Like its most watchable relationships, Paradise starts year after year with fanfare and fun. It puts its best foot forward, and we’re excited at the possibilities. But then as the weeks (or hours) pass, the veneer begins to fade and we see it for what it really is: a lot of fluff, maybe propped up by some fleeting honeymoon-stage chemistry. And ultimately, Paradise comes on too strong. I get the summer vacay vibes and the desire to keep it squished into whatever summer weeks remain after The Bachelorette finale, but four hours a week is just way too much. In keeping with my dating analogy, Paradise feels like a stage-5 clinger. It comes in hot and shiny and new (and not yet smelling of “Paradise”—we will be forever thankful for that quote, Bibiana). But when it realizes its sheen is wearing thin and that we’re picking up on how little substance there is, it starts acting out for attention. It misguidedly brings that on in the form of drama and tears and “serious” talks about “serious” relationships, forgetting that the main reason we wanted it in the first place was because it was light and easy.
Therein lies my issue with Paradise. It’s a fun, trashy show disguised as a show about love. The premise of “love” is the vehicle, which is nothing new and which is totally fine. I just wish it would stay in its damn lane. Paradise excels when it doesn’t take itself remotely seriously and features funny moments in light, breezy relationships. That stuff is delightful and is the perfect escape from real life (the reason most of us watch, amirite??). Case in point, a dear friend of mine (not a Bachelor alum) has casually watched the show and its spinoffs since my season. After this season’s Paradise premiere she texted me, “Just finished the BiP premiere and I am SO INTO IT!!! It is the best social experiment ever. The show is so freaking ridiculous but I can’t wait to watch more.” I, too, was over the moon for the first few episodes, and was loving on it hard.
But at about the halfway point, Paradise inexplicably insists on changing gears. It feels like bait and switch, where we’re promised a month of fun in the sun and then are given tears and redundancy instead. Case in point, that same friend texted (unprompted!) last night, “I don’t know what happened but I’m quickly losing interest in this show. I’m super annoyed by the whole thing.” I couldn’t agree more. If I have to hear one more Serious Conversation between Tia and Colton, hear her express what she wants from him and what she deserves and hear him appease her and just generally occupy 20 minutes taking one step forward (after two steps back, of course), I may explode. It’s not that I don’t care for Tia or Colton or Tia and Colton as a couple. It’s that I’ve been overexposed. I’ve been forced to care past the point of caring. Let’s disperse that airtime a bit, please? I would love to see more of the couples that look like they’re actually having fun together, like say, Astrid and Kevin or Angela and Eric.
Or how about Kendall and Joe? This was another issue last night. I 100% felt and saw the chemistry between Leo and Kendall, both in their conversation and kisses. It was one of the most compelling interactions I’ve seen on this season so far. So HOW ANNOYING is it that we never saw more of Kendall and Joe together, to use as a foundation and means of comparison? Other than five-second long exchanges between them or shots of them laying or eating together, we really haven’t seen what they share. This feels like such a missed opportunity, since it would let us in on Kendall’s dilemma. I gladly would have traded in 10 minutes of Chris being Chris in episodes 2 and 3 in exchange for more of Kendall and Joe just talking. It would have come in handy last night when trying to understand both (not just one) of the options Kendall was weighing.
This same issue will most certainly be highlighted again next week. We saw previews of Kevin saying he hates seeing Astrid cry, followed by a shot of Astrid crying. I assume some newcomer will come and challenge their relationship, or perhaps it’ll be the big finale and they’ll be forced to “define” their relationship moving forward? But how are we to feel if truly the only “real” conversation we’ve seen between these two was in a daybed discussing German sausages, where Astrid joked, “The bigger, the better”? That was a funny moment, sure. But if we’re meant to feel invested in them as a couple, we need to be provided material of them as a couple. Otherwise what we’re seeing and what we’re feeling will only continue to feel like a disconnect. Even more than it already does.