One thing was abundantly clear on last night’s Bachelor In Paradise 4 premiere: they are milking that lawsuit drama for all it’s worth. Repeatedly bringing back “present day” Chris Harrison to “take us back” to those first days, and with preview after preview showing production shutting down, it was downright artful how they transformed what almost cancelled the show (likely for good) into, frankly, the most interesting thing about the premiere. That is some Grade-A turd polishing.
I’m sorry to say the premiere otherwise felt lackluster. While it was and is always nice to see your favourite contestants return and mingle, the episode lagged, despite covering so much ground. Perhaps it’s because it covered so much ground. It’s hard to get excited about epic first kisses when we’re not shown 99.9% of the build up. Potential season golden couple Dean and Kristina were victims of this. Besides a brisk conversation about their childhoods and an even brisker dinner conversation that involved them complimenting each other, we just weren’t shown the meat and potatoes-level interaction I know I’d need to feel excitement when they finally kissed. (Again, my criticism is of us not being shown these things; I have no doubt plenty of quality build-up occurred and that we could’ve seen it had we not been subjected to watching more than five seconds of, say, a bleary-eyed Nick.) Another example is Ben Z. and Raven and again, the only build-up was a brief conversation and an ITM of him saying he liked her, followed by shots of Ben Z. looking over his shoulder while Robby pranced about. Where was all the QT that would’ve made Ben’s kiss with Raven at the end of the episode thrilling?
One more peeve and I’ll get to the praise, I swear. I really prefer it when there’s a good variety of representation from different seasons. When eight out of nine of the girls are from this year’s Bachelor season, not only is it less interesting to watch from a social experiment perspective, it also doesn’t make logical sense from a love-pursuit perspective. After all, if the women are already friends, they’re naturally less likely to step on each other’s toes when it comes to the men. (Of course, I see the appeal here from a drama perspective but it is so not conducive to the purported goal of the show, and the musical-chairs format of new singles arriving weekly delivers drama automatically.) There was a bit more variety in terms of the men—they represented a whopping three Bachelorette seasons—but it was still lacking. I get that many former contestants are dating or are married today, but not all, and to me it’d be a hell of a lot more interesting with some deeper Bachelor archival digging and an overall broader age range. Past seasons haven’t been afraid to go there (I particularly loved watching Tenley in Season 2) and we get a fresh crop of hopefuls with each episode, so here’s hoping.
Early favourites of mine are Dean and Kristina (I’m sure I’m not alone in this), a sweet couple I can legitimately see working. I like Taylor and Derek together as they both seem like introverts in a world of extroverts, and their mutual understanding and quiet flirtation is adorable to watch. I dig Raven and Ben Z. and I like that he seems interested in only her and finds her hilarious (which she is; I think Raven is easily the most LOL-inducingly funny person on this show and she’s not allowed to go anywhere. My favourite line of the episode was hers: “Robby has, like, 12 abs. You should have six abs, max. Then, what do you do for a living? I don’t trust you, it’s scary. Stop working out.” This had me in stitches.) But my absolute favourite couple is the unexpected pairing of Jasmine and Matt. I love how they became drawn to each other based on their compatibility and natural attraction to each other, not some “hotness” ranking as is so popular on Paradise. He was a phenomenal sport on their drag show 1-on-1, and she fully recognized and appreciated that. Above all, I love how they discuss what they value in each other, not only how hot they find each other.
Finally, the single best thing about this show is still the constant fourth wall breakage. We got to see the cameras frantically follow Corinne and DeMario as they pool-hopped. When the producers asked to speak with each of them while cameras were rolling, it was clear by their (and their companions) reactions that this was atypical. The entire lawsuit drama is a peek (albeit a controlled one) behind the curtain. This is the department where Paradise really excels, and last night proved they are fully aware of this.
Watch Bachelor in Paradise Mondays AND Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. EST on City. Then, head on over to FLARE.com/themorningafter every Tuesday and Wednesday for recaps from Sharleen Joynt, GIF recaps and more!