Last night’s episode was Bachelor in Paradise at its best. I’ve always said this show shines when it doesn’t take itself remotely seriously, when it becomes a sort of parody, choosing laughs over sincerity and usually at their (often deserving) contestants’ expense. Matt and Sydney’s explosive kiss montage featuring a foal’s first steps and erupting volcanos had me fully laughing out loud. (What a waste it would have been to have given this particular kiss the same ol’ romance soundtrack every other first kiss gets.) The return of Dean was another comedic opportunity that was seized; those slow-mo shots of him rolling up his (already short) sleeves—interspersed with shots of an unwitting Caelynn looking sublimely happy with Connor—were priceless.
Perhaps my favourite example of Paradise‘s comedy is the ongoing (and relentless) jokes about Blake. Note how not a single chance to mock him is ever missed; no way has one Stagecoach mention been left on the editing room floor. The back-and-forth of Blake’s weak attempts at conversation with Kristina, while newcomer Bri was shown on her date strutting in a yellow bikini (also in slow-mo, of course), was positively artful. It’s funny to me that Blake has insisted on remaining on this season despite being obviously unhappy and lonely; it would seem he’s sticking it out in an attempt to salvage his reputation. (Remember, he knows he has damage control to do; he even mentioned Ashley I. telling him he should move to Europe, and we all remember Astrid telling him to “Go home, go home, go home.”) Given Blake’s obvious desperation to repair his image, his come-to-Jesus moment about wanting to be with Kristina piqued my spidey sense—as Kristina justly put it, “If it weren’t for Paradise, would I be an option?”) The irony is, Paradise—the very show meant to be his lifeboat—has been throwing him under the boat at every turn, and in a schadenfreudian way, I’ve been enjoying it immensely.
But the ideal example of Paradise being its best self is when it doesn’t even pretend that the many cringeworthy, yet entertaining plot twists are coincidental. The absurd timing of Angela’s and Bri’s arrivals are proof. When Angela arrived directly following Krystal and Chris’ wedding, and after we’d seen that Clay was uncomfortable even being in the same room with her, I practically cheered at how blatant it all was. Yet, while both Angela and Bri were at that wedding in Mexico, Bri for some reason arrived a week later. It’s obvious Bri was held captive in a hotel room, twiddling her thumbs, while the show ensured Blake received Kristina’s rose. Bri was then let loose, like a caged animal set free, when the timing was right and she could properly tempt Blake like the seductress she was meant to play. Dean’s timing was also too good to be true—just when Caelynn was at her most content, her most at ease, Dean was handed an electric razor and a mic pack. Paradise does well when it doesn’t insult our intelligence and The Powers That Be’s calculated chess moves are out in the open.
I’ve mentioned before that I remember one of my many emotional moments while filming The Bachelor. I quickly realized that the more tearful I became, the more intent cameras were on following me (and of course, making matters worse by not giving me the privacy I sought). However, when I forced myself to stop the waterworks, they lost interest. On this front, it would serve Clay considerably to chill when it comes to sharing the beach with his ex, Angela. The man known for being a sweet, cuddly teddy bear is morphing into a very different, very jealous creature by the minute. Clay has repeatedly claimed to possess “no feelings” for Angela, yet has also repeatedly said it’s tough to watch her with other guys. I’m calling this like it is: If you are completely, indisputably sold on and over-the-moon with the person you’re with (a.k.a. Nicole), your ex and her actions shouldn’t matter. And let’s say there is a shade or two of grey involved; if they really were just friends, he’d want her happiness. You can’t be “just friends” and NOT want her to find someone else.
But it’s the hypocrisy of Clay’s complaints regarding Angela that have been getting to me. Last night he said, “The fact that I’m subjected to her dating in front of me. It’s brutal.” Um, did he not come on Bachelor in Paradise first? Angela was always going to subjected to watching HIM date someone else because it’d be on her television screen. Further, HE was the one who did the breaking up. (It would have been way worse for her to watch him date others than the other way around—she wasn’t the one who wanted to end it!) Clay also said, “Watching my ex date other people… that’s not what I signed up for. Angela signed up for that.” Again, HE signed HER up for that by going on this show in the first place! The selfishness here is astounding. He also said, “It’s difficult because it’s literally placed in your face. There’s no way to escape it.” Is he not also dating Nicole right in front of Angela’s face? (You don’t hear her complaining about it.) Clay told Dylan, “It was a recent thing. It was only a few months ago.” You can’t have it both ways. In the first week Clay was quick to downplay the relationship and overstate how over it was. How quickly his tuned has changed. (Makes you reconsider the distrust Annaliese—Angela’s good friend—had for him that first week.) Another claim: “If I knew before Angela was going to be in Paradise, I wouldn’t be here,” said Clay. He had no issue subjecting his ex, the woman whose heart HE broke, to his escapades on this show, yet two can’t play at that game? On the whole, it’s clear that what Clay dishes, he can’t take.
Things got somehow even less flattering for Clay when he pulled Angela aside to have a talk. It wasn’t completely clear, but was one of his actual issues the fact that Angela hadn’t gone to the gym with him? Talk about #firstworldproblems. (And if so, what the hell does that matter? I’ve worked out with Andy literally zero times ever.) More critically, Clay said that his and Angela’s “goals” hadn’t aligned, which is fine and dandy, until he shared that her goals are “to be a wife and mother,” but that he “wanted more.” Oh dude… stop. Anyone is within their right to not want a woman whose main priority is to become a wife and mother, but it would be smart (and a whole lot less judge-y sounding) to say you want something different, not “more.” And in that case, what the hell are you doing on Paradise, where the whole point is to “fall in love” and ostensibly meet the future mother of your children? While I think Clay meant for this conversation to question Angela’s motives for being there, it ended up working the other way around and made me all the more distrusting of Clay.
Meanwhile, for her part, Angela has fully lived up to her claims that she’s “not a drama person.” Note how she has not once been heard saying anything disparaging about Nicole or Clay, though you could argue she has far more reason to be bitter. To Clay, she rightfully said, “Let’s just coexist. I don’t see the problem.” She did a fantastic job of snuffing the brewing conflict between them. When Nicole sat her down last week and politely told her to stay the hell away from her man (a perfectly fair request), Angela was a class act and agreed without issue (and has since followed through). She responded in as friendly and warm a way as you could hope for from your boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. Overall, despite the fact that Angela’s been the topic of a lot of chatter, I haven’t seen the issue. The problem for her is not her words or actions—it’s the fact that she came late in the season, after friendships were established and Paradise’s inhabitants are loyal to and protective of Clay and Nicole. But if anything, I’m impressed with Angela and how she’s carried herself. So what if her strut down the aisle at Krystal and Chris’ wedding had a runway flair to it? For the record, I wanted my bridesmaids to stand out so I put them in sequins. A girlfriend of mine’s instructions for her bridesmaids was to “look sexy as hell.” What matters is her relationship with Krystal—the reason for her being a bridesmaid at all—and if the bride isn’t complaining, nor should anyone else.