Last night, at precisely 9:07 p.m., I looked at my clock fully expecting it to be more like 9:57 p.m. Not a great sign when only halfway through an episode of what’s typically enjoyable fluff television, you’re hoping it’s almost over. Aren’t shows like this are supposed to fly by, to feel like a sloppy, sugary dessert you feel a bit guilty for enjoying but which you keep pulling out a spoon for and coming back to over and over again? Simple, empty calories, yet so satisfying. So why does Paradise keep insisting on missing the mark? Andy, my mother and my girlfriends have dropped like flies in watching this season. I was recognized on the street in Philadelphia yesterday by two young ladies and excitedly asked if they were watching Paradise so that we could commiserate on season 5’s lousiness. No such luck—they weren’t watching. On Twitter, I’ve actually searched #bachelorinparadise + “bored” (or “boring”), seeking to feel some sense of community.
So where to begin? What to discuss? This episode was so tedious, I’m #literally not even sure what to talk about in this recap. Like, do I waste another breath identifying and condemning Leo’s (downright scary) bully behaviour? Or do I praise Joe for standing up to him? (Answer: YES.) Do I even bother mentioning how out of the blue it was when Kendall and John kissed, or the weirdness of Chelsea’s Rose Ceremony makeout sesh receiving line? Do I have a heart for Benoit’s trauma over getting dumped twice in four days (Answer: NON), or bother pointing out that Jordan and David actually appeared to chat at the bar like friends at one point? Should any of us pretend to care about newcomer Olivia and John’s “connection” on their as-boring-as-it-was-random quinceañera date?
I mean, I guess I’ll scrutinize Eric’s convenient post-Rose Ceremony change of heart. You know, where we were suddenly shown a disproportionate amount of Eric and Angela together, with a 1-on-1 date and everything, suggesting to me that The Powers That Be may have had some sort of inkling that Cassandra had the potential to make shit hit the fan. (Perhaps Cassandra had mentioned an interest in him?) The problem is, as I touched on last week, there was no way for us to feel invested in Eric and Angela as a couple, since we’ve been shown ZERO of what the two of them share, what they talk about, even what chemistry they have. (I think it speaks volumes that, early in my notes for this episode, I struggled to even remember Angela’s name. If, SEVEN episodes in, that doesn’t scream insufficient airtime, I don’t know what does.) Last night, when Eric backpedaled on his promise not to go on a date with anyone else, I felt for Angela. But to be clear, it’s not because I care about or am rooting for Ericela. (Angerica?) I only care in the sense that it sucks to be blatantly lied to by someone you trust.
From what I can tell (as the loud-and-proud peanut gallery member I am), a repeated mistake in Paradise is everyone’s insistence on finding lasting love, emphasis on “lasting.” (How many spring break romances become long term, real-life romances?) I appreciate the desire to feel “all-in” on a Paradise relationship and see it as having real-life potential. Unfortunately, until real life begins, that mentality rarely pays given the environment you’re still in is custom-contrived (by professionals, no less!) for maximum temptation and minimum commitment. Let’s be clear: Jade and Tanner and Carly and Evan, the poster children for Paradise success, are the EXCEPTION, not the rule. Every season ends with engagements, most of which are now defunct. I’m not saying those people or their relationships are failures. I’m saying they’re the normal ones. In real life, where one has the distractions of career, family, friends and hobbies, and where seeing one’s partner will likely require both time and effort (in most cases a LOT of effort, since so many of the relationships are long distance)… well, maybe Paradise, which produces relationships based on little more than convenience, is not the ideal breeding ground for that “real-life” partnership.
Here’s what I propose: this far in, no one cares about the newcomers, right? (Well, other than Cassandra, because we Juan Pablo-ers gotta stick together.) When everyone’s coupled up and constantly canoodling, can we cut the length of each episode down to an hour? Let’s get a 15-minute quota of lovey-dovey-ness, and then 45 minutes or so of the fun stuff, like Jordan preening using the camera lens as a mirror, John “cutting up the dance floor” as only a programmer can, or Colton going into detail on the risks of going commando. Basically, the newcomer formula gets old after two rounds; let’s take any and all footage that is closing-credits worthy and turn THAT into Bachelor In Paradise.