Seven Year Switch Australia (Season 1, Episode 3):  Sex is for the Birds

This week Seven Year Switch promises that the couples are headed in to “dangerous territory”.

As our episode begins, Michelle is feeding a slice of bread to a pair of rainbow lorikeets. This is dangerous territory indeed. I once made the mistake of feeding a piece of apple to one of these.  It responded by sending out some telepathic message to all of its mates who landed on my head, my arms and then followed me into the camper when I tried to bid a hasty retreat.   They’re not called “seagulls of the inland” for nothing.  OK.  Maybe no-one calls them that, but Michelle just fails to realise how she is taking her life into her hands.

Luckily for her, these two birds seem too caught up in each other to invite their mates along.  To be more precise, the bird that Michelle surmises to be the female (quite the ornithologist, is Michelle) is only interested in the bread, while the male bird (let’s call him…I don’t know…Jason…) is craving the attention of his mate and is eager to have intimate relations.  The lady lorikeet doesn’t even give him a sideways glance and rebuffs his amorous advances.  You’ve got to love a good avian metaphor.  It’s just that Michelle misses the point entirely.  She’s just jealous because the birds have a better sex life than she.

lorikeets having sex

Jason and Cassie meanwhile are comparing notes about their backgrounds and come to the conclusion that their paths had probably passed at some stage without them knowing it.  Their interaction with each other also shows how sensible and family-orientated each is.  Cassie wears shoes and sockettes (That’s right. Not socks, but sockettes.) to the beach and Jason knows it’s wise to let someone else test the water for sharks before jumping in himself. He’s also quite the romantic, spontaneously presenting Cassie with an impromptu bouquet of sea slime.

It’s no wonder that Jason is feeling totally emasculated in his relationship with Michelle.  That seems to be how she likes her men. Ryan and Michelle are heading off for a bit of yachting on Sydney Harbour.  Ryan says that he can’t believe that he has never been on a yacht before.  That doesn’t stop Michelle bossing him about and criticising his winching skills. They re-enact the “King of the World” scene from Titanic (Who, in the twenty years since it was released, hasn’t done that the minute they get on board a boat?) where Michelle points out that Ryan played the girl “and he liked it” and then she goads him until he goes swimming even though he doesn’t want to. It’s not just the freezing cold water that has reduced Ryan’s testicles to blueberries.

I make no secret of the fact that I am team Jason all the way.  Love how he breaks down the stereotype which may come from being covered in tattoos and mutilating his earlobes with a sensitive and articulate nature.  Heck, this week he used the word “fanciful”.  I’m pretty sure the other blokes would think that fanciful was a new brand of cat food.

Over at Jackie and Brad’s place, all does not seem to be going too well.  Brad is still moping and complaining about the lack of intimacy in his relationship with Tallena, and it’s created such a downer that Jackie is pining for her toy-boy (or is that man-child?), Tim.

Tim, doesn’t seem to be giving Jackie a passing thought.  Back at their cubby, Tim and Tallena continue to play house and Tallena is making a salad with mushrooms in it.  I’m fully expecting Tim to go, “Eeeeew.  What are those?” and spit them out like a petulant toddler.  Tallena says some sort of bizarre grace before they eat where she asks Tim to be her “new bestest friend” and he refuses.

Then things get a bit more serious when they start discussing how they are hopeless romantics.  Oops…I mean hopeless in the romance stakes.  Tallena laments that she tries to cuddle up to Brad but he always complains that it’s too hot.  She gets that  though, because Brisbane is hot.  Um…not for eleven months of the year it’s not.  Here’s a tip, Tallena – try that cuddling thing in July?  There’s three whole months of winter.  Maybe if you exploited those, Brad wouldn’t look so miserable all the time?

For his part,  Brad is getting all tangled up in the thought that Tallena might spend even one night in the same bed as Tim.  There’s definitely no threat of Jackie sleeping with Brad because he’s such a wet blanket.

Meanwhile, Tim and Tallena have managed to convince a grown-up to buy them some beer, and they are relaxing on the couch discussing their relationships.  Tim describes the phase before he met Jackie as “root and boot.”  Onya Tim.  Just doing your part to perpetuate a caricature of meat-head male gym junkies.  Tallena tells Tim that most of her previous boyfriends have cheated on her, but she doesn’t know why.  Well I don’t know either, but I wouldn’t think that “eleven months sexless” thing would be helping.

Part of this episode is about the experimental couples doing things that they wouldn’t do with anyone else.  For Brad and Jackie this means ballroom dancing.  How fortunate that Jackie packed her sparkly little ballroom frock and that Brad was a ballroom dancer for four years? But even this doesn’t get Brad to crack a smile.  Now he’s all wracked with guilt about never having taken Tallena dancing, even when she asked him to.  Now here he is pressed up against Jackie.  He has to run his leg up her thigh.  This makes him feel uncomfortable.  Sounds like that eleven months without sex problem is rearing its ugly head again – so to speak.  Strictly ballroom takes on a whole new meaning.

Jason and Cassie are “reconnecting” with their musical interests, which means that Cassie is sitting behind a drum kit for the first time ever.  Of course this is all a set up so that Jason can stand behind her, grab her hands and help with her beat.  I’m sure the producers would have loved to have them reconnect with their love of pottery, but didn’t want to lose their bond should something fly off the wheel and make a big mess on the carpet.  Drums are much safer.    Then they head outside for a deep and meaningful conversation.  Jason declares that he is the “King of not doing it”.  For Jason it has been seventeen months (not that he’s counting) void of intimate relations.  Brad, consider yourself deposed…and quit your whinging.

At the cubby, Tim has orgnised a surprise for Tallena.  She opens the door to find an overweight, middle-aged woman carrying a large bag.  Tallena’s facial expression says, “Oh dear God.  He’s organised a three-some and that bag is full of sex toys”, but is somewhat relieved to when she finds out that the woman is a masseuse who is there to teach the pair the art of intimate touching. Nothing speaks intimate touching to me than an overweight, middle-aged woman, but maybe that’s just me.

Avon calling…and would you like sex advice with that?

So then Tim reveals that he used to be a massage therapist in the past, but that he has never given Jackie a massage, even though she has asked.

Now Tim. There are some jobs where your partner wants you to leave your work at the workplace: traffic controller, sewerage plant technician, off-shore call centre operator, but massage therapist isn’t one of them.  It’s just another thing that begs the question; what the hell does Jackie see in him?

Out on the deck, the masseuse tells Tim that he will be going first and asks him to lie on his stomach with on the table.  Quick as a flash, Tim has stripped down to his undies.  This forced me to replay the video a number of times…and nope, she didn’t ask him to do that.  Maybe if his relationship goes belly up, he might pick up a Bonds contract, if Bonds wants to be represented by a misogynist man-child.  When it’s Tallena’s turn the masseuse asks Tim to tap into his feelings for her which are somewhere between annoying sister and “root and boot”.

tramp stamp
To boldly go where no man has gone before…at least in the last eleven months

Unaware that Tim has his hands tucked under the elastic of Tallena’s Lorna Janes. Brad has finally cracked a smile as he gets to play golf with Jackie.  For someone who wants to avoid contact with his experimental partner, he couldn’t have chosen a better activity.  Based on my experience with golf, one of you will slice the ball and the other one will hook it, the result being that you never actually spend any time in the middle of the fairway, or even on the same fairway. Come to think of it, it’s the best hobby for people who want to kid themselves that they are spending time together, but who really can’t stand each other.  Maybe Jason should get Michelle a set of golf clubs for her birthday?

But it can’t all be golf clubs and drum kits. “Therapy sessions are an important part of the experiment,” says the voice over.  So Peter and Jo soon arrive armed with their iPads and mini-white boards to fix stuff.

One of the strategies Jo uses is word association. The psychologist reads out a word and they have to write one word that immediately pops into their head onto the white-board.  Tim gets the word “marriage” and writes the word “happy”; ironic because they’re all here because their relationships are so miserable. Tallena gets the word “Brad”.  She’s meant to write the first word that pops into her head, and she looks to Tim for inspiration.  Surely that means that the first word that popped into her head was “Tim”.  Then she says “Um” which is the second word to pop into her head, and she finally writes “love”, which kind of makes her honest answer…well…dishonest.  But heck, I’m not the PSYCHOLOGIST, so what would I know?

After that taxing session, Tim and Tallena are rewarded with a trip to Airlie Beach so that they can learn how to be romantic.  Cassie and Jason are being sent off to Byron Bay and they didn’t even have to write anything on a whiteboard.

The whiteboards are next brought out for Jackie and Brad.  Jackie responds to “marriage” by writing “on-the-cards”.  That’s a real Hallmark moment.  Brad responds to “Tallena” by writing the word “life” and then breaking down and sobbing.  I know, Brad.  You get less for murder, right?  Seriously though, Brad has turned the tables.  Last week he couldn’t imagine marrying her and now he can’t wait.  My advice to Tallena would be to lay off Brad about his golf clubs.  It’s amazing what a stroll in the fresh air can do.

brad life
Brad becomes overwhelmed by whiteboard marker fumes

But then Brad and Jackie are told that they are off on a trip to the Sunshine Coast hinterland, and Brad looks like someone shot his dog. Have fun, Jackie.

Finally, Peter goes off to see Ryan and listen to Michelle bag Jason a bit more, transferring all their relationship woes onto him.  “He should want to be home with me!” she complains.For my part, I’m having a hard time not changing channels whenever she gets any air time, and I’m not even in a relationship with her.  Then Peter asks her to name somewhere where she has good memories of her time with Jason and without hesitation names Cradle Mountain then squeals with delight when she finds out she will be going there with someone other than Jason.

“It’s all Jason’s fault.  Look at me.  I’m adorable.”

Ryan is so excited to be going to Cradle Mountain because good things don’t happen to him anymore.  So going to Cradle Mountain with a woman who isn’t your wife is a good thing?  And Ryan, you do realise that you have to go with Michelle, right?

I don’t remember rainbow lorikeets when I visited Cradle Mountain, but I do remember Tasmanian Devils. They grunt and snarl and are about the least cuddly animals ever to walk the Earth.  Michelle should feel right at home.

See ya next week.

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