"Bachelor in Paradise" recap: All that buildup for a bizarre bore
The lone positive to come from the first four hours of the new "Bachelor in Paradise" season is that, finally, the show is moving on. After weeks of exploiting sexual misconduct allegations to tease drama and Monday's false start, Tuesday night brought the cast back together, had an "open" and "candid" talk about what happened, and restarted the show, meaning now it can focus its energy on its other major problem.
That it's really, really, phenomenally boring.
Whether it was a wedding, a supposedly dramatic conversation or, you know, the actual "Bachelor"-ing in Paradise going down, these first two dull episodes have been fighting a losing battle with my attention span, quickly becoming background noise to more interesting ideas, like counting the number of threads in my room's carpet. I'll give Tuesday night this, though: It was at least one of the most BIZARRELY boring things I've watched on a television screen (and not even because of the weird CG seagulls).
Part of that bizarre boredom: the show decided to cram what felt like three different episodes into one night, starting with a wedding between Evan and Carly from a past season of "BIP." Sure, it was pleasant enough – yay for love and all of that – but as a relative "Bachelor" newbie, I didn't give a single flip about these two. But even more problematic, this bit stretched on for over 40 minutes (more than one-third of the show's running time) with montages, recaps and more padding than an overstocked pillow factory.
And for what? For a moderately cute, charming wedding that, after the 37th person telling the camera about the true romantic power of "Bachelor in Paradise," felt less like a sweet check-in and more like a paid programming infomercial for why the show should still exist after all the legal drama. If Ron Popeil popped up at the end with a photo number I could call to get not one, but two, magical "Bachelor in Paradise" experiences – and a bonus Slap Chop! – for the low, low price of $19.95 (plus shipping and handing), it would not have been out of place.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
The show's attempt to defend its own honor climaxed in the second chunk, as the reunited cast – minus Corinne and DeMario, obviously – trudged back down the beach for a televised HR meeting with Chris Harrison. That's overselling this segment, though. Harrison prefaces the chat by saying they need to have "a serious talk about what happened, didn't happen and what they need to do to start the show together," but nothing resembling an honest, real discussion about the incident emerged.
Instead, the bizarre ensuing conversation was like the televised adaptation of a Player's Tribune article, just pure brand protection disguised as honesty. Every line was all PR-approved vague lawyer speak, deflection and self-exoneration, by the end blaming everyone for what happened (except for the show itself, of course, this beacon of true love and sincere emotion). It's the media's fault for blowing the whole thing out of proportion (that's why the show's spent a month teasing this drama) and being unfair to DeMario. It's America's fault for being racist (cue reaction shots to Diggy, the show's lone black man – something he himself mocked on Twitter) and slut-shaming. It's Corinne's lawyer's fault for probably writing that she was a victim in her official statement.
It's meant to be this transparent conversation – and I guess points for the attempt? – but the whole uncomfortable chat clangs of talking points and leading questions, making sure the show's in the clear and that all the notes from ABC's producers and legal department about how they're not scripted or nudged toward storylines or alcohol make it on air. Meanwhile, Harrison moderates the chat by butting in with, "HM, INTERESTING POINT ABOUT HOW THIS SHOW IS VERY REAL AND NOT STAGED, DEREK; SPEAK MORE ON THAT?" or "RAVEN, ANY THOUGHTS ON HOW THIS SHOW IS DEFINITELY NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANYTHING THAT HAPPENED?"
To wrap things up, Harrison leads the cast through a PSA on consent – undoubtedly a good, well-intentioned message to make clear, but after a half hour of fake, dull "realness," it's just laughably stiff and scripted. They could've at least gotten a "The More You Know" shooting star to top it all off. Then Harrison asks the very important, obviously already answered question: Do you want to be here? One by one, they all say yes (even Diggy, who apparently almost lost his job to do so). Heartwarming music builds and the gang cheers. HUZZAH; WE'VE OVERCOME SOMEONE ELSE'S ALLEGED SEXUAL MISCONDUCT!
The whole things leaves me queasy, exploiting this whole thing without even a proper explanation or head-on acknowledgement – and, worse yet, boring me to tears in the process. But now that that's over, cue the '90s-rific credits again, we're finally watching "Bachelor in Paradise"!
Instead, after more than an hour of "Bachelor in Paradise" trying to sell itself to the audience, we get essentially an acted-out "Last time on ... " recap, with the guys and girls SUPER naturally talking about what happened last time they were on the beach. A few actually talk about what happened during the shutdown too. Raven, for instance, ghosted the hell out of Ben AND Robby, while I guess Alex made some rude comments? Truly love does find a way on this show. OK, there is some Cupid action at work: Dean and Kristina apparently hung out in her home state of Kentucky, while Derek and Taylor are super cutely locked in on one another.
OK, but after all of that, finally – FINALLY! – at the hour and fifteen mark, a new episode of "Bachelor in Paradise" begins. The day's date card goes to ... Derek, who shocks everyone to sleep by giving the date to Taylor. The two go on a Day of the Dead-themed dinner that screams "See Disney/Pixar's 'Coco' in theaters this November!" Taylor has the world's largest kiddie cocktail, Derek looks like rugged John Krasinski and the two make a very silly metaphor about complementary puzzles. It's bordering on cute, which makes it the most interesting thing that's happened all episode. I almost stopped playing Minesweeper for it.
As for the rest of the cast mates, mild and tedious tensions are breaking out with eight guys vying for five roses. Alex is trying to earn Amanda's rose, despite the fact that she literally could not be less into it. Desperate, he cranks up his "Alex charm" – which translates out to the patented "Can I borrow you for a second" strategy. Shocker: It doesn't work – partly because Dean's there trying to play hero and swat him away.
Dean's got his own dramas to deal with, though, because despite clicking with Kristina both before and during the shutdown, she's getting tired of his communication shortcomings. She scampers off the comfort of Wells (he's back, by the way) and the bar, while Lacey is running into a bunch of buff brick walls. JACK! STONE! isn't interested, Iggy's "full of sh*t (cue viewers violently nodding their heads in agreement) and Diggy's bored because she keeps talking about her past sad relationships. Then she starts sobbing at the camera, so I join the rest of the guys on the beach and check right the hell out of her storyline.
Meanwhile, despite their outstanding date before the break, Matt's not quite ready to commit to Jasmine. Maybe it's all the choking threats. Anyways, he goes to take a nap, and Jasmine breaks into tears about it. Yes, one of the big emotional dramas was a character being bored and taking a nap. Sounds about right. I'm four hours into this show, and it's felt more like four years. The show desperately needs something resembling structure or maybe some games – or just something resembling forward momentum, because right now, at best, it's just relationship bickering and moderate mingling. And that sounds like the opposite of paradise.
However, a new mystery guy arrives at the end of the episode. Hopefully he brought a TV show worth watching with him.
No mom-mentary this week, as Madre Mueller conveniently had dinner plans right during "Bachelor in Paradise." SUUUUURE. I'll remember this moment when I pick your future nursing home.
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