I’ve just arrived back from a two-day camping trip to detox my body of technology and reality television, or at very least gird my loins for what proves to be the most excruciating season of The Bachelorette yet. I’m sure I’ve said it before that although The Bachelor is an exercise in women humiliating themselves for a bloke, The Bachelorette is a testosterone and alcohol fuelled penis wagging competition at the best of times, let alone when the girl in question is a celebrity. Let’s just say that the opening episode of season three does nothing to dispel that impression.
The episode begins with Osher telling us a little about Sophie Monk’s back story; how she rose to fame in Australia through reality TV show Popstars and the subsequent girl band Bardot, how she recorded a series of hit songs (I’ll have to google them later), then forged out a career in Hollywood as a B-grade actress, a Playboy centre-fold and a Madden brother fiancée.
“I’m not your typical bachelorette,” says Sophie, and with a folio like that, I’d say Miss Universe is out of the question as well.
Anyway, Sophie is thirty-seven now, and her biological clock is ticking faster than a bucket of paint on a London train. She’s decided that all of her previous relationships have failed because they have fallen in love with her image and not her, so to solve this problem she is going on a television dating program with eighteen men who are all in love with her image. I sense that there is a fundamental flaw to this plan.
Not only that, but in a candid conversation with her younger sister, Sophie confesses that she suffers from paparazzi induced fear of public displays of affection (uh-oh) and that she hates the rumours and gossip of the tabloids.
Geez, the last few months since she announced this project must have been a bitch.
Sophie has quite the list of qualities which she is looking for in a man: handsomer than her father, loyal, masculine, emotional, trustworthy, sense of humour, intelligent, but not too good looking.
So it’s off to the mansion where Osher meets Sophie and shows her the spot where she will stand in the freezing cold for the next three hours to meet her eighteen potential soul-mates. Now I must note that this is three less candidates than Matty J had on The Bachelor, so it seems that old glass ceiling just hasn’t been smashed yet.
Osher disappears and all of a sudden the path is obscured by plumes of smoke and from the mist arises an Adonis in purple velvet. He holds a paper flower in his hands, but this guy is so smoking hot that the paper burns and turns into a rose. Smooth.
Sophie observes that Apollo is the best looking magician she has ever seen, and considering that the first magicians’ names that pop into my head are Penn and Teller, I can’t disagree with her.
He is followed by Jared, a thirty-one year old winemaker who is worried that he if he doesn’t find love soon, his enthusiasm for alpacas might turn into one of those relationships that the SSM opponents have been scare-mongering about. He arrives with a huge tub of grapes and invites Sophie to stomp them with him. She agrees, but seems a little hesitant, perhaps wondering what effect wine juice will have on her shoes, which look like they would have cost my monthly salary. As they stomp he reveals that he is ex-army, he loves animals and he’s age appropriate – in other words, not likely to be “the one”.
If she had any doubts about Jared, they are probably shot to oblivion by the arrival of Eden, who is wearing a 1980s inspired Adidas track suit and looks like he’s auditioning for a guest spot on Here Come the Habibs. He throws himself into a series of spins and turns and narrowly avoids kicking Sophie in the head, before they exchange barbs about who is less fashionable. Interesting approach.
He is followed by James, a short, nervous, financial advisor who presents her with a rose-quartz pendant to symbolise the heart, then, in a quivering, awkward mess wanders around aimlessly trying to find the front door to the mansion.
Next is Sam, a voice over artist, and perhaps not without a touch of con artist as well. He sends the advance party of his trio of cute as a button nephews – Levi, Liam and Ashton – to set the scene.
“Pweeze will you date our uncle?” they chorus. Sophie thinks this is adorable, and admits that blue-eyed, dimpled, scruffy man-bunned Sam has played his introduction well, but she doesn’t seem to realise that this could mean up to three overbearing sisters should Sam male it to the home town visit stage.
From the sublime to the ridiculous as next out of the limo is Jourdan, who says he is twenty-five, but looks like he’s about thirteen. Not only is he not wearing socks (as you would know, a pet hate of mine), but his pants don’t meet all the way to his ankles. He also forgets to tell Sophie anything about himself, like pictures don’t speak a thousand words.
The next guys are presented in quick succession: Luke who presents her with a big gift bag of something so lame that we never find out what it is, Chad, Brad, Harry, Jefferson, Jamie, Pete, Hayden, and polo player Bingham (who, despite arriving on horse-back, doesn’t even warrant an episode one vignette),
The one sure way that girls manage to sabotage themselves on The Bachelor is when they produce the love poem that they have written themselves. Boys have a far worse way and when Mack emerges from the limo with a guitar under his arm, we know we are about to be treated to the woeful love ballad. Mack does not disappoint.
“Sophie Monk and meeee…” he wails. “Me and Sophieeeeee…”
All of this gives Blake from Perth a few more minutes to buffer his ego. He says that he is like no-one that The Bachelorette has ever seen before. Hmmm. An arrogant narcissist. Totally not original. Even his look is not original. It’s like last season’s Sam and Rhys had a love-child and that is Blake. He does impress Sophie with his gift though – ugg boots and a hideous pink and blue furry jacket, because after standing around in the winter chill at least someone has though that she could do with some warming up.
That makes seventeen guys and inside they are all drinking beer, slapping each other on their backs and just passing the time telling each other what a great bunch of blokes they are.
“I always thought there would be one douche,” says Uncle Sam, although by my observation, usually fifty percent of them fall into that category.
Anyway, in a masterful piece of foreshadowing, Ryan makes his entrance. His attitude can probably be summed up by this exchange:
Sophie: You have great hair.
Ryan: I certainly do.
Sophie: Have you had highlights put in?
Ryan: Do I look like the type who would put highlights in my hair?
Actually, Ryan, yes you do. And that you manscape everything within an inch of its life and that you think that you are better looking, more intelligent and more worthy than anyone else on the planet. Which makes you, Ryan, a narcissistic arsehole and we all know why casting included you.
Finally the cocktail party is in full swing. If things don’t work out between Apollo and Sophie, he should be able to hook up with Hayden, who appears to be totally enamored with him.
Osher arrives to tell them that this year there is a world-first major exclusive. It’s a pink and white bloom – the Double Delight rose. If Sophie gives this to a guy, it means that she wants to take them on two single dates.
Some of them are discussing date ideas.
“Well, not on my first date, but on my second one, I would take Sophie for a really long drive to nowhere,” says Jourdan. Sounds like a cracker.
“Why on the second date?” someone asks (well didn’t but should have).
“Because I have to get my driver’s licence first.”
But for the most part the penis wagging has begun, and a bunch of them are starting to act in a way that would make Sophie not want to go on a date with any of them.
Ryan is getting annoyed that Sophie is taking so long to make her entrance. But of course it takes a long time to wash off all that baby wine blood and cheesy one-liner residue and bullshit.
Finally, she arrives. Osher presents her and says she has something to say.
“I’m pregnant!” she says laughing, and Apollo has a wry smile on his face because he exudes manliness and in a sleight-of-hand trick with Hayden earlier in the evening, shows that he can slip something in without anyone noticing.
She says that she is joking, and that she has prepared a speech, but before she can utter a word, Ryan cuts in and drags her off to another room so he can interrogate her to see if she is worthy of being a receptacle for his seed. Sophie spends a lot of time awkwardly rearranging the couch cushions like she is trying to restrain the urge to smother him with one so he will just shut up. Two short guys and Jourdan turn up in some feeble attempt at manliness, but are soon sent skulking away to lick their wounds, while Ryan establishes himself as alpha-dog.
From this experience Sophie realises she need to get to know of them all better and to do so quickly. She starts a game of “I Never Ever” which never ever ends up well. Jourdan wanders into this game, limping, because he has been wearing new shoes with no socks and now he has blisters.
“I never ever ever was cheated on,” offers Sophie.
Jourdan goes pale, holding back the tears, on the verge of faint.
“What’s wrong?” says Sophie.
“This one time in Drama class, my girlfriend gave me the stink-eye, and then at little lunch she accused me of cheating on her, but I didn’t and… wah…wah…wah!”
Sophie offers a maternal shoulder.
“How long ago did this happen?”
“Last week! Wah…wah…wah!”
Thankfully the pity-fest is interrupted by a commotion on the patio.
“See Osher in the pool!” shouts someone and Sophie rushes out alarmed, because if Osher were to drown, who would count the roses and she might be stuck with all of these bozos.
Her fears are allayed when she sees a creature, not Osher, dog-paddling across the pool. It could be a sea otter, it could be a possum, but most likely it is rat, because there are plenty of rats about – it’s just that most of them are dressed in suits, chugging down boutique beers and not wearing socks with their shoes.
Somehow all of this action inspires some idiot to organise a Zoolander inspired walk-off between the man-buns and the clean shaven. It’s all pretty horrendous with Sophie sitting on a couch surrounded by guffawing buffoons, while Harry, Sam and Eden gyrate their hips in front of her before Hayden throws his underpants in her face.
“I want to leave a mark,” justifies Hayden. But did it have to be a skidmark?
Somehow Sam loses this competition and performs the worst striptease ever of his three layers of clothing including a complete set of long-johns before running around the compound in his underpants then throwing himself in the pool.
It’s enough to impress Sophie – “he has balls and I think I could see them” – who presents Uncle Sam with both the Double-Delight rose and the wrath of Ryan.
And with that it is finally the end of the episode and the rose ceremony can go ahead. Sophie keeps Ryan waiting, but we all know he was never going to be eliminated, no matter how much of an arsehole he is. Instead Chad and Jamie (who I actually thought was a waiter) are left bloomless and forlorn, and they don’t even get a chance to cry into the camera in the back of a limo.
Let the games begin…