Ah, the inevitable Paradise relationship crumblings. Because it’s so shocking that people paired up based on convenience and circumstance might not make it past the week 2 or so mark. In all seriousness, though, I’ll always wonder: as things clearly begin to wind down, is production poking and prodding at those relationships, encouraging breakups (after likely encouraging antecedent hook-ups)? It’s hard to imagine there’s none of that.
Let’s use the golden example that is Colton. He never really wanted to be with Tia, did he? In a sea of dishonest men (Eric, Chris)—and for all the flak he got for it—he was actually honest about his feelings re: Tia when he arrived in Paradise. (Hell, he even got his first rose from Bibiana, remember?) But it really felt like both his beachmates and producers got to him, because he appeared to give the relationship a real go for about a week or so. (Funny how lasting that long instantly makes you one of the “stronger couples.”) But I can’t help but sniff those puppeteer strings in their breakup last night. After all, what would stop Colton from simply waiting things out and ending it privately, after filming? (I feel like that might’ve spared Tia some extra torment, or do I just value privacy more than most?) Colton’s abrupt breakup, like he suddenly couldn’t wait another second, smelled an awful lot like he suddenly had someone (or something) more enticing waiting in the wings. Also notice the incredibly vague yet familiar lines: “She’s one of the most incredible people I know, she’s just not for me.” Or how about the famous “I don’t deserve her”? (Which, by the way, translates to “she’s a nice person but I’m just not that into her”—who in this world doesn’t want more than they deserve?) Do these quotes not sound exactly like what Nick Viall said about Jen Saviano when leaving her and Paradise behind?
A lesser but still valid example of what I spy as potential puppet-stringing is Eric. Eric’s actions are all his own, of course, though I can’t imagine he wasn’t encouraged to explore his options when Cassandra arrived. You find Cassandra attractive, fun, and intriguing? Go for it! Sure, you told Angela you wouldn’t date anyone else, but that was YESTERDAY, a whole eight hours ago. Today is a new day! (Has any woman in the history of the world fallen for that? Dude seriously needs to work on his BS reasoning.) Talk about a fall from grace for Eric, a favourite from Rachel’s season. Another victim of the reverse redemption story.
What had me hung up on this storyline, though, was all this talk of being “all-in.” I get that on the surface, “all-in” suggests commitment, monogamy, dedication to one another. But last night I began to wonder: Is being “all-in” a euphemism for sex? (Is that what the kids are calling it these days?) Eric actually said this to Angela last night: “I get it, you’re taking your time, but when are you going to get to a point where you’re all in like I’m all-in?” In a new low of a season full of men attempting to manipulate (unsuccessfully, thank god) the women they claim to care about, Eric argued it was Angela’s fault that he woke up with a wandering eye for Cassandra. He claimed that Angela, despite her repeated roses over the weeks, and last night, tears and open admissions of caring for and missing him, wasn’t giving him the feeling of “all in”-ness. Seriously, if that’s not about sex, what else could he be talking about?? His argument was so pathetic, here I am assuming there has to be some deeper subtext about non-trips to the Boom Boom Room that I’m missing (the meaning behind which makes him look EVEN WORSE, by the way, if that was even possible).
Finally, there is someone I want to take a paragraph to discuss. And I swear I didn’t want to dissect Annaliese’s behaviour because I do like her and think she seems very sweet, but when a good 60% or so of the notes I take are about someone, I officially need to go there. Last night she said, “My biggest fear is having my heart broken because I’ve had it broken so many times.” I’m not saying there aren’t men or women out there who repeatedly break hearts, but the common denominator here is, unfortunately, her. No one who’s doing things right should have their heart broken so many times. My big concern about Annaliese is I wish she would be more honest with herself. She’s shown a repeated pattern of pretending to be cool with things she’s not cool with for fear of coming off like a “Stage 5 Clinger” (her words, not mine). But all that does is cause an extra layer of pretense to her already turmoiled inner thoughts. You’re not actually cool with Kamil going on a date with someone else? Then don’t tell him you are, in the interest of seeming easygoing and laid-back, and then spend the whole day bawling at the prospect of losing him. The partnership and love she seeks won’t come from pretend playing it cool; it’ll come from owning the fact that there’s nothing cool or relaxed about her at all. Not only will that lead to self acceptance which will in turn lead to confidence (which will in turn lead to better taste and standards in men—an improved “picker,” as I’ve been putting it with her), but it’ll also attract someone who fully sees and understands her insecurities, loves her for how complicated she is, and seeks to comfort and calm her. I firmly believe in not playing games at the onset of (or at any point in) a relationship, and the game of bait-and-switch is an especially doomed one.