Bachelor in Paradise
We all have that friend who has decided that they’re the reason anyone ever has fun. They’re the sole bringer of fun to the party. They probably have a whole closet of costumes ready for any party that has the suggestion of a theme.
“Bonnie, the invite said ‘Bubbles for my birthday’ because we were going to a champagne bar. It was completely unnecessary for you to dress as Bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls. My grandma was really confused.”
They’re the one friend who INSISTS that you all play a drinking game before you leave the house.
“Dan, it’s 6 p.m. and we have dinner reservations. We’re not playing Flip Cup right now.”
They’re the friend who thinks that every party would be improved if someone, anyone, was dancing on a table.
“Amber, that table was structurally unsound and now someone has to drive you to the hospital.”
This friend who has no idea what is appropriate or, quite frankly, wanted in any situation. Bring a bottle of tequila to a house party, not a thesis defense. Wear your favorite Fashion Nova minidress to Tanya’s Thirty and Flirty Birthday Party, not to Ayanna’s Divorce Mediation. Please do not send that girl you haven’t even met yet a dick pic. Literally no one is asking for this.
It feels like almost every single person on Bachelor in Paradise is this friend. And for every moment that endears us to someone, like JOHN PAUL JONES’s awkward and adorable Shakespeare recitation, there’s three more from literally everyone else that makes me want to tear my hair out. In what universe was setting Demi and Jordan up to sit around and talk shit about everyone who deigned to walk past him on the beach a good idea? Why are we encouraging macho bullshit that leads to a literal fistfight on the beach? Why is Caelynn calling Kristina “a stupid bitch”?
Let’s get to it. And by “it” I mean the ever-unfolding and complicated reveal of Demi’s actual relationship outside of Paradise. Demi explains again that she’s been dating someone outside of Paradise and that person is still in her heart and her mind. It seems like her relationship with the woman at home is ongoing and could possibly continue after Paradise.
Dang, Bachelor in Paradise will give you a sympathetic edit, if they want to. How many people on this show have been accused of having a boyfriend or girlfriend at home, or of keeping someone at home on the hook? I suppose Demi being (eventually) upfront about it with Derek is more honest than the way some other folks have behaved on the show. I admire Demi for speaking so frankly about the fear and anxiety she has telling people about her sexuality. You can tell that as she’s coming to terms with her identity and what this means for her and her relationships, having to have those conversations is a delicate proposition, fraught with emotion. In a conversation with Katie she talks about the shields and personae she’s created that allow her to hide layers of herself — to hide the embarrassment that she even has layers. For all of the outlandish things Demi has said, acknowledging the sheer embarrassment of being a human person with layers is the most relatable thing she’s said to date.
What is so difficult to reconcile is the show’s treatment of sexual fluidity. Jaimi King appeared on Nick Viall’s season of The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise and she wasn’t granted the grace of three patient and tender conversations about her sexuality and experiences coming out to friends and family. Her date cards on Paradise had innuendos about her sexuality. People openly speculated about who she was going to pick for her dates because, as Wells commented about Jaimi, “she’s kind of wild, right?” All of this despite that fact that no one else on the season was bisexual. So Jaimi’s options were date a straight man or convince a straight woman to date her. Neither option sounds appealing. Jaimi was mostly treated like a novelty who, in the end, had to pursue a straight relationship pairing because no options were given to her. Men were worried that Jaimi was going to steal their woman away, and women were scandalized that she might ask them out.
Jaimi was in a different position, of course, being out on Nick’s season, but man, it is obvious how this show will choose to treat sexual fluidity or bisexuality when the person in question is a “fan favorite.” That’s what I’m going to say about that.
In the end, Demi chooses to open up to Derek about her relationship at home and hopes it won’t change his feelings. Umm … what? How is this like … cool for people? What is so odd is that Demi presents this relationship to Derek as if by opening up about her sexuality, the relationship at home is just part of the deal? Am I reading this wrong? It’s all wrapped up together in a way that would be so difficult for someone dating Demi to react negatively to the relationship at home without it being taken as some sort of reaction to her sexuality.
The other tough conversation of the episode happens when it’s revealed that Blake bought a ticket to Birmingham to visit Hannah before Bachelor in Paradise even started. Does Blake have a job? Has he been using all his PTO to fly around the country and make out with content creators? The info comes out when Dylan asks Hannah what he’s missing about her attraction to Blake. What’s missing is that Blake has been working on her for a while, my guy. Dylan is pissed that Hannah didn’t tell him that they kissed, but again, I’m gonna have one foot in the messy bitch’s camp here. The fact that she kissed Blake before the season started is her business and her business alone.
What doesn’t help in this or in any other situation on this beach is the rest of the cast acting like the townspeople at the beginning of Beauty and the Beast singing about their and everyone else’s business. Dylan has everyone telling him that he’s such a good guy and Hannah should be his because he’s existed near her the longest or whatever. Hannah has Tayshia telling her that it’s Hannah’s fault that Tayshia’s Paradise experience is tarnished. Tayshia is acting like she’s woken up as the chief suspect in a murder! Everyone needs to calm down and distract themselves.
The first new arrival in Paradise is Dean! He has a new mustache and lives in his van. He looks like Wyatt Earp in Tombstone if Wyatt Earp opened a CBD bakery. Also, Dean takes showers in rivers and lakes. He takes Caelynn on a date at the exact moment that she bursts into tears because Kristina is talking about how Caelynn hooked up with Blake. That’s Caelynn’s storyline to manipulate, Kristina! Not yours! Even though Caelynn spent her entire first day in Paradise telling anyone who would listen that Kristina slept with Blake!
Also, when Dean arrives, Kristina screams “WHAT?” and it was my biggest laugh of the episode. And Dean and Caelynn’s date was the exact replica of that date when Samantha and Richard stripped down and swam in a pool.
The next arrival is Christian. This is a big time WHO? This dude got sent home night one on Becca’s season and WHO?! His whole thing is that he’s Mexican and very sexy. He’s only got eyes for Nicole and they spend their entire Jet Ski date repeating essentialist stereotypes about Latinx people. “Cuban women have amazing bodies!” “Latin guys think they’re hot commodities!” Nicole’s takeaway from this date is that she needs someone who is assertive and aggressive and willing to take charge. Oh, honey. No. No, not the way Christian does it.
Sweet, gentle Clay is really shaken up that Nicole has been on two dates in as many days and decides to take her aside when she gets back from her date. Everyone does that GIF of that one basketball player talking the other one up to Clay so he can work up the nerve to talk to a woman. She tells him how great her date was and how he’s got to be more assertive.
Christian comes over to tell Nicole that he needs to finish her date with him. Bitch, is there paperwork she’s got to complete? There are no Jet Skis. The date is complete. Christian insists in a completely annoying way that Clay can have her tomorrow. Ah look, treating women as if they’re not human beings with agency but a conference room that gets signed out. Clay has to explain the mechanics of being on Bachelor in Paradise to Christian. Christian finally asks Nicole what she wants and Clay says he doesn’t want to put Nicole in the position of having to make a decision. OH BOY. We were so close.
Nicole tells him that he shouldn’t be afraid to raise his voice, because that’s what every good courtship needs: more raised voices. This is giving me anxiety. When you ask for a guy who will fight for you, you risk ending up with a guy who likes to fight. See: the end of this episode.
There are a lot of roses up for grabs at the cocktail party because most of the ladies have been more interested in sitting perched on chaises, gossiping behind silk fans, and eating sweets they keep tucked in their panniers. Mike spends some time trying to get to know Sydney and I’m very much into this pairing, but I don’t want it to work for obvious reasons. John Paul Jones hides under a pillow and memorizes a speech from Romeo and Juliet to recite to Tayshia. John Paul Jones is like if Philip Seymour Hoffman played Spicoli and he’s generally a very strange delight. Caelynn wants to know where Dean bathes.
Christian sets up a piñata for Nicole and stares directly at Clay while he’s waiting for her. Clay works up the courage to go steal Nicole away and I think Clay is too pure for his world. “Um … excuse me, miss. You told me that I should be more AGGRESSIVE so here I am asking politely to talk to you. Don’t worry, if you tell me no or to wait, I’ll walk away without any incident!”
Clay makes his only mistake and talks to Jordan about literally anything. Jordan decides that the “bad guys” of Paradise can’t win and no one is going to treat his friend that way. Clay tells him in very clear terms, “Dear God, do not do this.” Jordan has decided that he’s some sort of Paradise Vigilante and goes to fuck up Christian anyway. Jordan would be the perfect character for one of those movies where a villain is convinced that they’re actually saving the world, but it would be set in a Hollister.
He saunters over to Christian and starts to take the piñata down because Clay is a good friend of his. I would like to see evidence of that. Everyone involved here is more interested in defending the honor of a man than respecting the boundaries of a woman.
And then because these two men are completely secure in their masculinity and have healthy views of relationships and women, they start a brawl over a piñata.
TO BE CONTINUED …