When The Bachelor aired last year, we were in lockdown, and after two episodes I tapped out. Instead of the welcome distraction I thought it would be, it just didn’t hit for me: I found I did not remotely care about the Bachelor himself or his brand of masculinity.
A year later, The Bachelor is back, and this time, depressingly, a large proportion of the country is in lockdown once again. I turned this season on with some trepidation – would history repeat itself in my reaction to the show, as well? But relief washed over me as I soon settled into the familiar old scenes: our Bachelor, this year Jimmy Nicholson, cuddling his puppy, chatting to his family, and finally getting suited up and talking to Osher.
Let’s pause here for a brief Osher interlude: what is it about that man that he is comfort personified? From his days at Channel V through his time on Australian Idol and now his presence on the whole Bachelor franchise, he’s a mainstay of Australian TV, offering decades of charming smiles, heartwarming humour, and most importantly, perfect hair. The contestants on The Bachelor always seem to get more excited to see Osher than the actual Bachelor – I can absolutely relate.
But it’s not just Osher we’re here for, of course. We want to see people fall in love! And/or fight with each other over petty things while wearing fancy dresses and ignoring cheese platters that are RIGHT THERE WHY WON’T SOMEONE EAT THE CHEESE.
We’re now two episodes into this season and I can breathe easy: The Bachelor is already delivering. The first episode was the pretty standard parade of gimmicky intros, montages, and plot twists. (There’s a special key that the holder – in this case, 31-year-old nutritionist Jay – can use to whisk Jimmy away to a private spot during cocktail parties, GASP.)
Do I care about a single one of the 20-odd skinny women who all love the outdoors and being active and have one (1) niche quirky personality trait? Not remotely. Does that matter? Not really, no.
All that matters is the glorious distraction; I can get lost in the colourful dresses, snarky remarks, and ridiculous dates. The second episode was a highlight for the latter, starting with Jimmy taking soft-voiced Brooke, a 27-year-old occupational therapist, on the first date of the season in a teeny tiny plane you could not pay me to enter.
Because Jimmy’s a pilot, you see, so they have to inject as much plane talk and experiences as possible. Luckily for the producers, the weather is terrible and the ride gets rough, prompting Brooke to cling onto Jimmy and Jimmy to say something about her “turbulence penetration position”.
But that wasn’t the only ridiculous date of the episode! We also got the infamous group photo shoot – which, for the record, is not remotely an actual date, but who cares when these women get decked out in absurd outfits and are forced to compete over who gets to touch the most areas of the Bachelor’s skin.
The winner of this round is 23-year-old crane operator Lily, who actually gets to pash Jimmy during the shoot – while a bunch of other women stand by watching. Much drama is had over her breaking the unwritten girl code, meanwhile no one complains about Jimmy breaking the unwritten Bach code of NEVER KISSING ON GROUP DATES, let alone in front of your other girlfriends.
None of that is really important, though. You know what is? I was grinning the whole time.
What helped, aside from the absurdity unfolding on screen, was that my Twitter feed was a joyful, funny place for what felt like the first time in weeks. Every time I log on these days it’s bad news and people screaming (I mean, same). It was so refreshing to see everyone pause from the misery of lockdown life and come together to make fun of the pretty people doing silly things over a man on screen.
Rightly or wrongly, reality TV – and especially dating shows like The Bachelor – often gets a bad wrap for being frivolous and hollow, but when the world feels way too serious, it’s exactly the escape we need.
This opinion piece is written by Jenna Guillaume, an entertainment journalist and author of YA rom-coms What I Like About Me and You Were Made For Me. Follow her at @jennaguillaume.
The Bachelor airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm on 10 and 10 play. Editor's Note: MTV and Network 10 are both subsidiaries of ViacomCBS.