Bachelor in Paradise
Could everyone else see the show scrambling this week to show us every couple that has been forged in the fires of Paradise? Could you picture the editors hastily dragging and dropping romantic footage of each couple? Could you feel the show realizing that it has wrung all the sweet dramatic juice out of the Blake-Caelynn-Kristina-Hannah-Tayshia love pentagon, and that it has to start being a dating show again?
I suppose it was both inevitable and inconvenient that Bachelor in Paradise would have to make the hard pivot to focusing on THE OTHER COUPLES, but here we are. So what we do have left as we climb out of the ashes of Blake’s sexual tsunami? What we have is a fist fight between two male models.
We gotta talk about this fight. We gotta talk about how Nicole has spent the last however many hours complaining that Clay wouldn’t fight for her and saying she loves how fiery Christian is. We gotta talk about what it looks like when keeping it real goes wrong. Let’s get to it.
We pick up with everyone watching Jordan make the dumbest mistake possible and try to take down Christian’s piñata, which is not a euphemism. They start trying to punch each other, connecting exactly zero blows, when Jordan picks up Christian and body-slams him off the steps of the daybed. Christian reacts exactly how you would expect him to react: He tears off his shirt and starts screaming “FUCK YOU” at Jordan, who absolutely deserves it. The most baffling part is when Jordan starts walking around, very calmly. Does … does he think he won? Does Jordan think this makes him look cool or fun or that anyone asked for this?
It takes about 15 producers and security guards to swarm Christian and get him on the ground. SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE TO STOP HIM. Nicole continues to be shocked that when she asked for an aggressive man who loved to fight for her she would get an aggressive man who loves to fight. A producer speaking Spanish manages to calm Christian down as they get Jordan off the beach.
Wills sums up the exact problem with every single contestant on this show when he says, “He was trying to be a good friend but he went too far,” describing Jordan. Onyeka and Tayshia rally around Nicole, who spent the entire episode last week wishing Clay, a man as big as Jordan and Christian put together, would fight for dominance on the beach. Nicole learned the lesson that when you ask a potential boyfriend, “Have you ever been in a fight?” you want that guy that answers about the time he broke up a fight between two other drunk idiots, not the guy who answers that he was a drunk idiot.
Chris Harrison shows up, along with a whole gaggle of producers, to dismiss Jordan and Christian. Christian, in an uncharacteristic moment of clarity, makes sure that Jordan is being sent home too and wants the producers to tell him that he would be sent home even if he was fighting someone else. Nothing wrong with reminding the crew that you know who their favorites are.
After the “high school cafeteria after a fight” energy calms down, Blake turns his attentions to trying to woo Hannah again. This time with MARIACHI MUSIC! He does a few spins with Hannah like a ninth-grader who decided to take the dance unit for gym class because his mom told him it would make him a gentleman. They make out in front of everyone and Dylan has a full-on meltdown. Dylan. Hannah is not worth it. Hannah’s awareness of her indecisiveness is not a substitute for actual maturity or growth. Someone who says, “Ugh, I know I’m the worst” but still makes you feel like shit isn’t a kind person. I haven’t seen any proof that Hannah is kind, just small and blonde, which most white people confuse with goodness.
Then it’s time for the actual Rose Ceremony. Remember? That’s what we’re here for.
But before the rose ceremony can begin, there’s one more surprise! Onyeka has decided that she’s going home. No one seems to be there for her, especially after Cam told her Mike said she wasn’t his type, because Cam is a monster. She says her goodbyes and cries that she’s looking for her person. Why can’t she find him! If only there were any other context besides a competitive reality show to find love!
Most of the roses shake out the way you’d expect. Blake serves as narrator for the rose ceremony and basically yadda-yadda-yaddas his way through Demi giving her rose to Derek, Katie giving her rose to Chris B., and Nicole giving her rose to Clay. Caelynn gives her rose to Dean because she’s a glutton for punishment. Tayshia gives her rose to John Paul Jones and calls him her Romeo. Sydney gives her rose to Mike and I accept this reality. Hannah gives her rose to Dylan and Blake enters into a painful meltdown state until … Kristina gives her his rose. Kristina says that she’s doing this to force Blake to watch Dylan and Hannah make out, which would be his own personal hell. Ah yes, I remember the circle of hell in Dante’s Inferno where straight men were forced to remain on a beach vacation where sexy women are administered on a schedule like a morphine drip. Abandon all hope, influencers who enter here!
The next morning, everyone is lying around. How weird is it that after the second rose ceremony, everyone is coupled up and all-in with their relationships? The first woman to show up this week to shake things up is Caitlyn. All the women are terrified of Catilyn stirring things up, but every man is too scared to look at anyone else after seeing what happened to Blake. And of course, Blake met Caitlyn at Stagecoach, which should be a sponsor at this point, and Caitlyn asks him to go do tantric yoga with her! They spend the date talking about how Blake has fucked everyone on the beach but Caitlyn is totally cool with that! They make out in a pool.
Dylan and Hannah go on a date via a special date card that’s delivered only to twist the knife in Blake’s chest. Dylan says that the last two weeks with Hannah have been the hardest thing he’s ever gone through. Immediately after that, he tells her on the date about his father’s battle with cancer. Then he tells Hannah that he’s falling in love with her, and she processes that information while approximating a human smile for 40 seconds, then essentially gives him a thumbs-up. Even though Hannah didn’t say, “I’m falling for you too” back, Dylan just knows that she’s going to get there too. Oh, sweetie. Oh, Dylan. Slow down, buddy.
Their date ends with Aztec dancers and drummers, and Dylan says that they were some of the world’s greatest fighters and he’s going to fight for Hannah.
The rest of the episode gives us little glimpses of the other couples, and JPJ and Tayshia is the most baffling and also the most adorable. JPJ is basically the looks of Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You with the confidence of Philip Seymour Hoffman in Boogie Nights.
The next morning, there’s someone coming down the steps! It’s Hannah B! For some reason! Hannah is there to talk to Demi about her relationship, and that drives the last 35 minutes of the episode. Demi is confused about how she feels about Kristian, the woman she was dating at home, and reveals that the relationship is more serious than she admitted. She’s even more confused about how she feels about Derek. She can’t stop thinking about the relationship she left to come on the show.
My question still stands: How is this any different from what so many of these “fuckboi” dudes have been doing? The show (and Demi) continues to ask that we accept Demi’s relationship-status confusion but frames it as part of her coming to terms with her sexuality. It demands that Derek accept that Demi might still have feelings for someone who isn’t on the show because if he doesn’t … he’s an asshole.
The other problem for me is, for all the talk about how Demi is “queering” the Bachelor Cinematic Universe, we’re not witnessing her same-sex relationship onscreen. The show has done nothing to foster an environment for same-sex couples or queer love. In a world where MTV’s Are You the One: Come One, Come All has a cast of all bisexual and queer people, along with non-binary and trans folks, this is a pretty pitiful offering from Bachelor in Paradise.
The issue is Bachelor in Paradise hasn’t featured very many LGBT folks — so far, it’s just Demi and Jaimi. Jaimi’s whole time on the show was characterized by the men’s fear of her stealing their women away and the women giggling about being hit on, despite all of them being straight. Now Demi’s whole story line for the last ten hours of television has been about her confusion. Demi herself has been open and candid about her conflicted feelings, but this is all happening in a universe where there have only been two queer narratives. And those narratives so far are: Oversexualized Woman Stealer and Confused Queer Woman.
It’s the danger of the Single Narrative. When there are only a few queer stories on network TV, the ones that are shown must do a lot of work. They end up becoming The Queer Story on Paradise instead of just A Queer Story. Imagine what a show with the resources and reach of Bachelor in Paradise or The Bachelor(ette) could do for LGBT representation. In a world where the president is trying to roll back protections for LGBT folks, Bachelor in Paradise could have taken a stand and included same-sex romantic options from the beginning of the season, or at least portrayed Demi’s journey without playing into tragic queer tropes. It seems like the season is going to end with some pretty awesome love stories, and I just wish that had been part of the plan from the beginning.