Bachelor in Paradise
August 20, 2019
The second two-hour-long episode of the week (seriously, no one needs four hours of any show in one week, much less this dreck) begins with Chris Harrison walking into Paradise, asking to speak to Red Flag, and alarming the rest of the cast who has no idea what is going on.
Chris Harrison has the same chat with Red Flag that she has had with Hannah, V-Card, Piggyback Ride and Charlie Brown’s Teacher at this point: she cares about Charlie Brown, but she also has feelings for this woman back home and:
Red Flag doesn’t want to hurt Charlie Brown, and doesn’t know whether to just remove herself from Paradise altogether, so ANY ADVICE YOU COULD SPARE RIGHT NOW WOULD BE AWESOME, CHRIS HARRISON.
But he just pats her on the back and tells her how “proud” he is of her. Which great, but also, so? How does this help solve Red Flag’s dilemma? He leaves, and Red Flag breaks down sobbing about how she doesn’t know what to do. Great talk! Super helpful!
Meanwhile, Charlie Brown is being the best person he can be in this untenable situation, basically noting that while he is miserable and filled with anxiety at the idea of Red Flag possibly dumping him, whatever he is feeling in that moment, Red Flag is having it twice as hard right now. He’s just a really nice guy, this Charlie Brown’s Teacher.
So then we spend a good ten minutes recapping who is interested in whom — which is about 40% of any one episode of this show. The important part is: the men are giving out the roses this week and there’s really only one man who is sort of, kind of up for grabs: Cowboy. He went out on a date with new arrival Cherry Popper, but that does not stop Olya Povlatsky from trying to persuade him to give her his rose out of “friendship.”
To this end, Olya takes him aside, teasingly asking if he wants to “swing dance” before strongly suggesting that he give his rose to her when the time comes. Meanwhile, Cherry Popper all but has a meltdown to Miss North Carolina about Olya moving in on Cowboy when she is SITTING RIGHT HERE. Miss North Carolina, to her credit, does not tell Cherry that Cowboy is definitely not worth it, and that maybe she should try talking to Mike Johnson or John Paul Jones or All-4-Wells, anyone but Cowboy, and instead sympathizes with her about what a bitch Olya is.
Once Olya is done chatting with Cowboy, Cherry asks to speak to Olya where she basically tells her to back the fuck up. If Olya really was Cowboy’s friend, she’d want him to give his rose to someone he could see a romantic future with, not waste it on a pal.
But Olya is NOT HAVING IT, and is like, “If you want his rose, you should earn his rose and not waste your time yapping at me. Meanwhile, I’m going to do my thang and that’s none of your business and I guess we’ll see who wins in the end.” Except she’s super aggressive about it and very scary and Cherry Popper is completely out of her depth with this one.
Elsewhere, V-Card, trying to be the “cool” girlfriend, tells Smug Chris that if he wants to, he should go out with the new arrivals — he’s a free man, he should go out with whomever! See how cool and free she’s being! Isn’t that attractive? However, what Smug Chris hears when she says this is, “I don’t like you enough to care if you go out with someone else,” and he gets his fee-fees hurt.
And that’s when Jen from Ben Higgins’ season of The Bachelor and season three of Bachelor in Paradise arrives. My nickname for her was “Flipper” because she noted in her bio for The Bachelor that her favorite animal is the dolphin because they are the only mammals (besides humans) that have sex for pleasure.* So Flipper walks in and all the guys — but most especially Kewpie — are all, “WELL HELLO, FLIPPER! I’VE SEEN YOUR INSTAGRAM AND ME LIKEY.”
To Miss North Carolina’s dismay, Flipper asks to speak to Kewpie first, and soon they are walking back to the group, arms wrapped around one another and laughing. So when Kewpie asks to speak to Miss North Carolina alone, she once again believes that he’s accepted Flipper’s date offer, but NOPE! Just another great joke by Cheaty McCheaterson.
Instead, Flipper invites Smug Chris on her date and he agrees because V-Card basically told him to go. Before he leaves, Smug Chris makes a point to take V-Card aside to tell her that his going on this date is basically all her fault, SO OK GOODBYE, WISH HIM LUCK!
V-Card realizes that in her effort to be cool, she done fucked up …
… and she spends the rest of the day sobbing to anyone who will listen.
But she needn’t worry that much, as Flipper and Smug Chris have a terrible boat date that ends with him becoming seasick and vomiting off the back of the catamaran.
And I’m just going to pause here to note that this is the second boat date that ended with someone becoming seasick in one season of Bachelor series, the other instance being on Hannah’s final date with Guitar Guy on The Bachelorette where she spent the entire time puking into the Aegean Sea. And I’m sure I’m mistaken, but there have been a LOT of boring boat dates on The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise, but these are the first times I’ve seen someone become seasick on any of these shows. What I’m getting at is I wonder if the editors didn’t use the footage in these two instances as foreshadowing for where these relationships are eventually headed. As someone who becomes violently seasick myself, I can’t imagine that Smug Chris and Hannah are the first people to ever become sick on one of these boat dates, but I wonder if that other footage wasn’t discarded because it wasn’t useful narratively.
But I digress.
They return to Paradise, and Smug Chris, feeling guilty about their date being ruined, takes Flipper to the treehouse to talk privately about his uncertainty about V-Card, thereby giving Flipper hope that she has a chance with him. They then head to the hot tub to make out, and Smug Chris looks simultaneously guilty and also sorta hoping that V-Card will catch him.
Later, Smug Chris takes V-Card aside to chat, and she tells him that it took him going on the date for her to realize just how much she likes him and that she’s going to fight for him. But Smug Chris, he can’t take the win, and instead pouts that she should have already known how she felt about him and that there is just something “missing” between them. V-Card, she finishes the day the way she started it: in hot tears.
In happier quarters, Miami Mami — who apparently is a writer — demonstrates her wordcrafting with a song she drafted for Play-Doh.
And I quote:
Your biceps are so yummy
I want you in my tummy (GROSS)
Come and by my honey
You’re a touchdown baby
I want to be your lady
Cheering from the sidelines
You take away my frown lines
In Paradise with you
I don’t seem so blue
The next morning, Chris Harrison is back to once again take Red Flag aside (and give poor Charlie Brown’s Teacher an ulcer). Chris Harrison explains that the producers have spent the last few days thinking about Red Flag’s predicament, and decided to try to put Red Flag in the best position to find love. To that end, he orders her up the stairs where, waiting for Red Flag, is the mysterious woman, Kristian, who has caused all this drama. Red Flag, she bursts into tears and throws herself into Kristian’s arms.
It is 1. very sweet and sincere and 2. immediately and painfully obvious that Charlie Brown’s Teacher doesn’t stand a chance.
After much kissing and hugging and many “I’ve missed you so much”es, Red Flag sits Kristian down and confesses that she did meet someone in Paradise, a man to whom she gave herself to emotionally and physically. Kristian looks like she’s going to vomit as Red Flag continues, explaining that she’s been conflicted and she did have feelings for him, but once she saw her just now, she knew that it’s always been Kristian. She only wants to be with Kristian.
It’s kinda like that Justin Timberlake “Girl, I’m sorry I dumped you and I regret everything and I hope you will take me back, Jessica Biel, I’m begging you” song, “Mirrors.”
Red Flag tells Kristian to STAY PUT, she needs to go break Charlie Brown’s Teacher’s heart before anything else can happen here. Kristian, for her part, sighs heavily about how HURT she is that Red Flag made a connection with someone while they were apart, and … ~sigh~ … look. I understand being jealous. But what, exactly, did this chick think was going to happen when the woman she was dating left to be on a dating show for a month?
WHATEVER. The point is, Red Flag takes Charlie Brown’s Teacher aside and gently explains that the woman she told him about was brought to Paradise by some very diabolical producers and long story short, he’s dumped now, sorry. And worse, she and Kristian are planning to stay in Paradise and rub their relationship in his face, so, that’s going to suck for him.
Charlie Brown’s Teacher sighs that as long as she’s happy, that’s all that really matters, before crying about how he’s the nice guy who is destined to get dumped. (I mean, kinda, yeah.)
He then asks if he can speak to Kristian before she’s introduced to everyone else, and Red Flag obliges. Everyone stares at each other with tight faces while Charlie Brown’s Teacher assures Kristian that he harbors no animosity towards her, and Kristian is like, “Uh, great? I didn’t realize that was an option, but OK?”
And then they all agree that what’s important is that Red Flag is happy. With that, Charlie Brown Teacher takes his leave …
… and rejoins the group who are very confused about what the actual fuck is happening. “Oh, you’ll see,” he promises.
Meanwhile, Red Flag invites Kristian to stay in Paradise with her so that they can explore their relationship — which presumably they could also do in the real world, without cameras trained on them, but where’s the fun in that? Kristian, being a citizen of reality and therefore unaware of what’s she’s in for agrees. Oh, honey.
So then Red Flag brings Kristian down to the rest of the residents, introduces her as the woman she was dating before the season began, and explains that she will be staying in Paradise with them, and the rest of the contestants are like, “Wait, what? Can we do that? Just bring in civilians? IS THAT AN OPTION?”
But never mind pesky “rules” and “protocol” and “the entire concept of the series.” A date card is soon delivered for Red Flag and she, obviously, asks Kristian to join her, and Kristian agrees. Obviously.
The two go to some resort for “dinner,” where Kristian expresses more anger and frustration over this entire situation: she doesn’t want to just be another “option” for Red Flag and she worries about being able to trust her going forward. HEY. MAYBE YOU SHOULD HAVE SAID ALL OF THIS TO HER BEFORE SHE WENT TO ANOTHER COUNTRY TO APPEAR ON A DATING SHOW.
Red Flag is sorry that she hurt Kristian and explains that she’s just different from Kristian — more skeptical, and more doubting of herself. But she wants to be like Kristian.
Red Flag also discusses her commitment issues (never mind that she was ready to MARRY A VIRGIN SHE BARELY KNEW BACK IN NOVEMBER), and how she hates being vulnerable, but she’s willing to be so for Kristian.
Kristian is like, “COOL, BUT WE’RE DONE WITH YOU GOING ON DATES WITH OTHER PEOPLE, RIGHT?” Red Flag agrees: she wants to commit to Kristian, and in fact, she loves her. And that’s how Red Flag and this poor Kristian woman who has no idea what nonsense she just walked into found their way back together.
Alright, so just a quick word about this whole Red Flag thing: Red Flag’s same-sex relationship is an admittedly historic moment on these dumb shows. While there was one bisexual bachelorette on That Asshole Nick Viall’s season of The Bachelor, this is the first time that any of these shows have shown an actual same-sex relationship. Good for them, it’s about damn time.
And it might surprise you to learn that despite my general irritation with these shows and how they handle relationships in general, I thought they actually handled Red Flag’s story respectfully. Though she had come out to her family and some close friends, coming out to the world can be a slow, difficult process, and Red Flag was clearly struggling with her own acceptance of her feelings for another woman when she arrived in Paradise — I genuinely believe she wouldn’t have thrown herself into a relationship with a man so quickly and so deeply if she wasn’t having a hard time dealing with the fact that she could be attracted to and care for another woman. But the show gave her room to broach the topic with her friends and to discover that no one was judging her or condemning her. This helped her to accept her own feelings in her own time, and by the time Kristian arrived in Paradise, Red Flag was finally able to see her truth and fully embrace it.
Now, do I think that the show is also using this entire storyline for its more titillating potential? Obviously. People like to look at two attractive women kissing, and the producers were not going to pass up that opportunity, which is why I’m sure they invited them to stay on the show instead of wishing them luck and sending them home (a fate I suspect would have happened to anyone else if an ex of the opposite sex showed up in Paradise).
And while I would love to see a gay or lesbian or bisexual Bachelor or Bachelorette (a bisexual one! just think of the dramatic possibilities!), don’t hold your breath. While with Red Flag, these shows have cracked the door a teensy tiny bit, these shows are and always will be a very conservative heteronormative fairy tale which ends in traditional marriage and plenty of p in v sex. If the show STILL isn’t ready to have a black Bachelor (and sorry, Mike Johnson, but it’s probably not there yet), it sure as hell isn’t ready to have a lesbian Bachelorette.
*This is categorically untrue.
Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays on ABC at 7/8 p.m.