidekicks, I think? they’re both blonde, and I was never clear on how many sidekicks Tash had – anyway, they were both dating Thomas), leave, as a form of protest over Thomas giving Jasmine a rose.
“…oh,” both the boys say when Osher tells them.
Thomas doesn’t seem to especially mind – as far as I can tell, he’s only ever really had eyes for Leah and Kiki – but Jed is clearly a bit stung that Tash left, given they had a single date and everything.
(It’s also a… strange move from Tash? Like, what was Jed supposed to do about Thomas giving Jasmine a rose? Tackle him?)
While these two Bachies are licking their wounds, Felix takes Jessica on a single date. It’s a basketball date, and Felix is a basketballer, so I have to assume this is some kind of effort to show off and ritualistically defeat her partner Damien.
“I’m looking for a monogamous relationship,” Felix tells her. “If it’s you and me at the end of this, would you be okay with that?”
“I don’t want to leave here with two boyfriends,” Jessica replies.
(Keep the one you have, Jessica! Surely you don’t want this one. He just straight up asked you if you have commitment issues, FFS!)
Felix brings Jessica back to the Bach Pad, and…
We all know this man has exhibited more red flags than the Running of the Bulls. But here, he might exhibit the reddest one of all.
This man has never in his life made a cup of tea – and suggests they make it in the microwave.
If that’s not a sign that you should run, I don’t know what is.
Thomas and Jed also go on dates. Jed’s is actually quite sweet, if you ignore the fact that a) he’s taken a leaf out of Felix’s book and confused “date” with “him showing off”, and b) if a man invited you on this date IRL, you would assume he was planning to murder you.
He invites Alésia to the middle of a misty forest in the middle of the night, where he aggressively plays the drums at her, because that’s what home feels like to him: the drums have been his friends when he had none.
…please note that when I call this “quite sweet”, I am grading on the most aggressive curve in the universe. But he does cry while telling her about being bullied at school (apparently “drummer” is an aggressively persecuted minority?) and how much he loves that she loves his funny little jackets, and – look, these two seem to actually like each other, and he isn’t aggressively trying to pretend that big aspects of her life don’t exist.
Unlike, for example, Thomas. For his single date, he takes Kiki on yet another rollercoaster, and then for a walk along the beach at night. He was completely thrown by her revelation last night that she has kids, and he does some digging. “So, ah, how old are your kids?” he asks. “And would you have more?”
They’re not necessarily impolite questions, but they’re really just code for what he’s really asking, which is, “would you put your current family in the bin so you could start a new one with me?”
God, all these men are so terrible in their own special ways.
He does do a tiny bit of course-correcting, in that afterwards he takes Kiki back to the Bach Pad, gives her a massage and is like it, “fuck it, I didn’t see myself with a mum, but I really like this woman”.
But I simply don’t think Thomas can un-think that thought, no matter how much of his cult leader shit he does. He will always be a man who resents this woman’s children for existing.
Afterwards, the three men talk about their dates and what they got out of it. While I dislike all of them to various degrees, I quite like this mechanic. This is what we were missing in the Elly and Becky season. The better part of starting to date someone is debriefing with your friends about it!
In other words, the men are duds but the format has legs. This, they can keep.
The next day, it’s a group date, where the three Bachies take a selection of their various contestants to a restaurant. It’s fairly uneventful, but the headlines are:
- Jed tells his dates that if Tash was indeed terrorising all of them, he’s glad she’s gone
- Thomas sits down with Jasmine and she has the GALL to talk about HERSELF for more than THREE SENTENCES, god
- Krystal and Felix have a moment where they run into the ocean and frolic that would be quite sweet if he was not just a 6’5” skinsuit filled with pure essence of nightmare man.
I ship Felix and the sea, TBH. Preferably after him having been yeeted into it by the women he’s dating.
After a few very tumultuous rose ceremonies, this one is remarkably chill. Only one woman gets eliminated. There’s some suggestion that Thomas might eliminate Jasmine, but then he doesn’t, and a blonde woman whose name I did not catch goes.
(I assume they chose to only cut one woman because of the three walkouts, but really. You should only be eliminating that few people once we’ve, oh, I don’t know, actually learned everyone’s names?)
It looks like we’ll be back to drama tomorrow, though. Apparently, Felix is going to meet Jessica’s boyfriend Damien. Can’t wait to see what fascinating new ways he’ll find to be terrible.
If you’ve made it all the way to the end of this recap – thank you! I assume that means you enjoy my writing, so don’t forget that I’m the author of a couple of reality TV rom-coms. Here For The Right Reasons(which is about a Bachelor-esque lead falling for a contestant he eliminates on the first night) is out now; while Can I Steal You For A Second?(which is about two contestants falling in love with each other instead of their Bachelor-esque lead) will be out in April and is available for pre-order.
You can also catch me on my website: jodimcalister.com.au