With a misnomer like “Paradise,” it’s easy to believe that everyone on this show wants to drink 24/7, bask in an AC-less resort, and talk about one another ceaselessly. But what’s interesting about watching these folks four weeks in is that, even as their Instagram followings climb, they too have their limits and frankly just want to go home. At one point or another half the cast has either lamented wanting to go home (Lace, Ashley I), packed their bags as a statement of wanting to go home (Josh, possibly Caila?), or actually gone home (Vinny, Emily and Haley).
Where there’s an uncommon amount of drama I tend to sniff some producer nudging, and last night seemed heavy on the puppet strings. At the very beginning of the episode, Caila’s confrontation with Ashley I culminated with…
… yet by the end of the episode a very staged girl chat between the two of them ensued…
I found myself scratching my head during this conversation. Remember, in the interim: Wells arrived, took Ashley I on a date, received her rose, then went on a date the following morning with Jami. It seemed to go backwards for Ashley I and Caila to talk once again about Jared, Ashley’s ongoing feelings for him, and Caila’s frustration that she and Jared couldn’t move forward with Ashley there. Shouldn’t this a-ha moment have happened last week? It’s not as though Ashley was somehow any more of a menace towards Caila than she was before (thanks to Wells’ arrival… I’m not even going to waste my breath on how frustrating that is from a feminist standpoint). Caila and Jared seemed better together this week than they have been yet, and of course, for good measure we were shown Caila saying to Jared, “You smacked my butt so hard last night.” Why was Ashley’s presence suddenly so unbearable that Caila would opt to leave? This reminded me a bit of Ben’s season, when Leah was out of nowhere throwing Lauren B under the bus in her one-on-one time with Ben. We weren’t shown the necessary pieces to solve this puzzle which as a viewer is reeeeally annoying. With Caila wanting to leave, the breaking point in that storyline happened way after the dramatic climax and frankly didn’t add up for me.
Another storyline which struck me as puppeteer-driven was the twins and their sudden no-holds-barred doubts about Josh. I agree that Josh’s overreaction to Amanda going to bed without reporting to him was slightly scary, and it’s safe to say the twins already knew they’d be bowing out, so it seemed to me the producers wanted to stir the cauldron and ensure that exit played out with a bang. This is a great example of how producers can’t technically make you do or say anything, but they can set up conversations and scenarios in hopes of sparking drama. For example, upon hearing the twins’ concerns about Josh, they could encourage them to get Nick’s input on him, knowing Nick’s input wouldn’t be flattering. Then, seeing the twins’ (predictably worsened) concern for Amanda, they could encourage them to warn their friend (after a rose ceremony, no less; it’s not like the producers aren’t fully in control of when Chris Harrison dings that champagne glass.) The stage was set. Josh and his trusty temper played right into the producers’ trap and delivered those fireworks.
The one bit of drama that seemed completely pure and unadulterated—and therefore much more fascinating to watch—was the spat between Lace and Grant. This was one of those phenomenally real reality TV moments for me, to watch Lace push away the very person she cares about and who cares about her. It was as though she were testing the boundaries, intentionally hurting the person who could most hurt her, perhaps to beat him to the punch or, as Amanda aptly commented, perhaps because she doesn’t feel she deserves his love. Regardless, what ensued was an incredibly human exchange. Lace retaliated against Grant’s criticism that she was disrespectful with the knee-jerk reaction of anger and dismissal: “Great, if you’re done, I’m done!” Then Grant came around with a very mature, conceding apology and soft understanding: “I know the reason you act the way you do sometimes is because you’re scared. I know it doesn’t come from a bad place. I hate to see you cry.” This was captivating television; a peek into a real fight and a real makeup between a real couple.
For more from Sharleen Joynt, visit her blog, alltheprettypandas.com.
Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays on City.
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